"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Kudos to Brit Hume: "Tiger Woods Should Turn to the Christian Faith"

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The embedded video of Brit Hume urging Tiger Woods to "turn to the Christian faith" is being hammered on the Internet by skeptics and scoffers. I, for one, say "Good for Brit Hume." A journalist who speaks his mind about the Christian faith--and in a positive manner--is a journalist worthy of a kind word from us all. Brit, knowing the show on which he spoke was short of time, and the length of his response was limited, could not flesh out what "the Christian faith" is... So, for all those who read this blog, particularly those curious about "the Christian faith," allow me to spell out why the gospel (i.e. "the Christian faith") is such good news for all of us who have failed morally.

Righteousness will be credited to those of us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, (the One) who was delivered for our transgressions and raised again for our justification " (Romans 4:24-25).

C.S. Lewis observed that in centuries past people had no problem understanding that they were sinners, they just wanted answers on how to be delivered. Not today. Most people have a hard time seeing themselves as sinners--until something happens as flagrantly immoral as the behavior exhibited by Tiger Woods. Then, when sin is sensed, the question becomes: How can a such a vile sinner be made right with God? Or, to put it more succinctly and in modern English, "Can a person like Tiger be forgiven by God and become a changed man?" Yes. The six words in bold above illustrate how.

(1). RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 24: “it”) means “to be right” or “as one should be” or “perfect.” Make no mistake: A perfect God requires a perfect creation. God doesn't just "wink" at people who fail and say, "That's all right." He declares, "Be ye perfect!" (Matthew 5:48). But the Bible is clear that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14:1). People who morally err like Tiger have little difficulty seeing their imperfections. Everyone, by nature, is crooked. Some peoples' imperfections are just more visible than others. Only God, by His grace, can make crooked sinners "as they should be." God alone, as a gift, can give to people the "righteousness" He demands.

(2). CREDITED: (v. 24: “imputed”) means “to credit” or “count in an account.” The perfection of moral character that God requires is not earned. Just as you keep a record of the things that are precious to you, so the Lord keeps a record of your
life. He never misses a detail, He never forgets an action, He never ignores a deed. He is in charge of the books of your life. Perfect righteousness wins his approval, while just one sin earns His condemnation. The bad news is that one sin occurred before you were even born (Rom. 5:17-19) and your sins only only add to to the condemnation of Adam's sin. For you to have the righteousness required by God means you must be given it by God; it must be "credited" to your account.

(3). BELIEVE (v.24) --- also to “trust” (v. 24), to be “fully persuaded,” to “have faith.” The only way you will ever be "right" with God, or more precisely, the only way you will ever be deemed "righteous" by a Holy God and allowed into fellowship with Him is if you "believe" on Him who raised Christ from the dead. The essence of Christianity is faith in God (“to believe on him”). This is opposite of what every single religion in the world teaches, but it is at the heart of true religion. The world's religions tell you to perform to be accepted by God (including Buddhism), but Christianity tells you to trust God. "Faith is reason at rest in God, ” C.H. Spurgeon. When you place your trust in Him “who raised up Jesus from the dead,” your faith is credited "for righteousness.” God cooks your books! He takes out all the condemnation you earn by your moral failures and grants you all the blessings earned by Christ's perfect obedience.

(4). DELIVERED (v.25). --- means to “send” or “to give.” Jesus Christ our Lord was "delivered for our offenses” (v.25). God delivered for sinners His Son. Jesus Christ died on Calvary as a gift for the ungodly who will believe on Him. God loved you before you ever loved Him. He delivered His Son to deliver you.

(5). TRANSGRESSIONS (v. 25) – which means living outside the boundaries of God’s law for your life. Christ was delivered "for your transgressions." In other words, the condemnation and punishment of a Holy God for your sins was born by the Son of God who was "delivered" to bear the punishment. God in His love for “sinners” sent Jesus Christ to die for those who will believe on Him.

(6). JUSTIFICATION (v.25) --- means “a declaration of perfect righteousness.” The Bible says that “God justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). God declares ungodly people perfectly righteous --- in Christ, “who was raised for our justification.” This is the essence of the Christian faith.

It is the ability for imperfect, morally deficient human beings to lie down at night at peace with their Creator because they have trusted Him to place their guilt and condemnation on the Son He delivered for sinners. God, who gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins, counts my faith in Him as righteousness, because He considers me perfect in Christ, my Savior and Lord.

May Tiger Woods come to peace with God through Christ.

In His Grace,

Wade

46 comments:

Wade Burleson said...

Thy Peace,

You had some GREAT questions. Sorry about deleting the comment. I had some technical problems with the post and was working on it when you made your comment.

In terms of your question, "How does a sinner who believes on Christ find himself turning from his sin and changing?"

I think the answer to that question is the sinner comes to a grateful appreciation of what God has done for him, and "the love of Christ constrains" him.

And, additionally, just as you pointed out in your comment (accidentally deleted), the Holy Spirit is a pretty powerful Discipler.

Thanks for your comment!

Wade

Thy Peace said...

Pastor Wade I actually typed this comment earlier when you first posted this post. But I did not wish to be the first person to comment for this post and I held back. But I did save the comment.
-------------
What if Tiger Woods indeed became a Christian?

What then?

How does a sinner turn away from the sin life he had led and (probably) continue to sin, even after believing in Christ?

I am asking what is the process here.

On some level, a Christian understands that YES, all the past sin, current sins and future sins of a Christian are borne by Our Lord and there is FREEDOM in this understanding.

BUT at the same time (Paul talks about it) that this is NOT a freedom to sin MORE.

What causes a Christian in this freedom to sin less and not more?

Is it purely the Love of Our Lord and His work that is finished?

My thinking is the softening of one's heart comes about from the work of The Holy Spirit. It is also strengthened from reading The Word. And gladness that comes from other Christians.

But what happens when Christians war against each other?

What does happen to each Christian as they "struggle" in their sins from the sin consciousness that has been generated?

Many questions today :-) and possibly more in the many tomorrows.

I understand for Christians "confessing" of one's sins to other believers helps the sinner as a check and also being open and transparent.

The above is more of a thinking through comment.
------------------

I am also thinking that Repentance, plays a part here.

For every action and thought, one always has a choice. Even for compulsive thoughts and actions. The one side to ignore God and the Love of God for us and do the action or think the thought. The other knowing and realizing the sin, still continue in sin. (Paul also talks about this) That doing this often might deaden the soul to sin consciousness. But The Holy Spirit awakens even "dead" people who are in continual sin and repentance cycles.

To some extent will power helps, for lot of people it's divine power and Grace that turns the sinner away from sin and sinning.

Steven Stark said...

It is unfortunate that Mr. Hume has such a view of Buddhism. I am glad that he enjoys his own faith, but to say that Christianity will help Tiger Woods overcome his infidelities more so than Buddhism is unjustified. There are imperfect humans in every faith. There are many Christian pastors who know infidelity quite well, for instance.

"The world's religions tell you to perform to be accepted by God (including Buddhism), but Christianity tells you to trust God"

Is trusting God not a performance of a sort?

Is an attempt at a different spiritual practice, despite its different terminology, not an attempt to trust "God"?

Does God's acceptance of us depend on intellectual submission to a specific historical claim (Jesus' bodily resurrection)?

Buddhism teaches that we all have an inner Buddha nature which is natural and at ease, yet we all also have many challenges and impurities which cloud our vision, leading to delusion and unhappiness. Learning to trust this inner nature is a lot like the Christian idea of trusting God. It is about letting go and trusting the Tao. Different terminology, same mechanism.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
What does a person ‘feel’ when they do the same wrong before they’re saved and after they’re saved?

There was a ‘rift’ between my father’s family and a neighbor who kept moving the fence on a dividing road until they named it ‘Stingy Lane’.

Their widowed mother would take no part in her kids complaining. She’d just say, “It’ll be settled at judgment” to the complaint of the youngest saying, “Mama, we’ve got to start writing things down or we’ll forget them!”

Needless to say, many of the eight kids took delight in steeling the neighbor’s water melons.

The first time my father was going to take a melon after he was saved, he wondered if it was right or not. So he asked the Lord.

With the melon in front of him he prayed and prayed but received no answer. At last he gave up and opened his eyes and there not over a foot away was a long snake lying across the melon. He never stole again.

I believe when we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us and we cannot be happy. If a person can be happing sinning, I don’t believe they have the Holy Spirit.

Joe Blackmon said...

Steven,

Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me". Therefore, any attempt at a different spiritual practice, despite its different terminology, is not an attempt to trust "God" but is rather an invalid attempt since it is not faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone who doesn't trust Christ alone for their salvation, Muslim, Buddhist, Mormon, will burn forever in hell for their sins no matter what Wade, Wm Paul, Christianne, or anyone else tells you. Period.

Does God's acceptance of us depend on intellectual submission to a specific historical claim (Jesus' bodily resurrection)?


Yes. Yes it does.

Bob Cleveland said...

The scenario in which Tiger Woods might turn to Christianity and find forgiveness is not about any inner strength, nor does it focus on his subsequent obedience, nor is it about adopting a different set of standards or rules by which to live. It is about the salvation of the soul and the empowerment of and by the Holy Ghost to follow Jesus' commands and teachings. The question is not how could he, but why won't he?

What God directs us to do, He enables us to do. If that power, from without, isn't real, then we're all a bunch of liars, and Christianity is just another set of rules.

THANK GOD that's not the case.

:)

greg.w.h said...

I happened to catch Brit's comment as it was being directly broadcast by our Fox affiliate. Brit's concern was very specifically that Mr. Wood's would find forgiveness and reconciliation and he felt that the Christian faith provided that better than Bhuddism.

That kind of opinion usually results from someone experiencing forgiveness and reconciliation personally. Mr. Hume may or may not have experience with Bhuddism, but he very humbly presented his opinion about "the Christian faith". It wasn't belligerent, and it wasn't a slap in the face at Bhuddism.

The problem is that our day of moral relativism results in the view that it is the adherent to the faith that gets the faith wrong and that all faiths are equivalent. But human logic suggests that only one faith will be the most true and the rest are necessarily more false. Diversity in religion perhaps has a quantifiable social value in terms of getting along with others, but it seems to me it is at the cost of that truth.

Different religions making different truth claims simply cannot all be true at the same time. Again human logic suggests--via the law of the excluded middle--that many conflicting truth claims cannot all be true, only one can.

But I can acknowledge that faith is a matter of the conscience and I also wonder if God will attribute as righteousness faithfulness to something that is false. I have great hope for our older brothers and sisters in faith--the Jews--for eventual clearing of the eyes regarding Christ Jesus, for instance. But the book of Hebrews is clear that those in the Old Testament that had righteousness accounted to them because of their faith enjoyed that accounting treatment because they essentially--without knowing him directly and by name--put their forward looking faith in Christ Jesus or Yeshua Hamassiach "God delivers, the annointed [one]."

This isn't so much to disagree with Steven because I know where he's coming from: he has a great hope that all religions are true. But one is certainly more true than others and in my personal experience, that one is Christianity: faith in Jesus Christ, the anointed one, for deliverance from sin and destruction. I've seen too many changed by faith in Jesus and too little change by faith in other religions to believe otherwise.

Greg Harvey

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"Does God's acceptance of us depend on intellectual submission to a specific historical claim (Jesus' bodily resurrection)?"

Steven,

I am going to have answer no to your question. The Bible recounts a God who loves, accepts, and forgives--and THEN transforms. Nothing is required. He gives faith necessary to believe all of the seemingly impossible things.

Tiger, does not need to seek out acceptance from a god. The Holy Spirit of The One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Moses and Noah and Adam draws sinners to Himself through the powerful atoning work of Jesus. No other religion can claim this powerful transforming work in the lives of its followers.

"Christianity will help Tiger Woods overcome his infidelities more so than Buddhism is unjustified."

I completely agree that this statement is NOT true, but from purely based on the clip that Wade Burleson imbedded, Mr. Hume did not say that. He was speaking of forgiveness and reconciliation. I have no doubt that Buddhism offers some sort of spiritual cleansing whereby Tiger could seek to overcome things that make him unhappy. But is marital infidelity really such a concern of Buddhism?

The Bible is clear that we serve a jealous God (Oprah hates this I know), but if you think about it, would you not be as jealous if you were God? If you had the power to transform lives and offered continued forgiveness and reconciled for your people so that they could spend eternity in your presence.

Christianity does not (or at least it should not) claim to make sinless people. The transforming power of Christ recreates us in Christ, so that our sin nature no longer reigns in our lives. We are free in Christ to NOT sin, yet we will all sin until we are fully transformed at death and glorification—made like the Son.. If Tiger committed his live to Christ, and did nothing else, he would like from time to time slip up and do the same thing—salvation is a process. The Body of Christ—the church—would be committed to walk along side Tiger, as he struggles.

The most precious part of being a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is growing in Him. Kindling a personal relationship like no other. His blessings of joy and peace confirm our adoption into God's heavenly family.

This is not an emotional ride; this is a transformational basking in the glory of God.

None of us knows whether the Lord will save Tiger, but He has promised to those who call upon His name everlasting life.

The man crucified under the Romans 2000 years ago is the Son of God, who is "the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:3)

His purpose in coming to earth as a man was to "make purification for sins."

The price for sin (offence to a righteous and holy God) is death--death physically, but more importantly spiritual death and separation from His glory for eternity.

Many Christians are praying for Tiger.

Jon L. Estes said...

Mr. Hume's comments were a breath of fresh air. He is also right, that there is no forgiveness that Tiger needs more than the forgiveness Jesus offers.

Mr. Stark, Mr. Hume's view of Buddhism is right on.

Christianity is not about the faults (past, present and future) of men but the gift of grace from God, through Christ. Sure there are Christian men who have fallen and will fall still but that does not take away one iota from God's forgiveness and the benefits it gives.

Mr. Hume's comments on O'Reilly were great. Hope you saw them.

I just love it when the name of Jesus is mentioned in context to His person and not just a slang thrown around without concern.

OMB, what is this world coming too?

linda said...

Excellent post!

Steven Stark said...

Thanks for the comments all. I do agree that there is nothing wrong with Hume's sharing of his opinion. I'm just sorry for his opinion.

As to logic, greg, I am not saying that the specific claims of all religions are equal, but rather that the terminology and mental images we associate with religion are ultimately symbols for our deepest feelings. Consider the "face" and "name" you may associate with Jesus during prayer time. This almost certainly does not match anything to do with the historical Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago. Despite this, does Jesus still "hear" your prayers?

So the question is - is God name and face, or is God spirit? If God is spirit, then perhaps the name and face (which are certainly wrong anyway) are not as important. I know if someone is looking at me and speaking, I will answer, even if the name is "wrong."

Joe,

I do not see a good reason to believe in a God who is that evil. Of course, if we use terms like "good" and "evil" for aspects of creation, they all have their origin in God (Isa. 45:7 is interesting here).

Kevin,

"No other religion can claim this powerful transforming work in the lives of its followers."

This is a bold claim. I doubt there can be anything but anecdotal evidence and personal feelings behind it. Buddhism is not for everyone, most likely, but it is a great path of transformation for millions.


"But is marital infidelity really such a concern of Buddhism?"

The 3rd precept of Buddhism is to abstain from sexual misconduct.


"would you not be as jealous if you were God?"

I suppose it depends on our idea of God, but if God is perfect, it is difficult to imagine jealousy, since He would lack nothing. One must desire and need something to be jealous. One must see himself as incomplete. And jealousy is not usually considered a favorable characteristic in humans.

"salvation is a process."

This idea coincides well with Buddhist ideas.

Good conversation, thanks!

Joe Blackmon said...

Steven,

I'm afraid you may have misunderstood my post. I'm not trying to convince you. That's not my job. What you "believe" doesn't affect me one way or the other. My responsibility is to tell you the truth as revealed in the Bible. Accept it, reject it, or mock it. It's all jake with me. In the end, you don't answer to me and I'm not responsible for whether you accept or reject the truth.

Remember, regardless of what L's, Wade, or Wm Paul Young tell you, anyone who does not place their faith in Jesus Christ alone will suffer for all eternity in hell for their sins.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe Blackmon,

I guess, Joe, you didn't read my post.

Your comments would be far more credible were you to argue based upon facts and not bias.

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

In the previous comment thread, gregwh asked:
Does this broad attitude include everyone, say Catholic Christians?


You answered:
That is precisely what I am saying.


Now, since the Catholic Church teaches that you must partake of the sacraments to obtain grace necessary for salvation then that is the opposite of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone since the word alone doesn't mean "in conjunction with" but means, well, alone. Therefore, the theology of the Catholic Church is not Christian theology.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe,

There is Baptist theology that is not Christian theology, just as their is Catholic theology that is not Christian theology.

But that does not mean Baptists and Catholics are not Christians. What saves us is Christ's atonement, not our perfect understanding (or lack thereof) of it.

In His Grace,

Wade

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

We are not talking about some peripherial theological issue here. We're talking about what a person has to do to be saved. A person who says "I have to take communion to maintain my salvation" does not understand what true salvation is and is not saved, your last post notwithstanding. You can't just believe anything that you want and have this amorphous warm, tinly feeling in your heart that you call faith and be saved. I nowhere have suggested we have to have perfect understanding of theology to be saved but neither is it true that a person can just believe anything they want to believe and God will save them because they are sincere.

Despite what Wm Paul says, there is a hell, it is real, it if fire (not for purification, as he opines), and it is for punishment (even, as he says, if it is in the presence of the Lamb) and those without faith in Christ and Christ alone will spend eternity there.

greg.w.h said...

I'd note that V Domus asked that question, Joe, not me.

If you noticed--which you didn't bother doing--how I framed my response, the emphasis was on those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and on professing Catholic Christians. If a Catholic fails to profess Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have reason to probe further regarding their faith and what it's based on. But I'm not sure--at least in my experience--that probing their faithfulness to Catholic traditions will give you a clear view regarding whether they truly place their faith in Jesus or in the Church itself. Yet I have to assume that if they clearly profess faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior that they qualify--by such verses as Roman 10:10--as much as any Baptist for recognition as a believer AT LEAST among other believers.

To do otherwise is to write a different standard for belief than the most obvious one available to us: the Bible. To do that is to repudiate the supposedly successful Conservative Resurgence. I'd note that even establishing a secondary document for interpreting that primary document runs the risk of that very repudiation.

As to Steven's emphasis on the difference between God's Face and God's Spirit: no, I don't think that God is primarily interested in us complying to a set of behaviors or rules. I think he first and foremost desires an intimate relationship with each of us and that the first step to that intimate relationship is the realization that--as sinners--we are incapable of producing righteousness that overcomes our sin and the barrier that sin creates between us and God. Perhaps continued repudiation--in the form of rejection of the one the Bible refers to as his "one and only Son"--is forgivable, but it hardly seems an auspicious beginning to a reconciliation between God and man. If sin is as bad of a problem as the Bible illuminates it as being, and if we are incapable of producing salvific righteousness, then we are in deep trouble if we can't acknowledge and receive God's direct gift of salvation.

My personal experience with other religions and the adherents to those religions is that the very strong emphasis is on the personal production of faithful action and the expectation that God will account to them as righteousness not their belief in Him but their supposedly righteous actions. The Bible seems to clearly repudiate that position when in the Old Testament the claim is made that God views the righteousness of man as filthy rags. In fact, this passage from Isaiah 64 very directly deals with this entire line of argumentation (note, though, that the perspective is of a chosen people, the people of the nation of Israel, not of the whole world):

Isaiah 64:4-9 (NIV)

4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; [Emphasis mine]

we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins.

8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"And jealousy is not usually considered a favorable characteristic in humans."

While we view God from human perspectives, God being God cannot, in His infiniteness be fully understood from our finiteness. We are sinful creatures, thus our jealousy cannot be the same as His. God being God can desire things which He does not possess without that being a bad thing for Him. He being God that is. He can also desire a devotion for which He is not pleased to grant. In the book of 1 Samuel chapter 3 of the Old Testament, Samuel heard the voice of God regarding a punishment on the house of the Priest Eli for sins of his and his sons. Eli, after receiving this message from Samuel said to Samuel, "It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him." (v.18b, ESV)

God's will and pleasure is always righteous, and never runs counter to His Word.

I certainly would not desire to prohibit Tiger, you or anyone else from worshiping whatever god seems to make the most sense. But in that freedom also comes a responsibility to understand that the major religions of the world are all completely contradictory to one another. In other words, if one is true, the same cannot be said about the others. Except for the possibility that more than one eternal god exists, making the God of the Bible a liar.

Legal precepts, laws, or pillars of a religion cannot be the basis for which one believes that religion. (Thank you btw for answering my question regarding marital infidelity; I should likely do some research into the "precepts" of Buddhism.) But if a god it to truly exist then that god must make Himself known to His people. Christianity more than meets that challenge. Jesus more than fulfills the prophecies of the Jewish Canon.

Historically, Buddha had a beginning, and thus cannot be the creator of the Universe. He cannot have been the first uncaused cause. Only the God of the Bible claims this. Creation declares His glory.

K

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Joe,

Salvation is neither works based, nor knowledge based.

-Kevin

Paul Burleson said...

All,

I've just returned from the hospital and from having surgery which required a pain pill induced three hour nap.

Upon awaking and checking Wade's blog post for the first time in a couple of days I find myself reading a great post, enjoying a good discussion of that post and it all being in an atmosphere of respect. I am refreshed by it all. [Including the nap. :)]

Wade Burleson said...

Dad,

Glad to hear the surgery went well! Thinking of you. We were in staff meeting all day but appreciated the updates from mom.

Wade

Joe Blackmon said...

Kevin,

Salvation is by grace through faith. That faith isn't in a rock, or the stock market, or the Big Dipper. It's in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In order to have faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ you would have to know about the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My point was not that you are "saved by knowledge" but a person who says they are saved by faith in Christ and taking these sacraments does not have saving faith in Christ. Any church that says "Anyone who says that people do not have to take the sacrements to be saved is anathema" teaches a false gospel.

Bob Cleveland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Stark said...

Joe - “I'm not trying to convince you.”

A job well done then. I wish you the best.


“Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people.”

greg, thanks for the Isaiah verses.

“My personal experience with other religions and the adherents to those religions is that the very strong emphasis is on the personal production of faithful action and the expectation that God will account to them as righteousness not their belief in Him but their supposedly righteous actions.”

This is also the predominant Christian view - at least in practice (whether correct or not). By “belief” here, do you mean believing a specific historical claim happened, or do you mean trust?

And I did not mean a specific legality when I meant God’s face. I meant what actual image do you hold in your head when praying? It is most certainly not historically accurate. Jesus never heard the word “Jesus” in his life.

Kevin,

“God being God cannot, in His infiniteness be fully understood from our finiteness”

The “Mysterious God” claim correctly points out our limited human perspective, but then in this context it makes vast claims about these things we cannot understand. In other words, it’s called confirmation bias - like the gambler who only remember the wins and not the losses. If God does something good, then we praise him. If he does something evil (as we know and understand that word in daily life), then he is God and who can understand him? If we can apply the mysterious God claim to the bad stuff, we should also apply it to the good stuff and simply say we don’t know.

“But if a god it to truly exist then that god must make Himself known to His people. Christianity more than meets that challenge. Jesus more than fulfills the prophecies of the Jewish Canon.”

I think millions of Buddhists have an experience with what we might call God. The Buddha did not claim to be a God. Incidentally, a word I have frequently run across in many Western Buddhist writers/teachers is “grace”. Buddhism teaches to NOT grasp, but rather to let go and trust.

One saying I like is “Gaining enlightenment is an accident. Spiritual practice simply makes us accident-prone.”

Buddhism does not tend to anthropomorphize God like much Western Christianity, but there are many Christian ideas (like divine simplicity) and mystical traditions within Christianity which are similar.

There are many conversations to be had concerning the historical Jesus, and the idea of a first cause of existence and what we can know about it.

thanks again,

Steven

Bob Cleveland said...

I don't know of any other religion that states one can become a "new creature" .. specifically one no longer in bondage to sin. As long as we're housed in a sinful fleshly suit, it's going to keep us from ever being or acting perfect, but the issue isn't our perfection anyway; it's the Perfection of Jesus.

Tiger Woods .. or for that matter, anyone .. doesn't need a new set of rules or philosophies or ideals or goals to subscribe to. What we all need is the forgiveness of sin, and the transformation which is promised by God, to those who turn in repentance to Jesus, and place not just belief, but faith, reliant faith, in Him.

Steven Stark said...

Hi Bob,

"Tiger Woods .. or for that matter, anyone .. doesn't need a new set of rules or philosophies or ideals or goals to subscribe to. What we all need is the forgiveness of sin, and the transformation which is promised by God, to those who turn in repentance to Jesus, and place not just belief, but faith, reliant faith, in Him."

These sound like philosophies and goals to me. Perhaps good ones, but still under the umbrella of those terms.

It is true that many other religions do not have nihilistic view of the physical world and our bodies (God's handiwork) that some forms of Christianity do - although every religion acknowledges some version of sin.

Christiane said...

Reflection on the Mystery of Christ encountered in Holy Baptism:


The Creator forms our first parent in His image and in His likeness, from
‘the dust of the ground’ and
‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’ and Adam ‘became a living soul’

St. Matthew tells of a man, blind from birth, whose name we do not know.
Christ seeks this man out. And taking the dust of the ground, and the spittle from His Mouth, he makes a clay. And the clay is placed over the blinded eyes.
The man is ‘sent’ to bathe in a pool for his healing. He obeys.

A woman bleeds for many years. She has heard that there is One who can heal and she seeks Him out. In hope, she follows Him. And touching the hem of His robe, she is healed. He ‘feels the power going out of Him’.

The dust of the Earth, the Pool of Siloam, the robe of Christ: all made of the elements. All made of the created elements of the earth..
But do these elements contain within themselves the power of life and of healing?
Not of themselves are they sacred.
Where does the life-giving, the transforming, and healing power come from?
The power flows from the Person of Christ Himself.
The waters of our baptism contain no power on their own.
In the waters of our baptism, we meet Him. And we are changed.

Liam Madden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liam Madden said...

As a Bible teacher in Thailand (where Tiger's mom comes from), I had a chance to observe the process of Buddhists becoming Christians firsthand.

First off, I can say that over time, I gained a lot of respect for Buddhist people and the Buddhist system of thought. There is a gentleness, a serenity, and a commitment to personal and social responsibility that permeates much of Thai life. I came to feel that living in Thailand was a great pleasure, and I had to concede that many of the benefits of Thai culture that I experienced were the mature fruits of the Buddhist way and practice. In general it is a positive thing that Thai people are taught through Buddhism to be virtuous and as self-sufficient as possible but willing to lend a helping hand and receive help when necessary. Buddhism also engenders a respect for science which is sometimes lacking in more fanatical forms of Christianity. To the extent that it values and allies itself with science, Buddhism is in many respects a very progressive philosophy.

All of that being said, I was also aware that Buddhism does not communicate the belief in a loving creator God, though I think it is human nature to wonder about our origins, the purpose of life, etc.


As suggested above, most (almost all) Thai Buddhists feel that their system of belief is so positive for them, that they would never imagine seeing the need for any change. At best, they might concede some points of "similarity" with Western religions or philosophies not unlike what Steve has sketched out in his postings above.

What I found, though, was that some Thai people were curious about Christianity because of the witness of Christian teachers in the non-profit school where I taught. They wanted to know what motivated missionaries to give up their lives at home and come overseas to teach. I invited these interested ones to study the Bible in the evening over many weeks.As they began to study the scriptures, the possibility of a need for change began to emerge. I remember one Thai student (my second Bible student to become a Christian) telling me when she began to sense this change. She said, "I wanted to study the Bible to get something useful for my life, but..." (as in to get wisdom and use it) And then she began to tell me that the reality of God and His absolute claim on her life was beginning to dawn on her. Over many more weeks of OT and NT studies and visits to our church (New Vision Baptist Church in Bangkok), she came to understand for certain how one could trust Christ for eternal life and as Lord of one's life. She knew she could pray that prayer but held off doing so for awhile.

Then she went on a young women's retreat during which time she stayed in the home of a Thai Christian doctor and saw how lovingly he and his wife interacted and what good parents they were. Quietly, by herself, in the upper room of that home, she prayed to receive Christ and felt that change, that filling up, that believers understand. When she came back to church from the retreat on Sunday morning, she greeted me with this news.

A combination of things, personal testimonies of missionary teachers, the witness of the Word of the Bible working over time, and above all, God's love itself, working through the quiet witness of a family led to her decision and this life change.

Christiane said...

Since the subject has been brought up about Tiger, I wondered if anyone noticed the dignity with which Tiger's wife, Elin, has conducted herself ?

She has given no interviews or made any public statements. She has guarded her privacy (what is left of it, poor dear) and the privacy of their two beautiful children.

Elin likely has been raised with a good dose of Swedish reserve and self-respect. Let's hope that she is also a daughter of the faith, as Sweden is a Lutheran country. If this is the case, she will be strengthened now, in her time of need.

Steven Stark said...

Liam,

I think that is a beautiful story - it sounds like Christianity was the right way for this girl.

As to a loving God - I think Buddhism focuses on love but in a less anthropomorphic way than many forms of Christianity. But that tradition is present in Christianity as well. The idea of divine simplicity is one idea that some Christians use for God - that God IS goodness, IS love.... so He is not a person in the sense that we are persons. Paul Tillich calls God "the ground of all being". That said, many people will respond better to an idea of God that is more like an earthly father, or a king, or a friend. I believe our mind creates these images, but our mind creates many useful things which represent a reality we cannot quite comprehend.

As to origins, many Buddhists are not overly concerned with this. We are here. 'nuff said. The Buddha tells the parable of the arrow, where a man is shot by a poisoned arrow. He will not let anyone pull it out until he knows who shot it, what type of man he is, where he is from, etc. The Buddha was more concerned with pulling out the arrow, rather than establishing from whence it came.

This is not so alien to Christianity though. How would a Christian reply to the question, "Why does God exist?"

They might suggest that this is not a meaningful question. Buddhists, and others, may say the same thing about why "everything" exists.

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,
Are you a Christian, claim to be a Christian, or just trying to confuse?

Your saying, “Sounds like Christianity was the right way for this girl” implies there are ‘other right ways’ for different people.

I’d respect you more if you said you were a Buddhist. If you’re falsely claiming to be a Christian, then you’re a spy engaged in sabotage.

You said, “If he [God] does something evil…then he is God and who can understand him? If we can apply the mysterious God claim to the bad stuff, we should also apply it to the good stuff and simply say we don’t know.”

In the first place, God DOES NOT do evil!

In the second place, “I know in whom I believeth and am persuaded that He is able to keep that…” and “..I write that you may KNOW…” (Luke 1:4)

If I’ve thought of you unfairly, please explain. If you can’t explain as a Christian, then don't bother.

Liam,
I agree with Steven on your beautiful story.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe Blackmon,

I would like your evaluation of the last comment by Liam. How confident are you that Christ Himself is honored by some of your previous statements questioning Liam's faith? Just asking because Liam seems to have given one of the clearest, evangelical testimonies of how and why people come to faith in Jesus Christ. I continue to be amazed at how brothers in Christ often speak disparingly of other brothers in Christ -- in front of people who are in need of a knowledge of our Savior.

Blessings,

wade

Liam Madden said...

Wade,

Thank you for your advocacy. It may have gotten lost somewhere in the previous comment stream, but Joe did apologize to me near the end of the previous thread, so I feel that he and I have reached an understanding.

I noticed that John also stated:

“Wade, Maybe you ARE rubbing off on people!!!! There seems to be more grace here than judgment… and I had my doubts that you could change minds, I stand corrected.”

I heartily concur with that statement. It's a good way to start the new year.

Have a blessed day!

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Rex,

Don't sweat Steven Stark. He is a well informed Internet debater and could likely debate you or I under the rug (even as correct as I am all the time) :)

I am certain Steven would find some humor in my assessment. I do not know him from Adam, but he has seemingly found a place in grace and truth to unload some knowledge and for one, I find that great. This guy in my opinion could argue for or against the deity of Christ better than any of us on here (at least from an academic or logical perspective). His opinion and fascination with Scripture (and other things "spiritual") lead me to think that at the very least his brain is spinning in the same direction as ours. (Sort of that imago dei thing.)

I posted and commented on a site called www.theooze.com for several years and debate all things religious, logical, illogical, rational, irrational, spiritual and unspiritual, pragmatic and deontological.

The end game however is that all religious debate is circular. The Bible is inherently false without faith (save the verifiable historical accounts). So debate away. But come dressed for the party. Know that you do more damage to the cause of Christ being ill prepared. Or, on the other hand, debating in such forums will certain serve to prepare you for the next go around.

From all accounts Steven believes in God, understands many of the perceived biblical contradictions, and has studied some of them. (More than we can say for some in the pews). He is good Midwestern boy who is just trying to get through life.

Whether he has bought into Christianity hook, line and sinker remains to be seen. But then have any of us?

So debate him if you must. But learn from him. Even if he is wrong, he will tell you where you are weak.


My "Epiphany" for the day,

K

Wade Burleson said...

Kevin,

I would agree with your assessment of Steven's intellectual abilities and cogent reasoning.

What it boils down to me, in simple form, is that biblical Christianity is the only religion I've found that calls on adherents to trust the work of God on their behalf. It seems all other religions point to our work for God on His behalf--or simply have you pretend He doesn't exist.

I'd much rather trust Him than me.

That doesn't mean reason goes out the window. "Faith is reason at rest in God" (Spurgeon).

Smile.

Rex Ray said...

Kevin,
You said Steven believes in God, but I want to know if he believes in Jesus.

I don’t care if he’s the best debater in the world; without Jesus he’s going to loose in this world and the world to come.

But I do understand you’re warning:

It’s like our pastor once said: “In the battle of the wits; don’t come half prepared.” :)

Steven Stark said...

Hi Rex,

I do not like being confused, but it is often how I spend much of my time! However this confusion does seem to help me grow in my thinking. I like Wade's Spurgeon quote. I think that faith is the end of reason, where we have to relax and trust. Most people see faith as synonymous with belief, but I see belief as a type of grasping, whereas faith is a letting go and accepting. I think this view, which is profoundly Buddhist, is very compatible with the Christian idea of grace.

I apologize for resisting labels. They are convenient (and I mean that), but at the same time, I do not feel that calling myself Christian or Buddhist is accurate. My facebook page reflects this too well! I filled the religious views space with "Liberal Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Unitarian Universalist seeking the God behind "God". This is my best attempt at honesty, even if it is completely cumbersome and "fluffy" sounding to many.

I apologize for the personal info above, but I thought perhaps it might be good for a little introduction, since I have enjoyed Wade's blogs and the ensuing comments over the last few months. I was raised the son of a Baptist preacher, so I feel a personal connection. That is why I am interested.

Rex: "Your saying, “Sounds like Christianity was the right way for this girl” implies there are ‘other right ways’ for different people."

This is how life usually works. I think there are very real issues that religions deal with - Love, right, wrong, meaning, etc. but the specifics of a religion may be different for different folks.

"In the first place, God DOES NOT do evil!"

When reading stories of God commanding Joshua to commit genocide, or of God killing by flood, or God sending a powerful delusion to non-believers, or torturing Job, etc. we must consider if they match what we mean by "evil". If any human did these deeds, surely we would consider them evil deeds. Perhaps God is not human though, one might say. Fair enough, but then labeling his actions "good" is also meaningless.

Kevin,

Your comment turned me red a bit. I did not expect such an eloquent defense. I appreciate your appreciation, and I agree with you - I think our brains are spinning in the same direction, even if we disagree about many things. I think most arguments, but not all, are more about language than spirit (that almost seems to be my thesis these days).

You are right that any position can be argued down to its basics and pointed out as self-refuting in some way. It's the nature of trying to understand an ocean in which we ourselves are swimming. But there are still plenty of first principles we all share in common - things like critical thinking, the value of empirical evidence, compassion, etc.

Steven Stark said...

Wade: "It seems all other religions point to our work for God on His behalf--or simply have you pretend He doesn't exist."

As to the latter part of this sentence, it seems difficult to pretend something does not exist which requires faith to believe does exist. Boy that sounded confusing...... A simpler way - a non-theist would say that Christians are the ones pretending. Most atheists are not rejecting God, they don't believe that God exists. It's not a personal thing. A person should not be accused of rejecting, or hating, unicorns because they reject a belief in unicorns. I realized this as an 18 year old, questioning my atheist friend about God. "Aren't you afraid of not believing?" I asked. She looked at me and said kindly, "I just don't believe it's true, so I can't be afraid of it."

As to the first part of the sentence, I'll quote a Buddhist story:

An eager Zen student arrives at a temple and says,"I want to join the community and work to attain enlightenment. How long will it take me?"

"Ten years," replies the master.

"Well, how about if I really work and double my efforts?

"Twenty years."

"Hey just a moment. That's not fair! Why did you double it?"

"In your case, says the master, "I'm afraid it will be thirty years."

--And two more sayings which have affected me over the last few days:

"Gaining enlightenment is an accident. Spiritual practice simply makes us accident prone."

And most especially:

"The white crane in the snow is a white crane standing in snow."

Thanks for the exchange. I thoroughly enjoy it.

Christiane said...

FOR STEVEN:

"God descends to the humble
as waters flow down
from the hills into the valleys.

St. Tikhon of Voronezh"


Steven, many look to the East in Christianity also. They have read that from there, once did come wise men, long ago.

Rex Ray said...

Steven,
Your story of the ‘master and the student’ reminds me of the ONLY time my brother, Hez, ‘fought’ the law without loosing.

As background, Hez had been hauled to jail in front of his High School students for an outstanding speeding ticket. Years later he tried to pay a speeding ticket for his son who had gone to New York on a big job. The court said his son would have to pay. Finally his son came back and Hez went with him to pay the fine. They were the only ones in the courtroom. The lady judge told his son to write a check for $100 and he started looking for his checkbook. Hez asked the judge if his son had been caught in New York would he have gone to jail. She said he would. Hez told her in unloving words how crazy that law was.

“Young man, make that check for $200.”

“Hey! If you want to fine me, that’s OK, but you can’t make my son pay for something I said!”

One word led to another until the judge started cursing.

“You broke the law for cursing in a courtroom. I’m placing you under citizen’s arrest!”

She left the courtroom in a hurry and after a while, came back and said, “Make that check for $100. I’m sorry I used profanity. This case is closed.”

The funny part of the story is the ‘look’ the son gave his father when he heard $200.

Steven,
You said, “Confusion does seem to help me grow in my thinking.”

Webster – Confusion: “A deranged mental condition.”

(James 1:8-9NLT) “…a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind…they waver back and forth in everything they do.”

Faith is belief/obedience/works in action.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

I believe James saying, “Faith without works is dead” is a oxymoron because faith is works, and God doesn’t give junk. James should have said, ‘belief without works is dead.’

Steven, the hour is late so I’ll call it a night.

chaidrinkingfool said...

Hello,
I appreciate what's been expressed here about...salvation not being dependent upon figuring out correct theology. I come from a church that, while saying that salvation was not our own doing, still imparted the message that we'd better be sure we believed in Jesus in the *correct* way, or our salvation would be in jeopardy (and I always wondered how that worked, particularly in light of the fact that we won't really know whether our theological ideas are correct until the end of time--if then).

But I digress.

Is it off-topic of me to address Tiger Woods' behavior, here? Although I am not a works-based person, or try not to be, it seems as though it is often true that when someone's sin has to do with viewing and treating women as made as less than in the image of God, we seek to tiptoe around that and not address it, at all.

While I believe in Grace--though I don't understand it, it is true...I don't want to view or to represent Christ as merely a Band-Aid (copyright). Throw him over whatever you've done in the past, and "It's all good." We need to address the obvious part of the problem, somehow, lest we appear to be oversimplifying things, and in the process, unconcerned about the sins that were committed. So I'm not so pleased with Mr. Hume's comments.

Of course, then we come into the trap, potentially, of appearing to be judgemental.

As I don't know Woods' heart, I do not know what pain lies under his actions, but I believe that some pain may indeed be there. The same goes for the women who had sex with Woods. Only God can know any of their hearts. I just feel something is missing from this conversation.

chaidrinkingfool said...

To be clear, as I referenced the pain of the women with whom Woods had sex, but not the sinfulness of their actions...
I do believe the actions of the women were sinful, as well.
Thank you for letting me clarify that.

Steven Stark said...

Hey Rex,

Great story, that is awesome!

I don't think it's worth getting too technical about "confusion" - I just meant that sometimes when we grow in our thinking, it is preceded by a period of confusion. It is difficult to imagine growth without some sort of obstacle causing us a bit of confusion at times. I'm certainly not out to "mentally derange" people! hopefully....

chaidrinkingfool,

You bring up good points. I too am quite familiar with the idea that there is nothing we can do to find our way to God, except believe the exact right thing - which to me is certainly something we do. I am sure we have all been in church services where they ask, "Are you absolutely sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your are saved?" Many fellow youths growing up were "saved" a few different times, no doubt trying to get it right.

But I do think Christianity can offer a path of spiritual growth that is more than a band-aid getting us off scot-free, so your point is well-made.

chaidrinkingfool said...

I don't think that Christianity holds up well in this sound bite.

"Forgiveness" and "redemption" are words that have meanings in the context of Christianity that can be and often are different than the way these words are understood by those of a different faith, or by those who do not claim a faith. (Though the meanings do overlap, I admit.) Where does the use of this language in the context of the larger world, without clarification, lead? Take a look at much of the discussion here: It's mostly theological. Of what interest is theological discussion to many of those who heard (and/or are still hearing) Mr. Hume's comment?

Outside of some in the Christian world, I don't think there are many who are appreciative of Hume's comment. http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=brit+hume+and+tiger+woods&aq=f&aqi=&oq=&fp=e8d6ef47431c6a4a

No, we should not base our behavior on what other people think of us. But we should look at the larger context--when there is one--when we're deciding whether someone's actions had a positive or negative affect.

This sort of support for Christianity risks continuing the perception that Christians are out of touch and that the faith/religion is irrelevant. I am not claiming to be able to speak eloquently and very, very briefly for the faith. Perhaps there is someone out there who can, and is/would be a great thing!

Couldn't Mr. Hume, sincerely concerned for Mr. Woods' well-being, have contacted him privately? I don't see the benefit of his public commentary on this issue.

chaidrinkingfool said...

"Effect", not "affect". Sorry.

Also, the last sentence in this paragraph appears corrected here:
"This sort of support for Christianity risks continuing the perception that Christians are out of touch and that the faith/religion is irrelevant. I am not claiming to be able to speak eloquently and very, very briefly for the faith. Perhaps there is someone out there who can, and that is/would be a great thing!"