In light of my previous post and the comments that everyone made, I have some observations and then some questions to throw out.

OBSERVATIONS: In this group of commenters we have several different groups which believe very differently about the same book, the Bible. As far as I know (I could be wrong), each of the commenters would call themselves Christians, consider themselves to have a “relationship with God through Jesus Christ”, and believe that they are going to heaven one day. Each one of you uses the Bible as a source for truth, but how literal or infallible it may be is part of the debate.

God is Love?

The other night my little guy brought me the story of Noah to read to him before bedtime. The book starts with this description of Noah on Page 1:

A long time time ago there lived a man called Noah.
Noah was a good man, who trusted in God.

Alright… fair enough. Turn to Page 2. This is where we learn about the type of God that Noah trusted.

The following conversation is purely fictional and has occurred only in my mind… well, except for the conclusion.

G: Daddy, what does wicked mean?

D: Well, it means they had done some things wrong that God didn’t like. They had broken God’s rules.

G: So, God’s going to punish them? Like, give them a time-out.

D: Not exactly. He’s going to cause a flood and drown all of the wicked people.

G: But Daddy, I thought God loved people.

D: So did I son, so did I.

Conversation with a True Believer – #1

Recently I was contacted by a reader and asked the following question:

“In your personal opinion, what do you understand that it takes for a person to go to heaven?”

Here is my response to that question:

I know the church and Bible answer to this question. I could give that to you, but why rehash what we already know right? Belief in Christ, trusting in his death and blood atonement for our sins, repentance and a commitment to follow Christ… those sort of answers are what the church answers look like. This is what I would say has been my traditional view on the subject.

But I do not personally believe that it is that black and white anymore. Honestly, I do not think I have a genuine understanding as to what it means for a person to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are going to heaven (in addition as to whether or not one can know there is such a place). I have said on my site that I do not “know, know” anything regarding salvation. For me that is a place of faith, and faith is a lot of things but it is not certainty. And I think that if anyone says they are CERTAIN that they are going to heaven, they are fooling themselves. They can think, they can hope and they can put their trust and belief in their version of what it may mean to go to heaven… but they cannot KNOW.

Only God knows (if she in fact exists – because we can’t really “know, know” that either)… and she isn’t telling what it takes to get to heaven. It’s a mystery…. a great mystery in my opinion. It’s a mystery I enjoy dialoguing about. I appreciate you asking me and if I haven’t been clear, I hope you will feel free to contact me with more questions.

Steve

Over the next few posts I will share the conversation Andy and I have had via email over the last couple of weeks. I found it interesting in what it revealed on many levels… both from my perspective and Andy’s.

A Letter to Ted Haggard – Part 3

My open letter to Ted Haggard is in response to his public letter of apology and forgiveness shared with his church on Sunday, November 5, 2006. This is part three.

Ted, it has been said that you have “fallen from grace”. This phrase is very often used when pastors are asked to step down from their ministry positions because of impropriety. What people fail to realize and what I learned from a good pastor friend of mine who went through somewhat of a public dismantling of his own ministry years ago is this:

You didn’t fall from grace Ted, you have fallen into grace.

People want to keep you from grace. These “great religious leaders” you have been asked to submit to for “restoration” don’t want you to have grace. The Dobson’s of the world don’t want you to experience grace. They want you to jump through hoops to earn it back. They want to try and “fix you” Ted and make you look all “shiny and spiffy” again. But do you know what that gets you? It gets you back to the place of pretending. It puts you back on the same carousel you just fell off.

Others telling you that you have “fallen from grace” implies that you now have to climb your way back up to the place you were before. It puts you back on that merry-go-round of goodness that leads you nowhere. It keeps you spinning so you never experience true grace. You and I know that the place where your were wasn’t grace. It was getting you nowhere close to grace. The place you were before was a prison… it was a cage. Whatever the name for it, where you were before wasn’t named grace.

Grace isn’t gaining other peoples approval. It isn’t about people liking you. It isn’t your ability to keep a smile on your face when the world is falling down all around you. Grace isn’t feeling good about the things we have done or justifying the things we have done wrong. Grace isn’t telling others what grace is like and expecting they will believe you just because you say it. It isn’t “seven steps”, or “three ways” or “five principles”. There isn’t a formula for grace.

Grace is that feeling of completeness you have longed for in your life. It is the ability to look in the mirror now and know that you no longer have to hide who you really are to those around you. It is being real at all times throughout your day and knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you… this is who you are. Grace is normally found when you have fallen and reached out to grab the end of your rope. It is the beginning of the journey for your life, not a destination where you arrive and stay. In grace, you will finally be joining your public and your private self into one celebration of a life well lived. A life lived with honesty, responsibility and wholeness at the forefront.

Grace is freedom.

And for those who have found the freedom of grace, life is never the same. Good luck on your journey Ted.

Take care,

Steve