Tuesday, December 25, 2007

YOU Are The Saints!

Perhaps because it's the Christmas season I've been thinking about saints. I've been reading a little about St. Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus, and while he seems to have been a genuinely good man the historical devotion paid to him, and other saints, proved disturbing to me.

This blog is about my "divine discontents" and one of my pet discontents is Christians doing or believing things that are not in the Bible. One such thing is this veneration of saints.

Through out Christian history there have been people who showed exceptional devotion to God and the life He would have us live. There is nothing wrong with holding such people in high esteem and encouraging the faithful to emulate them. But when people celebrate feast days, make pilgrimages to saints' shrines and pray to saints as if they were God something is terribly wrong.

The Bible clearly teaches that there is only ONE true God and that worshipping anything besides Him is idolatry. Yet, for hundreds of years the Catholic and Orthodox churches have promoted the virtual worship of human beings they call "saints". They've taught millions of their unsuspecting members that the veneration of saints is an integral part of the Christian faith. It's not.

Saint worship is left over, "Christianized" polytheism. It was a way for the early institutional church to deal with "converted" pagans who didn't really abandon their desire to worship multiple gods. Giving such people Godly heroes to venerate in place of their pagan deities may have seemed like a positive way to satisfy their polytheist urges but it can backfire on the church. When folks realize that practices and doctrines they've been taught all their lives are not in the Bible it can obliterate the authority of the church and discredit the entire Christian message. So this whole saints issue is serious business.

The church needs to follow the Bible's teachings on saints. According to the Good Book the saints are ALL the believers. Every person who sincerely believes in God and Jesus Christ is a saint. Look at yourselves in the mirror, Christians. YOU are the saints! That's what the Bible says. The only canonization process is believing in Christ and living life His way. Do that and you have instant sainthood. What you don't have is people praying to mortals as if they were gods.

Once Christians understand just what Biblical sainthood is they should strive to be worthy of the label. Being a saint is a lot harder than worshipping one. But once they fully realize who they are I know the believers will step up to the plate.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Baby Got Book (OFFICIAL)

Another example of not-your-typical-Christian-music Christian music. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Was Jesus Necessary?

In this season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, to many the Savior of the world, I thought I would write a post on a question I've had for a very long time: was Jesus necessary?

In orthodox Christian teaching, faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved, to be considered right before God. Yet the first part of the Christian Bible seems to contradict that doctrine from begining to end. In the Old Testament, as Christians call it, numerous people from Abel to Noah to Abraham to Moses and many more are called righteous, often by God Himself. They had an intimate relationship with God without "knowing the Lord". In short, they were saved. This has always perplexed me.

If Christian teaching is true, and no one is saved apart from Christ, then everyone who lived before Christ died eternally lost. But if pre-Jesus people could be and were saved, then Jesus was unnecessary. Really, what would be the point of sending Christ if salvation was already obtainable? And the Old Testament clearly reveals that it was.

Some Christians might argue that salvation by faith is the same in the Old and New Testaments and point to the NT Book of Hebrews as proof. In that epistle is the famous Roll Call of Faith where OT heroes and heroines are lauded for their unwavering commitment to God. The problem for Christians is that the people on the Roll Call of Faith had faith in God NOT Jesus, who hadn't come in their time. Yet they were righteous enough without Christ to be praised in the NT. So I ask again: was Jesus necessary?

I once posed this question to a nice pastor. I asked him how was it possible for people to be saved before the coming of Christ. His answer was that Christ's coming, death, and resurrection had already happened in God's mind so, for pre-Jesus people, believing in God was believing in Christ. I'm still disappointed at how lame that answer was. I expected more from a pastor.

So I still have the question: was Jesus necessary? If you take the OT seriously then the answer is no, Jesus wasn't necessary, at least not for salvation. He may have fulfilled other Messianic requirements, but saving souls couldn't have been on the list because righteousness was already obtainable. I realize that's a big monkey wrench in Christian doctrine. People could be righteous before Christ? That changes everything! Yes, it does. But if your heart is to follow the Bible you will happily change to align yourself with it.

On the other hand, I could be wrong. My understanding of Old Testament righteousness may be incomplete. The people of that time may have been lacking something that only Christ could give. In that case, Christ would indeed be necessary. A big part of me really hopes He was.