Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

An Objective Truth

I saw a liberal Baptist the other day say that one did not necessarily have to believe that Jesus was a real person in order to be a Christian. If one believed in the "idea" of Jesus and followed his teachings as set down in the Bible, then in so far as you were a "follower of the biblical Jesus" you were a Christian. I wanted to dispute that idea. It is fundamentally flawed and I want to show why.

The idea that we can learn to be good by learning to follow the ways of Jesus as told in the Bible finds it's root in a teaching called "pelagianism." Pelagius was a British monk who denied the doctrine of original sin and taught that humans were born innocent. We were sinners because we learned to become sinners by copying the role models we had around us. We could learn to become righteous if we had a righteous role model to copy. He believed that was what Jesus was, a righteous role model for us to follow. In other words, man saved himself by learning to become righteous by copying the lifestyle of Jesus as told to us in the Bible. Pelagius did not deny the historicity of the man Jesus Christ. But you can see that once Jesus' work for us is bound up in being only an example, then the need for there to be a real Jesus falls away. If we have the stories of his life then it does not matter of Jesus the man is fact or fiction. Pelagius was condemned as a heretic, but hsi heresy lay in his denial of original sin and the doctrines he derived from that. It is liberal "Christians" of today that deny that Jesus ever lived.

But man has a real problem. Contrary to Pelagius, man is born in sin and is alienated from God from conception. Our alienation is so thorough that there is nothing we are capable of to remedy the situation. We are (as the Bible says) without hope in the world. But what man cannot do for himself God does for us. God came to us in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life and died a criminal's death so that he could be the substitute for our sins. Jesus took on himself what we deserved to have done to us. Our sins were counted to him so that his sinless life could be counted to us. We know these things to be true because the resurrection of Jesus from the dead announces God's satisfaction with the atoning work of Jesus. Now for all this to be true, it must have happened in time and space. In other words, not as a fiction, but as a fact. Otherwise the atonement is a sham. It is a story devoid of substance. we would be putting the hope of our eternal souls in a bloody fairy tale.

Our salvation is wrapped up in real events. There is a virgin birth, a babe in a manger, a child about his Father's business, a sinless life that was actually lived, a real atoning death on a real blood stained cross and a real glorious resurrection and real hope of eternal life for all who believe. It does matter whether or not you believe Jesus actually lived. Without a real Jesus, you cannot have a real savior. When the angel announced the miraculous birth to Mary he said "You shall call his name 'Jesus' for he shall save his people from their sins." A real savior for real people. It has to be that way.


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