I am blessed by the activity and comments to date during this study. I hope that we are finding our place and that people are growing because of the time that they are investing here. It appears that we are settling down and people are realizing that they can come and go while keeping track of the conversation from a distance. It appears that many are interested enough to keep coming back to our study of When Christian’s Get It Wrong by Adam Hamilton. I still have a few copies of the book, if you are in the Davenport area stop by the church. Please comment and join in the discussion, remember the only rules I have are that your comments are not vulgar or insulting, and you do not call people names.
This is a very interesting chapter as I shared yesterday. As I read this book I become more and more aware that the people who control the conversation in this country are on one end of a large spectrum or on a totally opposite side. This chapter covers an issue that I have worked through in my own head for a number of years. That question is what happens to devout, seemingly faithful followers of other religions(in my own questioning it is those of Muslim faith) when they die. As a fairly “conservative” Christian I was taught the theory that Hamilton calls “Christian Exclusivism” where the only way to get past our sin and separation from God is through acceptance of Christ. In fact, at one point in my journey I said that it boiled down to one question, “You in or you out?”
As I have grown in my faith and developed my own understandings this point of view seemed wrong. In its purest sense this left no room for young children, mentally challenged, and people who spoke languages and dialects that had not been translated in such a manner that a real and complete understanding of the Gospel message was possible. At this point I felt that the things started to fall apart. When pushed, I was not able to say that the God I understood from my reading of Bible would categorically reject such groups. I was forced to look deeper at this question.
In all honesty I would like to say that what Hamilton calls “Christian Universalism” is the answer. But again I can not reconcile my reading of the Bible with such an open-ended concept. Like Hamilton, I see in Scripture a God that gives choices to humans. This theory removes the choice and in the end what we do or did not do would be disregarded. Were that the case it would seem that most of our lives were just a scripted play of some sort.
“Christian Inclusivism” would be where I would have to put myself at this time. God can offer the gift of salvation as God so desires. This takes away the problem that I have with humans doing something to ensure their salvation. Grace is a free and undeserved gift that God offers, if we recite the proper prayer or follow the correct patterns as a requirement for salvation, we remove grace from the picture in my view. I agree with Hamilton when he writes on page 53, “salvation is by and through Christ, and it is received by faith. It (this view) makes clear that salvation is a gift from God, given not based upon human actions, nor even as a result of our theological knowledge. It is given by God, through Christ, to whomever God wishes to give it.”
I realize that this may not be what other people believe. I have studied enough of the Bible to know that people from the exclusivist camp can and will quote verses where Jesus speaks of their position. But I also know that I can quote Jesus speaking in terms of the position that I hold. I am where I am from my own learning and watching people live out their lives. I believe that Jesus came to give us a glimpse of the richness and fullness of God. Being a follower of Christ, for me, is about much more than finding my ticket to heaven.
What do you think? How did you get to this point? Do you know anyone of a different religion? How do they live out their lives? Lets get past the simple talking points and really dive into where we are and how we came to believe what we do.
Peace and Grace