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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Awakening Thoughts

Be a sinner and sin strongly... ~ Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer (1483-1546)

 

Last week I awakened from a nap with the words of a (rather well-know, I think) fundamentalist radio evangelist rocketing against my ear drums. I really don’t know how my radio became tuned to that station; when I fell asleep I was listening to classical music on one of Louisville’s public radio stations. Perhaps Alex, in his stalking an imaginary wildebeest (Alex has been watching a TV program about lions on the Serengeti), stepped on the radio remote and changed the station.

As my head began to clear from my uncouth awakening, I heard the gravel-voiced fundamentalist radio evangelist  pronounce the words sin and sinner at least a dozen times in perhaps sixty seconds. I didn’t catch the full context of his jeremiad, except maybe that the world and everyone in it was caught in sin and condemned to eternal damnation. Since he was near the conclusion of his discourse, I choked down my desires to scream Idiot! at the moron and to gag.

I listened to the end of the so-called evangelist’s diatribe against humanity and was amazed that he ended in the same way as I first heard him: the world and everyone in it was caught in sin and condemned to eternal damnation. He spoke no words of hope or grace or forgiveness. From his viewpoint there was nothing anyone could do except await and accept damnation. This dude made me feel sick!

Sick, not condemned! To utter such, uh, shit, has no place in my sense of Christianity. I would love to meet this fundamentalist radio evangelist and debate with him his theology, especially his Christology (if he has one).

Where sin is concerned, I much prefer the words of Mainline theologians, such as Martin Luther, who one wrote: Be a sinner and sin strongly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ. Being who we are, we cannot not sin. (Sin comes from the sport of archery and means that one has missed the bull's eye, missed the goal). I know few of us who can claim never to have missed the bull's eye(s) of life. 

At least the gravel-voiced evangelist got that right: everone sins! However, sin in my view does not lead to automatic eternal damnation. Sure, we must accept the karma resulting from our actions, but even that is not automatic.

It is the nature of the God that I know and serve to be just, gracious, faithful, forgiving, and most of all, loving. That’s what I want to say to this fundamentalist radio evangelist. I fear that he would not understand what I am talking about, so perhaps I would tell him this story:

 

It is the moment of the Final Judgment (see below) and all of the souls who have ever existed are standing before the throne of God. Forward steps the archangel Gabriel, who reads to the gathering the Decalogue:

 “’I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;  you shall have no other gods before me.’ 

"All who have worshiped other gods depart this place for eternal damnation.”

And 99.8% of the souls gathered disappeared.

Gabriel continues reading the other commandments. When the archangel has finished, where billions of souls had once gathered was standing only one little man, smiling. The silence was overwhelming.

At this point, Jesus leans over toward God and says, “You know, Dad, it’s going to be terribly lonely up here with just that one dude around.”

And, God commands, “All right! Everybody back!" 

And again all of the souls who have ever existed are standing before the throne of God, laughing and singing.

Except the one little man who had moments before been standing alone before the throne of God, who frowned and asked, "Why didn't someone tell me that this was going to happen?"


 

I wonder if that evangelist preacher dude would have any idea what that parable is saying? 


Matthew 25.31-46 (Revised Standard translation)

 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'

And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'

Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'

And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 


Peace, my friends.

17 comments:

  1. Those fundamentalist ranters do nothing for me, either, Nick. And I, too, live by the tenet of Karma or what goes around comes around. But those guys have no forgiveness in their rantings, and they have no forgiveness to their loved ones either. I wonder how many of them live their rigid lives and try to push that down everyone's throat? Too many, I suspect.

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  2. We saw a tshirt in Disney that my little Diva Daughter fell in love with. I need to find it for her. It said (loosely quoted) "Why are imperfect criticized, and the perfect crucified?"

    Your post was really thought provoking. Once again, through that evangelist, it seems that Christians hurt the cause of Christ at times. I pray that God will help me maintain a loving witness for Him.

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  3. Puss-in-Boots: They get to me horribly, Robyn, especially the ones like that dude. I remember a woman who was a member of one of my congregations who had grown up in a church pastored by such a dude. Often, when she left a service I had officiated, she would say to me, “There is something wrong with the way you do ‘church.’ I’m supposed to leave church feeling convicted and bad about myself but I leave your services feeling OK and even good about myself.”
    Jennifer: That’s a really accurate t-shirt!
    There is a story about a man who took his friend to the “God Fair,” where there were many booths with salespeople crying out things like “Jesus Christ is the only way to God” and “There is but one God and his name is Allah” and “You must follow the Ten Commandments or die” etc, etc. ad nauseam.
    When they left the fair, the man asked his friend what he thought about God and the friend replied, “I think that God is confusing, bigoted, and selfish.”
    Later the man said to God, “Why do you let them portray you like that?” and God replied, “Did you not noticed that I did not attend the fair?”

    I think that that fundamentalist preacher dude has a booth at the fair.

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  4. Great post Nick. And that quote by Luther is one of my faves by him. If I am not mistaken, I believe in that quote he was talking about "sinning" against the Catholic Church by trying to install his reforms. Cheers Nick!!

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  5. I just don't get any of it ; (

    But I like reading of your experiences ; )

    Cheers!

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  6. I think a lot of people enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes from working themselves up into a Giant Snit. "Outrage" is the drug of choice for the new millennium.

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  7. I've never understood how anyone can link the ideas of God loving us to sin, unforgiveness and hopelessness.

    To change the topic utterly - thank you for popping by to wish me Happy new year and HAPPY NEW YEAR wishes back to you. :-)

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  8. Religious ranters are causing more harm than good in a very turbulent world.

    Peace to you my friend and may you enjoy a happy 2009.

    CJ xx

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  9. I think that Alex changed the radio station for you so you'd have fodder for a great blog post!

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  10. PS Do drop by my place tomorrow there'll be a little something for you. :)

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  11. I really don’t know how my radio became tuned to that station ...

    Puzzles me too.

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  12. Hi………
    I go through ur other blogs. Very cool your blog!
    Great! Keep writing…….
    Good week………

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  13. Matt-Man: Thank you, sir. I cannot remember the context in which Luther wrote that. I do remember that it was in private correspondence and not in one of the books that he wrote.

    Coffee Messiah : Thank you. Many people who have listened to my sermons have told me the same.

    Thomas: I saw something about that one television the other night. The theory was that we humans up our feelings of self-worth when we put down others.

    Michelle : Unfortunately, I believe too many people do make that link. I really think it has to do with people projecting their feeling of not being OK on to God.

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  14. Akelamalu : Thank you!

    Crystal Jigsaw : I agree!

    Carol: You may be right! I thought that perhaps God had switched the stations on me, but then I remembered that I don’t believe that God works that way. However, Alex may have been acting as God’s messenger!

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  15. James Higham : I really don’t know how the station changed! For one thing, the Public Radio Station (WUOL) I fell asleep to is FM and the station that I awoke to is AM. I almost never listen to AM radio stations.

    Femin Susan : Thanks for dropping by Nick’s Bytes! I greatly appreciate your words.

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