I spent last summer, 2007, reading the Level-6 Agnostics, Christopher Hutchins, Richard Dawkins, Ben Rogers, et al, so that you do not have to read them. They are a real drain on the spirit. Their arguments are naive as concerns religion in general and empty as to Christianity in particular but I dealt with that before and on we go.
I spent the summer of 2008 reading some of the other religions and their very modern beliefs about Christianity. Most of them seem tolerant of us, if we will only admit Jesus is not God,or god, or even a really good man or a deep teacher but just a guy, any old guy and there are a million like him and most of them are better.
We probably will not agree with the other folks on this one.
Here is the deal about coming to Jesus as the Christ if you are a really, really set in your ways unbeliever and it runs for awhile.
There is a man, a good man, named Cornelius. He takes care of poor people in a social setting wherein the poor are not men like him, he being a Roman and a gentile set among first century Jews, Acts 10:2. Not only does he take care of the poor, he also prays devoutly, 10:2.
Cornelius means it and God hears him. God speaks to Cornelius, as he naps about three pm, which automatically makes him my kind of guy, because anyone who takes a daily nap is my kind of guy, Acts 10:3.
Cornelius does pray devoutly and God hears him. This means you do not have to be a fully knowledgeable believer to have God hear your prayer or answer it, at least not in Acts 10. You do need someone, evidently, to come explain this whole thing to you, because Cornelius, who takes care of poor people, prays and naps, still needs to have someone tell him about Jesus the Christ, 10:5-9.
If you are telling someone of the Christ, only to have them reject your counsel, it is not wrong to tell them to devoutly seek God, to care for the poor and to pray diligently for revelation. At least, it is not wrong in Acts 10.
In fact, general revelation is not unacceptable elsewhere, for Paul mentions it in Romans 1 repeatedly, see it with me.
- Romans 1:18-19-For the wrath (judgement) of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is visibly apparent to them; for God has shown it to them. Meaning, of course, no one is declared innocent of any part of the law of God simply because they claim or choose not to trust in God.
Romans 1:21-Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Meaning, of course, there is a big difference between knowledge and faith, a bigger gap between faith and commitment, a greater gap still between commitment and trust.
People misunderstand what God is after and so misapprehend the intentions of God's people. God is apprently intent, not on disseminating information to spiritually ignorant people, but, instead, to inspiring the spiritually unfit to draw near to His Son. This takes in the lot.
Cornelius, as good as he is, needs to know about God in Christ. For this, he must come to know a believer willing to break the social rules, 10:28. See, it is not just that Peter hears from God in a vision (again, napping; thank god for those naps) that he must not call unclean what God calls clean but he, Peter, must be actually willing to meet with the unclean.
It may be that many churches never see an adult unbeliever come to conversion for the simple reason we don't hang around such people for the sake of seeing them converted.
Peter has to be coaxed but he comes to break the law. He puts himself outside the realm of the acceptable. Look what happens.
Cornelius's conversion sparks a revolution. Christians have been unacceptable since because we insist on Jesus as the Christ, 10:39-43.
I say unacceptable, though we have become too very acceptable in this day, so long as we do not go to the lunatic fringe of proclamation. Modern religion is acceptable humanitarianism with a thin smathering of monotheism.
The problem is that humanitarianism does not prepare you to go anywhere but here and here won't always be here, so then where are you going to go?
Come on. Even Al Gore thinks this planet is dying. If you recycle you think the planet is going somewhere and cannot last forever. The species homo sapiens may not last that long, or why don't you drive an SUV any more.
Peter launched into religious unacceptability and Cornelius got ready for what comes next, Acts 10:43.
We have this absolutely lovely daughter-in-law, Crystal, our oldest son's wife and we totally love her. She is so great. She is also very pregnant just now and due any day.
My son called me the other day to tell me they were on their way to the hospital but not to come yet because they were not sure. False alarm, they were sent home.
In the meantime, I had to go over in my mind all the stuff I would have to do if I had to leave just then. No gas in the truck, no money in the wallet, not a thing packed. If I had really got the call that day, it would have taken me an hour to get ready to go. Not a good thing.
All this though I have known for nine months or so we would be getting the call sometime in here.
Silly me. I should be ready.
Are you ready?