The 3rd post in an ongoing series about attending a “conservative led” church as a “liberal”.
I am really enjoying the liturgy in the Church of England we are attending. It’s something I found missing in other churches. For me, using liturgy helps me to find my role in the unfolding story of God. There is a flow and a rhythm to the service. We explicitly hear each week of the work that Jesus did in on the cross. It’s important to be reminded of that.
But it also leaves me asking the question, “is that all the gospel is?”
Each week we hear that we are sinful people, heading for hell but because of the cross we are rescued and get to go to heaven.
I’m not against that reading of the gospel. But I don’t think that serves up the whole picture of the gospel. I don’t think that covers everything that’s going on.
This reading reduces everything to a binary transaction. We are the problem, Jesus is the solution.
What of the creation narrative, the Abrahamic covenant, the mosaic covenant? What about the life of Jesus? What about our lives, right here, right now?
None of this matters if we hold to this basic view of the gospel.
Being a “liberal”, I don’t believe that the sole point of the gospel is for Jesus to rescue us from hell and take us to heaven. For me the gospel is the reconciliation of all things. It is freedom from oppression and injustice. It is longing for the Kingdom to come and for Gods will to be done on earth (Familiar words aren’t they?”
I believe that I am saved from something but also saved for something. I am to be a blessing to all people. I have to hold out and hold on to the living word. I care about this world, and its inhabitants, as I believe God cares about it.
The gospel is the proclamation that, through the Son, a new world order is breaking out in the midst of the old one. The gospel challenges us to be heaven bringers rather than heaven goers.
So yes, I believe that through the cross we have been ransomed, rescued and redeemed.
But that’s just part of the picture.
- A liberal undercover (smoorns.wordpress.com)
I wrote a blog post a few days ago that caused a bit of controversy on the comments and on twitter. read it here
One aspect of bible college that I really miss, and that I find in the blogging world, is that of discussion and debate. At bible college you can throw out an idea and people can grapple with it together. This is what happened with this post and it has resulted in me learning more about some of the nuances of original sin and I’d wanted to offer a follow up post.
(One helpful insight I have learned is that ‘original sin’ does not have to imply that we are all sinful because of what a ‘historical’ Adam did. This is helpful for me as I do not believe in a historical Adam.)
So here’s what i think.
I still do not believe that we all stand condemned from the point of birth. What I do believe is that we are born into a broken world because of the ‘sin’ of others. We have inherited those consequences. Because we live in a broken world, we ourselves are also broken because a) our world is not how it was intended to be and b) we are influenced by said world. We have the ability to live sinless lives (just as Jesus did) but on a daily basis, because of our brokenness, we choose to reject God through a number of actions.
And we cannot fix this problem by ourselves. It is not simply a matter of being better people. We need jesus. We need the cross. We need the wisdom of God. The cross is a symbol of God’s reuniting with people. It is God bending down and embracing our brokenness (not just us personally but the entire created world) so that we may become whole again.
So that’s where I stand. It is a nuanced belief and the main difference for me between my view and a more conservative evangelical view is from birth I would define humanity as ‘broken’ rather than ‘guilty’.
This is still only the beginning of the discussion for me and I hope to hear other peoples responses.
In the book he gives two possible interpretations of the Adam story:
1) It was written as a response of the exile. It is the story of Israel and was a way of them understanding how they ended up in exile.
2) When read alongside Proverbs, the story is about the failure to fear God and attain wisdom. Rather then fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) they follow the advice of the snake and try to achieve wisdom without God. The Adam story is then a story for all of us as we make decisions each day. Do we follow God or someone else?
I was listening to an “Unbelievable?” podcast today where they were discussing “the fall” and “original sin”. As a consequence to not believing in a historical Adam, I then do not believe in the idea that we are all born depraved. I find the concept that we are all guilty because of what two people did to be incredibly unjust. Rather I believe that we are born with the potential to be good or depraved based on the decisions that we make.
I believe that the Adam story can be read in this way.
We are all born into a culture. A culture has been defined by some as “the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization’s view of its self and its environment.”
Rather than seeing the serpent as ‘the devil”, I believe we can interpret it to be the voice of our culture. We can choose to follow the voices of our culture or we can choose to listen to God. Now, there are times where the voice of the culture echoes the voice of God but that will not always be the case and it is the work of each christian to develop maturity and wisdom by differentiating between the two voices.
What do you think? Does this alternative reading hold true?