44. God is not a _____!

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Reconnect Episode 44

Maybe when you see a fill-in the blank about God not being something, or someone, your mind runs to fill it in with something akin to the title of the 2007 Christopher Hitchens’ book, God is not Good. Maybe you’d fill in the blank by saying something like “God is not a merciful, forgiving God.” This is certainly what Richard Dawkins thinks, as he wrote in his bestselling book, The God Delusion:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

But that’s not what this episode is about at all! This episode looks at false views of God emerging from within the Church.

Christians, in our sinfulness, far too often approach God in ways that are contrary to how he is revealed to us in Scripture. Sometimes, these presentations might come from people who claim to be Christians, but are really not! They might be false teachers, or people who think they are followers of Christ, but in reality they are far from God, based upon their confessions of who he is, and, or, their approach to interacting with him in their day to day life.

In this episode, Stephen Puls, joins me again; this time to discuss some false views and approaches to God that we far too often see in the Church.

For instance, we might approach God as a Black Hawk helicopter God. We expect him to swoop in and save us from all of our trials and tribulations. But is such deliverance from all earthly afflictions promised in Scripture? No, it’s not. God is not a Black Hawk helicopter God.

Another example of a false approach is treat God as a magic genie! We simply approach him again and again for things that we need and want, and that’s it. That’s the bulk of our interaction with him. What happens when such prayers are not answered in the affirmative? Will our faith be shaken? Will others who are not Christians, laugh and mock our God for not responding to our prayers as we expect him to?

Sometimes we treat God as a vending machine. We expect to get blessings from him, but they come at an expense! We have to pay in some fashion to receive God’s gifts. We treat all of our dealings with God in transactional terms: I prayed; I went to Church; I went on that mission trip; so I expect x, y, or z, from you in return, God!

Stephen shares these and many more false views and approaches to God in this episode. And most importantly, he shares a true view and approach to God: God is an anchor God!

Show Links:

Another episode featuring Stephen Puls: “Religions, Atheism, and Wars!”

Andy Wrasman’s Blog Posts on “Who is God?”

Order Andy Wrasman’s book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True

28. “Jesus is my Girlfriend” Songs

Episode 28 – Listen Here!!!!

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Reconnect Episode 28

George and Andy take a quiz from ChurchPop that makes them decipher if a selection of lyrics are from a secular love song or a contemporary worship song.

This quiz leads them to ask if it’s a problem if the lyrics to a song intended to be sung to Jesus could just as easily be sung to your girlfriend.

Other questions are also addressed:

Why is there music and singing in worship services? Is there a Scriptural reason to support singing when Christians gather for worship?

What should we expect to see in the lyrical content of songs intended for worship?

Should worship be viewed as a time that God comes and serves us, or a time that we come together to worship and praise God?

Should there be a different standard of lyrical content when singing to God corporately or by one’s self?

Andy has noticed what appears to be a thrust to have the songs and bands in services be something non-Christians or non-Church-goers wouldn’t mind hearing. This means the band in a way has become an outreach component. Is this a good approach to sharing the Gospel? And if this is the intent of some services, are the “Jesus is my Girlfriend” songs missing the mark of their intent for evangelism?

George and Andy both pick a song they have heard recently in a worship setting that has rubbed them the wrong way lyrically and they explain why. Their intent with this podcast is to promote Christians to evaluate what the purpose is of singing as a body of believers and to lead them to think about what they are singing when they gather in their local church bodies.

Show Links:

Contemporary Worship or Love Song?

“I have Decided to Follow Jesus” Lyrics

“The Ascension” Lyrics

“In Christ Alone” Lyrics

Is it OK for Christians to Have Doubts?

A student of mine wanted to write an apologetics paper on the role or place of doubts in the life of a Christian.  He wanted to find an answer to the question, “Is it OK for Christians to have Doubts?”

His conclusion after reading non-Christian and Christian sources was that one will still be saved even if that person doubts his or her salvation in Christ.

Here were his arguments:

1. Doubting your salvation is actually good!  Doubting leads one to grow spiritually and intellectually, because a doubter will want to know the answer for the doubt, and through the research can increase trust or connection with the subject he or she had doubt.  For Scriptural support, he cited 2 Cor. 13:5.

2.  There is no reason to doubt your salvation.  Doubts show a lack of understanding, but God has revealed all that we need to know for our salvation.  “These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).

3.  Salvation is important to any religion and every religion includes doubts as an important step to reach their goals.  Overcoming doubt in Hinduism is an important step to reaching moksha.  Buddhism calls for believers to overcome their religious doubts.  His conclusion here was, “It is important to know how other religions take care of this problem because by knowing those religions, one can increase interactions with other religious believers and convince them to become Christian since it is easier for people to move towards Christ if they know that they can still have doubts and be a Christian.”  It thought this was an interesting point.  Other religions require a person to overcome doubts for salvation.  Christianity allows a believer to still have doubts.  It’s a more inviting offer.

4.  God will always love you and tries to save you even if you are unfaithful to Him.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he [God] remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.”  Luke 11:10 says, “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.”  The student concluding this point by quoting John 3:16 and saying, “Even though we have sinned too much that we should be eternally separated from Him and put to death, He still saved us and took our punishment upon himself.”

The final conclusion was “you will still be saved even if you doubt your salvation as doubting is an integral part of growing faith in God and trust in the Bible, which is the only source that answers questions beyond our natural knowledge.  This student also stated that this research has “made it easier for me to invite more people to Christ because Christianity is the only religion that only requires faith for salvation, while still allowing a person to be saved even if they have doubts.”

I’ll keep the student’s name anonymous, but I’d also like to share that he is a Japanese international student.

Don’t Talk About Christianity – Focus on Jesus!

I’ve heard the quote, “I don’t like your Christians, but I like your Christ,” attributed to Gandhi.

I think Gandhi said this because on paper, Jesus is the greatest human being to ever walk this earth!  His moral and ethical teachings are hands down the best.  They’re quoted even to this day by people who are not Christians, such classic gems as, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which is now called the Golden Rule.  Some have even traced the freedom and equality of women in society, directly to Jesus’ teachings and interactions with and concerning women. Parables attributed to Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels can be found in non-religious literary textbooks, as well as his famous Sermon on the Mount.  He’s always at or near the top of the list for most influential people in history.

It seems that a growing number of people are taking a stance like Gandhi, liking Christ but not liking “organized religion”.  They cite the Crusades!  They cite fraudulent practices within the church to make a buck, they cite Roman Catholic priests who molest boys, and other horrendous acts committed by Christians who don’t live up to the teachings of Christ.

I’d like to note that these people are focusing on the ability of Christians to live up to Jesus’ teachings in the Law of God as a way of justifying faith in Christ.  Faith in Christ is not centered on the observance of the Law.  In fact, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees (religious goody-goodies), you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus in this one claim, threw everyone under the bus of condemnation who heard his sermon!

If someone discredits Christianity because of the sinful lives of Christians, then they don’t even know what they are rejecting.  We must move beyond Christianity and focus on Christ!  Who is he?  We must share that he was more than a good man, more than a moral teacher, more than a sacrificial philanthropist of the early first century.  He claimed to be God!  A good man can’t claim to be God if he’s not God.  If he claims to be God and he’s not God, he’s a liar, not a good man!  He’s a deceiver.  Or if he thinks he’s God, but he’s not, he must be deranged, a lunatic.  None of these fit with his character recorded within the Bible or from extra-biblical sources near the time of his life.  His disciples could have always lied in their historical accounts of him, but why would they do that?  They didn’t gain anything for their efforts besides persecution and death.

In conclusion, we must focus on Christ.  Who is Jesus, what did he claim about himself, did he back up those claims?  What if he rose from the grave as the Gospels proclaim?  What would that mean?  Does that verify his claims to divinity?  Ask questions that lead people to Jesus, to the good news.  Admit the faults of the church, admit the stain of sin within us all, admit that Jesus acknowledged that none of us could live up to the righteousness required in his teachings – that’s why we need him, our one and only Savior from sin and death!  Encourage people to look at all of Christ’s message, not just his morals!  If you only accept the ethics in Christ’s teachings, then you don’t really like Christ!  Don’t reject Christ because of Christians.  Christians are the messengers, not the message.  Don’t let the messengers get in the way of the message.  Focus on Jesus!

Reconnect 20. Answering Listerners’ Questions

Andy brings Reconnect listeners’ and Contradict Movement members’ questions to the show to answer them with George and Wes. 

Reconnect Episode 20
1:53 – Responding to the claim that the Gospel of Barnabus is the true Bible that prophesies that Muhammad will be the Messiah.

16:47 – Does Contradict Movement espouse the doctrines of  “Lordship Salvation”?

24:07 – Responding to a post made by Mena Lee Grebin of Faithful Walk Healing Ministry.  She advocates that we must work to maintain our relationship with Jesus.  A Contradict follower, Nick, thinks Mena’s post is inserting our works into our salvation by her post.  In particular Nick wants to know the meaning of the Parable of the Ten Virgins which Mena uses in her post, which we read in full and respond to in its entirety.

46:25 – If we are following Christ, why are we still cursed?

49:50 – Does God’s standards apply to our everyday life or just spiritual life?

51:25 – Feedback from Kurt Calloway on Reconnect Episode 15!

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