Friday, August 27, 2010

The problem with being a Christian

The problem with being a Christian is that there are so many different views on what being a Christian means. In the end, this becomes confusing.

The difficulty is Christians have different views on yesterday, today and tomorrow. You might think that this is impossible if the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. But Christians, or I should say, people who claim to be Christians, simply do not agree on what should be quite obvious, if God is the same yesterday, today or tomorrow.

There are three subjects which concern yesterday, today and tomorrow. These are Creation, Salvation, and Judgment. Creation is about how the world came into being and is found in the first chapter of Genesis. Salvation is how people are able to discover the answers for existence and their purpose in life. Judgment is basically about the end times and whether or not people are going to receive just recompense for what has happened in their lives.

The Creation story is found in the book of Genesis. The first chapter talks about how God created light on the first day of creation and mentions that there was water and spirit. The light was not that of the sun, because the sun was not created until the fourth day of creation. So the light has to be something else other than what is understood by daylight or electromagnetic radiation from the sun. This fact alone suggests that the days of the creation are not twenty-four hour days. The twenty-four hour day is dependent on the sun and the earth turning on its axis. Neither the sun or the earth were created on the first day. Hence, it is quite obvious that the light on the first day of creation is not sunlight.

There a many different views on the length of the days on the creation period and these range from twenty-four hour days to billions of years. There are also theories about prior universes existing prior to the current creation. There are also different ideas of how humankind was formed. Some theorists claim that humankind evolved from a bacteria that was originally created by the Creator; others claim that humankind evolved from a primate form that was created by God; while the Bible simply says that God created man in their own image: male and female. This suggests that God is more than one, but the Bible claims God to be one, even though manifest in different forms of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Creator is represented in different ways throughout the world. Some see the Creator as a some form of force. Some see the Creator as a vengeful judge. Some see the Creator as an indifferent entity who is not concerned with the universe. Some see the Creator as a loving Father. Some see the Creator as the Godhead who consists of the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit.

This concept of the Godhead is also interpreted in different ways, with some accepting the Son of God as being God himself and others only seeing him as a demi-God. The Holy Spirit is also accredited with being God Himself or being less than God because the being emanated from the Father and the Son or an impersonal force that represents Godhead or executes the Father's fiats.

Salvation is seen as being predestined for some and not for others. Some see salvation as something that is obtained by performing certain rituals or doing good works. Some see salvation as something that has been universally provided for all and their is nothing that needs to be done to obtain it. Others see salvation as series of reincarnations or transmigrations. Some see salvation being only available to people who belong to a certain grouping. Yet the Bibles teaches that salvation is obtained by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, which some see as a progressive walk and others believe it is a once and only acceptance that cannot be lost.

The Bible also teaches that a person's name is written in the book of life. It also teaches that a person's name can be erased from the book of life. In the Book of Ezekiel, a whole chapter is devoted to how a sinner can be saved and righteous man can lose his salvation. Besides this, there is reference to people blaspheming the Holy Spirit and not being saved, and holding the word of God up to contempt. and spurning the blood of the covenant, and outraging the Spirit of grace, and being repossessed with evil spirits after having been made clean.

Judgment is about what happens in the end. Judgment not only refers to personal accountability and recompense, but also how the nations of the world will be judged. This is known as the study of the end times and there are many interpretations regarding this that are difficult to prove because end has not yet come.

Essentially, there are what as known as three interpretations which hold different schools of thought. There is the amillennium, premillennium and post-millennium views.

The amillennium view holds that world is already in the process of being judged and people of God are being tested, while at the same time God is working out his plan which will culminate with the church being triumphant and Jesus having fully established his kingdom on earth at the end of the age. Within this view there are many variations of interpretation. The Roman Catholic Church figures as the Antichrist in this view.

The post-millennium view holds that Jesus will return to earth and reign for a thousand years, after which the Devil and his angels will be released upon the nations of the earth. The judgments of God will be unveiled upon the nations and this will culminate in the great battle of Armageddon, after which the great white throne judgment will commence.

The pre-millennium view seems to be the most popular of the three positions. Within this view there are three perspectives known as Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation and Post-tribulation, that also have variations in interpretation.

What is known as Pre-tribulation is the popular view among Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. This view holds that there is going to be seven years of tribulation just prior to Jesus setting up his kingdom on earth. Before this seven years of tribulation occurs (of which, somewhat oddly, three and a half years are not tribulation but peace) all the believing Christians are to be caught up to into the sky. Then the Antichrist will be revealed and all havoc will take place on earth. This will culminate with Armageddon taking place and then Jesus will reign on earth for one thousand years.

The mid-tribulation position holds that the Antichrist will be revealed and then those elect believers, who are not deceived by him, will be caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the sky just before the three and a half years tribulation, mentioned in the Bible, occurs on earth. Many subscribers of this view have the three and half years peace occurring during the time of Jesus ministry on Earth, while some place this as the working of the Antichrist prior to the tribulation.

The post-tribulationists have the Christians living through the tribulation period and meeting Jesus in the air as he returns to reign on earth. Some views have Armageddon occurring at the return of Jesus and others at the end of the millennium.

Then there are the different views on whether people are going to be thrown into an eternal Lake of Fire to be tormented for ever, or only for a period of time or will be burned into non-existence. Some people believe that members of their sect are going to be raised to live for one thousand years on Earth during the millennium of Christ rule and after this, there is nothing more to look forward to. Others look forward to spending an eternity discovering and learning about new experiences.

Regardless of what many people might claim, there is one way to know if Christians really know what the Bible means, and this is by considering the Ten Commandments.

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