Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Interesting exchange with Modern Christian Spinster

I think everyone’s noticed Modern Christian Spinster’s frequent comments disagreeing with me on many things, especially politics, economics and feminism. I am conservative across the board (social, fiscal and foreign policy). I also believe in chastity and traditional marriage.

In another thread, we were discussing traditional morality (e.g. – chastity, sobriety, individual charity), as compared with the new morality (e.g. – recycling, yoga, vegetarianism, same-sex marriage, socialism). She seemed to be very hesitant about making moral judgments, which I take to be central to Christianity because of the whole concept of sin. Suddenly, I began worry that Modern Christian Spinster was not a Christian at all. So I asked her some questions to get her views.

So I wrote this:

Do you think that people who do not believe in Jesus are resurrected to eternal life?

Do you believe in a place called Hell, which is a place of eternal separation from God where people who do not know God in Christ go on the day of Judgment?

Do you think that a conscious, sincere profession of faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin is a necessary and sufficient condition to be resurrected to eternal life?

And she wrote this in reply:

I believe that life is eternal, the way I believe in mathematics. If you add 2+2 and for you it equals 5 then the principles of mathematics are still in effect, even if you get the wrong answer. So I believe that life is eternal on principle. If you were a miserable SOB in life, dying won’t resolve that for you. You will continue to work out in the afterlife what you didn’t work out on earth. As for people who don’t believe in Jesus, I am constantly surprised by the number of people who DO believe in him. They might be Buddhists, they might be Muslims, but Jesus is actually very well respected among people I talk to, even those of other faiths. So I wouldn’t venture to say whether or not they’re resurrected. I mean, the fact is, after someone is gone, we just don’t know what their journey is. I will say, however, that most people I talk to very much identify with what Jesus stood for, even if they don’t necessarily identify it that way.

I do not believe in a place called hell: I do believe it is a state of consciousness, just as “the kingdom of heaven is within you.” But it’s not a physical place apart from where we already are. I see heaven in places where many other people see purgatory. God to me is everpresent; therefore, I try not to let what my eyes tell me blind me to the fact that he is with me, even in desolate places. I also believe that we cannot ever be separated from God. We may think we are separate, but what we need to handle isn’t real separation but the erroneous belief that we are separate. LIke the story of the Prodigal Son.

I do not share your belief in Christ’s atoning for sin. I don’t see Christ dying for my “sin,” I see his death and resurrection as proof that sin and death can be overcome through complete obedience to God. I’m not sure if that is the same thing as you are saying. But I do not believe man is inherently sinful. However, humanly speaking, there does appear to be a lot of sin in the world. However, it is something not natural to us. Part of the human condition, sure, but I believe that our spiritual identity is our true identity. Not sure if that answers your question. It’s certainly a different point of view.

I thought this was very interesting. She disagrees with me on these three questions. I am not saying this to judge her, she knows where to find me if she wants to talk about it. My advice to her is to take a second look at the Bible and pick a good book on theology, like this one by Wayne Grudem.

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25 Responses

  1. McSpinster says:

    I’m not an evangelical Christian, Wintery. My views are in line with that.

  2. Marshall Art says:

    If this little spippet is typical, Spinmistress, don’t kid yourself. You’re not really Christian. Calling yourself one doesn’t make it so, no matter what you’d like to believe.

  3. McKenzie says:

    Just as an FYI, there’s no other kind. If you don’t hold the views of a certain worldview, why identify yourself by its label?

    • McSpinster says:

      Well that’s news to all the non-Evangelical Christians out there McK. Are you going to go and try and disenfranchise all of them?

      • I’m with McKenzie on this. And I’m thrilled that a Christian woman is taking such a strong stand in defense of evangelical Christianity. My blog and I are honored.

  4. McSpinster says:

    Hi W:

    So, to help this convo a little, I went to my Bible for a few quotes:

    There are 56 on hell, all in the OT. There are 672 on heaven, both OT and NT. I may not concur with you on it being a place on a map (and I’m not sure you’re saying that but perhaps you are), but according to the Bible, both are reachable from right where we are as living breathing human beings: we can see hell and go there without dying, as it is variously described as pain, suffering, a great deep, etc. Dead people don’t feel pain, I think we can both agree on that. Some people are certainly more familiar with it than heaven, but it’s not like there’s a locked door keeping you in once you enter, except for the one in your own heart/mind.

    Regarding heaven, I offer this from Matt 16-19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. I also offer Luke 17, 21 (the kingdom of God is within you). This might be semantics (or it may not), but I have always read that as Kingdom of God=Kingdom of Heaven. So it is not so bizarre to see heaven and hell as places in our conscious experience that we enter when facing toward/facing away from God. I don’t think that’s a particularly scandalous view, but perhaps that is just the difference in our faiths talking. For me the salient point isn’t that people who sin get to live in paradise. They surely don’t. Only that it is within everyone’s power to get themselves out of the one and into the other if they are obedient to God.

    My comment about people who don’t believe in Jesus has more to do with the fact that I actually think there are very few people who don’t believe in him. Whether they are stated followers is another matter, but I’m not quick to divide people into camps that way. This has a lot to do with my temperament and also that I have many very friends/acquaintances who believe in God but were raised Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist. Living in NYC as I do and working in a Christian library open to the public, I am part of a large faith community and it’s impossible to be a member of that community by taking people to task for not being Christian. I just don’t do that. I can also see that my believing this might possibly be seen as wrong to you because I do not believe Jesus was God, but the Son of God. So I believe it’s possible to live a spiritual life, devoted to God, without Jesus being the center of that belief. For me, however, Jesus is the center and anyone who is looking to get closer to God and seeking a way to do that, I would instruct them to follow Jesus. I guess it’s a matter of tone.

    On the atonement for sin bit, I offer this quote from the textbook I study regularly: “Every pang of repentance and suffering, every effort for reform, every good thought and deed, will help us to understand Jesus’ atonement for sin and aid its efficacy; but if the sinner continues to pray and repent, sin and be sorry, he has little part in the atonement,–in the at-one-ment with God,–for he lacks the practical repentance, which reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom. Those who cannot demonstrate, at least in part, the divine Principle of the teachings and practice of our Master have no part in God. If living in disobedience to Him, we ought to feel no security, although God is good.”

    Here’s another:

    “Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,–to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility. Jesus acted boldly, against the accredited evidence of the senses, against Pharisaical creeds and practices, and he refuted all opponents with his healing power.”

    Now if you don’t agree with this, please don’t go picking it apart. Let’s just agree to disagree and get on to other subjects in which we concur. Like the Girl Scout Planned Parenthood brochure.

    • Thanks for explaining your views, MCS. I think it’s important to understand the role that exposure to different religions has, particularly when those people seem kind and sincere to you. We’ll disagree most because I don’t think that kindness and sincerity necessarily lead to truth. I.e. – a Muslim can be kind and sincere and believe that Jesus didn’t die on the cross. A Jew can be kind and sincere and believe that the disciples stole the body. A Hindu can be kind and sincere and believe that the universe is eternal. A Buddhist can be kind and sincere and also believe that the universe is eternal. Mormons are kind and sincere and they believe the universe is eternal.

      I am not surprised that people of different faiths can behave kindle and sincerely in a society saturated by the Judeo-Christian worldview, either. But then again good behavior has no bearing on the question of what is true. Jesus makes many claims about being the truth, and that whoever sides with truth sides with him. It all depends what you want in this life. Do you want to feel happy and to be liked by others in New York? Or do you want to know God as he is truly? Emotions vs truth. Everyone has to decide whether they are going to let intuition and emotions or logic and evidence constrain their religious views.

      • McSpinster says:

        You guys! Don’t you have something better to do than ask these dumb questions? What do you want. A food fight?

      • jerry says:

        how are you doing anything different than what you berate in your last paragraph? Jesus lived some 2000 years ago in a time of different customs and cultures and spoke with idioms most wouldn’t understand; you translate his words with a modern mindset and believe what you have interpreted to be the truth. How do you know that MCS isn’t right? or more for that matter (my believe: JC was just a wandering salesman pushing the one commodity he was best at selling: snake-oil, er, christianity)

  5. Mara says:

    oh.

    Wayne Grudem.

    that explains a lot.

    he’s the editor of ‘recovering biblical manhood and womanhood: a response to evangelical feminism’.

    look it up on amazon, McS. the link is too long and I’m late for (my evangelical) church.

  6. Richard Ball says:

    Is Jesus Lord? When he commanded repentance, with the penalty of perishing for those who don’t, was he speaking truthfully? Is he uniquely the way, the truth and the life — or are there other ways? Does anyone come to the Father apart from him? Is belief in him necessary for salvation? Is there any other name under heaven whereby we MUST be saved? Is faith in Christ worth living for? Dying for? Does it ultimately matter if a person accepts or rejects Christ? Is there any hope whatsoever for mankind apart from Christ? Does sin separate us from God? Are those without Christ with or without hope in this world? Is God a consuming fire? Shall Christ return to establish his kingdom on earth? In doing so, will he destroy his adversaries? Do you believe that your views align with those of the apostles — hand-picked, taught, trained, and empowered by Christ?

  7. Richard Ball says:

    “There are 56 on hell, all in the OT.” I hope you are not suggesting there are no references to hell in the NT. If so, you’ve got a very strange Bible — perhaps one of your own making?

    • McSpinster says:

      Uh, no Richard. I did a word search.

      • McSpinster says:

        PS: King James Version. And thank you for the flattery, but I did not make it up.

        • McSpinster says:

          PS: My bad: some of the 56 hell references are in Matt as WIntery says. I’m not here to argue about that, only to say that there are far more references to heaven. And I still stand by my statement that hell is within, just as heaven is. Of course, if you really believe in the devils with tridents aspect, I’m not going to argue.

  8. DJeffery says:

    McS: Here’s a good link to read.

  9. Alisha says:

    This was an interesting exchange to read. While Wintery is more on the right of me (sorry, “Blue like Jazz” rocks), McS is far more on the left of where I sit (“Jesus is not God, but the Son of God”). Reading her comments left me with a plethora of questions. Are you Emergent? Or are you a “no label”, free-bird-type (please take no offense at that)Christian? Do you believe there are parts of the Bible that are literal or is allegorical? And since you believe Jesus is the Son of God, but his death was not for sacrificial atonement of sins, does that mean you believe he was more of “a” Son of God?

    Sorry, I know that was a whole lot of questions, and I don’t suppose you’d answer them since you’ve been lobbed with a lot of questions and statements. I understand living in the Northeast with it’s plethora of religions and beliefs and cultures. I am a native New Jerseyan (no Snooky-hair here or weird accent, though), and live about 30 minutes by train from the City. I have friends who are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim as well. They all seem to have respect for Jesus, too. But that doesn’t change the fact that Christ said “I am the WAY, the TRUTH and The Life”. He said no one would get to the Father except through Him. Belief in Christ as the perfect Lamb, for the forgiveness of sins, for our salvation is essential to being a Christian. While I value my friends, I don’t value their religions to the point of denigrating or diluting my own. Period. And I wouldn’t expect them to do so for me either (and they don’t).

    On the other hand, I would never say anyone is going to Hell. It’s not for me to judge or condemn. God, and God alone knows the hearts and minds of people.

    Again, interesting exchange, and McS, you’re blog is pretty entertaining. Feel free to drop by mine. :-)

  10. Alisha says:

    Yes, I do believe there is a literal place called Hell. I don’t see evidence in the Bible of it being only on this Earth. I don’t believe in annihilation. People’s eternities will be spent either with God, or in Hell.

    Unfortunately, since most people find the Gospel “foolishness” and the ways of the world “wise”, yes, it is a narrow gate, so far fewer people will be with our Lord than apart from His glorious presence. I draw the line at saying who is going to Hell though since I believe that is reserved for God.

    • OK, that’s fair enough. I know what the condition is, but I don’t condemn individual people. I talk about the conditions in the abstract. I mention specific practices that are condemned in the New Testament. But I don’t point fingers. Although Jesus is a lot more judgmental – threatening people with Hell quite often.

  11. Alisha says:

    Jesus can do that. HE IS GOD, lol. :-)

  12. Alisha says:

    I think what you’re saying is on point, though… we can let the Scriptures speak. We share the Gospel, plant a seed, and allow the Holy Spirit to work.

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