The following post highlights a section of dialogue I have had with a friend recently here in Cambodia. At the age of 45 he struggles with re-opening his heart to God because of a “Christian” father and past upbringing that was far removed from a Kingdom ideal. He has trouble seeing Christ outside this prior paradigm. He also has doubts about Scriptures trustworthiness due to unresolved questions. Perhaps you can relate. Here is my fallible attempt to share some advice to him:
“Hi my friend. Your father may not appreciate me saying it… but from the little you have shared of your father, I don’t think your father is a very stellar example of a life that fully radiates and reflects Christ. But then again no one is. I’m not trying to judge your father or say you should become judgmental and resentful of him… but I guess I would suggest you liberate yourself from constantly returning to him (or your childhood under his tutelage) as being the principal, determinative frame of reference by which you evaluate Christ, the Bible or the church. Sometimes I too have allowed deficient expressions of Christianity and imperfect, faulty experiences with other Christians to become a forged cast that encapsulates my perspective on a given matter.
Sometimes we need to appreciate the fact that we can never completely put God in an earthly, man-made cast. For such attempts will inevitably fail to fully capture him and reflect him honestly and completely. The only perfect cast that has ever been given to man, and which reflects God’s nature without corruption or contamination, has been Christ. Christ stated, “I and the Father are one…When you see me you see the Father”(Jn. 10:30, 14:7).
Our correspondence has also shown me that you are very hung up with the Old Testament. You stated that a great deal of it is irrelevant to our modern world, and in some cases seems to be in stark contrast to the ethics of the New Testament. Keep in mind that Christ would agree with much of your sentiment. In reference to the Mosaic Law Christ was often heard saying, “You have heard it said, but I tell you now…” Christ understood that much of the Old Testament covenant was imperfect and needed to pass away now that he had come.
In that sense Jesus is perfect theology. He is full revelation. But that doesn’t mean that the N.T. account of him doesn’t leave us with questions and that all mysteries of the universe have been resolved. Rather it means from what we know of Christ– his life, death and resurrection– we can trust him.
There is an internal debate in the Church as to whether or not the scripture’s self-description as being “inspired” has to mean it is “inerrant” or without error. Of course even “inerrantists” admit our manuscripts today have errors of spelling, grammar, etc due to scribal mistakes– and that only the original autographs are without error. But since we don’t have those original autographs (wise of God because the desperate would no doubt seek to worship them!) in our possession the internal argument is a non-essential to true faith and relationship with God.
Inerrancy is an interesting discusion to be sure but nonetheless of no salvific value. I would let all of that speculation go for the time being and simply seek with all your heart to get to know Jesus Christ alone…without distractions over matters of secondary importance.
In his life, death and resurrection I find every reason to give Jesus not only my admiration but my allegiance. That latter word is of great import. For many today look at Jesus’ life and death and say, “Wow–what a guy! He died for those he loved and even his enemies. I really can admire a guy like Jesus.”
However admiration is not enough because the proverbial “period” does not stop at his death. He rose from the dead and defeated its power! We are amiss if we simply view the resurrection as a footnote to Christ’s life as if its purpose was to give the grand narrative a happy ending. The resurrection alone validated all his claims to sonship, divinity, kingship, creator, judge and future-coming reign. Even the apostle Paul said, “If Christ be not resurrected, our faith is futile… we are to be the most pitied (1 Cor. 15:14-17).”
I have come to believe that the resurrection demands nothing less than our allegiance. Admiration is not enough. If Christ only died but did not rise from the dead, maybe admiration alone would be an appropriate response. His visage and memory would simply be added to the long corridor of great men who lived supreme lives of virtue but in the end could not defeat the power of death.
But such is not the case with Christ. A historical “jersey” in the Hall of Fame simply won’t do. Only a throne will do. Admiration alone simply won’t suffice. The resurrection demands our allegiance. Yet God gives us free-will. Allegiance is difficult for us to freely give because it involves surrender on so many levels…and whether we know it or not our greatest allegiance is to ourselves. Yet that must be the first to go. It is why Jesus said, “If any man wants to follow after me he must first deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me (Mt. 16:24).”
I find this to be a challenge every week for myself… but a challenge that is supremely worth it because of Who is asking me for it. God bless you.”