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Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Sending a Sword (Matt. 10)

The recent controversy over the new handbook policy has brought with it additional claims that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be radically inclusive in its tolerance of pretty much anything.  This has caused me to revisit my study of Matthew to see if this is indeed the case, and as fate would have it, the next chapter is Matt. 10, which does seem to address this claim negatively.

This chapter starts out with Jesus calling and sending out the apostles.  His very first instruction to them is to not go to the Gentiles nor the Samaritans at all, and only go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (5-6).  We may not know the reason for this exclusion, but there it is.  Certainly the Gentiles would eventually have their season, but it was not at this time.

Much of the rest of this chapter is devoted to the idea that some people will accept the teachings of the apostles while others will not.  The apostles are instructed to seek out those who are worthy, and to leave their peace with them.  And to those who are not worthy, they let their peace return to them, and shake off the dust of their feet against those who does not receive them.

Jesus warns them against the wolves who will seek to persecute them.  There will be some who will confess Christ, and those who will not, and those who deny Christ will be denied by Christ.

Jesus then declares that He did not come to send peace, but a sword (34).  Man against father, daughter against mother, parents against children.  He says that those who love even family members more than Jesus are not worthy of Jesus.

I do not think that I want to speculate much on how this might directly apply to recent controversies, but it does suggest that the gospel is not as unconditionally inclusive as many claim it is.  Christ well knows that his teachings will cause division and controversy that will sometimes divide families and also bring persecution to those who preach this gospel.  We should probably not expect different results than what Jesus predicted.

Some Opinions on the Policy Regarding Children with Married, Same-Sex Parents

I would like to first state that I sympathize with those who are upset by this policy (see here for an official interview), and that even for those of us who can understand some reasons for this policy, it is not exactly something to celebrate.  At best it seems that it may be an unfortunate remedy.  I, like many others, would like to take a stab at expressing my initial thoughts on this controversial policy.

Continue reading ‘Some Opinions on the Policy Regarding Children with Married, Same-Sex Parents’

It’s Yet Another Lost Key Miracle – With More Than One Positive Result

I went to the grocery store today.  I grabbed a burger on the way and ate it in the parking lot.  I threw the wrapper away and went into the store.  After I put the grocery bags into the back of the car, I took my keys out of my pocket and noticed that the ignition key was missing.  How could this be?  I had the key chain, but the ignition key was gone.

Continue reading ‘It’s Yet Another Lost Key Miracle – With More Than One Positive Result’

Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Eating with Sinners (Matt. 9)

I have made a series of posts reviewing the book of Matthew to see if Christ taught a gospel that demanded that his followers must be tolerant of any and all behaviors (as some claim).  So far, this effort has shown that this is not the case at all.  See previous posts here.

Continue reading ‘Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Eating with Sinners (Matt. 9)’

Kierkegaard on Practice in Christianity (SMPT Topic?)

In October there will be the annual meeting of the Society of Mormon Philosophy and Theology at Brigham Young University.  The topic is “Doers of the Word:  Belief and Practice“.   The topic motivated me to review Kierkegaard’s short work, “Practice in Christianity“, and I wonder if a Mormon take on this essay could work for a paper.

To give some of the highlights, Kierkegaard speaks of faith coming in opposition to the possibility of offense at Christ as the God-man.  This offense can come in two forms, one at the loftiness of Christ, the other at the lowliness of Christ.  If one starts out accepting the God who is Christ, they may be offended at the lowliness of the life of Jesus.  Additionally if one is familiar with the mortal condition of Jesus, the may be offended at the loftiness of Christ as the Son of God.

The bulk of the Kierkegaard essay seems to center on the risk of those who center on the loftiness, and turn into admirers rather than imitators of Christ.  They distance themselves from the object of Christ, and mostly speak of observations or personal remarks regarding the Savior.  Kierkegaard suggests we should instead be imitators or followers of Christ, and treat Christ as the subject rather than the object.  Thus, Christ has ears to hear and eyes to see if we are genuinely following Him in imitation worship rather than admiration worship.  Thus Christ becomes the prototype who is lowly enough to be imitated, yet lofty enough to bring all mankind unto Him.

I think this essay would resonate with most Mormons, with the exception of Kierkegaard rejection of the kinship between God and man.  Thus I feel that Mormonism makes an even stronger case for imitation, and thus practice in Christianity.  If I were to pursue a paper on this, I would try to persuade the audience that Kierkegaard was right about imitation worship in Christianity, and that Mormonism, which embraces the kinship with Christ makes an even stronger case.  And that such imitation is the basis for religious practice.

I welcome any comments or thoughts on such an effort.

Sin and Self-Loathing

I have seen several comments on various threads that connect the preaching against a sinful behavior from a church, to the self-loathing of a church member who engages in this behavior.  I feel that this connection and result are not necessary, and that more healthy responses from the believer are readily available.

Continue reading ‘Sin and Self-Loathing’

Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7)

As I continue my review of the gospel of Matthew and what is says, and does not say, about what Christianity demands regarding unconditional love and absolute tolerance, I come to the sermon on the mount.  My motivation for this effort is claims that Christianity ought to be nearly a ‘anything goes’ religion regarding sinful behavior.  As you might suspect, I consider the sermon on the mount to be something of a ‘home run’ in making my point that Christ did not teach a ‘anything goes’ type of gospel.

Continue reading ‘Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7)’


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