Spirituality

Giving it a go with the Methodists

This morning we visited a Methodist church. When you don’t know a whole lot of people who can give you recommendations (my husband and I are both pretty asocial), it can be tough to choose a church. So, we defaulted to proximity. This one is approximately three minutes from our front door. Definitely a perk. Actually, there are quite a few pros on the list here. Nice people who weren’t pushy, a pastor that seems to have a really interesting perspective (I also read a few of her sermons online) and a relaxed environment. I looked up Methodist doctrine before I went and can get on board with most of it.

There are a few hang-ups for me, though. Deep breath. Please don’t be offended by the question I’m going to raise, and please feel free to weigh in. I know there are many things I’m just never going to understand, but I feel like I need to gain further understanding before making any kind of absolute statement about what I believe on this matter. My biggest question is about salvation. There are myriad verses in the New Testament that state that only through acceptance of Jesus Christ can a person be forgiven and saved. I personally believe that Jesus was divine, and have accepted him and yet this concept still troubles me deeply. Even apart from the argument that there are still many people without access to Christianity -what happened to all of those people in the years between Jesus’ death and widespread knowledge of his life and death? Were they condemned to eternal suffering?

I’m not saying that’s false, but it doesn’t seem right, either. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post – I’m trying to approach religious questions from a standpoint of truth and not from a “do I personally like this?” standpoint. But the only way that I can reconcile this with the idea of a “loving” God (which seems so prevalent today), is by assuming that one can, on some deep internal level, “accept Jesus” and have knowledge of Him without having actually learned about Him – without even knowing His name. Does that make sense? At any rate, I’m praying about it and am planning to e-mail the pastor of the church I visited and ask for her insight on this question. I’ll let you know what she says, if she’s comfortable with that.

Look for a future post on the way our culture interprets “love” of God and and love FROM God. Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. Take care!

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4 thoughts on “Giving it a go with the Methodists

  1. The question of salvation through Christ alone versus Christ as a unique but not exclusive source of salvation has been around for a long time. My reading of the New Testament points to a God of grace who does not want anyone to be “left behind.” Many of us know people who have actively rejected Jesus’ message to love God and neighbor. I believe that God still seeks out such lost people, just as the good shepherd searches for the lost sheep. In addition, many of us know people who are not Jesus followers yet who live lives in service to others. They may be people of other faiths or people with no identified faith. The “new covenant” offered by Jesus was one of grace and not of Law. Grace means God’s extravagant and undeserved love. I can’t imagine a loving God who would condemn good people.

    In the early church a debate emerged about whether a person must be circumcised and abide by the Jewish food laws before they could become follower of the Way (see Acts 11). The debate was heated, but the end, it was determined that circumcision was not required. Jesus himself said the greatest commandment was to love and neighbor. Loving Jesus as the Son of God certainly qualifies, but so does loving God the Father or loving God the Holy Spirit. I have to assume that loving God in other manifestations is also an option. That is what grace means to me.

  2. See Romans 1:18-20 … I think it is applicable to your question:

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    In other words no one will have an excuse for not knowing God, because even His invisible attributes are available to draw us to Him.

    Matthew and Mark also teach that when we respond to God’s draw, He gives us more light, and when we reject His draw, He takes the light away. Those who respond to God’s draw, no matter how pagan or primitive the tribe will have been given a chance to learn about His Son.

    Matthew 13:12 “For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him… then vs. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.”

    Mark 4:25 “For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

    God bless you in your search for truth!
    Ane

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