"1. Faith in Christ is not from within. It is, rather, a gracious gift
I agree at about a 50% level. First, I agree that faith is an offering
from God. But one must be willing to receive a gift in order to hold
it. This is the task for mankind. Otherwise, God would simply "plant"
faith inside every person and ...presto... no more atheists. It doesn't
seem to work that way. The task of accepting God and maintaining faith
comes from WITHIN. This is how we separate the wheat from the chaff.
Second, I do not believe that the gift of faith is suspended somewhere
OUTSIDE of man - such as in a book, or in an observance, or in a ritual,
etc. When mankind accepts this offering from God, man keeps the gift
INSIDE. It is with us 24-7. I don't have to rummage around in the dark
at 2:00 AM to find a passage in the Bible to tell me how to sort out a
problem. The answer is already in here. I must pray to God to help me
recognize the answer that I already possess.
"2. The bible is more than a collection of nice ideas and good stories.
It is that but it is also the inspired word of God. To reduce it from
the Good Book to a good book is to undermine the Christian faith."
I certainly did not mean to reduce it. I meant to expand it. As long
as folks continue to insist that the Bible is the literal word of God
rather than the inspired word of God, many other folks will walk away
from the text altogether. Now **that's** a reduction. I note you used
the word "inspired," which I was glad to see. As far as undermining
Christian faith is concerned, I remember (with a chuckle) when I first
trotted off to seminary. One of my professors handed me a cartoon of a
man opening his front door to two other men out on the porch holding a
Bible. One of the men on the porch was saying, "Hello. We're here to
quote from the Bible and make you feel like hell. May we come in?" I
believe the way we approach the world with our faith in God (not our
faith in a book) is how we build or destroy Christianity. The Bible is
a witness to the two thousand year history of our religion and the
earlier religion from which it sprang. This is no reduction.
"...to what extent do we express uncertainty?"
I'd let the kids express all the uncertainty they want. Certainty isn't
the point. At the end of the day, the moral of the story is what counts
and how that moral can be used TODAY. For example, some folks really
get turned on by the story of water to wine, and their favorite part
relates to the fact that Jesus could pull it off. That has meaning for
them. It shows them that Jesus was like us in many ways, but quite
gifted, too. They enjoy the exaltation of Jesus. But my favorite part
of the story is when Jesus tells his mom he doesn't want to do it. She
has to nag him. This is good stuff. How many God-given talents do our
youth have that they suppress and refuse to nurture for fear of being
different? How much more like Jesus could we all be if we were willing
to reveal ourselves. Isn't that the goal? To be more like Jesus?
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