Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why I am not an Evangelical Christian

Are You Saved? Someone might have asked you this question sometime in your life. If not, someone might still ask you. The fist time I heard this question, I was not sure what was meant by this question. Eventually I understood that by the word salvation he meant the certainty of my soul going to heaven after I die. Once I reach the gates of heaven, the gatekeepers will look for my name in a book called the Book of Life. If my name is found in it, I will be allowed to enter heaven; if not, I will be pushed to hell. It is my responsibility to get my name registered in the book. All I have to do for this is to believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins. The moment I believe this, my name will be entered in the Book of Life, and I will be safe. People can often pinpoint the time at which this event happens. Thus when you are asked "Are you saved?" you should be able to answer like "Yes, I was saved on 10th April, 2005 at 10:35."

The one who asks this question to you is an evangelical Christian. He asks this question because he cares for you. He wants to make sure that you will go to heaven after you die. He does not want you to suffer for eternity in the hellfire. I would acknowledge his care for me, and then politely let him know that I can't agree with his idea of salvation. If he is willing to listen to me, I would explain to him the reason in a way that he understands. This is what I am attempting here-- explain in simple language why I can't agree with an Evangelical Christian's idea of salvation. 

I do this here by presenting three  different worldviews: Other-Worldliness, This-Worldliness, and One-Worldliness. I will explain  how the relationship between God, humanity, and world is viewed in these three worldviews. I will explain why the first two need to be discarded and the third one needs to be accepted.

The evangelical Christians' idea of salvation presupposes a certain view of the world and of human beings. There are two worlds: the physical world and the spiritual world. The physical world is temporary, and is meant to be ultimately destroyed. The spiritual world, which is eternal, exists in two parts: heaven and hell.

A human being is actually the soul that resides within the body.  The body is merely a cover of the soul. The body, which is physical, is temporary, and its existence is limited to the physical world. But the soul, which is spiritual, will exist for eternity either in heaven or in hell.

This view of the world and of human beings is not the original Biblical view. It seems to have originated from the Greeks, and got mixed with the Biblical worldview. Although this view is present in almost all forms of Christianity, it is clearly visible in the evangelical Christianity.  That this view has come from Greeks or that it is not in the original Biblical view is not enough reason for us to discard it. If it were a beneficial view we would welcome it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately it is a harmful view, and so it needs to be discouraged and discarded. This view is often referred to as Other-Worldliness, for it gives undue focus on the other world, and ignores this world. People with this view do not care for the wellbeing of this world; in fact they rejoice at the destruction of this world.

This-Worldliness is a view that arises in revolt against Other-Worldliness. This is a naive solution to the problem of Other-Worldliness. It tries to resolve the problem of focusing on the other world by denying the existence of the other world. If there is no other world, how can there be Other-Worldliness? According to This-Worldliness, only the world that is perceptible to our senses exists. Nothing exists beyond what we can perceive. Empiricism, materialism, and atheism are expressions of this view.

The two preceding views are extremes. Other-Worldliness focuses on the other world, and This-Worldliness focuses on this world. These two views are always at friction with each other. The solution is to rise above these views, and assume a higher view. I like to call it One-Worldliness. This view affirms that there are not two worlds, but only one world. Only a part of the world is perceptible to our five senses. If we had a sixth sense, we would perceive the world differently. The world may be existing in several dimensions or levels, but still the world is one. Other-Worldliness views the imperceptible part of the world as another world, but One-Worldliness does not see it as another world. This-Worldliness denies the existence of the imperceptible part, but One-Worldliness affirms its existence.  Thus One-Worldliness effectively resolves the issues of Other-Worldliness and This-Worldliness.

Now we  will see how the relationship between God, Man, and World is viewed in these three worldviews.

Man-World Relationship
In the Other-Worldly view, the world is like a container for human beings to exist. The physical world is a container  for our souls enveloped with bodies, and the spiritual world is a container just for our souls.

In the This-Worldly view, the world is a container as well as a set of objects we manipulate and exploit for our existence. Think of the lice that live on the body of a cow. Also they live by sucking its blood. Cow's body provides the lice not only a place to stay but also its food. Thus we are to the world like the lice are to a cow.

But in the One-Worldly view, human beings are seen as integral parts of the world. The human beings to the world are like cells or organs of a body. The whole world is seen as one organism. According to this view, the world is not just a container for people to exist. Nor is it like a cow the lice suck blood from. It is an extension of our body.  The world is seen as an integral whole in the original, Biblical view. This picture is clearly seen in the Psalm of Gen 1 where we read how God creates the world with human beings as its integral parts, and in Psalm 104 where we read how God manages the world with human beings as its part. Such a view of the world can be seen in the Stoic Philosophy (Greek) where the world is referred to as a macrocosm, that breathes together.

God-World Relationship
In the Other-Worldly view, God is like a king, and the world is like a kingdom. But God's will is fully done only in the spiritual world. In the physical world, God's will is only partially realized. 

In the This-Worldly view, God's existence is denied. God, along with the other world, is imperceptible, and so God doesn't exist.  The perceptible world is all that exists.

In the One-Worldly view, the world, which is within the limits of time and space, exists within God, who is infinite. From God's viewpoint, the world does not have a separate existence from God. The world depends for its existence upon God, it has no existence apart from God. The world is like the flame of a lamp that is lit forever using an endless source of energy.  The existence of the flame depends every moment on the energy supply. The world is related to God in a similar way.

God-Man Relationship
In the Other-Worldly view, God is the creator of human beings. God creates human  spiritual soul, covers it with a physical body, and places it in the physical world. Human beings are supposed to follow the will of God. At death the soul leaves the body and either enters heaven where God's presence is fully enjoyed, or enters hell where God's presence is not experienced. Entering heaven or hell depends on their following the will of God while in the physical world. People who do not follow the will of God have the opportunity to repent and start doing God's will while living in the physical world.

In the This-Worldly view, God doesn't exist, and so man is on his own.

In the One-Worldly view too, God is the creator of human beings, and they are supposed follow the will of God. Man (humanity) has a mediatorial role, representing the world before God and God before the world. Man is God's image for the rest of the creation, which makes man the visible representation of God for the world. Humanity as the microcosm represents the world, the macrocosm, before God. This makes man responsible and his existence is made purposeful.

Thus I differ from an evangelical Christian in my view of the world. There are so many things in common for us. We both have faith in God, we have the same Bible, and we speak about salvation, gospel, righteousness, and other such key terms. However, because of our difference in our view of the world, we give different meanings to the key terms. For example, salvation is not the soul going to heaven in my view. It has a much wider sense. There is not another world for me to escape from this world and go there. There is only one world. The world was originally like a Garden of Eden, but we, human beings, have made a mess here. The solution is to fix the mess, not to escape to another world.  The mess has been created by broken relationships, and mess needs to be fixed by mending the broken relationships. The world becoming a Garden of Eden once again is salvation.

This is just one example of how I differ from an evangelical Christian. This difference is caused by the difference in the way we view the world. I don't have anything against the evangelical Christians, for they are normal, ordinary human beings like everybody else. I used to hold the same worldview as they hold when I was young. But as I grew older, I was fortunate to have a saner view. Evangelical Christians are not the only ones who hold this view. There are people in almost all the religious traditions who hold a similar worldview, only it finds expression very forcefully in the evangelical Christianity in today's world.


susan said...

Dear John,
Why are others Evangelical Christians? What need or basic question is answered by Evangelical Christianity better than Orthodoxy?
They are not fools, they find some satisfaction in Evangelical Christianity We must find out why.

John Kunnathu said...

I am not calling evangelical Christians fools. Nor am I comparing them with the other Christians. I am talking primarily about other-worldliness, which is visible very clearly in evangelical Christianity. Actually other-worldliness is present in all forms of religion--even in Orthodox Christianity.

George. said...

Dear John. Birchan Russel said almost the same statement.He was a British philosopher."Why I am not a Christian." He was brought up in a Christian family and read an essay of John Poul Sirt.There he stated "Everything have a cause therefore God also have a cause. He mistaken cause and effect. Rule says "Every effect have a cause." A fundamental mistake. Here John also made a fundamental mistake. First three word of the Bible, Beginning, God, Created denied. It is the heart of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religion. If it denied all these three religion cutoff from its knew. Its root out.Here God said a beginning time and a space which there was not before. When you denied God's word you left out with your
philosophy.There is only one salvation in the Bible. You need to look in to the word of God to find that salvation, not in the Isms.
Mon Poyanil.

John Kunnathu said...

George, Thank you for commenting. But can you explain how I have denied God's word as you are accusing?
Can you tell me which of the three worldviews you can agree with? If you can't agree with any of them, can you tell me what is your worldview?

George said...

John.The Third your favorite is One world view. It was always humanistic view. Babel tower, Aristotle philosophy, one world system. His famous student Alexander the great wanted to make one world system, one language, one culture, one religion, one civilization, one philosophy, one economic system. Bible speaks He will recreate this world and bring in to one system. There all the blessing and in Hell there is no blessing from any kind. This is the view of Evangelical Christians’.If you denied this you are not trusting God’s word. Evangelical Christian’s view of Other World view is eternal where God was, is and will be. Evangelical Christians’ view of this world is God created for His own glory and His own good pleasure and His own will. It is created, not the view of the Greek. Greek believe this world is not created it is like cyclical pattern. There is no beginning. Evangelical view of this world have a beginning point.

Susan Eapen said...

Dear John,

I understood that. But why are they choosing to be otherworldly? I think it is because they are unable to accept the truth of this world. If I accept this world, and also that heaven or the Kingdom of God is here and now and involves the ultimate redemption of all creation, beginning with mankind, then my role in the world becomes harder. It is easy to reject all unpleasantness and keep the edges of your cassock free of stain if you remain in exalted surroundings. But when you accept the world, you live in the mess and struggle to keep your head afloat. There are no 'others', only us. Love one another involves everyone. Every moment you are faced with moral decisions which are not pure black and white. Every moment you think- how can I be light? Every one, you know, is God's. If I fail, it is my failure, not that of the non convert. I must walk the path and talk less.. In Evangelism, so far, I have found that things are black and white and the worldly are sinners. This is escapism and being in a fool's paradise as in the case of the Pharisee and the Publican..

I remember in one church of ours, the way the priest kissed the altar each time, with great reverence and love and not mechanically, greatly influenced me. Once in a deep crisis he told us' I have no treasures except the strength of this Thronos.' He lived his faith in every action and communicated the reverence to us.

But poorer class everywhere are Pentecostals. My maid is and she is a fine person in most ways. Many live their faith. They attend worship with great joy, they try to obey the commandments etc. I think they are humble faithful and God must love them too.


John Kunnathu said...

George, it seems that you support otherworldliness. So you believe that there is a world out there apart from our world here. We can go there only after we die. Please confirm if this is how you believe.

People like Bertrand Russell seemed to have believed in this-worldliness. They believed that the world we see here is all that exists. So there is no God either.

I support a third view called One-worldliness. I don't believe in this-worldliness like Bertrand Russell. I don't believe in otherworldliness either. If there is a heaven, it is not another world, but a part of our world. Only we don't perceive it.

Please take time to read my post one more time and tell me what we can agree on and what we cannot agree.

John Kunnathu said...

Otherworldliness exists in all religious traditions especially in Christianity and in Islam. Within Christianity it is very much visible in Evangelical Christianity.
I am not sure if you clearly understand my distinction between otherworldliness, this-worldliness, and one-worldliness. A clear understanding of this distinction will help us greatly in further thinking.

George. said...

Dear John. I have very clearly explained the Biblical view of this universe. Material realm which is created order, transcendent realm which is a necessary cause and the new order or recreation. (God is a necessary cause) Now you denied the created order, you denied the Biblical view, now left with your philosophy and Isms. Pantheism deal with God and in this world, relationship with His creation. Pantheism a philosophy believe God is not above and beyond, but God exist the part of this universe. Simply means everything is God. All is God. This is an attempt to redefine religion by reconstructing Christianity. 20th century Liberalism. They reject all the supernatural event in the Bible. They rejected the created account of this universe. God’s command of His word the shear power of His command this world created, that they denied. Now Christianity is a sociological agenda. Now you want a common ground. God do not want a common ground. He want separation. God brought Children of Israel out of Egypt, then He give His law. His law actually His own character. If He want He could find a common ground with in Egypt. You mix worldly Isms with created order, that is why you cannot agree with Evangelical view of world. This was not started with Pantheism, but it was started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Second thing you cannot accept with salvation of Evangelical view. There is no such thing Evangelical view, only one view in the Bible. You understood wrongly Believe and Faith in the Bible, that is why you cannot agree the Salvation of the Evangelical view. Your way of studding the Bible is this way, that is not the way God designed in the word of God. You set forth your argument philosophically, but “if your doctrine of God is wrong then you are an Atheist.” Luther said this. You may be identified with some kind of Church, identify with Bible and identified with God of the Bible. Christ said you called Me Lord, Lord, but your heart is far away. Quote “This World may be existing in several dimensions or level, but still the world is one.” God’s word is not may be it is absolute. Quote “ This- Worldliness denies the existences of the imperceptible part” It is true with Isms, not with Evangelical view. Quote “In This-Worldly view, God’s existence is denied.” True statement with Isms, not with Evangelical Christens. Quote “In This Worldly view, God doesn’t exist, and so man is on his own.” It is also true with Isms, not with Eveangelical Christianity. Quote “However, because of our difference in our view of this world, we give different meaning to the key terms.” Can you see the problem with your statement. Bible has only one meaning to a text, but has different applications to it. My dear friend get out of you philosophy and humbly go to the word of God, may God richly bless you. Praise the Lord who give an opportunity to share with His word.

John Kunnathu said...

George, Do you think I am a pantheist? If so, why?

If you think I am not a pantheist, then how would you classify me? Like to hear your reason.

Anonymous said...

Greatly enjoyed your post. Panentheism (not Pantheism) viz., seeing the presence of God in both animate and inanimate, is in my view the highest form of spirituality.

Not only we should love one another but also love, protect and nurture all forms of life and the environment in which the Good Lord has placed us. Keep writing.

George said...

Dear John: The point her is not which Isms, you believe in. You can believe what you want. God and you only know what you believe. No one else. It is your privilege to believe what you wants to believe. Quote “This world is seen as integral whole in the original Biblical view.” It contradict the created account. Quote “Such a view of the world can be seen in the Sostic Philosophy (Greek) where the world is referred as an a macrocosm.” It is true statement. According to the Sostic Philosophy this world not created. It contradict Jewish view, Christian view and Muslim view of the world. Quote “The world was originally like a Garden of Eden, but we, human being, have made a mess here.” First part of the sentence God did not make Garden of Eden. He made Garden then added to the Eden. Gen. 2:8. This another proof created order and Transcendent realm. Some Hebrew scholars refer Eden means delight. He could write on the clouds one sentence I made this world as whole. He didn’t do this. He explained How He created. Exhaustively no one know God and His creation. By the way I am not an Evangelical Christian. What I meant Evangelical view is the Gospel view. This world God created for the sake of the Gospel. Before the foundation of the world God prepared His Gospel. This is another proof. God created this world after the fall of Satan. Bible has to understood as it is written. If it is created we must not change the view of God. It is the Satan’s work in the churches. They interpret as they wants.
Areopagus in Athens believe One Worldliness.

Conclusion. Bible has to understood as it is written. If it is created we must not change the view of God to Huminism. It is the Satan’s work in the churches. They interpret as they wants. Areopagus in Athens believe One Worldliness.
Any time we have the view other than the Biblical view we have a different gospel. Your view is Humanism. If the church get ride of the Humanism, we have one God, One Gospel, One Church, One Baptism, On Spirit, One Word. One Faith. Go the promise land, we can drink milk and honey. Church need to get ride of wiled honey and Locusts.

John Kunnathu said...

You have discovered that I am a humanist. Thank you for taking part in the discussion. May God bless you!

George. said...

Final thought. God's revelation come through sacred scripture which is special revelation and natural revelation or mediate revelation through the nature which is This world. This world is the theater of God. If any thing exist in this world then God must exist. God revel Himself through this world. Movement by movement this world displayed God's Sovereignty. Christ number one teaching analog with this world. How can we discarded this world view?.

vadermask // massretaliation said...

Very interesting article you wrote, brother. I'm a Catholic, but I've been studying the Eastern Orthodox religion for years. I have dozens & dozens of books, including one called, "Are Orthodox Christians Saved." [I may have butchered the title--I have so many darn books here!] My spiritual director says the Catholic answer is: "I think I am saved, and I will be saved when I die. I'm working out my salvation everyday." He says it more succinctly though. What do I know? I'm just a cigarette smoking, fully tattooed, punk rocker who is in love with Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Mount Athos & monasticism in general. Love always, mass//retaliation ♥♥♥