Daily Devotion: The “Fundamentalist” Deception

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Bible Readings for Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 – The 7th Week of Easter

*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.

Psalm 99

1 Kings 8:54-65

John 3:31-36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…

Yet again, here we are confronting another passage from the Book of John that lies at the foundation of the fundamentalist tradition of Christianity.

John 3

36. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

Fear puts butts in seats, not believers in Heaven.

In fundamentalism, they put the entire focus of faith upon the salvation of the individual. They claim:

  • “Salvation” is something one can lose, and must “do” certain things to “attain”.
  • “Belief” in Jesus is what must be done to “attain” salvation.
  • Jesus was born, lived and died on the cross to pay the price of our sins so we could have eternal life instead of wrath for our sins.

There are so many problems with these “fundamentals” I’m practically frothing in anger right now. These are not “fundamentals”, these are falsehoods.

Deconstructing Fundamentalism

False Teaching #1: Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, he is God, who died upon the cross to pay the price of our sin, so that believers would not have to suffer God’s wrath.

Why This Is False: If the above statement is true… then Jesus came to save us from God!

…but, Jesus is God!? God came to save us from God?? This cannot be true!! This is the epitome of cognitive dissonance, yet this is one of the most widely taught beliefs of Western Christianity.

In order to make Jesus “work”, we have to change some of our institutionalized assumptions about all of this.

Rather than the obviously false statements above, Jesus came to:

  • … save us from ourselves and our ridiculously complicated “Law” (which no one could live up to). (Gal 3:10-11)
  • … satisfy the wrath required for violating the Law, however this was not God’s demand for justice, but our own. (Ps. 40:6)
  • … Jesus lived and taught to show us the exemplary way of Life in God (1 Jn 2:6), the way of God’s Kingdom on Earth. (Mt 6:10)

False Teaching #2: “Belief” in Jesus is what must be done to “attain” salvation. This “salvation” or “eternal life” can be lost. It must be earned in life through the act of “belief”.

Why This Is False: A couple of simple questions:

  • “Grace” means “unmerited favor”. How can we require anything be “done” to merit unmerited favor? We can’t. (Gal 5:4)
  • Is God not God? If God acted to “fulfill” the requirements of the old Law, is it not fulfilled forever? (Mt. 5:17)

False Teaching #3: “Eternal life is something that comes to believers after death. For many, it is the only reason for faith at all.

Why This Is False: First of all, the Greek word translated into “eternal” (αἰώνιος, 166), does not actually mean “eternal”. It means “age-long” and, “Thus believers live in “eternal life” right now, experiencing this quality of God’s life now as a present possession”. (Helps™ Word Studies)

“Life in God” is the life a believer leads for the Kingdom on Earth. This state of unified intentions can be lost. This privileged position of acting on God’s behalf can be taken away, usually by the consequences of the believer’s choices.

“Salvation” is guaranteed through Christ. (Heb 7:22)

“Life in God” and “salvation” are two separate concepts. The former is a goal, the latter is a promise.

Reclaiming the Real Christianity

Jesus wanted us to realize just one thing: It’s not about “you”. It’s about “us”.

Mark 12

28. One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29. Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32. The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34. Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

If you liked what you read, please share it. If you didn't like what you read, please share it.

Grace and peace to you!

Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Comments

  1. Machelle says:

    Hello Trig,

    So much of what you write I am in complete and total agreement with. I began having these revelations in the mid 90′s and once they began to flow they began flowing even faster and heavier throughout the early 2000′s. I would say most of the revelations came during the period of 2003 through 2007. Everything I’m learning now is an extension of those early revelations. Coming out from under the bondage of Fundamentalism, obviously by choice, I couldn’t be more pleased with what God is showing me, although I must be frankly honest, it has caused the loss of family and friends, just like Jesus tells us in scripture, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:51-53(NIV)–At any rate, can you address a question I have? I have an inkling as to the answer, but I would like your “take” on it. How do we address the question of “another Jesus” when the fundamentalists come at us with the accusation that we, who are “progressives” (ooh I don’t like labels), are teaching THAT OTHER JESUS and not the real Jesus of the Christian Bible?

    • Personally, Machelle, I think the bible is pretty clear who the “Real Jesus” is. I couldn’t quote about him if he wasn’t there in black and white. I believe the onus is upon Christian Right Fundamentalists to prove their Jesus is in the bible, especially in light of my concerns about the translation accuracy of their English sources (as I’ve outlined in these posts).

      I would welcome a debate with any conservative apologist, since it is my sincere conviction that Conservative Christianity is mainly based on cherry-picking passages and relying heavily on the Old Testament for antiquated morality.

      What are your thoughts you hinted at?

      • Machelle says:

        GEEZ, Trig, just like a GOOD Teacher…throw the question back on the student. LOL. :) –To me the REAL Jesus is the person who teaches total inclusion, love, acceptance, grace and forgiveness for all, of all. He didn’t arrive to “save us from”, he came to show humanity the Truth about how we are to treat one another, he accomplished the goal quite well, in my opinion, or he would not have created such a ruckus. So much ruckus, in fact, that he got himself killed. He divided the theological religious sects as well at the political factions of his day; both were at one another’s throats, literally and figuratively and they decided the only way to settle the argument amongst themselves and calm the masses of people was to do away with the “antagonist”, Jesus. Uh, I digress, something I do a lot. Anyway, Jesus didn’t “preach”, he told stories people could relate to and with, he was “one of them”, what a great idea God had, to make Jesus “one of the people” who they could relate to. Very unlike the pharisees of the day, very unlike the pharisees of today. Jesus spoke in the plain language the people could understand, yet the pharisees could not understand what he said. Seems like we have a whole lot of that going on today too. Jesus’ message is simple, love one another, accept one another, feed the hungry, house the homeless, SHARE equally. Lol, in MY view? Jesus was basically a socialist (sharing equally with one another) in his day, a pacifist (against war even though he told of wars to come, he did not advocate war), if he were to be labeled today. –I do not believe that Jesus ever wanted to be worshiped as God. Nor did he ever call himself God, others called him God. He is our “friend” and he is happy to be called our friend. He came to show us “the way”, meaning the way to live our lives, our eternal lives, in the NOW, at hand as it will forever be, on Earth as it already IS in Heaven. He is not this person who sits at the right hand of God judging each of us as to whether we will “make it” into Heaven. He FULFILLED the Law of the Old Testament upon his crucifixion, his 3 days in hell when he defeated death and arose in his glorified body showing ALL people that his belief in eternal life is real, founded and based on Truth. So live “this way”, treating all people equal and with love so you, too shall experience this “kind” of eternal life. I leave you with this, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13(NIV) This is enough proof to me that we no longer live UNDER the Law of the OT, but BY Grace of the NT. When Jesus said “It is FINISHED”, it indeed IS finished. We all now live by complete and total Grace abundantly and cannot lose our free gift of inheritance we received through believing what Christ came to teach us. Jesus told us many times, “Just believe”, it really is THAT simple. –My apology for the rambling…

        • No apologies! That was great. I agree with you, 100%. However, don’t leave out that we still need the Old Covenant so we can fail at that, making Grace paramount, “so that none may boast”. We all need Grace equally, the Law never fails to teach this fact to the proud.

          • Machelle says:

            Oh, I don’t mean that we don’t need the OT at all. Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply we need to completely throw out the OT. I believe we need it as a “guide”, but certainly not to live “under”. Otherwise, there would be no need for the coming of Christ and all of his teachings, and all he fulfilled.

            Thanks, Trig, for the invigorating conversation today! I hope many people find your blog and are truly enlightened by your revelations and words that follow.

          • “the Law never fails to teach this fact to the proud” yes, amen to that. It humbles us for sure, but can kill us too. ‘the letter of the law kills’ 2 Cor 3:6 But yet perhaps that’s the point, ‘unless a seed fall to the earth and die, it can not bring forth life.’ 1 Cor 15:36 And the Law was given to the Jews, not the Gentiles, but the Gentiles had a law unto themselves. I think fundamentalism thinks it’s their job to ‘kill everyone with the law’ in order for them to ‘need Christianity’. The problems with this, is that some people are already living peaceable lives and don’t need to be brought under condemnation. The “hells” on earth that we go through are enough to show us that we need a Savior. And only God can reveal that timing in their lives, otherwise we sow seed on unprepared ground.

      • But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

        It’s a good idea to look at who we are calling out and if we are doing it out of a love of the truth and each other.The fundamentalists you decry? Do you love them? Are you putting the truth of the whole counsel of God ahead of your own opinions?

        God also says this in Romans;

        Rom 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

        Rom 10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

        I have plenty to disagree with the “Fundamentalists about but I must pick up the cross of love and deal with them as Jesus would. With Patience. It goes against my nature but I have the full armor of God to help me!

        • Thank you for your caring tug on my reins, brother!

          I don’t equate criticism with absolute lack of love, but I do hear you, Rob. I can have a very bombastic tone to my posts, but it’s due to how much pain and hate I have seen sprout from misguided teachings such as those I laid out in this post.

          If my tone is overly critical, I apologize and humbly ask for forgiveness from my Fundamentalist brothers and sisters in Christ, however do not negate the legitimacy of my concerns over the distastefulness of my tone!

          I still feel these are very valid and shocking revelations of where Fundamentalism has gone astray.

        • I think this deals with that very well: http://jeremyandchristine.com/articles/salvation.php

  2. This was great. Really great as in one of those rare things that truly fascinated you. I had so many a-ha moments when I was reading this. I already believed most of it on some level but never put the pieces together or recognized that as the true flaw with fundamental/evangelical Christianity.
    But this further raises an issue that has been on my mind lately: how is the God of the Old Testament so entirely different from the God of the New Testament? We see glimpses of the New Testament God in the OT (it seems to be particularly in Psalms and Isaiah but even those have streaks of that bipolar, in-need-of-anger management guy). That God does seem to be a God we need saving from.

    • Machelle says:

      Yeah, Jack, it’s almost like God, Himself, had an “ah ha” moment between the Old Testament and the New Testament, huh? LOL

      • Machelle says:

        Trig, you inspired an “ah ha” moment in me…I sooo needed this today. Thank you. –So it’s not God that had the “ah ha” moment, it’s God trying to get all of us to have the “ah ha” moment and realize that we cannot keep His spiritual Law. God HAD to show us in the Old Testament that it is virtually impossible for humans to keep laws. He had to show us, in order for us to realize we NEED grace, and need it abundantly. Yes, Grace is paramount, and it is because we fail as humans that we need the work that Christ performed, and fulfilled, offering grace as a free and unmerited, undeserved gift. Yes, the OT showed us, and continues to show us, that we NEED the New Testament’s offer of unconditional mercy, grace and unconditional love of God.

        Unfortunately many of us still haven’t learned the lesson. Many are still attempting to “earn” our way into God’s graces, and many are still attempting to resurrect the Old Testament as if the New Testament is the lesser, and the OT is the hierarchy of the two. Just because the OT came before the NT doesn’t mean it has more relevance. Just the opposite, I contend. If a person composes a Last Will and Testament, and then amends it, which takes precedence over the other? The amended Testament, of course. The former is not resurrected unless someone contests the new Testament. And it seems that’s what is happening today. It is “as if” the New Testament, and ALL that it promises, is being contested on a wide, open platform by extreme factions who support the Old Testament Law of harsh accountability, judgment and punishment without using the promise of the New Testament through the Grace, Mercy and unconditional Love Jesus brought, fulfilled and proclaimed as he hung dying, “It is FINISHED.” –When DOES our “ah ha” moment come as a World reaching out in broken-ness? Are we not yet “broken” enough?

        • I fear we are not. I shudder to think we might need to experience real loss and heartache as a species in order to finally be broken enough to begin to let go of our idol worship of materialism and our stubborn clinging to “us vs. them”.

          It may take a real world-wide calamity to wake us up to our true nature as brothers and sisters, as God’s children.

          I love your comments, please keep sharing them on future posts, Machelle.

          • Machelle says:

            I have to agree with you, Trig. I, too believe that a World-wide disaster may come in order for all humankind to wake up and realize our need to rectify the kind of love we are commanded to share with one another.

            So many times God has saved us from ourselves. I personally believe there will come a time when He will allow our free will to go to the ultimate extreme and allow it to cause our self-destruction on a scale we have never known before.

            I have been searching for a blog/writer I could relate to and with. I think I have found it/the writer. Thanks Trig. I love it when “like-minds”, group-consciousness connects. Of course, the idea is to bring others in, to be all-inclusive…I have found your Page on FB and added your Page to my Pages. ;)

            • What’s your FB page? I’d love to reciprocate.

              • I have “All-Inclusive Christian Balance Points” and “The Broken Chu/rch – On the Path to Healing”
                I’ve also included the clickable link to my blog in my avatar with this post. My blog is not as nearly as professional as yours…I try to reach out to those who are somewhere just beyond the lay person and just before the extreme intellectual. :-/
                Thanks! :)

    • @Jack,

      I wonder (since the bible was written by man) if it isn’t God who changed, but our revelation of divine nature that progressed?

      If something terrible befell the OT Israelites (plague, invading army), or if they experienced incredible blessing, the primitive instinct is to blame/credit divine providence.

      Ironically, this base theological strategy apparently extends through today: Pat Robertson likes to blame/credit God as a primitive explanation for why bad things happen. Not much has changed, even 2000 years after the revelation of Christ…

  3. Tom Pinto says:

    I like what you wrote, and I did learn from it. Yet, New Testament contains various conflicting doctrines and themes, and so various Christian group have to come up with some way to harmonize it all and have a functional set of teachings. Christian Fundamentalism is one legitimate way to harmonize doctrinal contradictions in the New Testament. Christian Progressivism is another legitimate way to harmonize doctrinal contradictions in the New Testament. But neither side can really say that they have the “true” interpretation, since the New Testament really, in truth, contains themes and doctrines that, logically, do not work well together. The Fundamentalists say that they have the “true” interpretation, or, many even say their’s isn’t any interpretation at all, but just a literally reading of the text. But Progressives cannot come along and declare the Fundamentalists’ interpretation to be false, and their’s to be correct. It just isn’t that simple. The New Testament does not present one consistent theology. The best that Progressives can do, in my opinion, is just show the contradictory and complicated nature of the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, so as to prevent anyone from claiming to have the One True Faith based on the Bible. Thanks for your writing.

    • I appreciate your measured sentiment, Tom, but I do not share it. As I’ve started really picking apart the Greek (like this post) and others, I’m starting to realize the English translation does not even come close to conveying the original intent of the biblical Greek.

      I’m not arguing for truth based on debate or opinion, I’m fighting to reveal truth based on words which are not being shared with the correct intent or meaning. This is not a matter of opinion.

      For example, as I delineated above, the Greek word they are translating as “eternal” (αἰώνιος) does not mean that. At all. It has a very specific meaning, which is NOT solely future tense.

      This is worse than a mere difference of opinion of “truth”, this is a deception, either purposeful or not, which drastically affects the theology being taught in our modern churches.

      For more examples of how I feel the modern English translations are betraying the intent of the biblical Greek, see the following posts:
      http://www.epochalypsis.org/2011/believe-in-me-or-die
      http://www.epochalypsis.org/2011/i-am-the-way-and-the-truth-and-the-life

  4. Tom Pinto says:

    Okay. I see what you mean. Thanks for your reply comment. Best wishes.

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