Tuesday, February 27, 2007

can all deeds lead to eternal life

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This exchange between Jesus and a lawyer (Luke 10:25-27) should initially trouble those who believe in the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. Consider that in this exchange, eternal life is defined as loving God and loving neighbour. It is a fusion of two Old Testament texts; Dueteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. So on this basis surely a good Jew who follows the Old Testament gains eternal life. And perhaps a good Muslim, who follows God as Allah and enacts charity? And perhaps numbers of my friends, who tend to their own spirituality, often outside the established church, and live generously toward their neighbours. (And often more generously than many churchgoers.)

My ability to seek both a generous orthodoxy and a conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus has, in recent months, been greatly helped by the following quote from Julian of Norwich.

“the atonement is necessary because without it we would only have our own judgements to rely on, and we are notoriously bad at judging both ourselves and others. In the passion, Christ … has shown us that we must trust God’s judgements more than our own … and this teaches us to love God graciously”

The quote reminds me that salvation in Christ includes an objective reality outside our own frames of reference. Jesus teaches us what love of God and neighbour is like. In the face of the uniqueness of Christ, I can only say “God in Jesus, please teach me to love and be loved.” In this cry for help, I enter into the love of the Triune God. My actions become God-filled, an extension not of my own efforts, but of the love of Christ. In the Triune God, I love God and neighbour. I can affirm a generous orthodoxy empowered by the uniqueness of Christ.

Posted by steve at 03:15 PM

11 Comments

  1. While my view of salvation in God for ALL who love God is only enhanced by your words, you have give me an understanding of the great commandment that has veiled in the past. Thank you.

    Comment by Glen — February 27, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

  2. I’m curious why you dismissed the Jewish nature of the conversation (which you do bring up but then flatten it with Muslim and/or goodness)? Shouldn’t THAT be equally troublesome to those who do NOT “believe in the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ”?

    Although I do heartily agree with what you wrote after that – reminds me a lot of the book “The Celtic Way of Evangelism.” I like how you worded it – not how I would say it so it uncovers more!

    David
    Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.

    Comment by David Malouf — February 28, 2007 @ 3:11 am

  3. did you know you have a squatter on your outofboundschurch.org site?

    Comment by Ari — February 28, 2007 @ 4:24 am

  4. Hey Steve, check out some of the articles on this page, some interesting perspectives on universalism
    http://www.martinzender.com/zenderature.htm

    Comment by Andrew Brown — February 28, 2007 @ 7:03 am

  5. Hi David,
    I need you to tell me a bit more about what you mean by “I’m curious why you dismissed the Jewish nature of the conversation (which you do bring up but then flatten it with Muslim and/or goodness)? Shouldn’t THAT be equally troublesome to those who do NOT “believe in the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ”?” — I am not quite sure what you are getting at,
    steve

    Comment by steve — February 28, 2007 @ 8:14 am

  6. Cheers Ari, I know about the squatter and my web host knows but they seem unable to take any action. It is very frustrating,

    steve

    Comment by steve — February 28, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  7. Steve – my bad. I was thinking while writing and I may prove myself to wage poorly at both!

    What I was emphasizing was the Jewish nature and context of Jesus’ words. If He is quoting, then there’s at least the possibility that He’s not just using the quotes because they’re neatly packaged.
    – I write “the possibility” for I do not know to what extent Jesus nor the writers cared about plagiarism like we do now! I have a strong leaning towards Jesus knowing what He was doing, but it’s not exactly provable.

    Taken one way, if Jesus is quoting the Hebrew Scriptures, then He is not say “any” way or “a good way” is adequate. But instead He could still be pointing to a very specific “way” – perhaps something *more* Jewish than Christian (at least at that time).

    I was concurrently trying to clarify that I believe what you wrote (the paragraph starting with, “This exchange between Jesus and”) has a predisposition to ‘non-exclusive’ that is not fully necessary. And in processing why or why not it is ‘non-exclusive,’ one might stumble onto another insight into what Jesus was saying.

    A bit wordy – but I hope it makes better sense.

    David

    Comment by David Malouf — March 1, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  8. Steve – I’m sorry, that really stinks.

    Comment by Ari — March 1, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  9. I wouldn’t feel right telling a person that did not accept the blood atonement of the preached Christ message that as long as they had some real measure of love that they were safe from any harm…and the only reason for that uneasiness in me is stuff written in the Bible. I personally could think the perfect God must be all forgiving in the end,saying one thing, but then softening up later on… (hope that’s how it is) but then I think that the best case scenario God would not have created spiders. I’m afraid the God who is, is. There might be more reason to fear him than we think. Like, fossils of a world killed in the flood. (for the evolutionists out there thinking the fossils are not from the flood, think then instead about the stories of Old Testament judgement) God seems to have a business end that I’m uneasy about…I’m not that good all the time. It is always a cool thing that when God sees someone with real love he has so many ways of interacting with them to bring them to faith in Christ, if they will…like Cornelius!
    A question arose about this in a class I was leading….if people have a chance without an actual knowledge and experience of Christ….then our telling them might make them accountable. See the native running from the missionary with his ears covered….”don’t tell me….then I’m accountable…I could go to hell!” Maybe the guy in the story you quoted was being addressed as a jew under the OLD Testament. That was the context. Is it valid for us as the way today anyway? Not tha love is any less important, but in the OLD Teastamnt, love all ya want…but better bring the sacrifice too. The New Testament seems similar in that regard, blood of Christ and love, not either or. Steve…loved your concert at Creation a few years ago!!!!!!

    Comment by Don Skidmore — March 2, 2007 @ 10:05 am

  10. Don,

    I wonder if you are mixing up your Steve Taylors? I don’t sing and do concerts.

    sorry :)

    steve

    Comment by steve — March 2, 2007 @ 11:26 am

  11. oh…my bad…still glad to reply…Don

    Comment by Don — March 3, 2007 @ 7:31 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.