Over the last few months while I have been working on my three blogs, I have not been following many of the blogs that I had followed earlier (a reflection of Aspergers and concentration on limited objectives?). I looked at one of these sites about ten days ago and immediately found ‘The Garden of Good . . . and Evil‘. I remembered that D’Ma and her friends were questioning the Christian religion and I added a comment, “Imagine a conservative theologian saying that it’s time to face facts, ‘There is no historical Adam and Eve; no serpent; no apple; no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence . . . there never was such a paradise to be lost”. D’Ma responded by suggesting that this view of Genesis largely debunks Christianity as a RELIGION or a FAITH, and went on to ask three questions:
What is the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice?
Why did we need a God-man?
What is the Christian FAITH you speak about?
It was only then that I realised that D’Ma had lost all her former beliefs and I found myself wondering how to respond, and I asked my friend Dave for his thoughts.
The last paragraph of my response to D’Ma reads:
I didn’t respond immediately. I asked a Christian friend for his thoughts about your questions. He has been questioning the faith and like me has some unorthodox beliefs. His response surprised me. I’d appreciate the opportunity of sharing thoughts with you and any of your friends if you can relate (positively or negatively) to what I have recently written on my blog.
Part of Dave’s response to me had been:
First, why not engage the three questions she asked, as they are questions that you have asked yourself on your blogs:
What is the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice? This certainly ties in nicely with original sin, and the questions you raise over penal substitution vs. Christus victor.
Why did we need a God-man? That is a question that has tried Christian theology since the first Patristic fathers, and the development of those ideas over 2000 years have yielded some rich thought that is very interesting to explore.
What is the Christian FAITH you speak of? This was an eye opener to me. I realized that as one reads through your blog, much is written that addresses the questions you have concerning all those subjects, and some of the conclusions you have come to. But there is nothing that explains exactly how that has shaped your understanding of Christ and the definition of your faith. That defined what was nagging me in the back of my mind – its like a missing step illuminated. We have thoughts on original sin, penal subst., etc., and then you have thoughts on mission – but the missing step is how the first thoughts shaped your faith to define your thoughts on mission. Question the faith, define the faith, promote the faith – do you see the logical progression, or is it just me?
This paragraph was a real eye opener for me as well.
Once again it becomes obvious to me that we have been travelling from almost opposite directions and finding much common ground in the middle.
As you have rightly said, there is nothing that explains exactly how the questions have shaped my understanding, nor how they have helped to define my faith or why I would have this vision of reaching out to some of those who have been negatively affected by religion. My thoughts on mission really are summed up in ‘Mission’ – the last part of my notes on ‘The Undefended Life’.
You then ask if I can see the logical progression of question the faith, define the faith, promote the faith. Isn’t that what theologians and scholars have been trying to do for maybe 1700 years? Isn’t that why we have more than 30,000 registered different Christian churches all defining faith slightly, and sometimes very differently?
I guess this is where I need to ask you what you really mean?
What do you mean by question the faith? Do you mean question some of the misguided teachings on the meaning of faith?
What do you mean by define the faith? I would suggest that real faith is beyond the comprehension of men, and any attempt to define it will result at best in only partial and incomplete understanding.
We then come to ‘promote the faith’. Can we really begin to answer the question, “What is the Christian FAITH you speak about?” for those who have been damaged by religion without first hearing their story, and having the chance to explain why we feel that much Christian religious teaching is misguided?