One of the foundational issues that I disagree with is the presenter's assertion that Jesus came to "bifurcate" the world. This is a pretty common view amongst western Christian fundamentalists- that the world is divided into "Us" and "Them". It tends to be a rather thin slice of "Us" because there are many Christians in this equation who do not measure up either. A wrong answer on the orthodoxy litmus test will quickly put you in the "Them" category.
Before any of us spend too much time "bifurcating" our relationships, I think we should consider Paul's advice in Romans 2:
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
The presenter then continued to emphasize the "us/them" relationship by translating scripture into war metaphors. He believes the world is a battlefield and we must defend ourselves. I believe Jesus called his followers to a forward movement of love, rather than a defensive posture of fear. A war metaphor causes Christianity to resemble Islamic extremism, Mao atheism, or Rwanda warlords - submit or be conquered! How is this the good news of the Gospel? Do we submit to Christ because he is the most powerful? How is that different? Did Paul not declare "God's kindness leads us to repentance"?
My next contention would require you to watch the video to get the full effect, but basically, the presenter postulates a "What if?" concerning Satan. Personally, I love what if questions when it comes to theology. However, in the next step, he performs a quick slight of hand and begins referencing his "what if" as if it were now a given. He then uses it to buttress his argument that the entire cosmos is in a battle over these two worldviews (Satan's and God's). If there are only two worldviews, then everything can be neatly separated into "us/them".
I reject the "us/them" postulation. I believe there is only "us". Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Paul does not make a distinction here. He puts himself into the same camp as his neighbor. There is no superiority. The only one superior in the equation is Christ.
Barbara Nicolsi sums up the problem with seeing people in an "us/them" mindset:
I think that, unfortunately, a lot of orthodox Catholics and Christians are either sitting in the cave hunkered down, or they're like Jonah sitting under a Gourd plant waiting for God to vent his wrath on the world—on the ungodly—and they're going to be disappointed if He doesn't. I don't see these people having sorrow for sin; I see them having indignation towards sin. And to me, that's an important difference. Sorrow for sin is "I am a part of this." Indignation for sin is "you are the ones messing up the world!"
They did a man-on-the-street style segment where they asked people about "Truth". People with the "wrong" answer tended to be women, European, progressive looking. People with the "right" answer tended to be old, white men in suits. At this point, I felt the video devolved into a bad caricature of itself.
Toward the end, the presenter stated that he hates the phrase "people of Faith". Unless you subscribe to his standard of Christianity, your searchings are pointless. You are either with us or against us. If you are with us, you are a child of the Father. If you are against us, he says, you are a child of the devil.
I believe Jesus showed a different attitude toward people "outside the faith". The woman at the well in John 4 might have had a different response to Christ if he had called her a child of the devil.
The final question he asked was, "Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?'
My answer: What I believe about Him does not change who He is, it never has and it never will. What I believe about Him has changed over time. Many of the beliefs I felt were "unchangeable" have shifted as I learned more about Him. So I now hold many of my beliefs loosely. This does not grant me certainty or security. I have replaced those notions with fidelity. I believe this gives me opportunities to grow.
*UPDATE* For some reason, this article comes up very high in Google when searching The Truth Project. However, there are some great bloggers of Faith who have also weighed in with their concerns and observations. I have linked their pages based on a keyword search for The Truth Project.
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