Monday, 18 May 2009

Day 13

OK, let’s elaborate. Jesus came to bring life, before and after death. The revolution started with his friends claiming that, although they saw him die, he’s not dead after all. He broke the chains and set life free.

Never, not once did Jesus call us to believe in hell. The point is LIFE.

Hell is not about life; no it’s death all the way and God doesn’t do death.

Then why is there a need for Faith?

‘Cause this life is hell enough. People, from all walks of life go through it every day.

The kingdom of God is about the restoration and healing of this life as sign of hope that even in death, life will go on. The story of God as told in the Bible ends with heaven coming here.

So it is hell in some poverty stricken place, in some AIDS ridden family, in some corruption driven government, in some fear filled refugee camp, in some depressive, abusive relationship and in some painful story where death made its home. Why then bother with a theology of hell, when, what we really need is a theology of hope?


Narfie said...

Fourie, this blog makes me feel that I am actually capable of making it. That God really understands me and that He only wants the best for me, and the best part of this life.

I've been taught (or maybe it's just what I've perceived) that we should strive to not be doubtful believers. We must always strive to be good in all ways, follow the ten c's down to the letter. But if we do that we fall short - every time!

How depressing to be a Christian then, if you always aim to be something you can never be, always try so hard to please a God that's unpleasable. Then I agree with you whole heartedly. Our faith should not be built on fear of death, or landing up in the fires of hell. Who is this scary God that we serve then??

No, I choose life... this life... in abundance... the way Jesus described it. And for the first time in my life, I actually believe that I can make it... and maybe, just maybe, that I've been making it all this time! :)

Fourie Rossouw said...

Narfie, great comment. What a way to kickstart the week!

Your comment created a metaphor: The Carrot infront of the donkey. The kind of the theology that sketches an ideal picture and evrytime you think you've made it, the carrot just stays out of reach. They move the bench mark just a little bit to keep you going. So you pray harder, believe harder and work harder...

In the meantime God has prepared a wonderful feast with far more than just carrots to sink your teeth in!

I don't want to be the donkey anymore.

AlexSteyn said...

I am amazed at how people respond Fourie. I want to commend you for your courage and your knowledge and sharing your story with other doubtful believers as well... I am a doubtful believer too. My struggles vary. Lately it has been because of an elective subject I chose at university. Although I study International Politics, Philosophy has always intrigued me. But little could prepare me for the havoc, 'Philosophy of Religion' would cause in my mind. It has detached me from really believing in what I 'believe'. If that makes any sense. I'm fighting to keep my head above water... along with the pressure from my very faithful family, (they can't seem to grasp how detached philosophy of religion is from religion itself.) I have a friend that described christianity as a relationship not a religion... I am so afraid that I've been drawn into philosophy so much, that I am actually beginning to live out my relationship with God and religion in such a detatched way, the way philosophy approaches it. Wow thats scary.

What hit me here was the emphasis on LIFE. We had to write an assignment on is there life after death. And I became obsessed to justify in some way in which category I fell in, with other philosophers. Do I believe in bodily revival, or is it just my mind that surivives death in limbo... I had endless conversations with believers and non believers and even people of different religions alike. But the most shocking pandoras box I opened was during a conversation with my grandfather (an old-school christian) blatantly told me there is nothing like life after death and that when we die that was it. I thought wow... thats scary. a life without hope? What kind of life is that. I'm still figuring that one out... I don't have time right now to write why believing in the afterlife is so important. but right now... the importance of the LIFE we live now helped me somewhat... i'm still doubting and i'm still sad about what my grandfather said.

Fourie Rossouw said...

Alex, your honesty blew me away. Life takes us places and if we embrace the journey, we are bound to change by the scenery around us.

Like the journey you are currently on. Studying philosophy will shape and change you. That’s the whole beauty of it.

The Ancient followers of Jesus have always embraced the conversation between Religion and Philosophy.

Take our friend Paul for instance. When he spoke to the people of Athens, he quoted their poets and writers in such a way that it shaped his own understanding of God. Back in Jerusalem the elders of his church would have gotten a heart attack if they heard what Paul told the Areopagus (The Leaders of Athens).

I know it’s a tough journey that shakes your faith, but it also have the potential to shape it, add to it and also cut away some of it. You might just end up with something very significant.

It will be an honour to hear more of your doubtful journey.

PixiePie said...

Fourie, I have spent most of the day reading your entries, both in 'Diaries of a doubtful believer' and 'de naakte priester' (this, much to the detriment of my work for the day). I have mixed reactions to what I have read and feel, at the same time, both hopeful and helpless.

On the one hand I so much want to believe everything that I have read... On the other had those nasty words of 'what if' keep resounding in my head. What if I decide to believe that I do not have to fear retribution... BUT life turns out not to be so simple. What if I make decisions, thinking and believing that it is part of God's plan for my life, but in the end it turns out that it was the wrong decisions, wrong to such a degree that I have completely missed God... miss the life hereafter.

I heard what you said last night when you said that God meant us to live THIS life and not just sit around and wait for the life hereafter, but how can we be sure that our decisions today will not eventually exclude us from what is to follow after death? How do we know where God's line is? And I know that many theologians’ answer to this would be: The Bible. But then some of the decisions I have already made, already condemns me...

Fourie Rossouw said...

PixiePie, welcome to the journey of doubtful believers. Please don't believe everything you read here. This is a doubtful blog about doubtful feelings towards a doubtful faith!

All I can do is to encourage you to keep on moving away from fear towards love.

Keith said...

Fourie and others I have experienced doubt and certainty about God even in the face of tremendous blessing.

In August 2001 the mother of my daughters aged 4 and 5 passed away. We switched off her life support and she seemed to cling to life - and the doctors put it on again. We were convinced that God had intervened and were on a high.

Days later - despite the combined prayers of the family and the churches we and they were part of she dies when the machines are put off again - and so you sink into dispair and doubts in God and the quality / strength of your belief and faith. The words "if you have faith .... you can move mountains" haunt you.

The doctrine of some unforgiven sin that causes this retribution in your life weighs heavily.

Life for me has settled down again - I am married again to a wonderful lady, have a three year old son and 2 very happy daughters.

I have come to realise that the baggage we carry with us is what contributes to our doubts.

God is constant. He established an order to life and that means that for all of us there will be good rains, droughts, fires and an end to this earthly journey.

Sometimes the picture we have imprinted into the fabric of our lives brings these doubts. We have this "perfect journey" preached to us from a young age.

We are taught that if we do this and that God will respond in this and that way and we will be prosperous. We sow doubt by big debates over eveolution, adult baptism and a host of other things.

Those of us who proclaim to follow the ways of Jesus drop the ball and hurt ourselves and the legacy and image of Jesus - and that triggers the doubts.

I like the image of God being faithful to fill the gaps.

When faced with tough decisions in any aspect of my life I tend to do the yes and no decision box thing.

The thing that most often provides me with the way forward on this journey of life is the box where I say - have I been in control of every aspect of my life. The answer is NO. I realise that I have caused some of the pear shaped issues in my life by my own stupidity. Other glorious moments were not orchestrated by me - and could simply be written off to fate.

That would seem too much credit for such a faceless entity like fate. I know that I have made a choice that God is the author of those wonderful moments when my daughter proudly announces her top of class status, when the sun sets into the sea, when the closeness of my beloved is enough to provide strength when the day has been tough, when my son runs to the door shouting "Daddy Daddy".

We will journey with the doubt - but behind the doubt is the belief and beyond the belief is an awesome God.

pierre said...

Hi Fourie & Followers. This is what we where all longing to hear. Somebody leading the church but feel exactly like we do. This blog is going to save us and recruit alot of doubtful believers. Sofar I am very interested in every word and already feel like a diffrent person. Lets walk the path of good faith. Thanx

Fourie Rossouw said...

Day 13 is turning out to a beautiful conversation. Keith, thank you for sharing your story. I feel like I am on holy ground after reading it. It brought depth and purpose to our dialogue.

Pierre, it's an honour to hear that this blog makes you feel like a different person. We'll walk the path together.