Tuesday, 23 May 2017
The Good News.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." John 3:16 (NRSV)
For centuries this has been the definition of the Good News.
Let us look at this more closely.
First of all God "gave his only Son" - this contains the doctrine of Jesus' divinity which I would contest. It is absolute, exclusive, and egotistical.
Secondly "so that everyone who believes in him" indicates that belief is the most important aspect of religion.
Thirdly "may not perish" means that if you don't believe in Jesus as the only Son of God then you will perish.
Fouthly "but may have eternal life" means that entry to Heaven is exclusively through Jesus.
This is a "do what I say or else" message that could hardly be called good news.
For too long the Churches have been institutions which use fear and belief to force people to conform to their will.
And their will is tied to the conservative establishment.
It is inward-looking and self-serving.
That being said the Churches still do much good charity work in a world that is dominated by the rich.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Matthew 28:19a (NRSV)
This is Jesus' commission to the disciples.
They were to bring the Good News to everyone.
But instead of spreading Jesus' message of unconditional love and forgiveness from the Father they forced their absolute ideology onto everyone. An ideology which was unchallenged until modern times.
It is this mistake which caused the downfall of Christendom.
The Church should be outward-looking - i.e. looking to address the needs of our society and our world.
But far too often the Churches have been timid and tentative. They sit on the fence and won't address controversy.
We are not here to ensure our personal survival.
We are here to give love to those around us.
We should accept that and look to the needs of those around us.
Then we will bring good news.
[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.]
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