A letter to the editor of April 2, 2014 presented some questions on theology.
To begin, we m ust ask where the writer got his information about the misplaced comma in the incident about the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43). That story originated among Jehovah’s Witnesses twisting scripture to support their doctrine. Furthermore he has confused bodily resurrection with the ascension of the soul. The thief’s remains are still in the grave. His soul is with the Lord. On the day of resurrection, his body will be changed to one that is incorruptible, and body and soul will reunite. See I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
There are points of disagreement among Christians. Some questions are: posttribulation or pretribulation rapture of the church and election versus free will.
One matter of honest disagreement is the passage in James (faith without works) and I John 1:8-9 (“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”) Notice the passage of I John doesn’t say we must jump through additional hoops. I believe this apparent contradiction and all others have a consistent answer, but some may not be resolved in our time. This particular one appears to mean that while only faith can save us, it is hard to believe that someone who does not do the work of the Lord has a saving faith. It certainly is no use to anyone else.
We should seek to do the work of the Lord because we love Him and want to honor Him. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
If I were looking for a Christ-like church, I wouldn’t go where people are disrespectful to those who disagree with them. I have Christian friends who disagree with me on some doctrinal issues. We can differ amicably and respectfully. We don’t make personal attacks nor gloat about winning theological arguments. We don’t say, “He thinks he’s a great Bible teacher.” We certainly don’t send anonymous letters with threats to eviscerate someone nor do we say ,“You look like a total idiot.” Uh, what was that about “Love your enemies?”
Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
The anonymous letter I received reads in part, “Half of our members are questioning what we teach and the other half are too ashamed to tell anyone they go to church.”
The author of that letter should be glad that his parishioners are questioning what they hear in church. What kind of congregation listens to someone of whom their pastor said, “You look like a total idiot?”
Are there passages of scripture that say things we wouldn’t want to read? Absolutely. In Joshua 6, the Israelites were told to kill all the people of Jericho. Is this the story I would want to tell? No, but it is in the Bible. Tell our Lord He is not politically correct.
Concerning heaven, I Corinthians 2:9 reads, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can imagine what God has in store for those who love Him.” Do I know what I’ll be doing in heaven? No, I don’t.
I just know it is more wonderful than anything I can imagine. What do Jehovah’s Witnesses think they’ll be doing in heaven?
Russell A. Scott