December 15, 2006

good question, eh?

Kevin points us to this provacative essay: "What the Hell happened to Christianity?"
"So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today? Some say it was during the rise of Conservative Christianity in the early 1980s with political action groups like the Moral Majority. Others say it goes way back to the 300s, when Rome's Christian Emperor Constantine initiated a set of laws limiting the rights of Roman non-Christians. Regardless of the origin, one thing is crystal clear: It's not what Jesus stood for."


Tony said...


Sorry for the anonymous comment. Blogger is choked up for some reason.

I may get delisted from your blogroll for this, but Christ never preached unconditional love and acceptance. At the risk of sounding Max Lucado-ish, Christ accepts sinners as who they are, but He doesn't leave them that way.

I do however agree with the tenor of the CNN article. I would lay the blame at the feet of the Moral Majority and the FRC.

Because groups such as those are SO belligerent, they give all Christian conservatives a bad name and so obviously the answer is that the pendulum must swing all the way to the other side, where the CNN article is pointing. I think a healthy balance must be achieved between love and law, of which the radical conservatives seem to be incapable of doing.

I do agree; good question.

Kevin said...

***but Christ never preached unconditional love and acceptance. At the risk of sounding Max Lucado-ish, Christ accepts sinners as who they are, but He doesn't leave them that way.***

What's the difference? Jesus accepted the woman at the well unconditionally. he didn't tell her: "get you life cleaned up and then talk to me." He loved her and accepted her as she was. And that was what led to her repentence.


Tony said...


We may be talking semantics here, but I am uncomfortable with the whole concept of "unconditional love." The idea behind unconditional love necessarily leads to unconditional acceptance, which can lead to all sorts of problems.

Christ's receiving of the woman at the well did lead her to repentance, but often when we talk about unconditional love, we overlook that Jesus also said in the same breath, "Go and sin no more."


Streak said...

Tony, it seems to me that Kevin's point is that had the woman at the well not taken that last sentence at heart--and do we know what she did?--would Jesus not love her?

Bootleg Blogger said...

I think one of the reasons many of us have trouble with unconditional love is that it is divine i.e. from God. "While we were yet sinners....". Before the flames start raging I'm not saying that we aren't called to responsibility and obedience. The difficult thing to wrap our brains around is the deep, heartfelt love that a Jesus can have for a Judas, or a person like me. What can happen, if I'm not careful, is that I can forget that I am the recipient of unconditional love. As soon as I start thinking I've done something to deserve it then I'm on the wrong track.

P.M. Prescott said...

One historian, I can't remember his name right now, and I'm too lazy to look it up, said (parphrasing not word for word) all religions are militant at first. As they age they mellow out. Budhism, Hinduism and Judaism are much less evangelical and militant. Christianity is only 2000 years old and Islam only 1400. Still teenagers by comparison.

Anonymous said...

Streak and Kevin,

had the woman at the well not taken that last sentence at heart--and do we know what she did?--would Jesus not love her?

That is not what I am denying. I certainly believe that He loved her. But whether or not the woman heeded Jesus' words, the command still stands.

Often in conversations about unconditional love, this passage is marshalled, when I am not certain that this passage teaches about the love of God but rather His holiness.

The scribes and Pharisees had brought an unrighteous (though legitimate)accusation against the woman. As with the trial of Christ Himself, this mock trial neither met all the righteous demands of the law and Christ was showing them that their motives were impure.

They exalted their own holiness as judge over this woman but Jesus, who is holiness Himself, said that whoever is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.

I think Christ's point was that no one could adequately judge the woman's unrighteous behavior but He Himself. It was because of His love that he received her, but because of His holiness that he did not judge her sin (the payment would be made in a couple of short years) and hold it against her, which incidentally, Jesus specifically named her sin and told her what she was guilty of.


Well said. None of us deserve His love, but He chooses to give it to us anyway. I like the term unselfish rather than unconditional. Unconditional carries a little too much baggage with it.

volfan007 said...

some people forget to look in the bible to see Jesus whipping the money changers and turning over their tables and driving the animals out of the temple. some people forget that Jesus looked at the lost, religious crowd of His day and called them a bunch of snakes and white washed tombs with rotting corpses in them. and, some forget to read where Jesus will sit on the throne one day, and He will judge all men.


Anonymous said...

Streak, Kevin, bb,

Just a short addendum to my above comment.

The term "unconditional" bothers me because it tends to shape the attitude of the believer after regeneration and that God continues to love unconditionally. It degenerates into sentimentality and "love as license" behavior.

Hence the errant teachings of Russian Orthodox monk Rasputin which has had more of an effect on evangelicalism than we acknowledge.

In a day where terminology means everything, we must be very careful the words we use.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Tony- At the risk of belaboring the unconditional love termonology issue, I think some struggle may be helped from just looking at the idea without the baggage, if possible. Unconditional- no conditions, i.e. you don't do anything to deserve or obtain the love. It is love given because the giver of the love decides to do so. Does this mean that the recipient of the love doesn't have a role to play in the relationship? No. The love recipient can still disappoint, anger, disobey, and refuse to reciprocate. This doesn't cut off the unconditional love. Christ loved the pharisees with the same love he had for the woman in the example. The example of Jesus expelling the money changers from the temple, the ONLY example of Christ in a violent posture, was a response to using the temple and access to God as a profit center at the expense of the powerless. The danger I see in NOT embracing the idea of "unconditional" is our human tendency to, like the moneychangers, scribes and pharisees, set up an obstacle course that must be transversed before having access to God, i.e. these are the "conditions" you must meet. I like to ask myself, "What's God's job here, What's my job here, what's your job here?" If I get those straight and don't try to do God's job or your job, then things go pretty well. As soon as I start doing God's jobs (judgement, saving someone, etc...) I get off track pretty quickly. I could get more specific, but I've gone on long enough. Anyway- good discussion.

Anonymous said...


You make strong, convincing points, even using an economy of words :)

I concur; good discussion.

Wasp Jerky said...

More than likely, Jesus didn't whip the moneychangers. He whipped their animals, which is what drove them out of the temple.

volfan007 said...

the fact still remains that Jesus drove them all out of the temple. He was not the nice, little baby in the manger; nor was he the anemic limpwrist of some of the paintings of long ago.


Streak said...

Volfan is very frightened that we might see Jesus as gay. That makes me suspect that Volfan is afraid HE is gay.

Or he is just an ass.

Little from colum a, little from column b...