LK has a most interesting entry in her journal, entitled "I guess I'm not a Christian", and since I had some more thoughts, I figured I may as well do a post on it. : )
Like LK, I believe in evolution. I also believe in creationism. As circumstances (particularly environmental ones) change, everything has to adapt in order to survive.
This was my initial reply to her journal entry:
"In regards to your "nobody went to heaven before Jesus"...statement, I guess, is that the reason sacrifices were performed prior to Jesus' death was to obtain God's forgiveness of sin. Jesus is often called "the Lamb of God", and that pertains to his role as the final sacrifice. After He died, animal sacrifices were no longer necessary."
As far as the concept of "original sin", I'm like LK. I don't believe in it. That's why, in the church I was raised (the Church of Christ), baptism was a choice to be made by the individual when they were old enough to understand the need for it. Babies are born innocent, and young children can't really sin because they don't have the sense of right and wrong that adolescents and adults do. *Knowing* the difference between right and wrong is the key. Once you have that knowledge and wilfully do wrong, that's when you have sinned.
I've met many Christians who believe that Jesus IS God. I was always taught that He was the Son of God, the final sacrifice which would atone for our sins for eternity, if we were willing to believe in Him as the Son. As a man, Jesus experienced sorrow, anguish, love, fear, hope, etc. That's why He prayed in the garden for God to take the burden of the cross from Him. However, that was the reason for Jesus to be on Earth, and He submitted to the will of God, although He knew that He would be tortured, that the Father would turn His face from Jesus when the Son assumed responsibility for every sin that had been or would be committed, and that He would die. But He also knew He would rise on the third day.
The Christ I have always believed in was a man of peace and hope who delivered miracles and the message of salvation. For me, Christianity has always been a very simple faith to follow, because all that is required is that you believe. However, that is not carte blanche for you to do whatever you want and then say "Oh, I'm a Christian, so I'm forgiven." It doesn't work like that. Salvation is a gift that is freely given by God out of love for us, his children, but you try to be obedient to God's commandments and do good works AS A RESULT of salvation, not as a path TO salvation. Does that make sense?
I do believe that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by a loving God to be our savior, the final sacrifice. I don't believe that doing good works will get you into heaven -- as the verse says "for we all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God". It is only because of my loving Heavenly Father that I can be redeemed.
Well, I guess I could never be Muslim.
This has been an interesting journey. My searching for understanding in Islam has helped me to become a more spiritual person with a deeper, stronger faith than I have ever had in my life.
* * *
Okay, that's all I seem to have to say tonight. I've got some more "job preparation" stuff to do tomorrow, so I'll check back with you guys then. Have a good night!