Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A radical Islamic Taliban Roman...? (Part 3)

Over the last few posts we’ve been on a quest to answer the following questions:

Is it possible to have an authentic relationship with God without ever having heard of or knowing Jesus Christ?
Are we saved by cognitive acceptance of certain dogmas or by reciting a rote prayer, or are we saved by the trajectory of our lives? Are we saved by both these things or by neither of them?

As you know by now if you’ve taken the time to read parts 1 and 2 of this post, I’ve taken Acts chapter 10 and the story of Cornelius’ conversion as a case study in answering these questions. We established that neither Peter nor Cornelius was a Christian, and that while Peter was a Christ-following Jew, Cornelius was in fact a God-fearing gentile. Peter knew the message and the heart of the gospel as a Christ-following Jew and Cornelius did not, yet God was at work in both of their lives, propelling them on a trajectory towards their greater purpose. If you don’t listen carefully you might misconstrue my words and my intentions as less than honorable. You might mistake me for one who is set on deriding and subverting Christianity, but you would be completely wrong. I’m simply aware of certain truths about the varying cultures in today’s post-modern world.

In many circles Christianity has become a synonym for the “West.” Many non western cultures equate Christianity with Anglo-Saxon or western culture. I have personally been castigated for preaching “too white,” or for adhering to the “White man’s religion.” I have heard numerous minorities innocently explain how we’ve been brainwashed by the white man to follow his religion. Some who have grudgingly given in to the idea that Christianity may be universal after all, have adorned their offices with statues and paintings of a more palatable ‘black’ Jesus. Others remind me that Christianity is infamous for the Spanish Inquisition (witch-hunt), the Roman massacres in the Coliseum, and numerous other oppressive acts throughout the course of human history. They forget what may be the most significant fact of all: Jesus was not a white man, nor a Christian, but a Jew from the Middle East. They forget that long before Christianity became a religion and an institution, converts turned to Jesus not Christianity. If the Spanish Inquisitions were a true representation of Christ, if Rome’s inhuman massacre of Christ-followers was ordained and sanctioned by God, then it would be true that Christ has little to offer. True Christianity is not a western ideology. It is not the oppression of the less privileged by the bourgeoisie. The enemy of our souls would like to imprint this picture in the hearts and minds of people so that they are immediately resistant to any thing remotely Christian.

The reality though is that Cornelius’ fundamental transformation was a turning towards Jesus and not towards Judaism or Christianity. Salvation is not found in becoming a Christian and reciting a rote prayer or believing a specific dogma as espoused by your particular denomination. No, a thousand times no! Salvation is found only through a true turning towards Jesus. A turning towards Jesus is a turning towards becoming fully human again. We were created in God’s image and likeness, yet made fully human. That privileged position was lost in the Garden of Eden as a result of the sin of our ancestral parents, Adam and Eve. Jesus’ purpose is to reconcile us to God so that we can become fully human again, there bye fulfilling the purpose for which we were originally created. Fundamentally, the essence of my thought process here is simply that people are in need of a conversion to Christ, more so than a conversion to any particular religious or cultural expression of faith.


Anonymous said...

Awesome awesome and awesome!!!
Follower of Christ!!!
Taiwo Lawrence

Joseph said...

T, we'll follow Him together my friend!