There are Clearly Two Large Groups of Believers Who Differ on Basic Beliefs; How Do We Best Define Them?

It is no secret that there are two large groups of believers who see the Bible differently and are frequently at odds over what constitutes its essence and how we should respond to it. Discussion between the two groups can become quite polarized while at the same time producing little positive result, as there seems to be very little common ground on the issues that divide them.

There IS a body of belief that both sides hold in common, but differences can overshadow the areas of agreement because they are so different from each other and are considered foundational. The dividing line seems to be opposing approaches to the Bible.

One side considers the Bible to be the inerrant word of God throughout and that the Bible was somehow directed and protected by God. From that understanding arises a distinct group of beliefs and doctrines that are considered biblical and essential.

However the other side, while embracing the Bible, sees it as a more complex collection of books by individual authors with different messages and does not assume such direction of the writings by God. From this understanding arises a far different set of beliefs.

two groups3

The Divide

The first group tends to believe that a ‘plain’ reading of the Bible reveals that God will punish people eternally in the fires of hell, that God poured out his wrath toward us on Jesus at the cross (penal substitution), that we are to live by a huge number of God’s commands revealed in the Bible (legalism), that Adam and Eve were the actual, historical first parents of the human race, and that God condemns LGBTs.

The second group believes that following Jesus’ teaching and example is what is important rather than rigid rules. Most conclude that the Bible does not teach eternal punishment in hell or that God condemns LGBTs. Most conclude that penal substitutionary atonement is seriously misguided. Most conclude that the creation stories in Genesis are not to be understood as history.

I think the fact that these groups exist is apparent, and almost everyone understands who they are and generally what they believe. But the question I have is how do we best define them, because no labels seem to be sufficiently accurate.

In response to a recent article, quite a number of commenters in various venues raised the question of inadequate one-word descriptions of the two sides. While I am not crazy about labels, we do need terms that are inclusive to the positions without including those who do not fit the positions.

The First Group

This group might be called fundamentalists, evangelicals, conservative Christians, or traditional Christians. But none of these terms is adequate. Fundamentalists fall into this group, but there are others in the group who are not fundamentalists; so ‘Fundamentalists’ is not an adequate term to describe them.

Perhaps most evangelicals fall into this group, though there are many evangelicals who do not. So ‘Evangelicals’ is not an adequate term either because not all evangelicals fall into this group and the term does not include fundamentalists who are not evangelical.

The same is true of the terms ‘conservative Christians’ and ‘traditional Christians’ because not all conservative or traditional Christians fall into this group, and ‘conservative’ is also used as a political term, which can be confusing.

I have been experimenting with the terms recently, and I wonder if perhaps the best term for this group is ‘Inerrantist believers’ since the primary issue is some sort of inerrant view of the Bible. What do you think? Is this a good term? Perhaps you have a term I have not considered.

The Second Group

On the other side are those who might be called progressives, liberals, or critical thinkers. The term ‘Liberal’ has been associated with believers in ‘Mainline’ churches since the late 1800s, but while most mainline churches are ‘progressive’ many of those belonging to the second group are not from mainline churches but were once inerrantists themselves. Part of the reason they are in discussion with ‘inerrantists’ is because they know them and used to be part of them.

‘Critical thinkers’ is descriptive but is not in widespread use. The term ‘progressive’ is used a lot to describe the second group, but it has problems as well.

First of all, there are at least four distinct groups that use the term ‘progressive Christian’. ‘Progressive’, like ‘conservative’ is also a political term, and there are believers who call themselves ‘progressives’ because they are politically progressive believers. There are believers who consider themselves ‘progressive’ because they use new forms of meetings and worship. There are also ‘progressives’ who consider all religions to lead to the same place and that religious founders, including Jesus, are equals.

Those aren’t us. I would say that most progressives of our sort are former evangelicals, fundamentalists, or from other conservative Christian groups who have questioned what they have been taught and found it not to be valid. Our journeys often involve a lot of struggle and pain because the indoctrination we received as conservatives is difficult to overcome.

Though we have strong faith and strong beliefs, progressive believers generally do not emphasize ‘doctrines’ or ‘creeds’ but we are in pretty good agreement on our general direction—a big part of which is following the teachings and example of Jesus.

What Do You Suggest?

All the terms I know for these groups are inadequate and imprecise. Recently, I have been using ‘Inerrantist believers’ and ‘Progressive believers’ to describe these two groups. What do you think? What terms do you suggest?

Articles in this series: Inerrantist Believers

Why Call Out Fundamentalist Views: Isn’t Everyone Entitled to Their Own Opinion?
Why Progressive Believers and Fundamentalist Believers Disagree on So Many Important Beliefs
For My Inerrantist Friends: Why Appeals to Inerrancy are Totally Ineffective in Discussion
Jesus Without Baggage Welcomes Inerrantists!
‘The Bible Clearly Says’ is Always a Seriously Misguided Statement
There are Clearly Two Large Groups of Believers Who Differ on Basic Beliefs; How Do We Best Define Them?

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175 Responses to There are Clearly Two Large Groups of Believers Who Differ on Basic Beliefs; How Do We Best Define Them?

  1. wlburnettejr says:

    How about Inerrantists and Rationalists? I am not comfortable with the term Progressive as it has come to be synonymous with the political left in America. While I would lean towards more liberal beliefs in some areas- such as inerrancy of the Bible, “progressives” here hold to beliefs that I do not hold as I feel they are moving towards out and out socialism (some are already there) which I strongly oppose. I tend to be conservative in some areas and more liberal in others, so I do believe that reason, or rationality, has a legitimate place trying to figure out our positions on the mystery of faith in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      WLB, I agree that Progressive is easily confused as a political term. But Rationalists could include agnostics, atheists, and others. What do you think of ‘Theologically Progressive Believers’ to avoid the political aspect?

      Like

      • Rob Stanback says:

        I think Theologically Progressive Believers” would just end up getting shortened to “Progressives”. Besides which, I think terminology should be value-neutral and “Progressive” to me implies that all others are “Regressive”.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anthony Paul says:

    Without taking anything away from what WL just said about Rationalism, I would like to add the idea of Pragmatism… because when I read the Bible as an inerrantist I found myself having to “believe” parts of it that were confusing and difficult to accept on a rational level yet still necessary to believe on a spiritual level. In the end what I really came to believe about the Bible was that it was a nice book to read, and very important somehow, but that it had very little value as an instrument of change for my life as someone who believes that Jesus is the center of all creation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tonycutty says:

      Interestingly put. I wonder if that’s because the Scripture has already fulfilled its primary purpose in you: to show you Jesus. It sounds to me as if you have already met Him, so the Bible is no longer the main instrument of change; Jesus is? Certainly that’s true for me…

      Liked by 4 people

      • Anthony Paul says:

        Tony, you’ve got me thinking about something here (that could be dangerous). Seriously, I once heard a minister say that all of Scripture points to Jesus… it’s all about Him. Suddenly that’s beginning to take on real meaning for me here. If it’s all about Him, and… He did and said some things that didn’t exactly go down well with the inerrantists of the time (The Pharisees), so why do so many who call themselves by the name of Christ still choose to follow the old ways which He seemed so often to publicly repudiate, thus offending so many?

        “…so the Bible is no longer the main instrument of change;”

        Maybe the Bible never was meant to be an instrument of change… according to Paul, the Law is there only to show us our need for something far greater than ourselves… it cannot make us better. We need more than the Law (read OT) to bring about the change of heart that God requires of us. The bottom line is that no one can follow both Jesus and the teachings of The OT. It may be an oversimplification for so many out there… but it works for me… Pragmatism, pure and simple.

        Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, Pragmatists is not bad. But I wonder if it doesn’t reflect too much of a philosophical feel, just as Rationalists does and as Realists does–another word I just thought of. Another issue might be whether inerrantists would find any of these terms acceptable in discussion.

      Thanks for the suggestion. I am still thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. tonycutty says:

    There are two groups of people in this world: those who divide the world into two groups of people; and those who do not 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I agree that labels are not always a good thing; they do tend to create an us and them attitude. Labels can also stereotype people and fail to recognize distinctions within groups.

      But sometimes I think one has to refer to a group as ‘something’, and an accurate, non-disparaging, and mutually acceptable ‘something’ is better than an inadequate ‘something’.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Tony, the normal two groups are ‘us’ and ‘them’!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. tonycutty says:

    And whatever ‘label’ we choose, it’s a safe bet that the fundies will hijack it to make them sound more accepting. Grace? Taken. Community? Taken. Christians? Taken. ‘Jesus Follower’? Taken. You get the idea. This is the main reason why I don’t adopt a label; I’m just ‘me’.

    Before long, that will probably be hijacked too… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony Paul says:

      I’m just ‘me’.
      Before long, that will probably be hijacked too…

      Sorry Tony… I think that’s already been taken… I hear a lot of people subscribe to that same label. Sinatra even sang a song about it… “I gotta be me”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Perhaps, but I don’t think ‘fundies’ will hijack for themselves the term ‘theologically progressive believers’. Are you suggesting ‘Fundies’ as a better term?

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonycutty says:

        Maybe I am… but I don’t think they’d accept it as it can be felt as being quite derogatory. Pot, black, kettle, not necessarily in that order 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Tony, I agree that ‘fundie’ would likely be received by fundamentalists as dismissive and derogatory.

          Like

        • Chas says:

          Tony, As my Dad used to put it, ‘the pot calling the kettle grimy-a***’. That is a good, non-racial version, although perhaps still not very PC!

          Like

      • Chas says:

        Tim, maybe we are theologically challenging believers and the fundamentalists are the theologically challenged believers!

        Liked by 1 person

    • johannamm says:

      I was going to say that I describe myself as a follower of Jesus: I fear using the term “Christian” because so many people who call themselves that don’t seem to follow Jesus’ example. But you’re right: the inerrantists would claim that they follow Jesus, too.

      Liked by 3 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Johannamm, Yes! I don’t deny that they are followers of Jesus, but I do think they are very misguided in what they emphasize.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Doug Stratton says:

    I have really appreciated the dicussions on inerrancy. I grew up with it and was trained in Bible college almost those lines. But for me, I find that seeking labels is adding baggage to Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Doug, I understand the problems with labels. But if one is writing, as I do, about the issues between the two groups, how does one refer to the two groups in an accurate, descriptive, and acceptable way? I think ‘Inerrantist believer’ is an understandable and descriptive reference that would not be unacceptable to inerrantist believers.

      Perhaps ‘theologically progressive believer’ serves in the same way. Your thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Doug Stratton says:

        These descriptions an be a helpful tool to communication, but when I see it, it calls me back to the separatist tendencies of my youth. Today, as I look at the self identified groups around me, I find that I am conservative and liberal, evangelical and progressive, mostly democrat, but also republican. To seek to place people in one or the other, is baggage to the gospel that makes it harder for people to relate to one another.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Doug, I have often been boxed in by labels too. People often make assumptions about people that are not at all true. Often terms, descriptions, or labels become just a form of hostile name-calling.

          How do you think is the best way to describe harmful beliefs and those who embrace them–for clarity and the sake of discussion?

          Like

  6. newtonfinn says:

    What label did Jesus use for his followers? When I’m mulling over a quandary like that posed by Tim in this latest post, I don’t ask the question WWJD (which often leads to emphases on specific gospel verses), but rather ask the question: What DID Jesus do? That question causes me to ponder the panoply, as best I can grasp it, of Jesus’ words and actions, to apply an intuitive understanding of Jesus’ character and personality which his words and actions provide. I’m not sure that Jesus had any special name for his followers that distinguised them from other Jews and the various sects they had formed in his day. He had his followers, John had his, and there were also Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, priests, scribes, lawyers, zealots, etc. It was indeed in a mosaic of Jewish beliefs that Jesus spoke and acted, yet he seemed to express little interest in coining a term to describe his followers and separate or distinguish them from the rest of the Jewish people. This was at least in part, I suspect, because Jesus was totally focused on something he called the Kingdom of God/Heaven–its hidden and invaluable presence now and its glorious and victorious culmination in the future. Thus Jesus seemed to sort out other people only as being in or out of that Kingdom, or as moving toward or away from it. Had he put a name on his followers, perhaps he feared that it would become a source of pride or personal identity that would draw their attention to themselves instead of to that which was so much larger and more important than individual men and women or the groups, often exclusive and antagonistic, which they were naturally inclined to form. The Jesus I have come to know (correctly or incorrectly, given my lack of inerrancy) is not a man who would have welcomed any of the labels used since his death to put his followers into a special category apart from the rest of humanity. I don’t think he would have approved of “the church” or of “Christianity,” much less the innumerable sects and denominations which they have spawned. And to go one step further, the Jesus I have come to know had little use for religion in general, his message and meaning having to do with nothing smaller than the totality of life itself, lived under the gaze of God in the context of His Kingdom.

    Liked by 4 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I like your distinction between WWJD and WDJD. I also like your statement that, “Jesus seemed to sort out other people only as being in or out of that Kingdom, or as moving toward or away from it.” This is a very meaningful designation for me; I often refer to myself as a citizen of the Kingdom.

      But in struggling to find appropriate descriptive references for the two groups (which exist whether we want to admit it or not) I can’t use ‘citizens of the Kingdom’ for the theologically progressive believers as that would imply that inerrantists are NOT ‘citizens of the Kingdom’, which is not a statement I am willing to make.

      While Jesus did not give his followers a group name, other than ‘those who follow me’, Paul found it necessary to create a designation when the church later divided on a very important point. He called the opposing group ‘Judaizers’. He did not disown them as brethren, but he clearly pointed out what the issue was in his designation.

      Is there a better designation for those who think do differently than we do than ‘Inerrantist Believers’? I think this would be an accurate term, one acceptable to them, and one that zeros in on the defining issue between us.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rob Stanback says:

    In his book, “What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything,” Rob Bell refers to group 1 as “literalists” — they believe that the Bible is literally true and is to be taken literally. I do not think that he gives a good antonym for literalist, and I cannot think of any except non-literalist.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Dennis Wade says:

    I second “Newtonfigg” on this one.
    Let the “others” have their labels. If we need one, then let it be the name of this blog: Jesus Without Baggage”, or “JWBS”
    Other than that, we are all individuals with only one thing in common: we strive to follow the example of Jesus as best we can.. Each of us will find our own way of doing this, but however it is done, only God will be our judge, and His standard is”LOVE”.
    So how do we love others?
    There is no other label>

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I agree with you that “we are all individuals with only one thing in common: we strive to follow the example of Jesus as best we can.” I would never want to suggest that those in the other group are not striving to follow Jesus the best they can.

      Did you just call our friend ‘Fig Newton’? I like Fig Newtons.

      Like

  9. No matter what you call you selves, I find it a bit baffling that you want to say you are only interested in Jesus, while simultaneously ignoring or re interpreting anything Jesus says about God’s ultimate judgement. Hell isn’t old testament doctrine. Jesus being a Jew, was also very religious and followed the Jewish laws, in fact being the only one to keep them perfectly, so the non religious Jesus argument doesn’t really work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wild, I know we disagree considerably on the issue of judgment and hell. Whether or not Jesus kept the Law as expressed in the OT, it appears that he certainly did not keep the Sabbath to the satisfaction of certain Pharisees.

      I am glad you weighed in on this topic. As an inerrantist believer, what descriptive terms do you consider most appropriate in identifying the two groups?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Since the progressive Christians have no definite belief system I don’t really think you can do better then Orthodox and non-orthodox. If you don’t like being defined by a negative, then you need an actual Creed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wild, I think this has possibilities; but I don’t think the negative term is necessary. Orthodoxy already exist in contention with Orthopraxy–a positive term. Thanks!

          Like

    • tonycutty says:

      “Jesus [was] in fact being the only one to keep them [the laws] perfectly”

      This got me thinking. We have always traditionally said that Jesus lived the perfect, sinless life on our behalf. And I have no argument with that. But if we could ask any of the Pharisees etc. who dogged Jesus’s coat [robe] tails so persistently, I think they might disagree. He lt His disciples rub corn on the Sabbath. He healed people on the Sabbath. He did all kinds of things they thought were ‘sinful’, actually. Which, to me, shows that *either* Jesus was not sinless; ‘sin’ is not necessarily breaking the religious ‘Law’, or the rules that He broke were not God’s rules in the first place (they were men’s). I think that actually shines quite a light on the attitude of judgemental people of today – modern-day Pharisees – who do a similar thing. What they call ‘sin’ (like going to the movies, for example) is actually not. Interesting…

      Liked by 3 people

      • ” or the rules that He broke were not God’s rules in the first place (they were men’s).”

        I think this one is correct. Jesus said that they were placing heavy burdens on the people. My understanding is that they added many additional rules to the Midrash.
        Instead of just keeping the Sabbath, the Jewish scholars created 39 separate categories of what “work” means. It was this kind of nit picking and adding to God’s law, that Jesus was objecting to. Personally I’m glad that I don’t have to keep the original 613. There are plenty of churches that add a bunch of religious laws today, and sometimes it seems to me it’s so people can judge who is a “real” Christian and who isn’t.

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wild, I think you share a lot of good insight here about the ‘rules’ added both by certain Pharisees and by certain believers today. Some people just seem to have a strong need for systematic laws that cover everything (legalism), but I am glad Jesus calls them on it by saying, “they were placing heavy burdens on the people.” And I think he would say the same about severe legalists today.

          Liked by 2 people

        • tonycutty says:

          Superbly put, WW. Agreed. I think there might be a sermon in there somewhere… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          Wilds, If some of these OT rules were men’s rules, doesn’t this undermine your idea that it is the word of God?

          Liked by 1 person

          • How so? Apparently, they added rules that are not expressly laid out in scripture. And actually violated the live with their own tradition.
            Mark 7:9-13 New International Version (NIV)
            9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[a] your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[b] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[c] 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
            They had twisted the original intent, for their own selfish means.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Then what do you make of the rules in much of Leviticus, are they added to ‘God’s word’ or not?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Don’t know where this reply will show up in the order of comments. But in reply to Chas: Of course Leviticus is part of God’s word.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Chas says:

            So do you obey the rules given to you in Leviticus?

            Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Good points, Tony.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. People act based on their values. Dig into the values each group represents instead of just the beliefs and dogmas — then you might come up with better labels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wayne, I like this. But, in thinking through it, it seems that the beliefs and dogmas determine the values. Inerrancy lead to certain values and behaviors while reading the Bible without assuming inerrancy leads to a different set of values and behaviors.

      Can you elaborate on what you have in mind?

      Like

  11. Dennis Wade says:

    Hey, I like this! Let’s label each group according to how they behave.
    So then you have the “exclusives” and the “inclusives”.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I find it helpful and less divisive to think of it as a graph, using two variables and not just one. The vertical axis has scripture being dictated by God at the top, and scripture as a product of human experience on the bottom. All Christians belief in how the Bible came to be fall somewhere along that continuum.

    The right to left axis is the errors in scripture, with those Christians on the right saying the Bible is totally and completely inerrant, and those on the left believing that errors are in the Bible over time and due to the authors context and understanding.

    Thus the four categories I use then to describe a Christians views on the Bible are placed somewhere on a graph: “inerrant” vs “contextual”, and “dictated by God” vs “product of human experience.”

    This gives a more nuanced and less polarizing view, which is ultimately much less divisive.

    “Why Christians Disagree”
    @ thoughtfulboldness.com

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tim Folkerts says:

    How about “holistic”?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beau Farr says:

    I would agree with Karen. Inerrantist and Contextualist work for me. After all, we aren’t looking comprehensive names for our whole belief systems. In this case we are merely seeking one-word descriptions of our way of relating to the Biblical writings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good point, Beau. And I agree–just simple, descriptive terms acceptable to both sides.

      Like

    • Chas says:

      Beau, the problem is that Contextualist doesn’t include everyone on the errantist side. The bible can be of use without our knowing much about the context, if God is guiding us.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Dan Handschy says:

    Here’s the way I think about it. One group sees the bible as definitive; the other group sees the reading community as authoritative.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. L Best says:

    Ink and Think?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Martha Foy says:

    First let me say that I get what you are searching for…a way to discuss things because you are indeed a writer. So I’m not trying to be critical… That having been said, the whole discussion makes me cringe for reasons already mentioned regarding divisiveness. As a “recovering fundamentalist” who now considers herself “progressive”, I find that when we really talk to people we find that a whole LOT of people do not fit into one category or another. As Rev. Karen suggested, we all fall on a continuum for every issue, sometimes being “liberal” in some areas but “conservative” in others. That was true of me as a “fundamentalist” and true of me now as a “progressive”. I grew up in a church that believed the Bible to be the inspired word of God, but at the same time it was read in light of cultural conditions of the time and no one thought the world was created in a literal 6 days. I don’t fit into either of your categories…I am a third category of people who don’t know what they believe about the bible AND don’t think it matters because what I believe about the bible is not what determines my behavior or my existence in the afterlife. When we label people we fail to get to know the individual, and we fail to search out how we are the same. I think it’s a good exercise to try to NOT know people’s backgrounds so we can perceive them as a clean slate and look for our points of unity. It reminds me of how nice it would be to submit a resume with only initials…when someone submits their resume with their name, the recipient will make assumptions about them based on their perceived gender, race, or ethnicity. In similar fashion, when we are forced to put labels on ourselves or others, it is a guarantee that presumptions will be made. I have started to sound like I’m preaching so I will stop! 🙂 Regarding your original question, I like the idea of whatever labels we use being put in quotations so that it is obvious that we are only using generally used popular labels, not dividing people in any accurate way (e.g. “progressives” and “fundamentalists”).

    Liked by 5 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Martha, you might be surprised to learn that I don’t like labels either–and for the reason you mention; not many of us fit completely in any labeled box. Mine is a practical quest to find an accurate, appropriate descriptor, acceptable to both sides, to identify the general groups I am dealing with.

      I have received tremendously valuable feedback from you and others in the various places I posed the question, and I am coming to the conclusion that there are no such simple terms. We still must indicate whom we are addressing, but I don’t think a single term will work.

      Thanks for your helpful input.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Paz says:

    I think whatever labels we choose to use, it is important to keep in mind that our relationship is first established with God and His Son individually. And I also like the idea of using terms/language which reaches out to others in the spirit of unity – One in Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Paz, I think you are right. I never want terms to suggest that I don’t accept others as my very brothers and sisters in Jesus–because they are. God loves them as much as he does me. And I would take communion with any of them.

      I like your point that we are One in Christ. But when we disagree on serious, harmful beliefs how to we characterize that?

      Like

  19. Charlotte Robertson says:

    I wish I could come up with something clever and descriptive but I cannot. There is a fluidity, an overlap in many people. Some are moving between literalism and progression. I do think it is very very important to understand that the Bible was not written as a science book or history book as such and that the prophesies were teachings for the there and then. And yet… and yet… There is something more I find that speaks to me. It is like David’s psalms. Often they are nationalistic songs, to strengthen the people and still they give help and comfort now. I am starting to ramble again..

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Charlotte, ‘literalism and progression’ are good. I am beginning to agree that it is difficult to find a term that fits any large group.

      Don’t I remember you from comments you made several years ago? I might be mistaken.

      Like

  20. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Thank you, Tim. I am not sure about comments from several years ago. Would that have been in this group or another one? I haven’t been in this group for longer than a year. But I am so glad to have stumbled across it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Charlotte, I was thinking in terms of this group. But I must have been mistaken about it being from as far back as I thought. I am glad you stumbled across the blog as well and are sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  21. How about using biblical terminology? The first group is Law oriented. The second group is Gospel or Grace oriented. By orientation, I mean the starting point. The Law oriented folks start from the basis of Law and move to Gospel, even if it might sound like it is drowned out. The Grace oriented group starts from a foundation of grace and moves back to incorporate Law into the mix, even if the message sounds like it gets lost.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Paz says:

    laceduplutheran, This is one of the best ways someone could clearly find for me to try to define in words how I would characterize “One in Christ”. Thank You for your helpful words! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. newtonfinn says:

    I’m not sure how what I’m about to say contributes to the progress of this interesting discussion, but the more I think about what Tim correctly, I believe, perceives as two different types of Christian belief (a bifurcation, I suspect, which would also show up in two pronounced groupings on Rev. La Barge’s more nuanced graph), the more I’m reminded of a much-neglected teaching of Jesus. In an admonition to keep one’s religion a personal and private matter, Jesus also references two different forms of belief, but from a vantage point other than that of liberal vs. inerrant interpretations of scripture. Forgive me for quoting the entire passage (as it appears in my synoptic version of the gospel, “Life of Truth”), but Jesus’ series of interlocking points must be absorbed in one piece to allow its power to break through our normal cultural religiosity.

    “Beware of making a show of your religion before men. When you do acts of charity, sound no trumpet to attract attention, as the hypocrites do. Truly I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you do acts of charity, do not let your right hand know what your left is doing. And your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you fast, do not look dismal like the hyprocrites. They put on long faces so that their fasting will be noticed by men. Truly I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you fast, wash your face and be joyful. And your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. They love to stand and pray on the street corners so that men will observe them. Truly I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door. And your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you. In your prayers, do not babble like the hypocrites, who think that the more they say, the more they will be heard. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray like this…”(then comes The Lord’s Prayer).

    Let me confess–hopefully, without stepping on toes–that as a mainline Christian nurtured in a liberal congregation, I have always felt uneasy in the presence of evangelical believers, whether of the inerrant or more progressive orientation. I always had this feeling that they were putting their religion in my face, or in the faces of others, when my deepest, most intimate understanding of Jesus inclined me to do just the opposite. Here, perhaps, lies the most fundamental contradiction in the New Testament: that between the teaching of Jesus concerning the privacy and intimacy of religious belief, and the Great Commission (and other exhortations to preach the gospel) also ostensibly given by Jesus. Many Christians have been able to reconcile this apparent contradiction and explain it away in one fashion or another. But not me and others like me (think, for example, of the Quakers). So might this difference we’re trying to get a handle on, this polarity between two quite recognizable groups of believers, be better grasped by mulling over the ramifications of a Christian faith centered on interiority and expression in deeds as opposed to words, and another form of the faith which feels impelled toward outward verbal expression and the winning of converts?

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I think this is a good way of looking at the two groups. Of course, there are exceptions on both sides. But the conservative group does seem to be more assertive and aggressive while the progressive is more private.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Isn’t going out and winning converts a deed?

      Liked by 1 person

  24. John-Otto Liljenstolpe says:

    Personally I am content to use the generally well understood and fairly accurate terms: “Liberal Christians”, “Progressive Christians” and “Conservative Christians.” Although Biblical literalism is certainly a characteristic of conservative Christianity, I don’t think that is the most critical difference between that kind of Christianity and the two other groupings. Rather, me thinks, the critical difference is the understanding of the Church’s mission.

    Conservative Christians understand the mission of the Church is to be helping people embrace the particular beliefs that will make it possible for them to “go to heaven” following their deaths. Progressive and Liberal Christians do not deny the reality of life beyond death, but for them the primary focus and mission of the Church is enabling people to care for the garden of our world, very much like the focus of contemporary Judaism’s tikkun olam.

    The difference between Progressive Christians and Liberal Christians is that while both groups generally understand the mission of the Church to be secular, i.e. world focused in orientation, the former group understands following Jesus to involve a highly critical evaluation of the dominant economic and political systems of their societies. Liberal Christians, while also focused on a caring for the world approach to discipleship, are less critical of society’s social systems and see working for a number of social adjustments that would result in a more economically just and egalitarian society to be their missional goal.

    Perhaps one more category might be helpful. Within Conservative Christianity there are those who are committed to working for and supporting political leadership that better reflects their vision of a “Christian society.” I don’t know if they generally reject the term, but “Right Wing Christians” accurately describes them. The larger group of Conservative Christians tends to limit its missional outreach to charitable work. In this they are more like Liberal Christians. Both Progressive and Right Wing Christians have a sense of mission that draws them into political activity. The other two categories of Christians may also be politically active but do not tend to so closely relate their politics to their theology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      John, thanks for adding your perspective to the question. I think you make some very good observations, and I especially like your emphasis on there being more of a continuum rather than two completely unified groups.

      Like

  25. tonycutty says:

    Interesting how literalists consider a ‘plain’ reading of the Scriptures to condemn all LGBTQ+ sexualities. In actual fact, the ‘plain’ reading of Scripture does not. The ‘plain’ reading may well be interpreted to condemn all homosexual relationships (both gay and lesbian), even though there’s only one passage that can even remotely be construed as condemning lesbian relationships (Romans 1). There is nothing at all mentioning bisexual, transgender, transexual, queer, asexual, or any other such ‘different’ sexuality. All, and it is all, of the condemnation of those sexualities comes from an extrapolation of those Scriptures held to condemn only homosexual relationships, shaky though those are. It’s *certainly* not in the ‘plain’ reading by any stretch of the imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, the thing that disturbs me about the ‘plain’ reading of scripture is how often these ‘plain readings’ ignore the textual, historical, and cultural contexts.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Paz says:

    Good point Tim, I agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. sheila0405 says:

    Literalists and non-literalists get my vote!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Why would I? I’m not under the law.
    Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Wilds, is this a reply to my post of 12 March that said ‘do you obey the rules given to you in Leviticus?’ Doesn’t it say in the gospels “Until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law.”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes it is. I kindly suggest you study your Bible a bit more deeply. Hint: finish the verse. What do you think fulfilled the law? Who fulfilled the law?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          And how do you read ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. You give a tenth of your mint and dill, but you neglect justice. You should have done the former, without neglecting the latter.’ Clearly that shows Jesus saying that the Law should be followed, which means you ought to be tithing a tenth of everything you produce.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Context, context. He is speaking to Jews still under the old Covenant.
            “4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, 5 that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children.”
            The New Covenant did not begin until Jesus died on the cross.
            Tything is good. It’s a Biblical concept. But it’s certainly not necessary for salvation.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Try context on the following:
            Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law, or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfil them. Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law, until everything has been accomplished. So anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands, and teaches others the same thing, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but anyone who practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew)
            Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” and immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus told him, “Do not tell anyone. Go and show yourself to the priest, and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (Luke)
            It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest stroke of a pen to be removed from the Law. (Luke)
            Note that ‘until heaven and earth disappear’. The earth is still here, so it suggests that this can only be fulfilled when Jesus returns. Until then, you should still be obeying the Law.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I am puzzled. Are you saying that the Law is still in effect? Are we bound by the legalisms of the OT?

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, no I am pointing out to Wilds that there seems to be at least one clear statement by Jesus that the Law is still applicable until the end of the earth, and that hasn’t yet come.

            Liked by 1 person

  29. Chas, that is the same passage you referenced earlier. I feel like you are picking out verses without context, because in all cases the verses before or after explain why the law would soon no longer be in effect. In Luke 16, for example, you only quote the latter part of what he is saying:
    16“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.
    17It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
    Rather than write a book, this link seems to explain it pretty well:
    https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/485-did-christ-abolish-the-law-of-moses

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wild, you make some good points. This is very similar to my perspective.

      In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus talks about the Law (Matthew 5), he begins, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished…For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

      Then Jesus immediately begins to contrast the legalistic observance of the Law as ‘rules’ with the intention of the law, which is justice and love. He says repeatedly, “You have heard…but I tell you.” I think Jesus does not support the OT Law as such but the principles intended by the Law. Essentially, I think Jesus leads us to genuinely follow the principles of love and justice as they begin to grow in our hearts through his teaching and example.

      Did not Jeremiah 31 say something similar? “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Tim, it says ‘Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law, until everything has been accomplished.’ My contention is that if wilds considers this to be the Word of God, then the Law must stand until the earth disappears, and everything is accomplished. By the same word, everything cannot be completed and accomplished until Jesus returns.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          I see, Chas. I was VERY confused! Thanks for clarifying.

          Like

        • Everything was accomplished by Christ, that is exactly what I’m saying. Jesus calls us to a higher “law” then merely keeping a list of rules. Fortunately, even when we fail to keep that law, he acts as an intercessor on our behalf.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wild, I totally agree.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            If everything was accomplished by the death of Christ, why hasn’t the earth disappeared?

            Liked by 1 person

          • I think you are misunderstanding the text. “The law will not lose its binding obligation, which reaches on to the final realization of all its prescriptions, so long as heaven and earth remain.”
            “Jesus expresses here in the strongest manner His conviction that the whole O. T. is a Divine revelation, and that therefore every minutest precept has religious significance which must be recognised in the ideal fulfilment.—Ἀμὴν, formula of solemn asseveration, often used by Jesus, never by apostles, found doubled only in fourth Gospel.—ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ, etc.: not intended to fix a period after which the law will pass away, but a strong way of saying never..”
            I’m borrowing from commentarys here, because I know what I want to say, but have a hard time putting it into words. Jesus is not saying after the earth ceases, the law passes. I believe what he is doing with the “until heaven and earth pass away” is using a common phrasing found in the Torah prophecys, to say “Never”. If you took this thought by itself you would correctly think that Jesus was advocating for everyone to follow the ceremonial law, but when you interpret scripture with scripture, you quickly realize that he was saying that he was the fulfillment and nothing more was needed. I hope this helps and is clearer than mud.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wild, this sounds good to me: “you quickly realize that he was saying that he was the fulfillment and nothing more was needed.”

            Like

          • It also occurred to me that you can take ” until heaven and Earth pass away” quite literally and it still works, because the heavens and Earth are never going to pass away, they are going to be remade. In fact in the new Earth we will see much more clearly how Jesus fullfills not only the law, but fills everything within us that is lacking.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wild, you paint such a wonderful picture! I don’t know the details of the future but I think it will be along the lines you suggest.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            I’m sorry, but despite the lengthy explanation, it still seems that it is saying ‘The Law will never pass away!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            The earth is certainly going to pass away when the sun ends its life. It will either expand to become a red giant, which would engulf the earth, or go supernova, which would blast the earth into non-existence. If the sun was not in either category, then it would be necessary to wait until the big crunch at the end of the universe, which would be a long time, but the earth will still pass away. It would be an infinite time until ‘never’.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Let’s see if I have got this right. The earth is never going to pass away, but is going to be remodelled as the new earth. So has the old earth passed away ,or not? Meanwhile, the Law has to continue until the earth passes away, or reaches this new form.

            Like

          • “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” Romans 10:4
            I don’t know how to make it any clearer than that.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t know for sure if it means the Earth will actually cease to exist or it will be wiped clean and remade. That would be an interesting study though. In regards to the sun:
            “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

            9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            It is not at all clear, firstly it does not tell us that the Law is not still to be applied for a very long time, whether that would be until the earth is scorched by the sun, as by a supernova (though the time of scorching would be close to zero), or by it becoming a red giant, or by some other deviation of the sun. As to the passage from Romans 10:4, what does ‘made right’ with God mean?

            Like

          • I suggest Reading the rest of Romans and you’ll find out.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            I’ve read it all, but its just the words of a man, giving his own understanding.

            Like

    • Chas says:

      Wilds, then there is clearly a contradiction in the bible re. ‘still under the Law, or not under the Law. The intention is to show you that there are contradictions in the bible, therefore it cannot be the Word of God.

      Like

      • There is no contradiction. You wouldn’t read any other history book without taking when something was spoken into consideration and who was spoken to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you read the whole of scripture, you would never get the notion that Jesus meant the law to continue for Christians after his resurrection. This is a fine example of how people pick out verses and either build a whole doctrine on one verse, or try to discredit the reliability of scripture by deliberately warping what is said. Paul spends a great deal of time on showing how Jesus fulfilled the law and that it was no longer needed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wild, I totally agree with your statement: “If you read the whole of scripture, you would never get the notion that Jesus meant the law to continue for Christians after his resurrection.”

          Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          I have read the whole of scripture, but I now understand that the first writer of the gospels intended people to continue keeping the law, as well as believing that Jesus was the Son of God, since that would be consistent with him being the Jewish messiah. It is consistent with what the ‘Prophets’ intended the Jewish people to believe about the messiah.

          Like

          • If that is what they intended, thier writing doesn’t reflect it.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Then you need to study the prophets by reading the passages that are meant to show the things that the Messiah was intended to bring, such as:
            Ezekiel 36:23-28 ‘Then the nations will know that I am Yahweh’, declares Sovereign Yahweh, ‘when I am proved holy through you in front of their eyes. Because I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
            Jeremiah 33 ‘The days are coming,’ declares Yahweh, ‘when I will fulfil the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: Yahweh Our Righteous Saviour,’ This is what Yahweh says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand in front of me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’
            Note that there is reference to following the decrees and being careful to keep the laws of Yahweh, and giving offerings and sacrifices under the ministry of the Levitical priests, also that Yahweh will put his spirit into you and move you to follow my DECREES and LAWS.

            Like

          • I’m not sure what you are getting at. Seems you are once again cherry picking out the sections that you think support your idea about the law continuing forever, without taking into account the rest of the story, found in the NT scriptures. Or even in the same passage in Jeremiah.
            19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’”

            Do you think God is still talking only about Israel here? I think we have moved from a promise about the future of Israel to a promise that also includes Israels spiritual descendants.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            If you cannot accept what I have put about the characteristics of the Messiah, maybe you should ask a Rabbi about it. You will certainly get the same answer.

            Like

          • And does that Rabbi follow the law? How can any Jew truly follow the law when the temple sacrifices no longer exist? So why would I take his interpretation as correct when he only follows his traditions?

            Like

  30. Chas says:

    Tim, these recent discussions have given me new revelation, because it was new to me that there was this intention for the continuation of the Law, despite the coming of the kingdom of God. It was supported by the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees, when he implied that they ought to have continued to obey the Law, by tithing their mint and dill, while needing to be merciful too. This led me to consider how this could be. It is consistent with the belief that Jesus was the Messiah, as the Messiah was supposed to bring in eternal worldwide peace, with all of mankind acknowledging God as their god, and the Judaic Law as their law. So what was meant by the kingdom of God was this kingdom. So the Synoptic Gospel writers had Jesus saying that the kingdom of God was near (but had not yet come). A source of the confusion came because the original writer (or Q for your interpretation) knew that the Son of God was already dead, and so had had to be taken to heaven to enable him to come on the clouds as shown in the OT scriptures, and in the Synoptic Gospels. Another thing that came to me was the reference to Jesus riding on a colt, because in the original OT passage it says ‘a colt, the foal of a donkey’, which means that the king who was supposed to be riding on this foal must have been just a child, since it would be impossible for a foal to carry a grown man (this is also consistent with other passages that refer to the Messiah: ‘a son is given to us, a child is given to us, and the government etc.’ and ‘the “virgin” will conceive and give birth to a son…’. This topic has been a very rewarding. Thank you for posting it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I think I see what you are getting at. It is exciting to develop new insights about the Bible. What do you mean that, “it was new to me that there was this intention for the continuation of the Law, despite the coming of the kingdom of God”? Do you mean that the OT Law is still binding on us today? And are you saying that OT descriptions and depictions of the ‘Messiah’ are prophecies of Jesus?

      Like

      • Chas says:

        Tim, No, we are not bound by the OT Law, although it was the intention of the writer(s) for us to believe that that was God’s intent. The so-called prophecies of the OT related purely to a fictional figurehead king who would rule over a united everlasting world which was at peace and would acknowledge God as the One God and observe all His commandments and ordinances (that they had also invented, imagining that they would please God). The gospel writer(s) wrote a fictional story about Jesus’ life, based on those ‘prophecies’. It is also of interest that most of the sermon on the mount (although not on a mount according to Luke) is based on the teachings of the Stoics, which were in vogue during the centuries before and after the life of the Son of God.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, you said. “we are not bound by the OT Law, although it was the intention of the writer(s) for us to believe that that was God’s intent.” Which writer(s) do you mean?

          I agree that the OT messianic passages referred to an expected scenario that had nothing to do with Jesus. However, NT authors did apply those ‘prophecies’ Jesus in some ways but I don’t think it was like a ‘fictional’ story based on the prophecies but through the practice of midrash common among Jewish writers of that time.

          Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, as you know, it is my view that all the Synoptic Gospels came from a single original. Hence my use of ‘writer’. My adding of an (s) is to avoid pointless argument about that. If Q is assumed, then he must be the one with the intent, since this does not occur in Mark.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, are you saying that all three synoptics are based entirely on Q?

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, I am saying that all three synoptic gospels are based on one writer, whether you call him Q is up to you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I don’t know any scholar or writer who suggests this. What are your reasons for thinking so?

            Like

  31. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Chas, I have the Kingdom of God understood to be here, if all people would follow what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. Because if you love God with all your strength, heart and mind and your neighbour as yourself, it follows automatically that the Law is fulfilled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Well said, Charlotte! Very well said!

      Like

    • Chas says:

      Charlotte, the problem is that the Law referred to in the parts of the gospels that we are discussing includes petty things like tithing mint, or dill. It is the whole: commandments, ordinances, etc. If the gospel writers had stuck to just the Ten Commandments, it would have been OK, but the petty ones go far beyond (below) loving God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Chas, I am not sure Jesus implied that the Pharisees should have tithed from their garden due to the OT law but that, within their system, they should have done so if they wanted but without neglecting the more important aspects of justice, mercy and faithfulness. I don’t think Jesus was confirming the necessity of this legalism.

        Like

  32. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Chas, aren’t many of those narrow-minded extensions of the law man-made? Rules that have nothing to do with the wisdom and love of God, but sometimes sheer nit picking. Jesus gave a new commandement which encompasses all the Law and the Prophets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Yes, Charlotte, all of those narrow minded extensions of the law were man-made, which confirms that it is not the Word of God, that some claim it to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Charlotte Robertson says:

    I think a lot of the Bible was ‘man-made’ with the purpose to keep the Israelites together as a nation, but also because it is the eastern way (story telling) of explaining things.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Which does not leave out influence from the Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Charlotte, If any of the bible was influenced by the Holy Spirit, then it will be up to God to show us which parts were influenced by Him/Her, and so should be accepted without any question, and which are not, and so needs His/Her guidance on its interpretation. As there are so many different interpretations of almost all the significant parts, it suggests that this is not happening, either because God is not giving guidance, or people are unable to hear what He/She is telling them. My experience suggests that it is the latter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Chas, I would suggest that just as reading the Bible is not an experience in inerrancy, neither is hearing or following the leading of the Holy Spirit an inerrant experience. Both require interpretation.

        So just as biblical inerrantist can never really find the certainty they seek, neither can those of us who try to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Subjectivity is involved, so absolute certainty is not attainable.

        Like

  35. Chas says:

    Tim, because it is likely to be rather long, I have brought the response to your question of 22 March down to the bottom. When one examines it, there are many different opinions on the authorship of the synoptic gospels, indeed almost as many different opinions as there are those giving opinions. However, most of these have assumed that no-one had deliberately omitted anything, merely failed to record it. However, if it is assumed that all three synoptic authors worked from the same original, and this original is reconstructed by taking only incidents and words which are in two or more of the synoptic gospels and putting the incidents in chronological order in the same way, what emerges is a concise and fluent story. Since the author of the original (AO) has Jesus foretell the utter destruction of the temple, which occurred in 70CE, he must have written the original after that time. He also had the incidents occur soon after Judea became a part of the Roman province of Syria. Up to 28CE, Jews could judge Jews and carry out the sentence, but after that time, capital sentences would have to be carried out by the Roman authorities, hence Pontius Pilate (prefect of Judea from 26 to 36CE) would have been the one in authority to do this after 28CE.
    What was left in by Matthew and Luke, and what they added, suggests that both were well educated Hellenic Jews, whereas Mark is more likely to have been a less well-educated Greek, because he left out things on which he might be questioned by Jews and maybe felt he would be unable to answer. Luke meddled with the text considerably, changing the order and repeating some things differently, and also was the only one to use the word ‘apostle’. Chronologically, Matthew and Mark are in good agreement, with certain exceptions, which reflects Luke’s meddling. Matthew added his own pieces relating to the Old Testament, some with questionable relevance, and also added large pieces to the sermon (on the mount, or not) and the beatitudes. He and the AO seem to have been influenced by the teaching of the Stoics, which was popular in the Greek and Roman world between about 300BCE and 300CE.
    The AO seems to have based the original gospel on the Major Prophets and Zechariah, plus parts of the other Minor Prophets, particularly where these relate to the Messiah and the apocalyptic end. The AO seems to have accepted that Jesus could not be both the Son of God and Son of David, and used Psalm 110:1 to prove that the Messiah could not be the Son of David (and flying in the face of many other OT passages that said he was). Matthew and Luke seem to have missed the significance of this passage (although it appears in all three synoptics) and so produced independent, and hence conflicting, genealogies for Jesus to prove that he was descended from David. Both also produced a story to account for Jesus being born in Bethlehem (as the Messiah had to be), but again these were independent and wildly at odds with one another.
    The AO had the Romans thinking that Jesus was the king of the Jews, (Pilate’s questions, the Roman soldiers mocking and the notice on the cross, but the Jewish authorities thinking that he had claimed to be the Messiah. The implication is that the AO wanted to have the Roman authorities blamed for the death of Jesus, so his gospel could be used to evangelise the Jews, but have Pilate conclude that Jesus was innocent, so his gospel could be used to evangelise the Romans. Therefore it appears that the AO intended to evangelise both Jews and Romans from the outset.
    I could go on, and on and on, but this will have to do for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Dennis Wade says:

    I have just realized that I see these two groups as those who are following a person (Jesus) and strive to base their values on having the same virtues he did, and those who are following a book (the Bible) and striving to live up to everything they think the book tells them to do.

    The person approach brings unity, because we can all agree on the virtues that jesus demonstrated, but the book approach seems to only bring discord and disunity, because the book seems to contradict itself a lot and is definitely unclear on many important topics.

    I think we need to remember that John clearly states that Jesus is the Word of God, and not the Bible. Jesus is infinitely more important than the Scriptures that reveal him. Just put him first and let everything else find its own level. Worship him, not the Bible. Maintain your priorities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I like the direction of your comment but have a question. Where is it that “John CLEARLY states that Jesus is the Word of God, and not the Bible.”? The only place I recall where he talks about Jesus as the word in in chapter 1, and I don’t think says ‘instead of the Bible’.

      On the other hand, in Matthew 15 Jesus tells the Pharisees, ‘you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.’ What does he mean by the ‘word of God’? Himself or something from the Old Testament?

      I agree with your intent, but I think it is blunted by ‘clearly says’; this is a phrase often used by inerrantists, but I think the Bible rarely ‘clearly says’ anything. Just a friendly note on a common phrase.

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      • Dennis Wade says:

        Tim, I think you misunderstood me. i put a comma in there because i didn’t mean to make it sound that John said the bible wasn’t the word of God. That last bit was my thought.
        I do think it would have been better if i had phrased it differently, something along the lines of “but he never says that the bible is the word of God” like you said.
        You’re right on the use of the word “clearly”. I shouldn’t have used it.

        As to the quote from Matthew, perhaps he was referring to how the Pharisees regarded the OT as God’s Word but didn’t really behave towards it as they should have if it really was. Maybe he was pointing out that even by their own standards they were hypocrites.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Dennis, I understand it better now. I still like your direction here, and I agree with your take on Matthew.

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    • Chas says:

      We have only the words in the bible to tell us what the Son of God was like.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. What matters is to know the Truth. Know what the Scripture says by revelation and run the race of salvation. Belonging to a group arguing to know Him is not worth it. Be a Christian, belong a Christian congregation, study the Word and persevere for eternal life.

    Most people argue the Scriptures because they lack discernment of the Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      I prefer to obey the Holy Spirit to discerning Him without understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chilavert, thanks for your contribution. Do you think you know the truth? Does that mean that those who disagree with you do not know the truth? I AM a Christian and I do study the word–more than most people. I am the one who wrote this article and, from your comment, I assume you do not agree with my beliefs; do you think I am not persevering for eternal life?

      I am not challenging you–just looking for some clarification.

      Like

      • Disagreeing with me is normal but disagreeing without knowledge is another thing.
        I am not saying you not a true Christian or you are not striving for eternal life but having a revelational knowledge to achieve it is essential. Look at what Hoses 4:6 says : “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.
        He called them His ‘people’ meaning those who are already in Him, accepted Him and running the race of salvation but can still perish if they lack ‘knowledge’. So having accurate knowledge of when, how and what to do is very important.
        What we have today are theologians, historical analysts and fundamental argumentators who try to read the Scriptures like literature and base their answers on logic and scientific studies using philosophical knowledge to prove a point. They mislead the innocent people who try to know God.
        You are doing a great job but throwing questions to people who may not be believers of Christ to start answering might bring confusion because wisdom is profitable to direct.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chilavert, you said: “Disagreeing with me is normal but disagreeing without knowledge is another thing.” This is an interesting statement. I have been diligently pursuing knowledge for almost 60 years–and I have no knowledge?

          I was raised fundamentalist, and part of what I have learned is that many believers hold to very harmful, misguided beliefs. Even though they are so certain, I question the validity of their ‘revelation knowledge’.

          Liked by 1 person

          • With all due respect sir, pursuing knowledge for almost 60 years still didn’t mean you have gotten all the knowledge to direct. Age, years in Christ is not a criteria to have known Him or be crowned for salvation.

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          • One can read the Scriptures a hundred times still does not make him a good candidate for heaven.

            The Scripture is not literature, historical book, it is not a debate of New Testament or Old Testament. The Bible is meant to be discussed not debated or argued because the Scripture itself is written by inspiration.
            We need to understand the Scripture through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit not by fundamentalism.

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chilavert, so you are suggesting that because we disagree on some issues that I do not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and you do.

            Liked by 1 person

  38. Chas says:

    Then one of us is a liar.

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    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, whom are you addressing? Is it Chilavert? If so, I am not clear on your point of disagreement. Is it about different opinions on discernment–can you clarify? How is it that one of you is a ‘liar’? In any case is seems inappropriate to call someone a liar.

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      • Chas says:

        Tim, it was my response to his statement: ‘That’s is what I am doing’. If you notice, I didn’t call him a liar, all I put was: ‘Then one of us is a liar.’ I leave it to you to decide who.

        Like

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, I don’t think either of you are liars. I still think it inappropriate to suggest that.

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          • Chas says:

            It is extremely appropriate, as one of us has to be a liar.

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, one or both of you might be mistaken but I don’t think either of you is a liar. A liar is one who tries to deceive and does so knowingly. Are you a willing deceiver? Do you think Chilavert is a willing deceiver?

            I don’t think you really consider yourself a liar, so you must be accusing Chilavert of being a liar. Why would you suggest that? What did he say that you think is willing deceptive?

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  39. michaeleeast says:

    Tim, tend to use Orthodox and Progressive. Although many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals don’t consider themselves Orthodox I believe that their theology is Orthodox with a capital O. And Progressive is not really descriptive. That’s the best I can do.
    I believe that Orthodox Christianity is dying out and Progressive Christianity is growing.
    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michael, those are good suggestions. I agree that progressive is not very descriptive, but I don’t know if there is a better word. Also, while I think progressive forms of Christianity have been growing for almost 200 years, I don’t know that orthodox Christianity is dying out for a long time–probably never.

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