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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Is God "conquering"?
Recently my sister showed me this Adherents site. I don't know if anyone has looked through these stats. I found this pie chart pretty amazing. The thought that popped into my head was "Wow according to this, and our definitions of salvation, is God conquering?" I know that even in the 33% of Christianity are groups my faith background would consider "cults" or "not Christian". That being said, wow then Hell is really full, and Heaven must be under populated. Think about it! We have had over 2000 years to spread the Gospel, and after 2000 years we have not even 1/3 of the world convinced. So I have to wonder; Are we missing more than we would like to admit?, Are we not reflective of Jesus? Are we focused on the wrong things? At at time when my head is spinning from all the opinions/theologies, this chart reminds me that God is way beyond description. We can not fit God in our images or expectations. Where I know that there is a lot of fear about not knowing what the right way to believe is, I am hopeful in the not knowing. I can only hope that we have missed some key things, and God being wonderful and loving will surprise us! If not, then Wow, what a dismal picture.


posted by Unknown at 9:22 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 10/25/2006 10:20:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    It makes me ask questions like - is God's purpose to conquor? Does intellectual assention to a certain doctrine equal salvation? Have we missed the boat by trying to convince people of our belief system instead of just following the way Christ taught?

  • At 10/25/2006 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I think God transforms more than conquers...at least that's what I'd like to think.

    I also think ascension to a doctrinal belief is a crock. I think either Wesley and Calvin were right in that there must be some supernatural conversion experience that only a few experience and the rest of us are screwed, or I think (and this is what I hope) the mystics and liberals are right that God's ways are, well mysterious, but ultimately God is uconditional, vast, total love, and will embrace any of us who are willing to be embraced, no matter what we got wrong in this life (mentally or otherwise.) Maybe some combination? Thoughts?

  • At 10/25/2006 02:15:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I have the same kind of questions. It seems each branch of Christianity has it's ideas about how "salvation" works. Since it is all over the board, I hope as you, Jamila, said that God is mysterious, and all knowing, not us. I think we can have a supernatural conversion of some sort. God can work within our lives to reach out to others, but I am not so sure anymore that beliefs in certain steps/ideas "get us saved". By the way, just to clarify, I think God transforms also. I used "conquer" because I hear all the time that God will conquer evil in the end. In that, I question, "If their are more evil people in hell, than non-evil people in heaven, how does that reflect the 'winning"? Also, to be honest, I throw out Heaven and Hell, but my thoughts are changing in these areas also. I personally don't think of Hell in the way that I was taught anymore, and I don't think Heaven is gold and pearls.

  • At 10/25/2006 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele L,

    How are your thoughts changing? What images and ideas have inspired you as you develop a new, more open/mysterious understanding of heaven, hell and redemption?

  • At 10/25/2006 03:14:00 PM, Blogger Doxallo

    Just a comment about the way we are looking at the graph - first of all, its not an all encompassing number - not every person on the earth was surveyed - and second, its a specific timepoint. 100 years ago the numbers could have looked different, 500 years ago - different still. This does not represent a continuum I don't think.....

    Having said that, the conversation surrounding it is interesting.

    I agree that the 'boat' is probably more along the lines of following the way...than seeking to convert. We've used 'tally marks' for way too long (the chart being another one...?).

    RE: is God's purpose to conquer.....maybe. In a sense - to conquer chaos...havoc to shalom. I just look at it like setting the 'balance' right again -- bringing order and peace back into the world....or to the Kingdom.

  • At 10/25/2006 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    My thoughts have changed, not necessarily in a concrete way, but I have been reading different books on these topics. When I see different views (with scripture that is presented to back those views), hear historical context, etc., I realize that there are different ways that people have read scripture. When I began to question where, especially Hell, concepts came from, I just didn't see it as black and white as I had been led to believe. The main book that got me thinking, was Brian McLaren's, "The Last Word and the Word After That". I then went through the books referenced in the back and have read some of those. One I thought was interesting, was Randy Klassen's "What Does the Bible Really Say About Hell". I have some others, but haven't finished them. The point for me at this time, is it's vague enough (in my opinion) that I don't want my focus there. I don't think judgement or "placing people" in Heaven or Hell is my place. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    I agree "its not an all encompassing number".
    However, my point is it's probably a decent representation, at least to get the idea. Certainly, past years may have looked different. At this time however, I still think it could speak to us. In a time where information and learning is more wide spread than ever before, don't we expect the numbers to look different? Especially, in America where many consider us "a Christian Nation". There may be a better resource, of which I am not aware, but this site had a vast amount of info, and I thought it was interesting.
    I am not a fan of charts etc., but many need that kind of visual. It certainly hit me.

  • At 10/25/2006 08:03:00 PM, Blogger wit4life

    I think Jesus said the way is narrow, and maybe the AC/DC "highway to Hell" song is maybe closer to the truth.C. S. Leiws said we either choose God or we choose ourselves...the hell of self. Most of us want to go our own way, by his grace, the Spirit changes our heart. It is a tough mystery, to me, to how that interwines "choice" (or what it seems like to us from this point of view, and God's will and working in those who without him would rebel against him. God conquered death and hell. That's good enough for me I guess.

  • At 10/26/2006 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    its interesting that right after Jesus said the way is narrow he said that there willbe people from all over in the kingdom - many whom his listeners didn't expect to be there... I preaching on this next week and so its been running through me head a lot...

  • At 10/26/2006 11:25:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    Fabulous questions and conversation! I'm so grateful for this site and you wonderful souls. You mirror my thoughts and I suppose that helps because for a long time, I felt like maybe there was something wrong with me. (not that there isn't...LOL!) There are lots of OPINIONS out there about what the authors of the Bible meant by this or that statement. There is no real way of knowing absolutely which opinions are closer to the Truth. So, in a sense, it truly is up to each of us to "work out our faith". In the end, that seems a very personal thing but so much better accomplished amidst a community of other people wrestling with their faith. And it requires great humility.

    In a way, maybe we over-complicate it all? Perhaps our task was once simply stated: To love God and others. And to follow Jesus. Getting hung up on doctrines seems like a waste of energy when the true struggle is just trying to be a little more like Jesus.

    So, God pursues us and we might finally respond with an "agreement" to cooperate with God (be God's friend, child, etc) and try and follow Christ. And as we start to get intimate with YHWH, we get thirstier and hungrier and start feeling drawn to engage in certain things like prayer, meditation, service, worship, silence, solitude, etc so that we can experience MORE of the divine in our lives. And through that relationship we are being transformed, so slowly but sure enough it is happening.

    And then there are those curious constructs like heaven and hell...could they reflect states of being that are already here among us? And if we are collaborating with God by being loving, compassionate people who live under Grace and extend it to others, do we contribute to the bringing forth of the Kingdom of Heaven right here and now? And if that is true, apparently throughout the day yesterday, I worked as kind of a "double agent" both sending out blessings (prayers for a sick friend, encouragement to another, helping clients on their healing journeys) and curses (cussing out a couple of bad drivers who got in my way as I headed to work, bitter feelings toward loved ones). Now THAT is humbling. But yet, this seems the nature of things in this transformational process.

    How can I be carefully studying the faults and "sins" in others when I have so many stumbling blocks in my own life that I'm about to trip and break my neck?
    God's "conquering" alright but the job is made a lot easier when we are not pandering judgment and haterd under the guise of "promoting the truth".

  • At 10/27/2006 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Wonderful thoughts and comments. Thanks all!

  • At 10/27/2006 01:43:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    thanks Nancy for your thoughts. More and more I am realizing that to be a christian (christ follower) means to be working for the Kingdom here and now. The Kingdom is not just some far off pie in the sky when we die, but it is now. Actually discovering that in the bible has completely altered my faith - and made me rethink a lot of scripture that I once thought refered to future things as being very relevant right now...

  • At 10/27/2006 03:50:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Yes Nancy! I really resonated with all you wrote. Amen. It really is much harder to love enemies (which I define as anyone who, at a given moment, makes us feel hurt, angry or threatened,) than to adhere to a prescribed sets of behaviors. THIS is the narrow way I think Jesus meant, I sense. And the challenge where Christ invites us to take us cup...and I find myself wondering if there's anyway I could just order a sprite.

  • At 10/27/2006 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele L,

    I bought "Last Word After That" for a friend, but haven't read it...kinda waiting til I can get it cheap on ebay or amazon ;) I sort of intuitively feel that he's on to something, you know? I mean I know Paul thought it was a done deal at death, but Paul was a very conflicted man wrestling with many things, and I am a conflicted woman who also wrestles with many things. Personally, it doesn't make sense to me that God would just say, "sorry, you missed your shot, so burn in hell forever, sinner!" GOD IS LOVE. I'm not nearly loving as I should be, and even I would never do that to my child...esp not for having an incorrect belief! So I think about "If you, being sinners know how to give good gifts, how much more your heavenly Father," and I'm reasonably confident and clearly hopeful that God's grace is huge and much bigger than the traditional evangelical view of check box A or burn forever. If that's how God really is, I'm with the pagans: I'd rather be in hell with people more loving and gracious than "that" god. Oops, was that heresy? ;)

  • At 10/27/2006 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Heresy only to those that have "all the answers" :). I have had similar thoughts. I have recently been dealing with a cute little 3 year old (my son) who is very charming "Mommy I love you" (when he knows he's in trouble) who also seems to now be entering the terrible 2's (late!) One day I was at my wit's end. I wanted to scream, but then that cute little face was there....I was thinking a lot about God "IS LOVE" and how much God loves each and everyone of us. God hurts for us when we are hurting. That day I thought even at my wits end with my son, I would die for him. I would never wish anything bad on either of my kids. I want only the best for them. I hurt when they are hurt, I love them more than words can explain. God "Is Love" and we can't even come close to explaining God's love. So I agree, I hope our theologies have missed a lot. I just can't grasp how we "preach" about a loving God, and many are told, "sent His son just to die for our sin", but then the accumulation of that are "nice little steps", but you are left to figure out which steps to believe. "Hope we pick them right!"


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