Why do we Christians argue about so many Biblical verses? Why turn the love of God into theological problems?
Whether it's arguing about the Trinity, the rapture, or purgatory, speaking in tongues, healing, etc we sometimes forget Saint Paul's warning against the dangers of argument.
We are to rightly divide the word of truth, yes. But we are to speak the truth in love and to correct a wayward brother or sister in Christ. Sometimes we are wrong, sometimes we are right.
For instance, I personally think the phrase "thorn in the flesh" was used only in the Bible the same way we use "pain in the neck" as a kind of bother, but in a more intense way. The prophet told the king of Israel that certain neighboring nations would be thorns in their flesh. I also think what Paul himself wrote, that the thorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan who buffeted him. Christians who strive to be literl are always the first to symbolize this passage. The word is messenger, after all. Never was that word messenger ever translated as sickness. Be careful now, I am not saying that if someone is not healed it is because he has no faith. We Christians must stop jumping ahead of each other and stop assuming we know what another christian actually "means" I think all sicknesses, diseases, pains, infirmities, disabilities were healed by Jesus 2000 years ago, but some sicknesses are sins unto death. Again, I'm not saying that people who are not healed do not have faith. A lack of healing might have nothing to do with faithlessness at all. IT might have to do with sins of the heart: unforgiveness, covetousness, the secret will to be sick or the will to die. But even there, we must be clear on what is or is not being said. It seems to me that in the Bible miracles and healing in the Church tended to take place in community. It is quite possible that the reason many of us are not healed is because we have forgotten that faith works by love and that we are all the body of Christ and we should all be praying INTENSELY for every sick person on that church prayer lis.
But back to Paul's thorn: I believe that Paul received his thorn in the flesh because he had seen so many visions that he was in danger of being puffed up. That's what Paul says. If someone tells me he/she has a thorn in the flesh, I'll wonder about their visions.
But I won't be a pain about it. I have no great need to "be right." the And sometimes certain Biblical passages are just plain to obscure to be figured out. So why become angry and hateful about something that will only be revealed in heaven? The Bible tells us what is needful for salvation, for encouragement; it shows us the love of God and the depravity of sin. Some matters it is silent on. Some matters it seems to imply are more deep than we could really understand. IF God tells us about earthly things and we don't understand, how will it be if He tells us about heavenly things.
So then let's consider the question: do ghosts exist?
?Most Christians will say that ghosts do not exist on earth. Ghosts, essentially, are the spirits of dead people... and they're either in heaven or hell. Not here. Demons masquerade as ghosts. The one time the spirit of a dead person was allowed to come back to earth is in the Bible! Saul disguised himself, went to a medium, and asked her to call up the prophet Samuel. When Samuel appeared, she was terrified! Question: If she'd been used to communicating to actual ghosts instead of demons, then why be terrified of the spirit of a dead man?
Others will say : The Bible tells us in Leviticus that we should not go to those who speak to the dead. My attitude is the Bible wouldn't say so if such a thing weren't possible. I tend to think that usually when people speak to the dead they are actually speaking to demons, but there is also the possibility of ghosts speaking to you. In the case of Samuel, either God or Satan caused Samuel to be brought up from the reaches of Sheol, which at the time, because Jesus did not have the keys to death and hell, might have been unredeemed out of the hand of the devil.
According to Jesus, God is not the god of the dead but of the living. AFter Jesus took captivity captive and lifted up the everlasting doors of hell taht the king could enter in, Jesus took the mortgage deed for hell and death. He became the Lord of the living and the dead.
Jesus said to Thomas, "look at me: a ghost doesn't have flesh and blood as I do." He didn't say, "There are no such thing as ghosts." Of course, we could dance around it and say that what Jesus actually meant was. But that is dangerous. Jesus described hell as several things: fire -- which is also a pit and is also Gehenna, and outer darkness. Could "outer darkness" be ghosts? Don't know.
When St Paul speaks of certain folks in the church being baptized for the dead, he says it as if it's all fine and dandy.
The Book of Revelations says Death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. It also says Jesus has the keys to death and hell. The Bible always talks about hell and death as being different places.
Interestingly, the old exorcism rites of the Episcopalian and Orthodox churches don'tcast spirits into hell. They tell the spirits to "go to your own place" just in case the spirit is not a demon but a lost soul. Not talking purgatory here, but just talking about church history.
I'm neither here nor there on any of this but as a literature major and a student of the Bible I don't dismiss anything in the Bible because it sounds flaky and I acknowledge taht maybe all teh answers aren't there.
The thing is are we wasting our time discussing matters that do not really matter? Should we get into arguments and get worked up over matters not directly connected with our salvation? Do we spend this much energy loving our neighbors and praying for the sick? When we argue like this, are we not possibly becoming carnal christians with a selfish need to be right? Sometimes when we argue, we are the most carnal when we are at our most "spiritual" Let us learn to forbear and to die to self, especially in spiritual discussions.
Please see my other articles at:
Sacraments, Traditions and Rituals in Christianity
or cut and paste the following
The Book of Jude
Beware of what enchants you
The healing of the paralyzed man
Let's Compare Hagar and Joseph, two slaves
The Angels who left their first estate
God and the accuser of the brethren
The world before the flood
Are you sure you understand the Bible?
The Ten commandments, trespasses and iniquities ?
Understanding The old testament Prophets
Rituals, traditions, sacraments of the Bible
An overview of the gospel
The works of Solomon: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Solomon
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