Is God the Head of ISIL?

This is a great blog by an African Christian thinker, I think his post raises a lot of questions about what is at stake in finding an effective way to engage in religious dialogue with new forms of Christianity.  It seems that the the label “authentic” Christian may be tainted by the horrors perpetrated by Christendom and the debate may cover other sins of the church.  However important you think the label “Christian” is, I think we can’t let labeling controversies be a cop-out for not finding better ways of explaining Christ to cultures who are non-Christian/post-Christian, and not investing in non-sectarian Christian education.

30 thoughts on “Is God the Head of ISIL?

  1. I am not sure what his solution is. If its to get people in the Bible, I agree 100%.

    You’ll notice, for what its worth, Jared, recent discussion on the reliability of the Bible. What, precisely, is that discussion about? Whether we can trust the scriptures, right? Mormons and Christians don’t see eye to eye even on the scripture.

  2. slowcowboy, to be fair, there are entire Christian traditions who don’t see the Bible the same way your average American Evangelical does. And even for Protestants who presumably accept sola scriptura, there is more than one vision of what that looks like. Sure, Mormons take it a step further with their additional texts and living oracles, but so do Catholics (1.2 billion worldwide). I know its an Evangelical thing to minimize the fractures in “Christianity” but there are a diversity of differences in how the Bible re Evangelicals. Mormons represent just one of them.

    Jared, your post reminds me how difficult it is to separate religious movements from their various times and places. And sometimes in unexpected ways – like Ultra Orthodox Jews codifying early 20th century Eastern European dress as a mark of devotion or community. Or American Evangelicals with their free market capitalist undercurrent. I just don’t see how you get away from it.

  3. Slowcowboy,

    I think you have to recognize that Mormons and Protestants read the scriptures differently. Although they all follow Jesus, some Mormons could give you a paraphrased description of what Christ is, other’s cannot. I.e. everybody seems to be in broad agreement that Jesus was the Christ, they just disagree on what it is to be a Christ.

    Is Christ the “Great God that comes from the sky, takes away everything and make everybody feel high? ” or is Christ something much deeper and closer to the core of all of reality. Most unenlightened Christianized people see Christ as the former, and have little idea about the latter. Sectarian struggles almost always get sidetracked on the multitude of speculative heresies rather than finding out how to show what Christ is in language the rogue sect is open to. .

  4. OK, jared, what way would Mormons be open to hearing about Christ, as you have come to understand it?

    As far as I can tell, there is a gulf here. The author seems to conclude that its best to be like th e Bereans. I 100% agree. My point in bringing about the differences in views of the scripture is not just limited to how to interpret but also how revered the Bible is. Its not clear Mormons view the Bible in the same way, or even take it as seriously. We’ve been told by Mormons here that we can’t trust it completely, and that the Spirit will guide us to what is true. Again, this approach is very different.

    Its not just about reading scripture differently, its about taking the Bible seriously. Do you take the Bible seriously and think it is accurate? Do you read the scriptures like the author suggests?

  5. slow, Please know that I am not even what you would call an “orthodox” Mormon. So, my doubts are not representative of your average Mormon.

  6. @christian J
    Jared, your post reminds me how difficult it is to separate religious movements from their various times and places. And sometimes in unexpected ways – like Ultra Orthodox Jews codifying early 20th century Eastern European dress as a mark of devotion or community. Or American Evangelicals with their free market capitalist undercurrent. I just don’t see how you get away from it.

    I agree with you 100%, but I think those in the church who have experienced the truth of Christianity, have a duty to makes sure that new movements are very clear, in the very least, about what a Christ. I think this is mainly an educational issue, not a spiritual issue. I think very basic theological education may not the most important spiritual practice, but it is the best hope for uniting people who have already donned opposing uniforms.

    I think Mormonism could have a tremendous advantage in Africa for all kinds of reasons, if they were able to correlate a more orthodox version of the Christian message. Mormonism is more primitive in important ways to control native spirituality, and more sophisticated organizationally. All they really need is a better explanation of what Christ is. This is why I call for Mormons to learn about the Light of Christ from Evangelicals and other Christians who take the formulation seriously.

  7. Also slow, can I say that the Bible is THE MOST reliable book known to man, but that it still needs to be validated with the Holy Spirit? Because that’s how I really feel. (yes, I think its
    more reliable than the Book of Mormon – by far)

  8. OK, jared, what way would Mormons be open to hearing about Christ, as you have come to understand it?

    I think Mormons are dramatically open to Christ, they just have not been taught clearly. But what is absolutely clear, Mormons are not interested in hearing about Christ from those who stand against them because it looks like the a continuation of the sectarian conflict that they have, perhaps rightfully, been taught to distrust.

  9. Jared, if I can say Amen with my own experience: people would be surprised at the spectrum of teachings you might hear about who Jesus is and how he effects our lives in a Mormon congregation. They’re ripe for teaching for sure. Because the doctrine of Christ within Mormonism is terribly vague.

  10. So, Jared, how do you propose teaching Mormons about “Christ”? And what do you mean by “Christ”?

  11. @slowcowboy

    I have met few people who take the Bible more seriously than Mormons. I think part of the problem is that they fall into the trap of thinking that taking scripture literally is the most important part of taking scripture seriously.

  12. @slowcowboy,

    Here is one attempt at preaching Christ to Mormons:

    If you have been reading my posts I am struggling with the best way to explain Christ to Mormons. Here are some of my thoughts on the problem:

    These posts are me writing from a essentially loyal Mormon perspective about enlightening LDS to the light of Christ. I think if the Church opens itself up to Protestant views on the Light of Christ (a term from Wesleyan theology) it will quickly become more fully Christian.

  13. @Christian J,

    My goal is to find the better educate Mormon children about what a Christ is. I think this area is wide-open and could be accomplished with the Book of Mormon passages side-by-side with the clarified reasoning of the epistles. I think it is essentially an education problem, and it can be solved without capitulating to what the Church sees as its enemies.

  14. Jared, that’s precisely my point: you are working it out, meaning you do not have the answers, either.

    I am suggesting that despite your attempts to show us wrong, you don’t have the answers either. This seems a bit off. I understand you are working your way through a number of issues, but one issue you have to get is that Jesus is THE Christ. Its not some open option here wherein you can substitute your own Christ, and as long as you get the light of Christ (which was never pegged down, either), all is well.

    Jesus is your savior. He’s all of our savior. All it takes is belief. Do you believe Jesus is your savior?

  15. cowboy, sincere question – By “all of our savior” do you include non Christians as well?

  16. All what takes?

    I think believing Jesus is your savior is literally different than believing Jesus is the Christ.

    The relevant question in this dialogue is not “Do you believe Jesus is the Christ?” but — How do you define Christ other than as “savior”?

  17. Also– just to see where you are at on this — do you think the question “Is there a Christ?” logically different than “Was there a Jesus?”

  18. A lifetime ago I spent some time in Ghana and worshipped in an Anglican Church.

    The forms of worship were traditional, but the style was unique to anything I have ever participated in.

  19. Christian, Christ died for everyone, but only those who believe in him get saved. In other words, everyone has an opportunity to believe, but not all will.

    So, Jared, you don’t associate with Jesus as your savior?

    We’ve been through a discussion of “a Christ”. Jesus is the Christ, and is God incarnate. Jesus, as Christ, is our savior. If I recall, you are not sold on the idea, at least that is not clear.

    To address your question of whether there is a Christ we must ask what Christ is. Christ is a label, a word to describe an anointed one.

    What do you mean by “Christ”?

  20. In terms of Trinitarian Christian theology, Christ is that part of the substance of God that allows for redemption from sin. I accept Christ as the substance of the love of God. I accept that Christ is a fact.

    Is Jesus of Nazareth Christ?

    I think that this is not an easy question for anyone to answer in a way that ends philosophical doubt. It is certainly not a foregone conclusion that He is. Outside of taking it on faith or accepting it based on a spiritual confirmation. I can see who traditional theology grapples to make rational sense of the phrase, but grapples is the right word.

    Within my own budding theology, I make the stand that it is literally true that in Jesus, God revealed Christ to the world.

    But my views are not particularly relevant to how to teach Mormons about Christ, and one of the first things you have to be careful of is that the phrase “Jesus is my savior” has a different meaning than “Jesus is Christ” even though both could be true.

  21. Well, it seems you don’t buy into the orthodox notion of Christ. Jesus is Christ there. There is no doubt. And yes, there will be faith involved in accepting this as truth. But true it is.

    You also don’t seem to understand the concept of a Christ. You’ve created your own definition using the word, which actually has a very specific meaning. I am not sure your tactic is helpful in bringing one to know Christ, that is Christ Jesus, our savior.

    We are not talking about the same thing, Jared, when we speak of bringing Mormons to Christ. Do you realize this?

  22. Well, it seems you don’t buy into the orthodox notion of Christ.

    This may be, I will let you all who are patently orthodox decide that. But I am not trying to open up Mormons to my view of Christ, but the orthodox view.

    How would you explain the difference between the meaning “Jesus is our savior” and “Jesus is the Christ” to a Mormon?

  23. Then, Jared, if you wish to open up Mormons to the orthodox view, you need to understand who Christ is. You have to point them to the right place.

  24. I am trying to give you the opportunity to clearly explain your view to me.

    I am asking questions that you need to answer clearly in order to help any LDS understand what you are talking about.

    Is believing Jesus is the savior is the same as believing Jesus is the Christ?

    Is believing Jesus is God the same as believing Jesus is Christ?

    Is “Christ” the the same as saying “God”?

  25. Thinking about this more last night, I am still not sure what you are asking for. But I will try to answer.

    Saying Christ is not the same as saying God, in a strict sense. This is why I said Christ is a label. In common usage, Christ has become largely synonymous with God, but that is not technically accurate, as far as I can tell.

    Is believing Jesus is God the same as believing Jesus is Christ? Same thing, technically, no. Christ being a label precludes that conclusion, however.

    Is Jesus as savior the same as Jesus as Christ? This is probably the most accurate statement, but the Jews thought a Christ would come, who would save them. What they did not expect was that a) this Jesus was the Christ and b) salvation would be in the form Jesus presents. They thought Jesus may have been brilliant but ultimately blasphemous and did not physically become the political/worldly savior they expected. So even then the statement is not exclusive in that Jesus the savior must equal Jesus as a Christ. (As an attorney, you can be called counselor, esquire, lawyer, attorney, sir, adviser, etc. In the same way, Christ is just a title that has been attached to Jesus, albeit one that in common usage has become synonymous with Jesus.)

    I have been harping on the label of ‘Christ’. Its important to get that it is not a designation reserved only for Jesus through its historical genesis and usage. Jesus was given the label of Christ, but strictly speaking, there can be other “Christ’s”, other “anointed ones”.

    What there cannot be is another savior, another instance where God comes to earth as one of us, as a man, to offer a salvation. God will return as man to earth he comes to begin the end times and during his rule after that. But that will be Jesus, who we know as Jesus the Christ, the same man who came earth 2000 years ago.

    So, in my opinion, Christ is just a label. A high label, no doubt, one reserved for very special circumstances and one Jesus deserves, but I don’t think Jesus had exclusive rights to the title. Thinking of another “Christ” may seem blasphemous now, to an extent, but just the same, its a call of honesty that I have to grant. Besides, the label does not make him who he is. Who he is makes him who he is.


  26. Thanks, I appreciate you laying out your concept. I agree with you that Christ is something logically different than Jesus the man. This is roughly how I understand the dual nature. My personal experience is that when I was younger, I was more attached to images and thoughts connected to Jesus the man, now I am more aware of the reality of Christ. I think there is a logical and literal connection between Jesus and Christ, but at this point, I can’t really say more than that.

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