November 24, 2023
There was a religious revival — a kind of spiritual resuscitation — in the 70’s — often referred to as the Jesus Movement. It began on the West Coast, emerging around the time of the social awakening of the Hippie culture (see, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_movement ). A lot of young people saw iniquity in the world they were living in. They were leaving it behind seeking righteous alternatives. A lot of music came out of it — some worthwhile and some misleading and even injurious. Also, a lot of extreme and heretical sects, like flies swarming around honey, swarmed to its sweet aromas.
When I was early in my pursuit of answers in God, Many of those sects were easy to spot — like Scientology, which I quickly discovered was merely a flimflam scam to take your money disguised as a transcendent religious movement.
Music has been very important to me most of my life — from Classical to Rock ‘n Roll. So, the new Christian music that emerged from the Jesus Movement played a role in my new life, too. When I began following Jesus, God, and reading the Bible, I wasn’t as concerned with the lyrics as I was with the music. This is true today, some 50 years later. The rock n’ roll music that had emerged mostly from the Hippie culture had the effect of cultivating the soil of my mind in which the seeds of the Gospel would flourish (eventually).
For a brief time, almost half a Century ago, I wrote a few essays, paying to place them in the local newspaper. Now, in the last few years of my life, I have returned to writing essays. In them I have been attempting to bring the archaic language of the Bible into modern vernacular, because in my studies, I realized a couple things:
- people weren’t getting the message of the Bible, in large part, because they could not relate to what has become archaic religious words that have no meaning in our common daily speech.
- People are arguing about the Bible’s integrity and reliability and its resolute purposes based on all those misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and even emerging, treacherous lies. It is continuing to be propagated from a very cynical, but eager, cluster of folks.
This process of debating without facts or any reliable concepts is the most futile exercise I can think of — much worse than shadow boxing in a dark room where there are no shadows. Perhaps it is also like arguing over how much water is in an empty glass…
Back then, as I listened to the new Christian music, I wasn’t listening with a very critical ear to what was said in the verses — most of them, yes, but not all. Most of what I hear today is actually personal testimony of people’s actual experience in following God, Jesus and the Bible. As Born Again Christians, those experiences line up with those written down for posterity in, for example, the Book of Acts.
A couple years ago, I found some old vinyl records in the attic and one, in particular, that I had really liked. It had been so uplifting to me. The album was by Mustard Seed Faith. One cut in particular, had been of particular importance to me. But just the other day, I found an error in one verse (and only the one).
What was it saying?
I don’t like to nitpick, picking out a little gnat in my glass and swallowing a dead cockroach. Yet, I also heard this presented as a teaching in an otherwise reliable Church. It goes something like this: “One sin will send you to hell.”
Besides the concepts of Hell and Judgment having been skewed by the goons, goblins, and fables of the Dark Ages, this “one sin” doctrine is an error. (Just a little research into Greek and Hebrew concepts can remedy such misperceptions of sin, hell, and judgment.)
The struggle with sin is not always clear, but basically, in our struggles for self righteousness and self determination, the resulting rejection of God’s way and our insistence in doing things our own way, results in all of us hurting ourselves, harming others, and missing all the good God intends for all of His Creation — people, animals, the environment — all living things…
We all fall short of the target God set up for us.
So, what do I think is the correct way of thinking about such concepts?
The basic precept of the Gospel is that we all have done harm to ourselves and to one another by developing our own ideas of right and wrong. We end up separated from God, blind and deaf. We cannot find our way to God and a transcendent way of living, and many thoughtful people too often conclude that that doesn’t matter since there is no God.
Yet, God is extremely patient with everyone, and He sees our end is not good at all. So, They, meaning the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all got together, deciding that Jesus would come into the world as a fellow Human Being and so proceed to rescue us from ourselves, to restore our sight and our hearing, and to heal our diseased minds and emotional wounds, and to remediate all the hurts and heartaches and even all the harm we have done to others.
So, what is my correction for the “one sin” doctrine?
The problem with us is our human nature, not just one mistake.
It is centered around self. Simply add another word like self-centered, self- preserving, self-seeking, self-justifying, and so on.
What God planned to change in us was to give us a new nature by a new birth, to change us from the inside out. Then, as our new godly nature supplants the old human nature, we have the right disposition and develop the same attitudes and character of Jesus Himself!
A real miracle? Definitely!
Our old rather miserable lives become full of joy beyond words and filled with peace and understanding — even in the struggles of this life.
Start talking to Jesus.
Read the Bible, seeking God’s presence in your life.
Finally, know this: God is love, and He has better judgment than to send you to some kind of hell for just one mistake. It’s all about our needing that new nature — a newly born nature inside ourselves.
We all will continue to make mistakes — twice born or not: The judgment is in this and this alone: “… the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light…” — John 3:19. This precept God applies equally to everyone, everywhere, for all time.
If we are seriously following Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote, “… there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.” — Romans 8:1–2.
Light a candle in the darkest room, and you will always see it. Darkness will never overpower light! Allow the light to replace the darkness inside you.