Saturday, December 15, 2007

How Can We Know God Without a Bible?

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: "Without an objective Book like the Bible, how can we know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us and not our own desires and sinful urges?"

MICHAEL: That question kept me in the biblical, evangelical movement for a long time. Then I realized that Jesus answered the issue with a simple parable, "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit. A tree is known by it's fruit." Notice that he said, fruit, not doctrines, fruit, not degrees, fruit, not mystical visions. Fruit, not Tarot cards or biblical creeds.

You see, a person can claim to get his information from the objective Bible, the Divine Spirit, the infallible Pope, the Holy Koran, a tuned-in Psychic, an inspired Shaman or any number of sources – but the ultimate proof is in the fruit or results. Jesus was talking to religious leaders who claimed special status with God because of their elite ethnicity and inspired scriptures, but Jesus was more interested in the way they treated Samaritans, Roman soldiers, those of other religious persuasions, lepers, unclean women, whores, drunks and others who were not part of their religious clan. He concluded that their lack of compassion and consideration for other humans proved they were not of the Spirit of God.

How does a man treat his wife and kids? How does a woman speak about her husband to her friends and family? Is he/she miserable, resentful, joyless, obsessed with lust, greed and hatred for his/her opponents? Does he/she gossip, slander, split the church over doctrinal issues and live a joyless, depressed life?

If you really study the early Church founders, you will see that their original arguments for their doctrinal positions had to do with the fruit of such beliefs, not their creedal orthodoxy. Irenaeus, for example, opposed the Gnostics because they placed too much stress on Spirit and not enough on the Body. Irenaeus believed that a full, soul-making life could not be lived day to day without recognizing that God created the material realm as a necessary and equal part in the soul-making process.

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