The Evolution of a Christian Prayer Life

The heart and soul of a Christian life is our prayer life. Any Christian seeking to follow the teachings of Jesus, has an active prayer life. However, overtime, conscientious Christians learn to grow in their knowledge and depth of how to talk to God.

Here are descriptions of possible types and levels of praying that most of us may experience as we grow in our Christian faith:

  1. No active prayer life – praying spontaneously only when serious needs arise
  2. Periodic “routine” praying – “now I lay me down to sleep” – “Our Father who art in heaven… “
  3. Periodic private prayers – occasional, inconsistent but sincere prayers
  4. Social praying – an accepted public prayer, before a group
  5. Personal praying – a commitment to pray privately and regularly
  6. A complete prayer life – talking daily with God on a continuing  basis

The best model for praying, the Lord’s Prayer, was given to us by Jesus. It begins with praise and adoration, then asks for forgiveness, cautions about temptations and concludes with expressions of trust in the power and glory of God. Much can be learned by a thorough study of this prayer.

The Bible, in most every book, offers many beautiful prayers from the prophets and the gospel writers. In Psalms 103:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name”. Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” – and in Philippians 4:6, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.

Sometimes we fall into the habit of repetitive praying and fail to remember there are many types of prayers. Some of the most common prayers may focus on:  Thanksgiving, Forgiveness, Praise and Adoration, Intercessory, Resting, or Suffering prayers. There are two approaches to praying – Ritualistic praying and Informal praying. Both have a proper place and both are entirely acceptable to God.

God accepts all types and levels of praying from all peoples from every age, race, ethnic, religious or national background. He is open to the most simple to the most complex prayers we chose to submit. When and where we pray does not matter. In the midst of our greatest sins, God encourages us to pray. He always accepts and loves us as we are.

It is very human that some prayers center on the needs and feelings of the person praying. Others seek to express our concerns for the needs of others – both nearby and far away.   Sometimes we find ourselves “telling” God what needs to be done – fully realizing he already knows. It is very human- particularly when things are not going well- for us to ask God to intervene in the lives of people. I think this sincere asking is acceptable by God – but it seems rare for him to interfere with his created laws – accept when he decides a miracle is warranted. Miracles do happen – but sometimes they are delayed or changed by God. Under these special circumstances, mature Christians learn to trust in the fact that our heavenly Father is:  all powerful, all knowing, all present and all caring.

In the middle of all that our lives experience, we must remember that the lifelong goal of praying is to continue to strive to align our lives to the Will of our heavenly Father.

W.F. Peck

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Leadership Styles and Human Personalities

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Much has been researched and written about the characteristics of effective leadership styles. Numerous types of evaluations reveal our individual propensities to show how we relate to others we seek to lead. Key factors such as introversion/extroversion, congenial/assertiveness or type A vs. type B personalities emerge to help describe our natural inclinations during interrelations with others. These are useful tools that are well known by our human relation experts. We who seek to become better leaders use all of this information and more as we interface with others.

You may or may not be familiar with evaluations developed by the psychiatric profession that study the multiple differences in the brain structure that innately influence how we behave as individuals.

Being a layman, I can only describe a small portion of the results of these marvelous medical discoveries. From a leadership perspective, we now know that all adults are born with varying amounts of “left brain” and “right brain” characteristics. While we all have both, most people are born with either a dominant “right brain or left brain” set of natural propensities. What does this mean?

A person who possesses a dominantly “right brain” may be described as one who naturally places such factors as: feelings, empathy, relationships, compassion and harmony with others at a high priority. A strong “left brain” personality is driven more by: facts, analysis, data, systems, schedules and goals. This is an over simplification of a complex medical study.

These two broad personality traits are not related to intelligence or moral values. We all have different interests and abilities to accomplish certain types of tasks or goals. We tend to migrate toward comfortable activities and avoid activities we dislike.

  Many times we fail to understand or appreciate people whose dominate personalities are on the other side. In most people, one side or the other is dominate, but all possible combinations exist – i.e. 70/30, 60/40, 50/50 or 30/70, 40/60 and other combinations are possible.

Many times leaders are less successful in certain types of jobs  or leading certain types of assignments, because they do not understand who they are  and how they may need to adjust their dominate conduct to fit the types of people involved in the decisions or tasks at hand.

Typical Characteristics

Be assured there are no wrong or bad personality profiles. We have all inherited certain levels of God given left and right brain personalities. Here are some general characteristics of both types of brain orientations:

Right Brain

Strengths:

  • Develop relationships easily, are good listeners, care about and project interest in others
  • Good at formulating compromises
  • Generally seek to be involved in service to others
  • Often very creative and artistic

Weaknesses:

  • Tend to avoid difficult decisions or confrontations – hoping they will go away or be decided by others
  • Tend to not be concerned about time schedules
  • Are often not able to organize their responsibilities
  • Love to interrelate and talk but often avoid drawing any specific conclusions.

Left Brain

Strengths:

  • Driven to get things done – will confront and compete easily
  • Normally good at handling systems, data and analysis
  • Very time and schedule oriented
  • Usually organize and manage their responsibilities well

Weaknesses:

  • Tend to ignore the feelings and opinions of others in their decision making
  • Are often rigid and uncompromising
  • Base most decisions on facts rather than feelings or ideas
  • Sometimes  decide and speak before thinking through options

Practical Applications

Effective leaders learn to discipline themselves to behave according to the best approach that will influence others to follow and thus to accomplish the desired results. This analysis applies equally as strong at home with family and friends as it does in our business relationships. Here are a few typical descriptions of people in real positions in life:

Politicians – right brain people do best – they are good talkers

Business Managers – left brain people organize and get things done

Scientists – left brain people who deal with facts, analysis, systems

Labor Oriented Jobs – right brain people are better followers but some supervisory positions require left brain leadership

Religious Ministers – right brain activities are heavily involved but left brain leadership is required for financial survival and church growth

Top Corporate Executives – both brain types are needed depending on the complexity of the management decisions and the types of interpersonal relationships involved

Marriages – Marriages often suffer and can lead to divorce because the partners have opposite brain orientations and they do not understand how to deal with their different God given personalities.

Parent/Child – Family relationships often suffer because the children get mixed signals on what is acceptable conduct from parents who have different brain orientations.

Friends/Neighbors – Relationships suffer or often do not develop because personalities are not understood.

The Best Model

For those of us who profess to be Christians, we learn a lot about leadership styles and human relationships from the life and teachings of Jesus. If you think about it long enough, you will remember how Jesus dealt with many difficult situations and personalities. His dominate brain orientation (as a human being), was about love and his concern for others. His mission on earth was about helping, serving and bringing people together – all right brain activities.

He did not seek to encourage physical violence, but he had the courage and resolve to confront, in a peaceful and thoughtful manner, the military and political powers of his day. He felt the suffering of his mission, but he did not back down from facing his responsibilities – all left brain activities. Jesus demonstrated a balanced approach in his decision making and in his relationships with all people. I believe if Jesus were here today, he would teach that:

  • Right brain people need to mobilize the courage, in certain situations, to activate stronger left brain capabilities in order to get more good things done correctly and on time.
  • Left brain people need to discipline themselves to being more sensitive to the feelings and opinions of the people they seek to lead.

It would seem important that we all learn how to balance our responses to others with the hope that we may together some day- make a positive impact on bringing in of God’s Kingdom on this earth. May this be your daily prayer?

By W.F. Peck

Homosexuality and the Christian Faith

 

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For those of us who profess to be Christians, the Bible is our best resource on how God expects his people to think and live. We are guided by the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, the beatitudes and the teachings of Jesus from the New Testament.

As a young boy in a rural community in southwest Fulton County, Georgia, I walked several miles to elementary school along one side of the road, and our black neighbors children walked to their separate schools on the other side of the road. We spoke and were respectful, but we did not associate socially. There were no conflicts, we thought this arrangement was very normal. Several decades later, I attended Ga. Tech in an all-white, male only, student population. This all changed in the late fifties, but it was a normal tradition while I attended Tech through 1954.

We have all lived through several cultural traditions that seemed at the time to be normal, correct and in keeping with God’s will. However, we must confess that over time, traditions change and we learn to adjust what we think is right or wrong. Please examine attachment 1 – a list of historical traditions. Remember, it took the best minds of the Christian church over two hundred years to admit that Copernicus was correct that the earth orbits around the sun rather than the ancient tradition that the earth was the center of our solar system. Please recall, that our beautiful democratic nation existed for more than one hundred years under the premise that – all peoples are created equal – before women in 1920 were allowed to own property, hold a bank account and to vote. It was a tradition, back then, that society should be dominated and controlled by the male population.

We have all been brought up believing in a series of traditions that for the most part served us well. For many years during my younger life, I was taught to believe that homosexuals were misfits, abnormal and unacceptable members of society. I was culturally conditioned to believe that homosexuality was evil and outside God’s will. Please note the attached list of alleged problems associated with homosexuality (attachment 2). It would seem, however, that in today’s world these are outdated statements.

Well, what does the Bible say about homosexuality? We find statements in I Corinthians, and Romans in the New Testament and Leviticus in the Old Testament that homosexuality is a sin. To the extent that any evidence exists that deviate sexual conduct is associated with homosexuality, I agree, it is a sin! But one must carefully evaluate the conclusions of the medical profession regarding homosexuality before passing judgment on it as a sin. Please note the attached summary, gained from the medical profession regarding homosexuality (attachment 3). If these statements are true, then regardless of what the Bible says – homosexuality is not a sin! To classify as a sin, any act or condition must meet the test of free will – a deliberate act against the will of God.

In the midst of these considerations, one might ask the question: “What would Jesus say about homosexuality?” I’m not sure, but I think he might say:

  • Anyone who is not guilty of sin, let him cast the first stone.
  • Judge not that ye be not judged.
  • God is the only one who should judge a person’s sins, beliefs and conduct.
  • Inclusion offers hope for redemption, exclusion isolates and condemns.
  • Be sure one is correctly plowing his own fields, before he seeks to teach others how to plow.
  • “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and tingling symbol. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faith so that I can move mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

So how shall our Christian churches address the sensitive issues of homosexuality with so many different perspectives among its loyal and sincere members? First, our United Methodist Church accepts and supports any and all homosexuals as full members of our faith. Thus far, the major controversial restrictions appear to be:

  • Ordained ministers may not marry persons of the same gender.
  • Homosexuals may not become ordained ministers.

Harsh punishments apply to any ministers that ignore or disobey these strict church doctrines.

As time passes, sides are being drawn within the clergy and also the active laity, with some defending the current church doctrine and others feeling a less rigid position is needed. Some church leaders have concluded that strong unyielding positions on both sides could lead to a structural split in the Methodist church at large.

With due respect for both sides, one has to ask: “What would be accomplished by dividing a large and very successful church organization into smaller parts? Is there a way to seek a logical reconciliation that will satisfy a majority – fully recognizing that compromises must be made? Are we “head locked” by tradition or shall we seek the power of the Holy Spirit as our guide? There is no doubt about it – traditions die slowly and beliefs and past history often cloud our vision of the future. I have no magic or simple answers but here are my final thoughts:

  • God cares for and loves all people – the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the normal and the not normal, and the able and the disabled.
  • Must all church doctrine be rigid without flexibility?
  • Should our church leadership listen more to their hearts than to some selected, ancient Biblical text. Paul was not always correct in his assessment of rules for living.
  • Within reasonable bounds, could the church leadership find ways to accommodate both sides by giving some latitude to individual pastors and their church congregations?
  • I believe in playing win/win – not win/lose. When we play win/lose on serious issues – everybody loses.
  • As an active layman, I seek to judge others by their character and their conduct – irrespective of their race, gender, theological beliefs or sexual orientation.
  • Hey, I’m old and mostly a “theological traditionalist” – but praise God, I’m still growing and learning and looking for new and more inspiring interpretations of God’s Word.
  • It is my sincere prayer that compromise shall prevail and any thoughts of splitting will be avoided. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”.

The Ancient Christian Church in a Modern World

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I love the Bible and its messages from God – such as the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians … and I love the poetry expressed by the King James Version – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tickling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing….” Modern versions of this scripture  change “charity” to “love” and that’s okay as well. 

I am sensitive to the possibility that my modern scientific knowledge may tend to over shadow the central and beautiful messages of the life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, I  envision this expression of my thoughts to be within the shadow of the Cross – the center of our Christian faith.

As a small boy, I regularly attended Sunday School and Church in a small Methodist church near Atlanta in rural south Fulton County. My Sunday School teachers were beautiful volunteers with little formal education and little or no training in Christian teachings. They worked hard to support their families and prepared their SS lessons the best they could on Saturday nights. I think it would be fair to say they were – for the most part- fundamentalists who believed in the literal interpretations of all scripture. They worked diligently for the building of God’s Kingdom with all the tools and knowledge they possessed. Sixty and seventy years later, I can still remember their faces and their names. I owe a great debt to these Christian servants for who I am today.

And then I grew up, graduated from Ga. Tech in Civil Engineering, served in the military, got married and established a professional career. Being around the fast moving construction boom of the fifties and sixties, I learned  quickly about science and God’s complex universe. I personally dug sharks teeth from construction excavations in south Georgia and studied Geology extensively. Geological evidence quickly proved that our prehistoric oceans covered all of Florida and South Georgia up to the “fall line” from Augusta to Macon to Columbus, Georgia. The Grand Canyon was far larger and deeper than any series of ancient floods could possibly create.

 So as a young engineer, I began to evaluate my Christian beliefs in light of the new scientific information I was accumulating. Questions like: How old is the Universe and the Earth and how could the Bible be accurate in the book of Genesis  to state that the earth was created in six – twenty four calendar days? How was first man and woman really created?

Archeological and Paleontological excavations by international scholars all over the world were consistently unearthing skeletons of prehistoric primates that eventually stood on two (bi-pedal) legs, grew in brain size and intelligence and approached being human several million years ago.  Within a few thousand years BC –  God saw fit to breathe his Holy Spirit into his developed creatures and fully human man emerged!  What an inspiring history!

Has my creative imagination gone awry? Are these just hopeful wishes of an old, retired, fanatic Civil Engineer/Geologist? Well, if you sincerely wish to seek out the truth – ask a thousand informed scientists in a hundred countries about this evolutionary process. Ninety plus percentage of them will surely support my conclusions. If that is not enough, read ten of fifty books written by scientists, theologians, biblical scholars and historians, that I can recommend (listed below). If that is not enough, interview professors of theology at any major schools of theology – like Candler School at Emory or visit privately with senior ministers with advanced degrees in philosophy and theology. Most of them will agree that evolution is real but they will not openly speak about it from the pulpit. Too many of their members are not prepared to accept the truths of evolution. They are still holding on to the sentimental, traditional beliefs of their parents and grand parents or they are not willing to investigate complex scientific concepts or they sanctimoniously believe they are “better Christians”by holding on to the literal interpretation of all scriptures.

And the beautiful thing about mans slow evolvement over time is it is so real, so practical and so inspirational that one can hardly see how it has been rejected and maligned by so many fundamental Christian people! The Old Testament reports this same story of beginnings in the book of Genesis as a beautiful series of allegories and metaphors in language that God’s people of ancient times could understand.   Would God now expect people of the faith to update their understanding of evolutionary truths based on a wealth of current scientific knowledge?   St. Augustine of Hippo, one of our early theological scholars, said: “When serious conflicts arise between interpretations of scripture and new scientific facts, it is time to reinterpret scripture.”

And yet in certain places in the United States there are small communities of ultra conservative Christians, generally identified as Creationists, that fight diligently to refute the concepts of evolution. One group has attempted to confuse the geological time scale by presenting false evidence that dinosaurs and humans co-existed on the earth. What a joke! Tested scientific evidence quickly proved these allegations to be preposterous. The Creationist only missed their conclusion by 65 million years! Thank God, these misguided Christians are only a small minority of our citizens.

So in the future, where will the mainstream Christian churches go with the creation story described in ancient “code” so beautifully in the early chapters of the book of Genesis? When will our most learned clergy start openly teaching their church members how to reconcile the Biblical story of beginnings with current scientific knowledge? Must we wait until the older generations (including me), have passed on? And what about our youth – who are gaining extensive knowledge about creation in their science classes – five days a week and hear a different story (or no story) about God’s creation in their Sunday school classes? Why does this conflict have to be? Part of the problem lies with the Federal mandates that prohibit discussions of anything related to religion in public schools. Part of the problem appears to be churches and church leaders who are not trained or exposed to literature that clearly explains and proves evolution. Unfortunately, many church leaders, including lay bible teachers, either do not understand scientific creation or prefer not to understand it.

And national statistics consistently report that more and more younger Christians are leaving the traditional, stodgy old out dated churches of their youth. Why because their churches, while they were in high school, failed to help them understand how to reconcile their Christian teachings with what they later learned in college or in sororities or fraternities or bars or dances or sporting events where all sorts of opinions are exchanged, relished and believed. And about the time these young people gain their first jobs and get married – many are saying: why should I (we) attend a church that did not have the courage to tell me the whole truth about creation – some even held on to old interpretations of scripture like:  “the universe was created in six 24 hour calendar days?” Since Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”– why didn’t the church of my family teach me the whole truth about creation?

Now to be fair, we all know that there are a number of reasons (or excuses) of why many people are or have abandoned our traditional churches. What ever the reasons are – the Christian church must begin its new mission with openly presenting truths. Truths about the imperfections of much of the Mosaic laws presented in the Torah as well as the proper understanding that many of God’s messages are hidden within allegorical stories that should not be taken literally. The Old Testament Bible contains God’s Word – but much of it seems to be mans word which God may have patently tolerated even when he did not direct or approve of some of mans laws or actions. Can we not learn to think intelligently about certain scriptures and build on a modern faith that still holds reverently to the central teachings of Jesus and figure out how to bring folks back into our blessed churches? 

We need to remember that the Christian church has historically made many serious mistakes:

  • Roman Pope Urban VI in the Dark Ages, condemned scientific discoveries that proved the Earth orbited about the Sun, saying this idea was contrary to Bibical scripture. It took the Catholic church several hundred years to agree that science was correct.
  • When the printing press was invented, in the Middle Ages, Bibles were available for the first time to most people. However, the church decreed that no one could own or read a bible  – subject to imprisonment or other punishment.
  • During the American Civil War, southern ministers preached and used scripture to justify slavery – why, because that was the only way they could keep the wealthy plantation owners support of the churches.
  • Our beautiful, democratic, Christian nation, from its beginning in 1776 to 1920 held women as second rate citizens who could not: vote, own property or hold a bank account. Thank God for Susan B. Anthony!
  • How long shall it take for all Christian churches in the second millennium to openly tell their congregations the whole truth about God’s creation?

Could the future of Christianity be out of balance because of a lack of courage or knowledge about God’s ancient truths among God’s best people?

By W.F.Peck

Recommended References

  1. “Thank God for Evolution”, Rev. Michael Dowd
  1. “The Language of God”, Francis S. Collins
  1. “The Science of God”, Gerald L. Schroeder
  1. “When Science Meets Religion”, Ian G. Barbour
  1. “Finding Darwin’s God”, Kenneth R. Miller
  1. “Making Sense of Evolution”, John F. Haught
  1. “The Stages of Human Evolution”, C. Loring Brace
  1. “Why Evolution Is True”, Jerry A. Coyne
  1. “Can A Darwinian Be A Christian”, Michael Ruse
  1. “ Science and Religion in Quest of Truth”, John Polkinghorne

Note: There are many other good reference books available in libraries, book stores and on the internet (Amazon).

 

How Important is it for Modern Christians to Believe in Miracles?

 

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Miracles happened in Jesus’earthly life, and have continued to occur through out history. It is part of our Christian faith to pray for miracles for healing of our love ones. But is it possible we may (sometimes) be praying for the wrong things? Rather than praying for God to intervene against his natural laws, should we be praying for strength, courage and guidance for all parties? Do some people lose faith in God because he selects not to intervene and heal illnesses that are (normally) impossible to heal? Would you allow an unanswered prayer – for healing – to interfere with your Christian faith?

My Christian faith and belief in Jesus Christ are not centered or dependent on miracles. Jesus’ miracles were especially needed in the first century A.D. to convince his polytheistic followers that he was the true Son of the only God.

The center of my Christian faith is based on “the life and the  mind of the human Jesus.”His life models the way to live and demonstrates how imperfect humans may reach out and upward and make decisions to give of themselves with love and caring for the needs of others.

Miracles today, reveal the power and activity of God continuously in the world, but for me, they are secondary to the central message of Jesus Christ. The power of God is real but I am more moved by the love, compassion and forgiveness of God rather than a dependence on or fear of his power.

Finally, I am convinced that the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ is real. It is backed by multiple historical reports of the Gospels as well as other historical records. There is no doubt in my mind that the miracle of the resurrection occurred and it stands forever as the foundation of our Christian faith.

The History of Christian Suffering

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First century Christians suffered greatly for their beliefs in Jesus Christ. About 313AD Emperor  Constantine gave relief to the Roman Christian community by legalizing Christianity at the Edict of Milan. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Theodosius in 380AD. However, the developing Catholic Church still held the average citizen in bondage and many suffered for minor violations of church rules and dogma. Misdeeds by the Roman church grew to a point that in 1517 Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, pinned his ninety five thesis’s to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Battle lines were drawn and many on both sides suffered punishments for their beliefs. After the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1455, complete bibles were available for the first time and the common folk sought to read the scriptures only to be persecuted by the churches.

The Christian church grew on both sides and expanded across the new found continents and missionaries and  itinerant ministers traveled into foreign lands and suffered rejection and sometimes death as they attempted to convert the unchurched to Christianity.

While substantial progress has been made in spreading the Word, many wars have been fought between competing nations and competing religions and many have suffered and given their lives for their religious beliefs. 

But now we live in a modern society and religious persecution is prohibited by our Constitution or the laws of other nations. Suffering for one’s Christian beliefs in a modern society takes on a different form from that of our Christian ancestors. As successful, happy and comfortable living Christians, how do we or how should we suffer for the cause of Christ? God’s special servants, our missionaries, continue to labor under difficult conditions and many are  still suffering servants. But they are the precious few, and we are the vast majority. In our own secure communities as Christians, how shall we suffer? Maybe “suffering” is too harsh a descriptor? Each of us is faced everyday with choices to “step out for our Christian faith” or duck quietly into selfish activities that consume and fill our comfortable existence. But what does it mean to “step out for our Christian faith?” Does it have to mean an earth shaking event? Maybe, but most likely it takes on a quiet and gentile form. Could it be, for most of us, that suffering for the kingdom is simply committing to:

  • Praying earnestly everyday.
  • Calling a friend or neighbor and supporting their needs.
  • Visiting a sick person at home or in the hospital.
  • Attending church and Sunday school on a regular basis.
  • Financially supporting our churches and other worthy causes.
  • Helping a disadvantaged person in some loving way.
  • Teaching Sunday school or singing in the choir.
  • Serve on important Sunday school and church committees.
  • Taking seriously the selection of our elected officials.
  • Being a good parent or grandparent.
  • Taking care of some lonely animal.
  • Support worthy civic groups that provide for the needs of the sick, poor and underprivileged.
  • Just be positive and kind to everyone you meet.

Well, shall we label these as examples of  “ modern suffering” or would they be more appropriately called “stepping out for our Christian faith”? These and many other examples of Christian service are continuously available to you and me. The key question is what path of life shall I choose to follow?

Original Sin – A Cultural History by Alan Jacob (Thoughts by Bill Peck)

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  • Genesis (chaps. 1 & 2) is an allegory describing Creation at a level the ancients could understand.
  • Before upright, bipedal primates (hominids) became fully human, they were mammals or animals.   Animals do not have the intelligence or conscience to avoid bad conduct.
  • When God, over millions of years, evolved hominids into full humans, they gained: a free will, a conscience and thus the intelligence to discern good and evil conduct.
  • The first symbolic humans, identified as Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, may have been perfect for a while (as gods or angels) – however, when God breathed the Holy Spirit into selected, evolved hominids for the first time, they symbolically ate the forbidden fruit from the symbolic tree of knowledge of good and evil and they became aware of who they really were. They covered their nakedness. 
  • When the Bible states that mankind was made in the image of God, they attained the intellectual powers of reasoning and  realized they could choose between good and evil. 
  • To be fully human, mankind became imperfect (sinners) either because God made them that way, or an evil power (Satan) .. already on our primordial earth, came along as the symbolic serpent and infected Adam and Eve.
  • It seems convenient to blame the evolutionary events in the lives of Adam and Eve as the cause of mankind’s propensity to choose decisions contrary to the will of God. God selected to have mankind with the freedom of choices.
  • The title: “Original Sin” came from St. Augustine in the 4th century AD. He developed this doctrine from his studies of Paul’s writings primarily from the book of Romans.
  • Did Paul say: “When man is born, he is already born with death because he contracts sin from Adam?” meaning he contracts it, as though it were a disease!! This seems strange!
  • Augustine believed even new born children were inclined to original sins, and would be condemned to hell if they died before being baptized. How could this great Christian theologian believe this? All baptized persons are still sinners!
  • Was evil in the world prior to Adam and Eve or did the development and awakening of humanity initiate the presence of evil? It’s hard to conclude either way – since evil does not exist, except as an act between living creatures, or God acting through his natural laws that impact living creatures. One could conclude that the only evil of any consequences came with the evolution of mankind.
  • As we define what it means to be human, how could humanity exist without the free will to be imperfect?
  • Original Sin seems to be a component of the description of the criteria God set in place as he evolved his up-right, bi-pedal primates into fully accountable human beings.
  • What are the practical problems of the doctrine of Original Sin for modern Christians? These are my thoughts:
  • Mankind, knowing that we all have a natural propensity to be imperfect, rationalizes that humans cannot help being sinful.
  • Christians know they can be forgiven for their sins, so why sweat it?
  • By definition, to be human is to be imperfect so being imperfect is not so bad.
  • No one, including infants, is condemned to hell, simply because they have never been baptized.  I believe Jesus would approve of this statement.
  • The Adam/Eve act of disobedience, expressed in allegorical language, sets the stage for humanity to begin the life long struggle to move from being self centered to being God centered. This is one of the main reasons why the Christian church exists.
  • Could it be that modern Christians need to focus more on their commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than worrying about the implications of the doctrine of Original Sin?