Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Violent stories, for a Christian dude

Recently I have received a few comments from both Christian and non-Christian alike on my writing asking how a conservative Christian like myself justifies writing stories with such graphic violence in them. My main characters are warriors who deal with their enemies in absolute terms, like most warriors do, and lots of people end up dead or maimed along the way.

Over the rest of this week I will be posting a response. Mind you, this is not proselytizing; I am just explaining my own position. And since that opinion has taken more than forty years to form it can’t be pushed out in a quick blurb. So…here goes.

To start off we have to look at what we perceive Christianity to be, and what humanity and the universe really are.

Christianity is a religion adhered to, at least nominally, by about one third of the world’s population. I have to qualify that statement with the word nominally, which means in name only, because a vast majority of those who claim to be Christian simply call themselves that because they were born into a Christian tradition. Regarding their lifestyle they do not adhere in any meaningful way to the teachings of the religion. According to a 2008 Barna Research Survey less than 19% of people who call themselves Christian actual hold a bliblical Christian worldview.

Christianity in the truest sense is not a religion in which one chooses to join, performs a ritual of induction, then claims to be a member. In its real form it is a behaviorally linked religion. And the proof of its authenticity is found in a lifetime of growth and internal change as evidenced by deeds that grow increasingly more meaningful in Gods eyes.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ (Messiah) for whom Christianity is named, stated very clearly that we can know a tree by its fruit. He said that in the end many will stand before God on judgment day crying out “Lord, Lord.” exalting God as their Lord and Master, but he will say to them “Who are you? I never knew you.”

Just because a person claims to be a Christian, or a godly individual, means nothing in God’s eyes. It is the life of obedience that God judges. There are those who claim to be servants of Christ, even pastors and priests, who God has not nor will ever accept as his children because they live in disobedience. Likewise there are those who have never heard of God who will be received into heaven later because they lived life in obedience to him even though they never heard his words.

One caveat to this is that those who have heard of God and rejected his authority cannot be counted among those who will attain heaven. I am not referring to submitting to church authority, a man-made institution. The teaching of the Bible states very clearly that those who overtly reject God’s authority and refuse to submit to him will be left to their own life here on earth and in the end be rejected by God.

These things are taught pretty clearly in the Hebrew Torah and Christian Bible. Sadly most people, even ardent adherents to either religion, only read the parts they quickly understand and don’t complete the lessons the books teach. In so doing they end up only understanding bits and pieces, and those usually far out of context.

People who angrily reject Christianity because of crimes committed in the name of the religion have frequently challenged me. They claim that God either does not exist or he is evil because the deeds of those who carry his name have been evil. From the Dark Ages to the Spanish Inquisition to Massacres in Bosnia and Africa people claiming to represent God have committed atrocities.

To quote the book of First John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.”

Those who claim to be God’s followers but act against God’s will are not really his followers. Regardless of what title they claim of the fancy robes they were.

To Summarize: Just because people call themselves Christian means nothing. It is only in their deeds that they can be judged as a true Christian. And even true Christians make tons of mistakes along the way. The test is not, how close one is to God, but are you drawing closer as time goes on.

So now, you can see approximately where I stand on what it means to be a true believer in Christ.

Tomorrow: "How can you write such violent characters and yet claim to be a Christian?"
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