Monday, September 29, 2008

A Pastor's Sermon on Killing

I thought my pastor's sermon on killing was a good one this past Sunday. He has been doing a series on the Ten Commandments. The official title was "Choosing Life". His main point was that the Church was to be a place of safety where there was no fear of loosing life. Christians should affirm life, as much as possible. I agree.

His premise was that the Commandments don't give us the rationale of ethical decision-making, but just give us the statement, "Thou shalt not kill". Whether one is pro-life, while agreeing about capital punishment seemed to him to be "getting around the law", because the law just doesn't say. And his point is well-taken that we all do not usually hold consistant views concerning the commandment.

While I have understood the Law in the traditional Christian sense of making all guilty, so that there is a need for mercy, it seems a little misguided to justify or theologize the killing of Jesus, in my thinking today. Of course, this is what evangelicals love to claim is the Gospel's message, that a Jew died on a Roman cross for the "sins of the world". Paul says, it is foolishness to the Greek and a stumblingblock to the Jew. I find that this message has brought numbers into the "fold" and has served the Church's purposes well. But, even though this understanding has served a "purpose", has it been a "real" purpose, one that is grounded in the "real world"?

The Gospel became the Christian Tradition, but was not useful to the religious in the historical time frame of Jesus life. The Gospel was the evangelist's and apostle's interpretation of Jesus life. Jesus, as well as Paul's lives, were given to the cause of humanity. The Gospel has come to mean a "cross" to be taken up by the believer, where the costs of following Christ is viewed as a sacrifice. Sacrifice was not what God required in the Old Testament, but a pure heart. This is why historical study is important. The Jewish understanding was not a "Gospel" of blood, cross, and forgiveness at the time of its founding, but a commitment of heart.

The Ten Commandments were the identifying focus of the Jew. Since my pastor held the simple standard of the commandment, it is left to the conscience of the individual to understand how it is applicable to their life. This is what it always should have been, instead, the Tradition of Judiasm developed how the commandments were to be obeyed, which created the divisions within Judiasm itself. It set up a rule of measurement, where one could justify or condemn another. Judgment and condemnation was never to be the intent of God. Dividion has happened in the Christian world over the interpretation of Scriptures.

It seems our world will never find a unifying factor without someone's conscience being denied. What does it mean for you to kill?

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