So awhile back I posted a conversation between me and an atheist acquaintance. In the turnabout is fair play department, I’m posting a recent gchat exchange I had with one of my Christian brethren . To be fair, I find conversations with fundamentalists of any stripe particularly taxing, because I don’t think there’s much traction for conversation to start with. There’s just their side of view and you being wrong until you agree with them. That said, we should be able to talk to one another even when we disagree theologically. As I see it, the formula’s pretty simple:

-listen to each other’s opinions
-ask questions for clarification when we don’t understand (rather than assume)
-respect one another
-realize that you might actually not be right
-value the relationship over your certainty

(Check out this Jay Lake post for further clarity)

Anyway, the discussion began over this tweet (and we’ll see if I ever re-tweet alanfadling ever again!) The stuff in italics is the side conversation I was having with my youngest as he was reading over my shoulder.

MauriceBroaddus: RT @alanfadling: “We have a finite number of ways to sin; God has an infinite number of ways to forgive” (Peterson)

MP – Jesus said : I am the Way, The Truth, and The Life, No one comes to the father but by me. Sounds like God only has ONE way to forgive via repentance and trust in Christ, Not infinite ways…that’s universalism.

#2Son: Daddy, do you know him?
Me: Not really. We know who each other are, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation before. I think this is his way of introducing himself.

Maurice Broaddus – yeah … i’m probably not in your heaven.

#2Son: Daddy, why aren’t you going to heaven.
Me: Daddy’s just joking. I’m probably too quick to make a joke out of something.

MP – Sounds like you’re not going to be in Heaven. Do you really believe everyone goes to Heaven? Even Hitler?

#2Son: Daddy, are you sure you’re going to be in heaven? He doesn’t seem to think so.
Me: I swear, I don’t think he’s in charge of the list.

Maurice Broaddus – actually, i have no idea who is going to be in heaven.

MP – So by that last statement, can I imply that not everyone goes to Heaven?

#2Son: You’re sighing again.
Me: I know. I’ve had this conversation before.
#2Son: I thought you said you’d never talked to him before?
Me: I haven’t. But I know when someone’s building a head of steam spoiling for an argument. He’s building up to his “gotcha” moment. I used to be like that.
#2Son: What happened?
Me: I realized that people quit listening to me. And that I didn’t really care about them, but the IDEA of them.
#2Son: I don’t get it.
Me: I was more concerned with getting “notches in my belt”. I mean, I was more concerned with my number of wins rather than getting to know the person themselves. He actually means well. He sees himself as saving me from myself and my “bad theology” because he doesn’t want to see me go to hell. Kind of like how you might run into a burning building to save a stranger.

Maurice Broaddus – you could imply that. you could also imply that heaven and hell might be the same place experienced differently by different people. you could also imply that i, given my finite knowledge and perceptions, can’t presume to speak of the love of God and who does or does not get in. you could even imply that i have no idea what heaven is. and you could even imply that i don’t think the point of our lives is to just “get into heaven”. actually, you might be able to imply that i’m not a Christian. probably the only thing you could definitely conclude is that i’m probably not the Christian you are looking for.

#2Son: I like that.
Me: What?
#2Son: “I’m probably not the Christian you are looking for.” It sounds like something from Star Wars.
Me: I’ve never been more proud of you than I am right now.

MP – I think the Bible gave us more than enough information to understand the things that God desires us to understand. You can’t make your own form of Christianity. It has to line up with Scripture which is authoritative and absolute apart from the imaginations of men. Hate to break this to you. But the Emergent Church is dead. You and Doug Pagitt need to come back to orthodox Christianity…it never left and it still prevails against all false ideas that die away.

Maurice Broaddus – i’m afraid it’s not orthodox christianity that i turned my back on. what i did turn my back on what the brand of christianity more concerned with being “right” than being loving. that reduces the gospel to some individualistic pact between a person and God (which actually DOES lead to people forming their own “christianity”). and people more concerned with arguing than getting to know people.

EH – I hate to break it to Marcus, but Superman is dead. There is no “movement” that God endorses. He had one group singled out for only a sliver of history. Being rejected by that group, He opened it up for all. Whether we love or accept Him on His terms is for Him to decide. He chose us, and at that point a large amount of uncertainty begins. It should not be a goal for a Christian to get to heaven, but to strive for an eternal loving relationship with Him. It does no good to say this movement or this philosophy is better. If you don’t have love you are dead in your sins. God resists the proud. The best we can do as Christians is immerse ourselves in the word and seek His truth and don’t get into the scriptural Bloods and Crips. Orthodoxy? I am interested in a road with no turns or bumps…

#2Son: Don’t we know EH?
Me: Yeah, teh interwebz are a big place and a lot of people can see this stuff.
#2Son: Is Superman dead?
Me: Not anymore. He was in an overdrawn storyline in the comics a few years ago. I think I have the animated version of it. Want to go watch it?
#2Son: Yeah. Are you done arguing?
Me: Sometimes you just have to back away from your keyboard.