Christian BoyLove Forum #66115
I may get around to answering the original question, I'm not sure. I don't want to spend a great deal of time on these kinds of debates because, historically, such debates have done more to harm this forum than help it. But I'll at least address some initial observations from your post.
I'll adress your points one at a time:
This is not a new problem
This seems important to you. You've repeated it in multiple posts as if it has any bearing on the truth. What difference does it make whether something is new or not? No one, at least on this forum, has ever claimed to have a new insight. If anything, I would find the fact it is something that has been considered through the ages a sign that it's more valid than some radical new claim.
the definition seems to boil down to having once, at some point, prayed 'The Prayer', with the implication that anything else is 'works'.
I've dedicated an incredible amount of energy in the theological circles I am a part of to combating this view, for I strongly believe it is literally condemning people to an eternity apart from God and, worse yet, tricking them into thinking they don't have to worry about that. Yet, you seem convinced that anyone with views different from your own about God's commands must disagree with you on this critical point. That's simply not the case. The "once saved always saved" doctrine and the "fire insurance" Christianity this has produced are great evils that I have dedicated an incredible amount of energy to combating. Assuming people who think differently from you have this point of view as a starting point is simply incorrect.
The second story in Matthew 25 is the Parable of the Talents, where the enterprising get commended, and the person who was given only one is offered no sympathy for having hidden it away. The terrifying challenge for all of us reading this is that having access to the Internet in itself probably counts as three talents compared with the experience of most of the world's population in the past 2000 years.
Why would this be terrifying? You don't know who we are or what we are up to. For all you know we have worked tirelessly for the kingdom for decades, having given up on our own hopes and dreams in order to fulfill God's will for our lives and make the best of these talents. What makes you think we aren't pastors, evangelists, missionaries, theologians, Christian educators, non-profit workers, or in some other way far more engaged in kingdom work than you might be? In fact, one of the people you are obviously addressing with this already admitted on this very forum, some 2 or three posts ago, that he is in the midst of working out this call that he feels for his life. The guy is in the process of stepping out in faith towards the works God has prepared for him in advance and here you are telling him he should be afraid for doing nothing. How does that make any sense?
Personally, I find your own reaction far more terrifying than the text itself. The text is actually comforting.
And the last is the most frequently preached: the description of the final judgement as the separating of the sheep and the goats, with the test being about how much you cared for those in visible need.
Again, your assumption here is that for some reason, we would worry about this. How do you know we don't work to help those in need full time? How do you know it isn't what we have dedicated our lives to? Don't project your own guilt to us.
For myself, I can offer the testimony that God has looked after me in some extraordinary ways over the years, giving me reason to believe that his promises offering a true hope for the future are worth trusting.
The insinuation here is that we've never had such experiences. What would make you assume that?
By the way, it's incorrect.
Ultimately we have a choice: live out the logic of believing in Jesus with all the unexplained bits that follow from that, or rejecting belief in God entirely - another choice that is not new, most elegantly expressed in Joshua 24: 'Choose today who you will serve'.
Again, you are under the assumption that you are serving God while those who disagree with you aren't. A bold and arrogant assumption, typical of pharisees.
Yes it's not easy - but one day we will discover that it was all worthwhile
Yet another assumption, that everyone that disagrees with you is taking the easy route.