To Be Known
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There I am walking down the street in the middle of the night. The glorious night sky fades behind the dim lights of the street lamps and I think to myself that this is an accurate reflection of my feelings tonight. I know there is something out there shining brighter than the lights of this city, but whatever it is seems too far away to enlighten me now.

I shift to the right as a girl approaches from the direction of campus. Her high-heeled boots clack with the determination of a student with an impending deadline. In contrast, my runners shuffle along directionless. As she nears I look up and focus my gaze to where I hope I can catch hers. In my mind I picture a brief moment where our eyes lock and she gives me a slight smile as if she intimately knows the pain and confusion I feel ; she wants me to know that it will get better. Back to reality…She is getting nearer and nearer and…she walks right on by without so much as a sideways glance. I turn away embarrassed and frustrated. Why did I think she would even notice me anyways?

When I look back on my life, moments like this one stand out because they reveal a deep longing. In that moment I was looking for an invitation. I wanted someone to invite me to share my true story with all of the sin and brokenness characteristic of human life. I wanted to be known. I wanted someone to be able to say “I know how messed up that guy is and I still love him.”

We all want to be known. The problem is that we cannot truly trust anyone to accept us after we have spilled our true thoughts and feelings on the ground. The simplest solution is to step into the role of a character we deem acceptable. Maybe we will be accepted as an athlete or a comedian. Maybe we will get friends if we party more or go on more dates. We walk around like actors playing the role of a lifetime; never breaking character even for a second. If anyone were to truly find out who we are they would surely never accept us. We believe that who we are is not as acceptable as whom we act like.

This, however, is a fake acceptance. We are not truly being accepted for we are, but for whom we want everyone to see.  I can say that I love Benedict Cumberbatch, but I really only love Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Cumberbatch is a regular human being, and that is simply not as interesting as a brilliant and narcissistic detective. In much the same way, when we are accepted for who we appear to be, we are not accepted for who we truly are. Therefore, we are not accepted at all.

I have discovered that true acceptance is found in Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks about Jesus, the Son of God, coming down to earth to live among men by taking on the form of a man (Phil. 2:6-8). He goes out of his way to understand everything that we go through and he meets with us in the mess of our lives. He sees through the characters we portray and loves us despite knowing who we truly are. He is the one inviting us to honestly admit that we have wronged God with our sinful thoughts and actions.

In a very real way it is comforting to know that Jesus knows all of my hidden thoughts and actions. He knows how arrogant and ignorant I am. Jesus knew all of my failures and the ways I have wronged Him and yet He still chose to take upon Himself the judgment of God I deserve for all of my sin, so that now I am washed clean and accepted by God (Rom. 5:6-11)! He shows me that it is not who I am or what I have done that has earned His acceptance. Rather, it is who he is and his rescuing love for me that makes me accepted by God. He was rejected, so I could be accepted. 

What is keeping you from experiencing true acceptance?

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31 thoughts on “To Be Known

  1. Bimisayo Adeyi

    You, sir, are an artist with words, painting a picture for us to feel. I hope many see this article and are inspired to get to know Jesus. Thanks for writing

  2. Iralie

    Or we could have faith in humanity and put our true selves out there.

    Or maybe we accept that we all play roles. Who I am when interacting with parents is different from the me that interacts with my friends, who is different from the me that interacts with my sexual partners.
    Tempering who we are around folks is a part of society.
    It is on us however to make sure that all those forms are still representative of the us at their core.

    Deities, such as Jesus or Vishnu, do not need to factor into it unless you’re finding yourself unfulfilled in life and unable to claim responsibility for your own path.

    1. Timothy Trouborst

      Iralie,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and for thinking over it enough to write something.

      You talk about an unfulfilled life in your post. How would you describe fulfillment?

      1. Iralie

        I’d say it is a personal definition that should not have an external stance pushed onto it.
        Fulfillment is subjective, and can be truly known only by an individual. One person’s fulfillment will not be anothers.

        Perhaps you could be as kind to give me your own definition of an unfulfilled life?

        Perhaps the narrator in the vignette above just needs to be willing to reach out to the woman who walks past.
        Maybe she was hoping that the person walking towards her would reach out.
        Hopes need to have human agency behind them for them to be realised.

        1. Timothy Trouborst

          When I think of an unfulfilled life I think about Andre Agassi. Not because his life was so terrible, but because of what he said after he won his first Wimbledon title after three previous defeats. He calls it the “dirty little secret” saying that the pressure to win only increased after he won. He accomplished his goal and was rewarded with the feeling that he needed to do more.

          Clara Hughes is another example. She is an athlete who won multiple medals at both the summer and winter Olympic games. She openly speaks about her struggles with depression after she won her first two medals. It was supposed to be her top accomplishment and yet it didn’t satisfy her as she trained for the next Olympics.

          Fulfillment implies purpose. There must be a purpose or an end (or a hope) that is realized to experience fulfillment. It makes sense that people with such diverse beliefs and values, as we have on earth, would have different senses of purpose and therefore different senses of fulfillment.

          The problem comes when we see people like Andre Agassi who spent their whole lives striving towards one purpose which they believed would fulfill them, but in the end did not find that fulfillment. Instead they found a deeper longing for something more. So it is when the standard of fulfillment is determined by ourselves. We find that once we have reached our goal that there is still more to strive for. It appears that if fulfillment is subjective only those strong enough to convince themselves that they are fulfilled will ever feel fulfilled. If fulfillment is subjective you must work hard your entire life to feel fulfilled and maybe even then feel completely dissatisfied.

          The Bible presents another option. It says that fulfillment is found outside of yourself in the love of Jesus Christ. God tells us to stop working so hard to accomplish things that will not fulfill us. He has already given us everything that could ever satisfy us: a relationship with the God of the universe, experiencing His love and grace freely and without striving. He invites us to delight in Him and love Him and thereby fulfill the purpose He has created us for.

          1. Iralie

            I would say that the “fulfillment” that Agassi and Hughes were chasing was an external fulfillment.
            It was not their own idea of fulfillment, but other peoples’.

            Deities are like the sports fans.
            They hold up their own ideas of what makes a happy and fulfilled life, rather than leaving it up to an individual to decide their path.

            And at least in my philosophy I am not a slave created for the purpose of loving a creator-deity, but a being able to pick their own dreams and goals.

          2. Timothy Trouborst

            I think you raise a good point about external fulfillment. Most of what people strive for is external. What is the difference between internal and external fulfillment? How is writing a good essay different from winning Wimbledon?

            You also talk about the “freedom” (if I may infer the word in your reply) people have to pick their own dreams and goals. What do you believe is true freedom?

          3. Iralie

            I would differentiate between goals chosen by one’s self, and goals that we feel obliged to set by society. Short-handed to internal and external goals.

            Winning Wimbledon, if doing it for ourself and away from the eyes of the tennis fans, is an internal goal. However in a mass media world where sports stars are celebrities with little privation, it can only ever be an external goal.

            And freedom is hard to define… I suppose ultimately true freedom is the ability to act to one’s own choosing.
            However this raises various questions on determinism and also social control and whether or not that limits freedom or simply defines the realms in which we want to act. I shall think on that, and how societies act to people breaking their norms.

            Perhaps you could give me your own definition of “freedom”, but it true or otherwise.

          4. Timothy Trouborst

            When talking about freedom I might distinguish between “freedom from” and “freedom to.” Freedom from is freedom we gain from something. A good example is when a slave is set free they are free from having to obey their master. Freedom to is the freedom we have to do things. You see this in the form of freewill.

            I do not believe that “true” freedom exists in the sense that we can be free from everything and free to do everything. For example if I demonstrate the freedom from paying taxes then I lose the freedom to live in society or live in that country. Maybe for a consistent example we can go back to Wimbledon. If I quit tennis to gain freedom from external goals and external fulfillment then I lose the freedom to use my tennis skills to win Wimbledon.

            The same goes for our choices. We can be free to make whatever choice we want, but we are not free from the consequences. If I exercise my freedom to not study for my exam then I do not become free from the consequences of failing it. Or how about if I choose to study and do well on my exam then I surrender my freedom to fail the course. That may sound counterintuitive, but just because the consequence is a desirable one it does not mean you are free from it.

            God gives us the ability to make our own choices and choose our own freedoms. He offers freedom from sin and from an eternity separated from Him and the freedom to love and to follow Him. On the other hand He offers freedom from Himself and His love and the freedom to pursue every desire of your heart, even the most destructive ones. Either way you gain and lose certain freedoms. Either way you gain consequences you cannot control. One consequence is an eternity with a God who deeply loves you and desires you, the other is an eternity separated from Him and His love.

            It is not an easy choice to make. I know that every day there are choices I want to make and freedoms I want to exercise. And often I choose still those freedoms. I choose lust and I choose pride and jealousy and bitterness. I choose to judge people based on how they look. Then I am reminded of how valuable Jesus is. That the God who created the universe loves me and chose me and accepts me. I do not deserve that, Iralie. I am not worth the trouble. The freedom to love and be loved by an infinite and eternal God is more precious to me than any other freedom.

          5. Laurella

            I really enjoyed the story and the message along with it. I, for one can entirely relate to this longing ‘to be known’. I experience that craving everyday. I think it is directly connected to our fundamental need for love. Something as simple as genuine smile or “how are you doing?” on this sea of a campus fulfills that–only if just for a moment.

            In response to Iralie’s comments:

            I found it interesting how you commented on freedom being fulfillment; freedom being defined as–by yourself–as having the choice to do as he or she desires. Yet previously you regarded internal fulfillment as being set by an individual. That very definition of freedom however though is not an individual invention, it’s merely a reflection of the western definition of freedom.

            I can see by reading both of your trains of thoughts, you both come from very different worldviews. It is invigorating to dialogue but suppose one or both of you discuss more fundamental beliefs which presuppose everything you have said in your comments. Here is a fundamental truth to discuss which will help each other to understand the nature of belief systems you hold:

            Is there absolute truth?

          6. Iralie

            I agree Laurella, we humans are social creatures.
            We crave to feel part of a group, it is a natural desire of not just apes, but many creatures. Companionship is important.

            In answer to your concluding question: I do not believe there is an absolute truth… well, other than perhaps that there is no absolute truth.
            Only by embracing the meaninglessness and ephemerality of life can humans find true happiness.

            I regarded “internal fulfilment” as being set by the self, and “external fulfilment” as being set by something outside the self.

            And it is almost certainly inspired by the fact I have lived in western societies my whole life; that rather colours my outlook.
            However it does go someway to also supporting moral relativism.

            Individuality too is a recent, mostly western, invention. However do we choose to put individuals to the grindstone of progress?
            Arguably yes, but it is done without admitting it. The west pays lip service to individual rights.
            Does that undermine the validity we see of them? (At least I presuppose you see validity in individual rights.)

            But back to the point on freedom, though I shall continue to argue that fulfilment is the ability to choose ones goals and work towards them without external condemnation for it; I do not posit that happiness is the freedom to murder indiscriminately… well for some individuals it may be, but perhaps those are the individuals who I will prejudge on their philosophy and be willing to put to the grindstone of society?
            Or maybe they could be permitted to kill each other, an opt out of murder as a crime as it were?

          7. Timothy Trouborst

            Iralie, I agree with you about the false dichotomy of freedom from and freedom to. I believe they are different sides of the same coin and I think I show that in my examples. Each freedom from has a freedom to and so they are the same freedom. I think it’s important to acknowledge the difference between them in order to understand what I call “consequences” and what you call “followings of our actions.” When I say consequences I do not mean something that is imposed or pre-determined. I simply mean the effect of a cause. Some “followings” are pre-determined, though. For example if I throw an apple in the air it will fall down because of gravity. That is a natural following of the choice to throw an apple in the air.

            I think we both understand this but it is hard to reconcile because of our differing views on the existence of God. We will only circle in arguments if we don’t agree on that point.

            To respond to your comments about truth I think it is rather convenient to say that the only absolute truth that exists is that there is no absolute truth. However, even in saying that you are saying that there is no absolute truth so that the statement you said has no meaning. You said that absolute truth doesn’t exist so the statement that absolute truth doesn’t exist is not an absolute truth. Rather, it is a belief held by faith.

            I believe that there must be absolute truth. We experience absolute truth every day. If one person says that 2 + 4 = 13 and another says that it equals 6, then I think it is easier to believe that one person is wrong and the other is right than to think that they are both right. Even if the person who said “13” just said the wrong number, they were both thinking about the same thing. There is one right answer to that question.

            Again, though, I do not think we will be able to come to a reconciliation on these points. The fundamental belief we disagree on is the existence of God. That may be a better direction to take this discussion.

          8. Timothy Trouborst

            Lauralee,

            Thank you so much for commenting. I really appreciate that you identify with the same longings that I have. I know what you mean that it helps you “if only for a moment.” I experienced a view of those “moments” of acceptance over the years, but I have also experienced a lot of moments of that desire and longing. You talk about it being connected to our need for love. What do you believe love is? Do you believe that there is a true and pure love?

          9. Iralie

            Except it is not quite predetermined, since there is a possibility of quantum tunneling, the apple being grabbed by a passing swallow; all sorts of things could stop the apple falling back down.
            It may be expected, and it may most certainly be the most common.
            However I am glad to see that you take those tenants of the scientific method and apply them to gravity – which is one of the problems modern science would like to solve.
            I continue to maintain that consequences are something that one can not be free from, because there is no way for them to limit (in the terms of this discussion) your freedoms.

            To say that there is no absolute truth, well it depends on what you mean by truth.
            For all we know in your “2 + 4 = 13” the mistake was that the question was meant to read “5 + 8 =”; no person sets out with the mind to be false or incorrect.

            But you are right, the fundamental difference in our beliefs is that mine conclude with the lack of existence of any deities, while yours follow from the assumption that there is one/three deity/ies.

            To which I ask you if there is a reason for believing in your trinity that can not be applied to any other theist belief?
            Of course substituting in various deity names, holy scriptures, and the like.

          10. Timothy Trouborst

            That is such a good question, Iralie. I think one of the main differences between the trinity and other deities is grace. I think other deities speak of grace and mercy, but there is always the idea of earning that mercy tied to it. For example, in Islam Allah will grant mercy to whom he grants mercy. Which does sound a lot of like grace, however mercy is only ever granted to those who do what Allah wills and even then you may not receive mercy.

            The Bible talks about grace that is not earned or deserved. We are a people who have rejected a holy God. When I say holy I mean specifically a God who is eternal (timeless), infinite (spaceless) and morally excellent (void of any evil and only chooses what is good all the time). To disobey and reject an infinite and eternal God deserves an eternal punishment. However, God chose to send His Son to earth to bear the punishment so that humans do not have to. He must give out the punishment to be a just God, but He judged to take the punishment upon Himself.

            That is grace. I deserve death and eternal separation from God, but instead I get an eternal life with God and I didn’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. Like receiving gift I merely responded with gratitude.

            That is the main difference. I did not do anything to earn salvation. All other deities require that salvation or enlightenment or any other reward be earned in one way or another.

          11. Iralie

            So if one does not have to do anything to earn The Trinity’s mercy, is one saved by default?
            That is good news to all the people who follow other religions or no religion at all.

            Or is accepting The Trinity as your Lord and Saviour what one has to do to earn the saving grace?

            Additionally I would point out that your argument reads thus:
            I believe in my deity because I believe the surrounding myths.

            I’m sure you’re smart enough to see how that is not a sound reason; and how it really doesn’t measure up to showing your deity more likely to exist than any other deity.

          12. Timothy Trouborst

            Sorry Iralie, I think I got caught up and misinterpreted your question. I read it at first more like “What sets the Trinity apart from other deities?” Sorry for that miscommunication.

            I think it’s a good question about what one has to do to earn the saving grace. It is interesting that the Bible never says to “accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.” The Bible says to believe in Jesus which means to believe that He is Lord. Jesus is Lord whether you accept Him or not. I do not think that believing in Jesus can be equated to earning grace. It is like if a man is drowning and a helicopter search and rescue team comes to his aid. They lower down a rope and he grabs on. No one will say that he deserved to be rescued and earned his rescue because he grabbed onto the rope. They will say that the search and rescue team rescued him. So it is with God. He promises grace to those who turn to Him and believe in Him. That is like grabbing the rope and trusting that the search and rescue team will pull you up. It is not earned.

            However, again, I do not believe we can come to reconciliation on this topic. If you believe that all of this is a myth and just made up by humans so that I can feel better about myself then it really has no value to you. If saving grace is a man-made idea then grabbing the rope certainly does earn that saving grace. But if it is an objective reality then grabbing the rope does nothing to earn saving grace.

            To actually answer your question from before I think that one that separates the Trinity and is at the heart of the story of the Trinity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was not resurrected from the dead then frankly the Trinity does not exist. If He was then it clearly gives the Trinity some credit.

          13. Iralie

            Ganesa was resurrected by Shiva, and Lemminkainen was resurrected by his mother’s entreatment to the god Ukko.
            I guess that both those deities are as factual as The Trinity. They’re certainly both supported in the texts of the relevant religions/mythologies depending on where you draw the line.

            To me still it seems very much like the “cost” of grace is accepting Jesus Christ as the son of God, as ones lord and saviour.
            Lets reskin the analogy in a commercial setting.
            God is running a shop selling Grace, and all one has to do is hand over a voucher stating that you “accept Jesus as one’s Lord and Saviour” and in return you are given Grace.

            You picked an analogy about saving a life at sea, and I picked one set in a shop. They both tell of the same event, simply placing emphasis on different aspects of it.
            That both of our interpretations work could mean that the reality sits somewhere between the two, or maybe encompasses a lot more nuance that either of us has acknowledged.

            Still, if I am wrong and there is a deity similar to the Abrahamic god (any of his various incarnations) then I’ll talk my views over with him and have faith in his perfectly loving, perfectly just, nature.

            My reading of the Bible is more that Jesus preached compassion for one’s fellow man, who should be treated with respect; for we are all the son of God made in God’s image.
            Compassion and not judging were his most important tenants; and far more important to Jesus than believing that he was the son of a deity and/or a virgin.

            Though I guess you would say they are; again we reach an insurmountable difference in the basis of what we believe.
            However once again I posit that you argue from “a deity exists”, while I am arguing to “there is no reason to pick one deity over any other”.

          14. Timothy Trouborst

            Iralie, it does appear that we are arguing separate points. Let me reiterate my comment about Jesus. Unlike Genesa and Lemminkainen, Jesus was a historical person. It is arguably a historical fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and the evidence is worth looking into. William Lane Craig gives a talk on it if you’re interested.
            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/how-do-we-know-jesus-was-raised-from-the-dead-berkeley

            The difference between your image and mine is that this is real for me. To me drowning in the sea is a reality and I need God to save me because otherwise I will die. For you this is more like a shopping experience where grace is just one of many options. From my perspective grace is given by a loving God and from yours grace is just an option among many. I do not believe we can see grace the same way from these perspectives.

            I think it is difficult to argue that Jesus mostly just preached compassion for His fellow man. Jesus claims to be God several times in the Bible. Either He was struggling with mental health issues or He was right.

            What do you believe deities are?

          15. Iralie

            I think that Lemminkainen may well have been a real person.
            Accepting that there was a Jesus of Nazareth is not the same as accepting that he was resurrected by God.

            Beowulf is a mostly historical manuscript, which all stories were at that time. There was no concept of fiction even only 1000 years ago.
            Stories were true accounts – in part this is why a lot of old stories go out of their way to establish genealogies and place.
            Denmark is a place, the poem recounts some of their kings and events that happened around their leaders.
            It does not mean that Beowulf died fighting a dragon.

            As to what I think deities are?
            Fictional would be the first word that comes to mind… but a more complete answer to your question would be anthropomorphised explanations for natural events, the causes of which were unknown at the time.
            If one includes a pantheistic omni-conciousness or soul as a deity… well I’m agnostic about that. That sort of existence seems hugely more likely than an omnipotent humanoid.

            Anyhow, on the case of Jesus I feel that he claimed that all humans are the son of god; or at least all humans who are able to follow his teachings. This may be part of why when talking to the 12 he calls God: “your father”.
            The divinity that Christians accord him belongs to all humankind.
            Jesus’s prefered title being “son of man” helps to make this point, for are we not all the son of man? At least those of us that are sons.

            The claim to divinity could also be a metaphor. Most of Jesus’s claims to be god are indirect and involve not correcting folks.
            However I totally accept that he did claim to be the son of God, but feel his teachings imply we are all the son of God.
            There’s certainly a long continuum between actually being 100% divine and 100% human, and being mad.

            In response to the video you linked my response to it is thus (better given to the presenter than you, but I’d not want you to think I was ignoring it):
            That one has a religious experience is not proof that Jesus was resurrected; it is proof that one believes in a deity.

            Counting each gospel as an independent source that is different enough from each other to count as a separate source is more than a little suspect.
            To then say that because these 5 biblical sources support that Jesus was buried means one has to accept that the tomb was empty and he was resurrected.
            And the person giving the lecture doesn’t seem to understand what legend means since he implies that anything in plain language can not be a legend.
            He doesn’t give anywhere near enough elaborating upon things that I would want to know more about, such as the list of people who saw Jesus post-resurrection.
            Not to mention I could draw up a list of folks who thought they have seen aliens.

            He then once again presupposes an existence of a deity as a lynchpin of his argument. He just puts forward that “God resurrected Jesus is the most plausible explanation” and doesn’t do anything to support that.

            Interestingly his anecdote about finding Jesus that follows also supports my assertion that people in the modern day turn to religion when their life is hard and they feel lonely and let down seems to be true in his case.

          16. Iralie

            Firstly I would say that that part of my post is not more important than the rest of it.
            I would like you to engage with the totality of my post, not just pick out one part and ask me to respond to your riposte.

            However, to be a reasonable participant I shall answer this question in the hope that you’ll come back and address the rest of my points in due course.

            My assertion on turning to religion is pretty much contained within the prior post. i.e. that people “find” religion at times of hardship in their life when they want to be able to put the troubles and strife at the feet of someone other than themselves.
            It is cathartic to be able to divorce oneself from the events of one’s life, especially when times are hard. Moreover the whole message of organisations like “Power 2 Change” is one that could be construed as exploitative of the emotionally vulnerable.

            If you disagree with that perhaps you could tell me more about the way in which your organisation’s proselytising methods are conducted.

          17. Timothy Trouborst

            To respond to your earlier post. I believe the point I was trying to make was that Jesus’ resurrection is not regarded as a legend by many historical scholars and I believe William Lane Craig made that clear in his talk. There are real historians who have analyzed historical data and come to the same conclusion that it is reasonable to believe that Jesus’ resurrection is a fact.
            I think you raise some good questions about his talk, though. I would encourage you to look and see if you can find answers to them.

            Also, I think the Bible is very clear on Jesus’ divinity. In John 8:58 Jesus claims to be before Abraham (the divine quality of eternity). Jesus claimed the ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7). This was different from a human ability to forgive other men as the scribes are quoted as saying “Why does this man speak like that? he is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They realize that when he claims he can forgive sins he is saying that he is God. In John 14:9 Jesus says that whoever has seen him (Jesus) has seen the Father. He is saying that he is Jesus and that is why he was arrested by the religious leaders of the day.

            To respond to your assertion, I still don’t understand the significance of your assertion. Are you saying that because people turn to God for emotional reasons that God does not exist? Or are you saying that no one turns to religion out of reason or intellect? Or are you just saying that religious organizations exploit the emotionally vulnerable?

            I would disagree that people only turn to religion for emotional reasons. There are definitely people who believe in God because they have studied the evidence and come to a reasonable conclusion. Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell are two people who come to mind. They both set out to disprove God’s existence and ended up becoming Christians. I would also say that most people do not make any major life choices like this void from any emotion. Many people turn away from God because of anger or frustration or because they are going through hard times and they believe God isn’t listening.

            Power to Change realizes this and knows that especially in Canada we have students and citizens that think very critically and must have a reason for everything. That is a part of our culture. We need to know why! Power to Change invites speakers to talk to students about issues and barriers that prevent people from believing in God. Things like evolution and evil/suffering. These are very intellectual talks based on scientific and philosophical evidence.

          18. Iralie

            Jesus’s resurrection is regard as legend by almost everyone who is not Christian. Biblical “historians” tend to keep their papers within the theist community, and due to the circular nature of their argument they don’t get much mainstream appeal.
            Jesus as a historical character is regarded as fact though. He existed, that is not disputed.
            What is is solely using The Bible as evidence for one of the key tenants of the faith it promotes.

            John 14:9, and Mark 2:5-7 I use as evidence to support my own interpretation. Jesus’ divinity is our divinity. We can all forgive sins of our fellows, and we are all in the image of the Father. To see a human is to see the divine.
            Moreover none of your points do anything to undermine the significance I see in the fact that God is called referred to as the father of us all. c.f. The Lord’s Prayer. This is supported as mentioned above by Jesus calling God “your Father” when talking to the disciples.
            His choice of the title Son of Man reminds us of his similarity to us all; and besides the virgin birth was not in the Hebrew Bible but added when it was translated into Greek.

            I’ve been to some of the Power to Change (pretty sure they use a 2 on campus, but it does look much more sensible with the word ‘to’) meetings on campus. They’re certainly not what I’d regard as scientific.
            And the methods I have seen your organisation use on campus to me look to be exploiting the emotionally vulnerable. Which I understand, I mean – they’re easy to convert as they want a warm friendly group to feel a part of.
            Josh McDowell certainly seems to fall into that case, Lee Strobel there is less evidence for.
            One that stands out was people being told that they just needed to let go and cloak themselves in God’s love, rather than address why they were feeling bad and what to do about it. The quest to remove agency from human hands.

            However this is totally separate from the existence of any deity, which is not proved or disproved by the proselytising of that religions adherents.

            As to thinking critically, are you implying that is not a good thing?
            And to know why: isn’t that a core part of religion? To explain the world and our experiences.

          19. Timothy Trouborst

            I can see what you mean about the historical argument for Jesus. From your perspective these are Jesus’ disciples just writing up whatever they want and since you don’t personally know them you have a hard time believing what they wrote. I’m not a historian and as much as I would love to give you an argument for why the gospels should be taken more as a true history than as legend I’m not sure I can. That’s something I will definitely be looking into more.

            As for Jesus’ claim to be God I think you have to take it in the whole context of what He says. When He tells the disciples to call God their Father that must be taken in the context of His claims to divinity. For example in John 8:58 where He says “Before Abraham was, I am.” He didn’t just say “Before Abraham was, I was.” which would make more sense. He said “I am” and clearly is a claim to be the one true God. This is the name God gives Moses in Exodus 3:13-14 and as He was speaking to people who knew the law back and forth they would have know that. When the term Son of Man is used it only ever referring to Jesus. While it may seem like He is claiming to just be a human like everyone else, it more clearly comes from Daniel 7:13-14 (the only time this term is used in the old testament) where Daniel sees a vision of “one like the son of man” and is a messianic prophecy later fulfilled by Jesus. Jesus is claiming to be fully God and mysteriously fully human. He is like the son of man and yet there is another element to Him that is completely divine.

            I cannot speak on behalf of a particular part of Power to Change and their intentions so I will take your comments instead as a criticism of my article, which I think was your challenge in your first comment here. Am I right in saying that you believe that in what I am writing I am taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable people?
            I do not believe I am taking advantage of the emotionally vulnerable, but I do confess that this article in particular connects with more emotionally-minded people.
            I have a few questions for you about your challenge. First, if truth is relative it doesn’t matter what believe or why they believe it right? So what is the negative impact of making a choice based on emotions?

            Second, does placing more importance on truth believed by reason rather than truth believed by emotions go against the belief that truth is relative?
            I think that there is also a false dichotomy between choices based on emotions and reason. Most choices, especially those that impact you for the rest of your life are reasoned out with both logic and emotions (usually people tend to either one or the other more). For example if you say you got married because “it was the logical thing to do” not many people think that is a very good reason, rather saying that “you wanted to because you are delighted with and in love with this person” seems like a much better reason and is reason based on emotions. On the flip side if you say you got married because “you were blinded with love and you couldn’t do anything about it” even though they live in another country and you can’t get a visa so you won’t see them for 5 years someone might think that is nice, but also think you’re in for a big surprise when you’re married for a couple months. That would be a completely emotional choice and wouldn’t be very reasonable because there is no logic to it. So for a lot of choices I would say that people use both emotion and logic and they think critically about both.
            I was not implying that thinking critically is not a good thing, I was saying that our culture values reasoning from a more logical and scientific basis (maybe critical thinking was not the right wording) while in other cultures reasoning based on emotions is much more valuable. In that way I suppose all cultures want to know why and have a reason for why, but they are satisfied with different types of evidence.
            Then of course there is the issue of personality types where some people make choices based more on their emotions and others make choices based more on their thoughts and internal processing. mycravings is a website that has resources that tend to appeal more to emotional reasoning because our vision is to attempt to connect those cravings we have for purpose, love and acceptance etc. to Jesus as the true source of satisfaction. Other Christian sites like reasonablefaith.org or rzim.org appeal more to people who think logically and scientifically. Ultimately we all point to the same source to satisfy both our emotional cravings and our cravings for knowledge and truth, that is Jesus Christ.

          20. Iralie

            I’m glad to have given you something new to look into vis a vis the gospels holding up to non-Christian views.

            I’m not disputing the Jesus claimed divinity, I’m saying that it extends to all people – not just himself. Jesus was someone who took religion from the officials and the rich to the poor and downtrodden.
            His is a message of respect for all people, and not to follow an establishment.
            I know “I am” was an Old Testament name for Yahweh, and the allusions to it Jesus was making; I just don’t feel it counters my point.
            More over in John 14:28 Jesus says that “the Father is greater than I”.

            The idea of Jesus as fully divine was not firmly established until the council of Nicea in the 4th Century.
            It was a conservative event in my view, with an eye to quashing the radical Christian notions along lines that I have been postulating.

            Your article I would say is not directly taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable people. It does not seek them out and read itself at them, though others who read it may.
            That aim to tap into ones “unfulfilled emotional need” is to wrap the tendrils of religiosity about someone who could be going through a tough time, not settled in on campus, stressed, worried.

            Firstly I would like to clarify that I don’t see my emotional or logical as a dichotomy either. They need to be in harmony, which I am glad to see you agree with.
            Finding the emotional connections we humans, as social creatures, long for is important. But you want to know why, in a morally relative world, I take issue with religion proselytising; so I shall tell you.

            People, especially in the Americas, are bombarded with religion as -the- explanation to look to. It saturates their life, and is a hegemonic view which they can not escape.
            This makes it hard to make a reasoned or emotional choice on the matter. I have no problem with people accepting Jesus as their lord and saviour, but I feel they should have alternatives shown to them before being sucked in; especially if they’re someone just going through a rough patch of life – we all have them from time to time.

            Secondly it de-empowers people. Often religion is presented as a solution to problems, such as satisfying cravings for knowledge and emotional connection.
            However it does not necessarily do that – it just blinds people to other options. Gives them a defined truth, and teaches to look to something beyond theirself for the solution to their problem.
            It can act as a nice safety net, or safety blanket – but then does it need to be this religion over any other?

          21. Timothy Trouborst

            I don’t agree with you that Jesus’ divinity was only firmly established in the 4th century. The New Testament, which was written in the 1st century is full of declarations of Jesus’ divinity.
            For example, John’s gospel (John was a close disciple of Jesus) started off his gospel by declaring that Jesus is God when referring to Him as “the Word.” In John 20:28, the doubting disciple Thomas says to Jesus “my Lord and my God.” He is definitely recognizing Jesus’ divinity there.
            Colossians 1:15-20 also paints a clear picture of Jesus as God. Particularly vs 16 says “all things were created through him and for him”
            Hebrews 1 also goes through Old Testament scriptures that clearly referred to the one true God and attributes those texts to Jesus. It seems pretty clear that the earliest followers of Jesus had full confidence in His divinity and preached it regularly.

            I am glad to see we agree on the false dichotomy between the emotional and logical. I think we were just coming at them from opposite sides, believing the other was trying to create the dichotomy.
            I can see what you mean, Iralie, from your point of view that religion looks like a nice safety net, but doesn’t do much.
            I can see what you’re saying about our culture being bombarded by religion. It does come up in a lot of different ways and sometimes is very forceful and distasteful. However, I do not believe that it is only religion that is bombarding our culture. If you look at it from my perspective the culture is also being bombarded by morally relativistic ideas. Everyone is preaching tolerance and in our school system naturalism appears to be the only option. The conversation doesn’t appear to be open on either end, probably because we believe something so opposite.
            I believe in absolute truths while you believe that all truth is relative, except the truth that no truth is absolute, of course. So for you the goal may be for everyone to just have their own beliefs and live in peace even if they don’t agree on everything. For me that does not cut it. If I believe that you, Iralie, are going to live for an eternity in hell apart from God then the only option and only loving thing I can do is to warn you about it. I agree that sometimes people have used religion to spread a message of hate and war (eg. the Crusades, Westboro Baptist Church to name a few). I too believe that is totally wrong and would love to have more open conversations about it. Religion and Christianity in particular has a bad reputation for horrible methods of proselytizing, including war and execution. Christians, though, are also the most persecuted group of people in the world. I think it goes both ways and beliefs are pushed and forced on others from both sides.
            Again, Iralie, I believe this is a matter between life and death. If I truly believe that it would take a lot of hate for me to stop telling people about Jesus. You say that religion blinds you to the other options. I think we both operate under the assumption that if everyone had access to all the evidence they would choose to believe what we believe. We both believe that we are right and are confident about it. If Jesus really is God and really died so that we could be forgiven and live forever then it means everything for you. I believe this is the truth and that is why I am writing, not because I believe it can “work for you” or “improve your life”right now, but because if it is true then it is all that really matters.

          22. Iralie

            You certainly are doing what you do for the right reasons, and I respect that. Beliefs are certainly pushed on both sides, and people from all faiths or lack thereof are complicit in behaviours I don’t think are reasonable. (Dawkins for sure can be a more than a bit of an imbecile.)

            And it is not that I think you have less access to evidence than me, but just that a lot of the questions I will answer with a “don’t know”, or “random chance”, you will answer with “God did it”.

            Personally, and this is probably very arrogant of me, I would think a loving God would be understanding of my reasons and decisions in my life.
            I also think it is very unlikely there is one or more deities, and if there is it seems to me just as likely to be Zoroaster as JHWH.

            There is also that out of love for a human, and the free will that God has given them you could let them make their mistakes. After all, it is not likely that anyone in the west does not know the tenants of Christianity.

            There is also the argument that to anyone who does not believe Religion A and Religion B, there is just as much to support either of them.
            It flies in the face of Religion B for Religion A to be taught in schools as if it is fact. In a pluralistic society to teach anyone religion as true is an affront to the others (not that I think any of them are right anyhow. =P)
            At which point teaching toleration and acceptance seems like a win for all involved, certainly if Christians are the most discriminated group in the world they can only benefit from more toleration.

            The reason that the council of Nicea was held was because they wanted to quash a line of “heretical” thought that Jesus was less than The Lord that had been present since the early days of Christianity.

            John’s Gospel and letters were written to directly counter the claims of groups who believed this such as the Ebionites; it is why he adds in a lot more “proof” of Jesus’ divinity over the 3 early gospels. (According to Wikipedia Ebionites used a Hebrew version of Matthew.)
            However the trend in Christian thought continued through to Arianism in the 4th Century; which the Council of Nicea was convened explicitly to address. They declared it heretical and excommunicated the main personalities in that version of Christianity – much as Luther would later be excommunicated for contradicting Catholic doctrine.

          23. Timothy Trouborst

            I really appreciate the common ground we’ve found here, Iralie. I want to answer your last point first and then get to the rest. I think that what happened was I thought you were saying that no Christians believed in Jesus’ divinity until the council of Nicea. Sorry for that miscommunication.

            As for your thoughts about why should Religion A be better than Religion B, I agree that our education system should be more inclusive to more thoughts. I guess that would be a lot to teach, but perhaps it would help students think more critically then they do right now. It would help Christians to better defend what they believe as well as Muslims Hindus and Atheists and Agnostics and every one else. I guess that’s a more lengthy discussion, though.

            If you’re interested in hearing about why should one choose Jesus over other religions I have a link to a video by Ravi Zacharias if you like.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phVakkGSle0

            Also, if you email me at t.trouborst@gmail.com and let me know which campus you’re from I’m sure I can find someone to give you a copy of his book “Jesus Among Other Gods.”

          24. Timothy Trouborst

            Lauralee,

            Thank you so much for commenting. I really appreciate that you identify with the same longings that I have. I know what you mean that it helps you “if only for a moment.” I experienced a view of those “moments” of acceptance over the years, but I have also experienced a lot of moments of that desire and longing. You talk about it being connected to our need for love. What do you believe love is? Do you believe that there is a true and pure love?

          25. Iralie

            I think you dichotomy of “Freedom From” and “Freedom To” is a false one.

            To take the freed slave for instance freedom from following the master’s orders,is that not the same as the freedom to work for oneself?
            Also I dispute your claim that “consequences” are something we are “free” from; they are simply the followings of our actions.
            Everything will have consequences, to imply that we are chained to the future is to accept pre-determinism and reject choice; and I presume that you do not reject choice due to the vital role it plays in “Power 2 Change”‘s proselytising efforts.

            You seem to be using the common tactic of muddling the usage of words with many subtly different meanings.

            Moreover I also argue that there is no choice between loving the deity (or deities) of your choice and living the life you want to lead.
            At the very least I have done a pretty good job of choosing to keep jealousy, bitterness, and judging people on looks from my life – the lust, and pride still very much there however.
            But I do see this as a failing or my own weakness, but a part of what makes me human.

            The aspects I have rejected are as they come from worry over unchangeable things, or basing our own worth on other people’s.

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