I was in a very large house, at least 3rd or 4th floor, reatively dark, roomy environment. My position included some military responsibility, but no high degree of that, and the house was something like a military base or headquarter. There was a woman, perhaps end of 20, brown hair, nice and normal appearance, with her child, perhaps 4 years. Both were clothed in bright or white clothes. There were soldiers moving all around, clothed in black, and many weapons and military equipment stood around. I commanded one of the heavily armed soldiers to be the personal soldier of the woman and child, and the intention was that he should bring them "out of here" or "back home", I don't know exactly. It was a dangerous mission, though I don't knwo why (war outside?) or how dangerous. I told the woman, this is your personal soldier, take good care of him. (I now think it was in the sense of: "Take care that you don't lose him, as he's the only one to protect you out there.") They went off together. The last thing I saw was a collection of some strange black rifles standing all in a row.

That was the dream. I dreamt it on 2008-04-18 right before waking up (which was 9 o'clock), and the strange thing was that it was really fluent though no connection to recent personal experiences could be made. Now the question is if it relates in any way to a prayer that I had prayed the evening before when going to bed: to see somewhat of the future, in the sense of, "God, let me see the world somewhat more from your perspective."

If yes, the interpretation would probably be that our walk in this world is always dangerous, as a spiritual war is going on. But there are "personal soldiers" from God's army, assigned to us to protect us and bring us through.

I think that my new interest in dreams as a means ba what God maybe wants to communicates something to us comes from a blog post about dreams in NT times, with some good quotations, that I read in the last days.

What I call “decadent faith” is, in my perception, an ubiquituous
symptom of us
Christians in advanced civilizations, it aggregates most of our
spiritual illness symptoms. So let’s look at these symptoms, and at
causes and solutions.
But first, let me define my use of terms:

is an aggregate term for specific attitudes, thoughts and
behavior of reborn Christians. Something is covered by “decadent
if it is an inadequate reaction to the Gospel, and if that reaction is
triggered by excess of resources and softness of conditions, not by
scarceness and hardness.

for the scope of this article, shall mean only the basic proposition
that Jesus Christ is the atonement for sin and the way to eternal life.
This article assumes this as true. So we
leave it to others to discuss if decadent faith is at all an

Note that “decadent faith” is no “thing” but a concept: an aggregate
for a set of symptoms that I believe cohesive enough for a common term.
You may believe these symptoms to be unrelated. But in any
case, we started
analyzing symptoms of a problem or problems, and that’s just fine for

Symptoms of decadent faith

Symptoms are the perceivable part of a problem, and might become
clearest by example. So to make
you aware of them, here’s a totally (science-)fictional, exaggerating
text that concentrates the symptoms of decadent faith. Symptoms are
annotated with
proposed names.

Service in the “Cocoon Church of Greatest Richness”

So here I go. What I really like about
the church I’m going to is that it did never made me change in
character in all these 5 years [people
change in homeopathic ways
]. I really cannot see any necessity
to change; changes only would threaten my private pension insurance, my
long-searched-for safe job or the emotional and financial security of
me and my family. I’ve heard about this “sanctification” approach to
Christianty. But it never had much appeal to me, as I’ve never lived
a really unholy life. There might be born-again Christians, but I’d
rather depict me as a born-as Christian because I cannot remember any
event that “made” me a Christian. Rather, I was raised in Christianity
by my parents, who introduced me to that Jesus ‘n’ grace stuff and all
that [conversion experienced
as a smooth transition

Perhaps two years ago, I did regret that
there was so few “history” in my life. A radical conversion
experience is a good amount of history, for example. Because, I was
hardly able to tell my children any meaningful and
justified thing about God. But then, they founded a high-level Bible
study group in our church, and I joined, and suddenly I had words to
teach my children with: the problem of Arminianism vs. Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism,
of supralapsarianism
vs. infralapsarianism
, stuff regarding theism vs. misotheism,
pandeism and panentheism etc. [eloquent
theological verbalization as a surrogate for experience
]. Also,
this group introduced some incense burning and compulsory cassock
wearing in the Sunday service, to increase the “experience value” [liturgy as a surrogate for

Anyway, here we are. Please note the
large, backlighted stained-glass window above the entrance; it’s surely
worth its 25.000 bucks, as we intensely desire to be an inviting,
sinner-friendly church [smooth
church performance
]. Wait … please come here, we’ve gotta
avoid that group to the right. They’re standing there every Sunday and
present their missional living experiences to each other, and share
new techniques [club-style
]. It really sucks to hear them chatting and boasting [club-level “seriousness”]
… they
all present themselves to be super-blameless [hiding weaknesses] [lack of authenticity] [self-conceit (difference between
claim and truth)
]. Until the service starts, let’s rather join
group on the left. This is the high-level Bibly study group that I jus’
mentioned. I
wanna present my newest advancements in higher-order theology to them.
It’s always fun to philosophy with them about God … it makes God
appear more vague and distant and, that way, even more interesting [God,
reduced to a chat topic
]. This
seems to be o.k. for God, as I cannot remember that he has commanded us
to do different at any time [assenting
a theory replaces
impacting faith

Ok, lets proceed, service starts soon
now. But … umh, wait, I’ve gotta get rid of some bucks over there.
No, these are no posters from Misereor, these are the depressed, needy
and sick members of our church. They don’t feel like going to church,
or cannot walk. So we
pay some psychiatrists, physicians, social education workers and life
coaching people to get them on track again [social distance]. Umh …
yes, we experimented with doing that on our own ten years ago, but that
was when our church had less fund. It was also very stressy … these
people are hard to love if you meet them, but paying money is o.k. for
me. You see, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, not the people who
are that far away as Africa!

Please come here, we need to sit a good
distance away from that old guy there. He’s always going to ask me why
my wife no longer comes with me to church. I told him again and again
that she has a higher-order cultural taste than us and finds our church
performance quite boring [church-going
to make for a nice change, not out of necessity
]. I even took
two brothers with me and told him. But this guy won’t change his mind.
may he be to you like the publican and sinner.

Well then, let me prepare you for the
sermon somewhat. Our pastor will speak about 500 sentences, and most of
them contain “grace”, “blood”, “lamb”, “atonement”, “expiation”,
“righteousness”, “depravity” and a few more words, in varying order [overrepeated religious
] [lack of
experience-backed faith, even among preachers
]. If that seems boring to you,
remember that truth is not always the most exciting thing on earth, but
the most valuable. And surely, the words of our pastor are true, as he
learned them on the noble “Bible College of Greatest Richness” where he
went just after school [true
words without power
] [true
words without effects in peoples’ lifes
]. Perhaps
you’ll one day reach the state of us regular
visitors: we hear these sermons but don’t analyze the sentences
mentally to
understand them while hearing. We don’t need to, as we know the message
of God’s grace from child age, and also the fact that we’re believing
it [the Gospel is a mere
habit, not fresh content
] [the gift of grace does not touch us
any more

But … ok, I forgot something. Before
the sermon we will now hear some reports from our TDTF (theological
discovery task force), which will point out the most interesting new
doctrines [new doctrins],
theological debates [theological
], theological systems [creating a distant Jesus]
and promises [hoping mostly
for things, not Jesus
] that came up in
the last week. The meaning is fairly clear, isn’t it? No? We’re going
to keep the people interested in new things. That’s valuable — for
example, it
opened the door to the heart of the Athenians for Paul.
(Did you never read Acts
? … tsss tsss). And, after all, it’s awfully necessary as
the people won’t come to church if they get bored here [dependence on amusement and
]. What do you think why we finally allowed in
(since 2021-12-02) to fall over, wave banners, laugh out crazily [extremely “charismatic” faith style],
train telepathy with God, do holy-spiritual telekinetics, make healing
oil with soused relics, and more like that. We’re simply bored most of
the time [being bored more
than 5% of ones time
] and need something to do (and we think God
will understand). Some like fundamentalistic, theological discussions
better [being a conceited
], some like pietism of various forms better [searching higher-order Christianity]
and some like the spiritual gifts better. Our church offers all these,
so no one needs to get bored.

What do you mean, you suspect these
activities to be not central in the Christian faith? It all starts with
Jesus, that’s right. But I rather suspect that Jesus ist not central in
Christian faith, as sin is one of the least significant problems for
the people here. Man, the people here learned about Jesus, grace and
forgiveness from their earliest childhood on. Most of them asserted to
be sinners before the age of nine, and lived a sheltered, relatively
sinless life from then on [to
never have experienced ones dreadful quality really
] [infinite pride/sin cycles,
resulting from not seeing ones badness
]. We don’t need much
grace, as we don’t have much sin [moderate meaning and effect of law
and grace
]. So we needed to fill our practical faith life with
other occupations … do you want to blame us for that?

It simply cannot be that these
occupations are not according to God’s will … as we wouldn’t have any
spiritual experiences without them. You see, there may be other people
who need God to provide bread for their next day … here, we go
and buy it, and if we don’t have money we raise a credit, and if we
cannot raise a credit we lend from friends, and if we cannot lend from
friends we go on social welfare, and if that fails we go to the local
food bank [seeing no need for
]. And we really enjoy living in this blessed paradise of
fivefold redundancy [missing
the experience that the world is desolate
]. It’s the same in all
areas of our smooth, blessed life [lack of intensive experiences]
[death as a taboo] …
so we’re forced to create some experiences and occupations like
spiritual experiences, Christian culture, Christian contemporary music,
Christian systematic
theology and Christian lifestyle, to not get bored to death [caring about vanities, as abundance
pushed “being a
sinner in a desolate world” below the threshold of perception
] [fiction and art as a main topic of

Ok then, let’s listen to the sermon as is
our duty now … . I think you’ll have an interesting time as our
pastor is always well-prepared for the service [business-style Christianity].

Quick now, lets get to the aftersermon
buffet before all the other people get in queue. After the service,
it’s the best time to train yourself in chatting and smooth social
behavior [small talk,
indicating social distance
]. Especially, please avoid to
disagree with people when talking. My
brothers and sisters here are very damageable, even by moderate
criticism, moderate quarelling in church or very moderate mistreatment
by others [being totally
]. You need to understand, it’s a byeffect of
living this happy sheltered life … they simply never got used to the
intensity of real-life problems.

Also, you must be careful with them for
your own sake. If you point them to their weakness, they might get
angry with you, or might cancel long-lasting
friendship, or might become unforgiving, or forsake church, or
something else. I for my
part think it’s not advisable to put myself into danger [fear of humans] [taking humans more important than

Huh? What’re you saying, guy? You suspect
a church like ours is not viable in a world like this? Are you mad? Did
I bear you the whole day and shew you around just to hear ungrateful
words of a bugger? Did
I explain all these things in holy patience to you just to be treated
like this? You’ve offended not only the Holy Church of Greatest
Richness, but also me as its member.

So get your ass outta here!!

Triggers of decadent faith

According to the definition at the start, decadent faith means
inadequate reactions to the Gospel that are triggered by “excess of
resources and softness of conditions”. So only if we can point out how
abundance and comfort can lead to all of the mentioned symptoms, we’re
justified in aggregating them as “decadent faith”. We mean “abundance
and comfort” both in the material and spiritual realm.

Others might assign
“non-saving, mere mental-assent faith” as an alternative cause for
decadent faith. Here I
don’t, as this article is for Christians only. If you’re unsure if this
applies to you, check
. Basically, Christians are those who take Jesus Christ seriously
… if combined with decadent faith, to a basic degree only.

We will only look at the static aspects of decadent faith: how it
“can be there”, i.e. how it can be a static result of static
conditions. The static concitions include “excess of resources and
softness of conditions” per the hypothesis above, and
unchangeable conditions of man and mankind.

We won’t look at the dynamic aspects. The dynamic aspects include
its genesis as a social phenomenon, and its genesis as an individual
phenomenon. The latter applies to people who experienced a change of
conditions, i.e. those who did not have material and spiritual
“abundance and comfort” from their very birth on. To explain the
genesis of decadent faith, we would need complex models (those using
feed-back). Because, abundance and comfort
normally don’t just “appear” but develop in interdependency with the
of faith.

Ok then, here’s my understanding how abundance and comfort trigger
all of the symptoms of decadent
faith. It’s written in tree-style: a parent entry is a trigger to all
its child (i.e. sub-list) entries.
The order of subsequent entries on one
level of a list however has no meaning, it’s just an unordered list.
Symptoms that are written in grey are those from the fictional text

Of course it’s simplified to let each thing have only one trigger
(we mention just the most important one); that way, the tree structure
stays possible. To
maximize your light bulb moments when reading it, go from leafs to
i.e. from symptoms to triggers.

  • excess of resources and softness
    of conditions —
    This applies both to the material realm (living
    in advanced civilizations) and the spiritual realm (being born into a
    Christian family and culture, or being a Christian for a really long
    time). Therefore, all the effects that follow might be interpreted both
    for the material and spiritual realms. But keep in mind that conditions
    in the material realm also have effects of one’s faith; you may take
    the following citation from Jesus as a direct support for that: “Truly
    I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom
    of heaven.” [The
    Bible, ISV, Mt 19:23
    • over-education —
      Because excess makes us seek means to use it, for example by converting
      it into higher education than needed to live.
      • God, reduced to a chat topic

        Because over-educated middle-class citizens always need something to
    • to never have experienced ones
      dreadful quality really
      Because with excess of
      resources, we build up highly comfortable life conditions that never
      present situations to us that we cennot handle, also we build up a
      Christian counterpart for everything and may therefore live in our own
      parallel universe, separated form the non-Christian world which could
      also show us that we’re not spiritually mature.
      • seeing no need for God

        • moderate meaning and effect of law
          and grace
          who hear about Jesus the Messiah and never exprienced that they
          desparately need him are quickly bored and get on other ideas. The
          cross is not the central element in the faith of many 
          evangelicals as they
          cannot see a need for that and never really understood it. Because
          grace can only be understoof at the point of
          repentance, and intensive repentance experiences are rare in the life
          of many people. Jesus put it this way: “her sins, as many as they are,
          have been forgiven, and that’s why she has shown such great love. But
          the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” [The
          Bible, ISV, Lk 7:47
        • the gift of grace does not touch us any more
        • the
          Gospel is a mere habit, not fresh content
        • searching higher-order Christianity
          Those who never understood what a big thing it is to be saved
          and that they really needed it, are endangered to search for a “big
          thing” themselves: some form of a “higher” Christian life.
        • hoping mostly for things, not Jesus
        • wanting to live without
          God —

          Because as long as people don’t see their need for God, they can give
          themselves into what man always is endangered to do: trying to be God
        • people change in homeopathic ways
        • self-conceit (difference between
          claim and truth)
          is every kind of
          believing better about oneself than adequate, every kind of not
          recognizing ones true condition. Because
          conceit is always triggered where the outer circumstances are different
          the inner condition. Examples include the times when Israel got blessed
          by God, as this is something it did not earn or deserve. Likewise,
          being a wretched man who never experiences his wretchedness triggers
          the conceit of being
          spiritually mature, comparable to the Laodicaeans [The
          Bible, ISV, Rev 3:17
          • lukewarmness
            • club-level “seriousness”
            • club-style behavior
          • being a conceited fundamentalist
      • ignoring or not perceiving
        God’s education —
        People who never felt an intensive need to be
        educated by God and his Spirit don’t know how to recognize God’s
        education. So they miss it in their everyday life, also because it is
        drowned by all the Christian things around, including the “full blown
        Christian doctrine” that is oh-so-well-known.
      • lack
        of experience-backed faith, even among preachers
        preachers who live in advanced civilizations use the right words but
        lack relevant of
        experiences with what they preach; Paul was a preacher who
        had experienced himself what he believed: he knew by himself what is
        being a sinner and being converted.
        • true words without effects in
          peoples’ lifes
        • true words without power
        • overrepeated religious vocabulary
      • assenting a theory replaces
        impacting faith
      • caring about vanities, as abundance
        pushed “being a sinner in a desolate world” below the threshold of
      • infinite pride/sin cycles,
        resulting from not seeing ones badness
    • stability — Because
      excess of resources allows to level out any changes that are caused by
      external conditions.
      • lack of intensive experiences
        with excess of resources, we have no needs, and therefore no
        intensive motivation or practical demand to experience the concrete
        help of God. Another cause for lack of experience might be “little
        faith”,as this repeatedly kept Jesus from performing miracles in some
        areas while on earth.
        • fear of humans; taking humans more important than
          Because with lack of experience, we perceive God
          as distant, while humans are near, visible and impressive.
        • not really believing —
          Because human beings are unable to believe what is permanently
          invisible in any way whatsoever, and that’s the case where experiences
          with God are absent. The result is that trusting God remains a thing of
          theory, too weak for undertaking venturous steps of faith. This is
          detailed in the article “Oh
          ye of little faith!
        • extremely “charismatic” faith style;
          fake experiences —
          These are “idolatry” in the sense of using
          means to perceive a God as near who is believed to be distant. One
          common means is bullshitting
          oneself. This includes picking out
          some events as “blessings and works of God” that are in fact totally
          unrelated, with the purpose of feeling happy.
        • conversion experienced as a smooth
          Because without big changes in ones
          spiritual condition, conversion cannot be a big change either. People
          who where converted as adults have something to remember: conversion as
          a point, the difference between before and after, the experience of
          having been totally in error (e.g. like Paul: fighting against truth).
          But people who grew up in a stable Christian envirionment just have
          small conversion experiences (perhaps multiple of them), and these are
          endangered by forgetfulness (cf. also [The
          Bible, ISV, II Pet 1:9
        • liturgy as a surrogate for

          One reason to introduce liturgy, religious buildings etc. in
          Christianity might have been the distance in space and time from the
          life of Jesus on earth. People wanted to provide at least
          some kind of experience when “going to meet God”. But liturgy allowed
          then to reduce
          Christianity to outward forms; and we did this as such cultural matter
          are more fun and easier
          to handle than a relationship to God.
        • eloquent theological verbalization
          as a surrogate for experience
      • missing the experience that the
        world is desolate

        • being totally non-resilient
          Because if you never experienced the world as it is (harsh,
          brute, and full of selfish people), you never learned to deal with it.
      • selfish behavior —
        Because out of the security of a stable situation people allow
        themselves to be selfish, as there is no dependence or need left that
        would force people restrict themselves to better behavior. This can
        also be recognized by the fact that selfish behavior arises in
        stabilized denominations.
    • concentration on the visible
      elements of reality — Because excess
      of resources easily catches the  whole attention by sheer ubiquity.
      • losing the awareness of God’s
        reality — Because where visible
        things fill all our capability of perception, we lose the awareness
        that there is an invisible reality.
    • hiding weaknesses
      It’s always the intention of man to hide everything where his poor
      condition becomes visible. And with excess of resources it becomes
      possible. Highly civilized cultures, when becoming decadent, are
      perfect in hiding
      weakness: we won’t let others see our flat if not tidied up; we get the
      old, the sick and the criminals treated where we won’t see them; we
      kill the impaired before they’re born; we have our private areas and
      taboo topics. And Christians got perfect in hiding weakness, too. Some
      examples for that:
      • death
        as taboo
      • lack
        of authenticity
      • business-style Christianity
      • creating a distant Jesus
        Because such a Jesus cannot
        any longer encourage and demand to be authentic.
      • avoiding all situations, people
        and contents that could
        moral failure
        • social
        • small talk, indicating social
    • being bored more than 5% of ones
      Excess of resources includes excess of time,
      which is boredness.
      • theological quarrelling
        Because discussing the details is a good way to cope with boredness.
        These meaningless detail discussions brought us a wealth of Christian
        books on details … .
      • fiction
        and art as a main topic of discourse
        Because inventing entertainment
        as something to talk about is the easiest way to cope with boredness.
        It indicates that reality (of living in this world, and of being a
        Christian) is too smooth to provide enough to talk about.
      • church-going to make for a nice
        change, not out of necessity
      • smooth church performance
        Because only by a perfect, entertaining performance a church can
        motivate its bored believers to come.
      • new doctrins
        Because being bored makes people long for something new, both
        for the doctrinal and practical part of faith.
      • dependence on amusement and

Decadent faith in a nutshell

This will just summarize the findings … that’s just a description
of the problem of “decadent faith” and its triggers, but not yet any
hint to a solution. Keep in mind that a trigger is not a cause:
therefore, eliminating a trigger is not a solution, it just makes the
invisible for some time.

Decadent faith is hard to detect and to communicate, as it is an
uncommon trigger for a problem. As, normally, problems arise where
something is too few, too little, of too bad quality or in other wise
inferior. But the problem of decadent faith arises where our
circumstances are better, wealthier, of higher quality etc. than we can
handle. “We” means, human beings. Which include a good portion of an
old, selfish nature, even when the Holy Spirit was bestowed on them.
And this old nature takes these comfortable circumstances for an
opportunity to become “more independent” from God.

The practical effects are quite complex and diverse, as detailed
above. And there might be many more. The only thing they have in common
is that they’re failures (“sin”) that is triggered (“simplified”,
“favoured”) by wealthy and smooth conditions. There are other types of
sin which are not triggered that way, e.g. brutality, outrageous
revelries, excessive sexual perversity, outright fights etc.. These
seem to be the only (at least, the worst) sins to us Christians in
advanced civilizations, and that way we succeed in deeming us quite
spiritual. But in deed we are in a very sad, lukewarm, inconsequent,
decadent condition, full of sins of another sort.

So what then now? There’s little more in my head than “Let’s repent,
find our individual way out with the help of God, and then share our

Start date: 2008-03-20
Post date: 2008-04-02
Version date: 2008-04-15 (for last meaningful change)

This post should have never been written, as it cares too much about
theological concepts, and too little about trusting Jesus. But now that
it is there I won’t throw it away. But also, I won’t polish it to be
outwardly perfect, instead publish it as a sort of thought collection.
Perhaps somebody might get inspired to something meaningful by it … .

To identify Christians, we first need to define what we mean: a
Christian is somebody who is saved by Jesus Christ. Being saved means
to have the promise of individual eternal life. One gets saved by
faith, without works. So to identify Christians, we need to identify
those who fave faith in Jesus. Here arises some confusion, as
not all people who claim to
have faith in Jesus are necessarily saved. Thats plain enough, as I can
claim everything. So for the purpose of this article, we’ll say “saving
faith” to mean the faith of a Christian, and “faith” to mean all types
of “faith”.

Now when it comes to criteria, the basic criterion to identify a
Christian is “fruit”. Remember for example that Jesus said: “A good
tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot produce good
fruit.” [The
Bible, ISV, Mt 7:18
]. A
synonym for “fruit” is James’ “works of faith” [The
Bible, ISV, Jam 2:14-26
]. The confusion starts when it comes to
what fruit is and what not. In the Bible, it’s a broad term, so I’ll
take an inclusive view. After all, it is apparent that you don’t need
perfect practical holyness to be a Christian.

And at least, “works of faith” must
make us think that “good works” are constantly demanded to
being a Christian. That would be rarely better than needing good works
to become a Christian / get saved. Instead, a “work of faith” qualified
by its origin (faith), not by its quality
(good performance). So in my view, everything is included that one does out of faith, i.e. by taking
one’s belief contents seriously and trying to apply them to one’s life,
how successful or unsuccessful that might be ever.

So I would include as “fruit” and “works of faith”, among others:

Not continuing permanently without repentance in sinning a sin.
Brother John wrote about that [The
Bible, ISV, I Jn 3:9
]. Believing is no more than taking God
seriously, so not misusing Christ’s grace to practice sin.
The desire to change towards God’s standards.
It’s acknowledging that God’s truth is good and one does not
reach it, but would like to. Paul wrote about that [The
Bible, ISV, Rom 7:14-25
]. This desire might get lost for some time,
but the indwelling Holy Spirit can re-kindle it. It might even be that
this desire is not man’s own, but that man simply needs to accept it
from the Holy Spirit. The desire to change is a very good example for a
“work of faith”, as good performance (kindness, love, talking about
visiting church etc.) can be Christian education only. But if a desire
to change arises without any education, it comes out of taking God
Upholding and accepting God’s standards.
Jesus means said that this distinguishes a Christian [The
Bible, ISV, Jn 8:51
]. This does not demand perfect performance: one
can accept what God wants, yet be too weak to live it out fully.
Obeying some command of God.
[biblical proof: building on a rock]
Repent where one sees the necessity.
To repent is to
think differently (implying trying to live differently, perhaps
unsuccessful), not necessarily succeding living differently.

You might also see this list as “symptoms of faith”: one does not
perform these things, but they are automatically implied in one’s
lifestyle, among other symptoms of faith, if one takes God seriously
(“believes”). These symptoms don’t save anybody, and taking God
seriously doesn’t save anybody either. It’s God who saves people, and
people might grasp that by taking it seriously. Taking it seriously has
symptoms in ones life, while mere “mental-assent” has not.

I hope you see now what “salvation by grace through faith” means:
you don’t have to reach any pre-defined quality level of performance
ever to qualify as Christian or to stay a Christian. You don’t have to
work “works” in the naive sense. It’s just that Christians are those
who take God seriously: they really try
to apply to their lifes what God says. And it doesn’t matter that their
success in that is always very weak; Christ died for that.

through grace by faith” has a highly interesting, exceedingly gracious
implication: there cannot be anybody who wants to be saved
by Christ and isn’t. Because by wanting to be saved one takes seriously
that Christ is the saviour, i.e. believes in him, and is saved that
very moment. See [The
Bible, ISV, I Pet 3:21
] to see that nothing additional is implied
for getting saved.

I don’t want to discuss in here if a Christian can lose his
salvation or not. Personally, I do not have a definitive answer to
that. I don’t even know if the verbalization “to lose ones salvation”
is correct … as this reifies salvation, which might be inadequate.
But for practical purposes, and in parallel to the strong educational
exhortations and consolations in the NT, one should think about each
list entry above in two ways:

  • “a Christian cannot […]”.
  • “a Christian must not, for the sake of salvation, […]”

Start date: 2008-03-22
Post date: 2008-03-23
Version date: 2008-03-23 (for last meaningful change)

Only a little faith …

Christianity is made of mega church growing, worship concerts, sects and theological talk.
Which can be reduced to human efforts, enthusiasm, cantankerousness and idling compensation.
Such human stuff has ousted the divine by sheer ubiquity. And now:

Where I find a sect, it makes me doubt their claims of divine revelations.
Where I find a revelation in my life, I remind the sect and doubt my senses.

Where I perceive a mega church, it makes me doubt their claims of divine buildup.
Where I perceive God to build something in my little church, I remind the mega church and doubt my perception.

Human success and human error robbed my perception of God’s reality.
Which I still claim to believe.
But I don’t believe.
Not really.

Because I don’t really believe in Spirit-given infinite community, even a workaround for Ubuntu bug #94226 makes me happy.
Because I don’t really believe God loves us all the same I was reluctant to sit down beneath a tramp.
Because I don’t really believe that God is as real as the people around me, I obey people more than God.
Because I don’t really believe that Jesus wants to give two quality lifes, I am contended with small talk based relationships in this one.
Because I don’t really believe I don’t understand how somebody cannot but talk about Jesus.
Because I don’t really believe a church can become a well-functioning organism ever, I am reluctant to invest here.
Because I don’t really believe I cannot tell between evangelising and proselytising at most times.

Because we don’t really believe, we re-fill our practically God-free, boring life by “prophecying” all day.
Because we don’t really believe, we proclaim the truth in church again and again, to drown out our fear of confessing to unbelievers.

… but when taking a risk …

Oh we of little faith, let us not believe with words or with thoughts, but in deed and truth.
But it is a risk to take our hypothesis about God seriously and to act upon it.

Taking a risk is no step of a real believer, but a step compelled by logic.
Taking a risk is: being open to unprecedented change. Including:

To find out that our hypothesis is not in all correct, or not at all correct.
To lose people’s appreciation and  tolerance.
To experience God, affirming our believed hypothesis.
To experience God, affirming our believed hypothesis, but delayed by 5 years.
To experience God changing the circumstances we were so comfortable with.

No risk means: to stay in status quo.
That’s either moderately believed falsehood or not really believed truth.
Who knows before. But it’s both comfortable and disgusting.

How to act upon our faith practically? Jesus is a list of inspirations. He was always straight and faithful.
And, by the way: there’s happiness in acting according to truth.

… one can experience God again.

Taking a risk does not make you a real believer.
You just allow God to make you a real believer.

By showing his power in your life.
Which might include:

[Some unknown lines here; need to
find out this part myself yet.]

After all this, you might have learned that it’s no risk to be a real believer.
Because there is a real God you can trust him more than the concrete you walk upon.

Sometimes it happens that I am very frustrated in the evening and go
to bed with a depressed, angry mood, really pissed off by everything
and everybody. The world seems all dark, and actually it is, as it is
late at night, e.g. 2 a.m.. Then the next morning I wake up early, and
I am awfully confused. I expected to be in the same mood as the last
evening, but I am cheerful, motivated, witty, in best mood. I remember
that it took me a good deal of thought to track this down, and I found
out that it was due to the … weather!! While the past days had been
full of mist, clouds and rain, this morning is very sunny, full of
fresh air, and all the light and air creeped into my room and made me
wake up. It was so much light that it enlightened the room though the
shutters were down … .

This is always a delightsome experience to me. And it helped me with
something different, too. Recently, I wondered what analogy is adequate
to depict the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. Some recent observations
and the above example inspired me to propose it might be in analogy to
good weather, at least sometimes. The Spirit does not seem to produce
the “fruit of the Spirit” [Gal
5:22 ESV
] by simply dictating people what to do, but rather by
providing the atmosphere and the light that inspires and motivates to
think and act in good quality. Whereas the default environment of men
is just spiritual darkness and a depressing, all-grey, hopeless
spiritual weather.

Start date: 2008-01-20
Post date: 2008-02-01
Version date: 2008-02-01 (for last meaningful change)


In the article “Called,
the third way
” from 2007-12-03 I came to the conclusion that one
should “[v]iew your actions as essentially human activity in obedience
to God’s
general will, except where God’s immediate instructions surprise you.”
And in the follow-up article “What
we term relationship to Jesus
” I argued that “relationship”, when
applied to God, foremost means the opposite to distance, not contact.
Let us hope that this does not represent the whole truth for day-in
day-out life. As that would render us alone, effectively without God
while in this world.

To get hold to the rest of truth also, I’d propose a double
approach, dealing with the relationship to God both on the pragmatic
and epistemic level. It may be unusual to use this oder, but it’s
meaningful: dealing with epistemic problems is time-consuming, and you
need some pre-liminary, yet epistemically unjustified pragmatics to
live and believe in that time. And by the way, the pragmatic and
epistemic side is exactly the partition that make up my two big current
authoring tasks: “A
Seeker’s Guide to Life
” deals with the pragmatic side and “Second
” deals with the epistemic side.

Me thinks that such a partition is useful: epistemology is quite
complex and so will only answer the most basic and general questions
about being in contact with God. It may inform us that the concept of
“contact with God” is epistemically justifiable and may present the
spectrum of things that may happen within the contact with God. But in
no way it is possible to epistemically justify every decision in one’s
individual life. For example, it is even in theory impossible to
epistemically justify a prophecy before one obeyed it. To act
meaningfully in this area of limited and fuzzy epistemic knowledge one
needs pragmatism, here simply in the sense of “the art to act”. Let’s
now look at both approaches individually.

Pragmatic practice of the relationship to God

How do you live out a relationship to God if you don’t know (yet) what
you can expect from God’s side, if you don’t see clearly what he does
in your life and (perhaps) if you don’t even have a justified belief in
God at all? Pragmatic people can deal with all these unknowns. Here are
some examples of pragmatic behavior that’s about caring for and
expressing a relationship to God:

  • Impression from brain or Spirit?
    The border between psychologic functionality and the stirrings of the
    Holy Spirit is often not obvious. If in doubt, pragmatic people obey to
    the impression if the decision affects only themselves, and keep the
    impression for themselves if it would risk the well-being of others. So
    if something in your head tells you that right now you should go to a
    tree before your house and preach, obey (you might save somebody from
    stringing hisself up). But if something in your head tells you that God
    calls your fellow brother into mission in, say, Wulumuqi,
    and you’re not dead certain about it, keep your silence.
  • Expecting God to be near.
    Even if God was far, pragmatic people would assume him near until this
    is falsified. Because those who assume God to be far cannot be
    falsified any more: they won’t experience even a near God as they do
    not search for experiencing this. They won’t pray concrete prayers or
    listen to the Holy Spirit, as they assume it is impossible to
    experience the supernatural. They become orthodox-only. Instead: if
    Jesus is near, one will only experience this by dealing with him as if
    he’d be near, by practicing one’s part of a near relationship.
  • Relationship above experience.
    The relationship between persons can change even though no experience
    or contact is involved. For example, the character of a relationship is
    changed if one party starts to entertain doubts. With respect to God,
    pragmatic people would advise to take care of the relationship (ones
    disposition towards God) even if supernatural experiences that affirm
    God’s very existence are still lacking. Expectations are poison to all
    relationships. A good relationship to God (and people) consists of some
    basic, simple attitudes like love, obedience and forgiveness, and it
    simply does not need God’s supernatural immediate interaction to bring
    us back to these. On the other hand, when empasizing the experience of
    signs and miracles (imaginary or real), while disobeying God and being
    without love for people, composes a bad relationship, bare of genuine
    contact to God.
  • Ends above means. In the
    realm of the unknown, it is not clear what practices and experiences
    compose genuine contact with God. Pragmatic people can deal with that:
    they don’t examine these “relationsip means” but accept all that lead
    to acceptable ends. If the end is the fundamental change of people, it
    becomes irrelevant if the means of divine or human or mixed origin
    (miracles, the Holy Spirit, human memory and so on). The existence of
    God and the promise of resurrection through the grace of Jesus must be
    epistemically true, but for the way faith changes people a pragmatic
    justification is enough. That is, the end justifies the means.
  • Communication without a common
    everyday life.
    Communicating is how we express relationship. For
    many Christians, supplication for many day-to-day problems is their
    major form of talking to God, with added thanksgiving for granted
    requests. This might be not adequate because God’s immediate, concrete
    intervention in our lives is probably much less frequent, in the sense
    that day-to-da help is an effect of God’s mediate help through the
    once-for-all revealed truth. The pragmatic dealing here would be to
    stop talking to God as if he’d share all our days on our side, and
    instead communicate by telling God regularly about ourself, our
    situation, and by thanking him for everything he has granted, by his
    mediate or immediate gifts.

All in all, pragmatism advises to deal with God not as the matter of
one’s investigations but as the partner in a personal relationship.
This is the precondition to experience God personally lateron. And that
experience will in turn show that there is indeed this believed
relationship to God.

Up to now, we’ve seen how to pragmatically express a relationship to
God. That’s the human side. Now we need to know how to pragmatically
experience a relationship to God. Pragmatism is necessary here because
these experiences are rarely obvious enough to compose well-founded,
proven, epistemic knowledge about the relationship to God. Well then,
here are biblical promises what you can expect from God’s side and some
hints how to deal with these experiences pragmatically:

  • We can expect the help of God.
    We may ask for God’s help if we are at wits end, and it is helpful to
    do so. The Bible contains many stories and promises regarding answers
    to prayer; man in his weakness is not all to himself. The pragmatic
    aspect is as follows:
    • Do not expect all requests to
      be answered instantly.
      Instead, God’s answer might be short
      term, long term, or absent if we don’t need any help.
    • Do not expect all requests to
      be answered plain enough to see.
      God might help concretely, or
      by concretely reminding us of his general truths and gifts, or by the
      general truths and gifts alone. (The latter case involves no action
      from God’s side: where he knows that we’ll find the answer within the
      general, once-for-all revealed
      truth ourself, he can just let things move on.) In all three ways,
      God’s answer might be impossible to distinguish from human action. For
      example, if God reminds us concretely of what he taught us before, it
      might look like it crosses our mind as a human thought or as a random
      bible passage. Pragmatism accepts all these answers because they work
      (they make up the requested help), with the hope or knowledge that
      there are more obvious answers, too.
  • We can throw our sorrows at God.
    This works, and pragmatism accepts it because it works. At the
    pragmatic level, there is no meaning in asking wheter this is due to
    the soothig effects of prayer, beliefs as a psychlogical momentum or
    due to having learned that God helps indeed. At the epistemic level,
    this really makes a difference, but as long as the epistemic answer is
    lacking, one can be content with the pragmatic one.
  • We can expect to receive wisdom from
    James tells us [James
    1:5 ESV
    ]. This works, and pragmatism accepts it because it works.
    Again, as with throwing our sorrows, without further investigation. The
    epistemic answer is needed in addition, but might come in later, and
    will only answer if it happens at all that wisdom comes from God.
    Within personal life, we might still be in doubt in some situations,
    and need the pragmatic answer to deal with that: accepting wisdom as
    God’s gift because this is epistemically justified even though there is
    the possibility that this wisdom is a human psychological product in
    some instances.
  • We can expect the Holy Spirit to be
    The Spirit is said to interact concretely with our lives
    by educating us, admonishing us, reminding us, encouraging us. This
    might be below our threshold of perception, but pragmatism advises to
    ascribe the results to the Spirit in a preliminary way. The Spirit is
    the reason why there is no need to build up our faith ourselves or to
    stick to faith outselves.
  • We can expect God to motivate us for
    The motivation to become a different person is no result
    of faith, as not all believers share this motivation. Therefore,
    pragmatism advises to preliminarily ascribe this effect to God.

Epistemic knowledge about the relationship to God

Let’s now move on to the epistemic level. If we’d remain on the
pragmatic level only, we could just as well be Mormons, Buddhists or
something else that “works” to some degree and would therefore be
acceptable to pragmatism. So it’s necessary to have the epistemic level
to support and justify our pragmatic faith, at least in the long run.
Else, our faith would be no more than one of several equally valid
interpretations of life, and might even be rendered an uneconomic /
less valid interpretation by Occam’s Razor.

Our own life might include some few supernatural experiences that
are obvious enough to reach this epistemic level, indicating that some
aspect of God is just as we believe and that our relationship to God is
not just imagination. These experiences might include prophetic dreams
and visions, healing, supernatural answers to prayers etc..

But it might also be that the visible part of God’s reality is below
the threshold of perception in one’s own life. This is “by chance” and
does neither prove deism nor indicate a personal distance from God –
cf. [Heb
11:32-38 ESV
]. But it would make us despaired when trying to
justify our faith epistemically from our own
lifes, i.e. our prayer experiences etc.. Therefore, a central idea for
epistemic justification is to not search it in one’s own individual
life but in the life of all, contemporary and historical people.
Epistemology does not need personal experience to perceive truth, and
one must not be so egocentric to expect it.

To conclude: a Christian’s personal life includes a permanent, 24/7
relationship to God, but not 24/7 experiences with God. The personal
experiences might be so rare and vague that they don’t justify the
belief that there is a relationship. Wherefore justification must come
from another source: the epistemic, hyper-individual level. With this
justification, one can interpret life as a relationship to God even
without personal affirmative experiences.

Start date: 2008-01-01
Post date: 2008-01-21
Version date: 2008-01-21 (for last meaningful change)

In the evangelical realm, “(personal) relationship to Jesus” is a
popular expression. Intuitively, this implies two-way communication, as
this is present in every other relationship. And consequentially,
people who entered this “relationship to Jesus” expect Jesus to talk to
them: personally, immediately, contemporarily, and regularly. Sad to
add that these people are way too often misguided to detect Jesus’
words where there is nothing to find.

So it’s promising to better examine this “relationship” concept. It
deems on me that there is indeed something we can call “relationship to
Jesus”. It does however not mean “contact” foremost, but the opposite
of distance. This is the abstract meaning: relationship is the opposite
of distance.

Distance. People who are on
distance to Jesus are not only atheists and agnostics. This applies
also to religious people: these people have a business-like manner of
conduct towards Jesus: they do not allow their faith in Jesus to affect
their personal life. Instead, they present their smooth public side to
Jesus and all other churchgoers. As in business life, the manners are
formal. This means liturgy, religious traditions, orthodoxy-centered
theology, institutionalization and like. All modes of distance have in
common that such faith is not allowed to affect ones personal life, it
is kept in the formal, superfluous, public part of life. Such people
keep Jesus on distance just as humans keep other people on distance: we
exchange nice words, but only to avoid being corrected or being told
other unpleasant but important things.

Relationship. As the
opposite to distance, a “relationship to Jesus” means foremost, to
obey. To let Jesus’ teachings and Jesus’ standards affect one’s
personal life through and through. It means to admit and expose even
the darkest places of one’s soul, i.e. to accept what Jesus has to say
about them. In this abstract sense, it is not important for a
relationship to have contact with each other: the recorded words and
teachings of Jesus, as written in the Bible, are totally enough, as
they are something to accept and obey. This does however not mean that
a relationship to Jesus includes no contact: this does happen, but it
is no necessary ingredient, and nothing to expect day by day.

Evangelical people teach that only Christians with a “relationship to
Jesus” are saved. This seems confusing at first, but with the above
meaning it is understandable: those without this “relationship” knew
Jesus only as a temporary business contact but never took his words
seriously and personally, never obeyed.

Start date: 2007-01-09
Post date: 2007-01-09
Version date: 2007-01-09 (for last meaningful change)