Christian Spirituality/Holy Bible Teachings.

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Question
Dear Rev. Jason

1. Do you agree on this point mentioned below ?

The teachings of the Holy Bible - New Testament summary would be
Love, Compassion, Brotherhood and Peace.

2. The five qualities mentioned viz Hate, Jealousy, Greed, Lust and
Anger are obstacles for showing Love, Compassion, Brotherhood and Peace. i.e. Every Human Being (Man or Woman) has these qualities
in percentage (%), for example some may have less jealousy, hatred, greed, lust but anger could be more.

Do you feel if a Human Being overcomes, controls and manage these
qualities, this could lead to Love, Brotherhood, Compassion and Peace universally ?

Can you please share me with your views on this ?

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

Answer
Prashant,

Thanks for your question.  The construction you propose is interesting.  For a person looking at Christianity from the outside in, I can understand how that construction might come to mind.  However, the New Testament itself does not approach things in this manner.  

It is important to remember that the New Testament does not stand alone, but instead, is part of a longer story going back to creation, which is recorded in the Old Testament.  Without the Old Testament promises and prophesies, most of the words of Jesus lose much of their meaning, and His life, death, and resurrection become an isolated miracle rather than the climax around which all of human history centers.  

The most important thing to remember is that for both testaments of Scripture, morality and ethics are not the center.  The central theme of the entire collection is expressed in Romans 3:

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law... For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith."

The central teaching of Christianity is that Jesus becomes the substitute for humanity by His perfect life and His death, during which He was abandoned by God the Father, as humanity deserved.  His Resurrection is evidence that this substitution was successful, because death could not hold one who is sinless.  This substitution is applied to all who trust in Jesus (and only Jesus) to earn forgiveness for their sins.  The forgiven will then rise again on the Last Day, just as Jesus rose, and live eternally, just as He lives.

In Christianity, morality and ethics, known as the Law, only exist in service to this theme.  Their first purpose is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are incapable of living up to God's standard of perfection.  Nobody has ever attained perfect love, compassion, brotherhood, or peace, and nobody as ever perfectly shunned hatred, jealousy, greed, lust, or anger.  This forces people to turn to the substitution of Jesus as a solution.  As a result of God's forgiveness, the Christians then exhibit those good qualities you mention within the community of believers and toward the world.  

The concept of varying degrees of sin has some merits.  For example, each person is predisposed to certain sins more than others.  One may be tempted sexually, while another may find greed more of a struggle, etc.  I'm not certain that there is any Biblical warrant to justify quantifying ratios of sin, however.  Ultimately, the New Testament's understanding is that all people are 100% sinful based on their own merits, and all who have been forgiven by Jesus are declared by God to be 100% innocent, regardless of their degree of success in the continued struggle against sin.  

Christians often do experience a sense of overcoming certain sins as a result of God's forgiveness, however, this is never understood as spiritually meritorious in Christian teaching, but rather as a natural result of God's grace.  At the same time, many Christians actually report feeling more sinful as they grow in years and understanding, not because they sin more, but because they become more aware of the sin, even though its quantity may have been reduced.  

Ultimately, rhythm of Christianity is not about self-improvement or societal advancement.  Instead, it is a cycle where Christians continue to hear the Word of God preached to them, remember their Baptism, and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins in the Lord's Supper.  It is within this cycle of sin and forgiveness that the Christian lives and find their comfort and assurance.  Personal or corporate advancements in virtue always remain in the category of result and never become the central focus.  

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Rev. Jason P. Peterson

Expertise

I believe that the spirituality of historical Christianity shares little in common with that of any other world religion, and I welcome any questions regarding the spirituality of Christianity, particularly in relation to the Reformation Traditions. I also take a great interest in examining new Christian movements and popular trends in Christianity from a Reformation perspective. I have particular experience regarding the original Greek text of the New Testament and its meaning, as well as questions regarding liturgy, evangelism, and preaching.

Experience

I have been a pastor in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod for the past six years at St. John's Lutheran Church in Burt, IA. I currently serve as chairman of the Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support of the Missouri Synod's Iowa District West and as Track Chaplain at Algona Raceway in Algona, IA. I also write as a religion columnist for two local newspapers.

Organizations
Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Publications
Algona Upper Des Moines (newspaper) Bancroft Register (newspaper)

Education/Credentials
B.A. Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI (Biblical Languages) M.Div. Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (Exegetical Theology, Pastoral Ministry & Missions)

Past/Present Clients
Zion Lutheran Church (Columbia City, IN) Zion Lutheran Church (Altamont, IL) St. John's Lutheran Church (Burt, IA) Zion Lutheran Church (Lu Verne, IA) Algona Raceway (IA) Fairmont Raceway (MN) Hancock County Speedway (Britt, IA) Clay County Fairgrounds Raceway (Spencer, IA)

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