christian people, what does this mean

there's a billboard outside my house and it says:

JESUS

the ONLY way to god

I do not know what this means at all. God and jesus are different guys but they're also different aspects of the same guy, along with a holy ghost that I don't know really anything about. (right!?)

Is the idea that if I go hang out with jesus, later I'll get to hang out with god? what's the difference? Why's one better than the other? and, importantly, who is this billboard targeting, people who believe in god but not jesus!? I actually just thought of this right now, is it like trying to convert muslims or buddhists or whatever by being like "no if you want to get to god you have to do it our way because it's the real one" ... or something!?

help I do not understand what this billboard wants. like even if it's about conversion don't muslims and jews also believe jesus existed, they just like another guy more?

I don't know anything about this stuff, I have been inside of a church like a dozen times and mostly in europe to see the architecture.
THANK

uh well im not christian but i grew up in the midwest so

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@exodus#15722 “no if you want to get to god you have to do it our way because it’s the real one”

yep this is it, some of the evangelical sects have have a prescribed path to salvation (going 2 heaven) that really just involves like saying in your head that you want specifically jesus to save u, then the deed is done. pretty simple really

thinking about the way the bill board is worded, while it's of course meant to be exclusionary of other faiths, islam, judaism etc., it's more directly addressing other christian sects, which may either require more than the special prayer to be saved, or may take the line that you just have to be a nice person. baptists in my hometown believed you could be very nice but not go to heaven if you did not say the special prayer

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@exodus#15722 who is this billboard targeting, people who believe in god but not jesus!?

yeah, probably. but i don't think it's exactly the way you're hypothesizing.

growing up in a christian household, going to christian school weekdays and church on sundays, a lot of adults seemed to act as though it were an absolute truism that somewhere, deep down inside, all humans believe there's a god. this is in fact supposed to be one of their strongest arguments for the existence of god: every society has had a concept of god (though this point is of course somewhat debatable). athiests are supposed to be deluding themselves, and, though they might not admit it, are actually spending every moment struggling with the god-question.

so, my guess is that the billboard is meant to target everyone, and is phrased this way because it's written by someone who can't imagine anyone wouldn’t believe in god.

@exodus#15722

Hello

I attended a private Christian school from 4th-8th grade. I have read the bible cover to cover.

"God" is a triune being composed of the father, son, and holy spirit.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/X5VABLK.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/X5VABLK.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Accepting that jesus died for your sins is the ONLY way to get to heaven according to (many) Christians ("you cant get to heaven on roller skates"). You cannot get to heaven through good works.

[URL=https://i.imgur.com/yONz50o.gif][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/yONz50o.gif[/IMG][/URL]
(There are many variations on this image)

Speaking of interesting signs outside of churches, one that has stuck in my mind for years said this :

Look Up!
God is absolutely crazy about you!

I think the primary reason is just to put a billboard up to guilt people to going to their church. But if we want to dig into the weeds:

The most likely verse being referenced is John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John's writing in nebulous Christology times, earlier gospels like Mark are rather vague about the extent of Jesus's divinity. Jesus talks about the coming of a "son of man" who will upend the earthly power structures and make the rich poor and the poor rich. It doesn't often sound like he's referring to himself. By the time we get to John, decades later, and with a more mystery religion inclined author, we have the much more Godly Jesus. John equates Jesus with God in the very first sentence, and has Jesus say things like "I am the way, the truth, and the life" and "before Abraham was, I AM" (implying YHWH/Jehovah). "No one comes to the Father except through me" is an early start towards Trinitarian thinking. John is drawing on the idea of the Logos from Philo of Alexandria: God's thoughts, platonic ideals, and/or a kind of mediator between God's will and his creation, and personifying it in Jesus of Nazareth. This gets expanded upon by the early church into full Trinitarianism, the idea of one God in three persons, the father is not the son, the son is not the spirit, and the spirit is not the father, and all are the one and only God. The mystery of the Trinity cannot be fully understood by man, which is a great way to end violent theological disagreements while leaning on a wealth of existing Jewish and Christian and Neoplatonist tradition to do the heavy lifting for you.

Fast forward to the Reformation. Squables about fees paid to the Catholic church to cancel out sins and clear the way to heaven turn into obsessive rules checking and systematizing of sin and salvation in Christ. Early church arguments between Jesus' brother James and Paul of Tarsus over chickens and eggs are repeated by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli: do believers in Jesus who do good things and get into heaven do good things because they believe in Jesus, or because they are good people who do good things? The Reformed orthodoxy settles on an anthropology where human beings are totally depraved, and only through faith in Jesus can they be saved, a gift that they did not deserve, and one that was given to them unconditionally and without the ability for them to refuse. The idea that one can get into heaven simply by being a good person becomes a Protestant heresy, and verses like "No one gets to the Father except through me" turn into prooftexts.

Then the Reformed churches splinter into a million pieces. Most of the megachurches and small splinter groups, the most likely churches to be in the billboard business, fall into this Calvinist residue bucket. And thus a billboard saying

JESUS
the ONLY way to God

Is probably directed at Calvinist adjacent Christians, lapsed or unlapsed, who would understand and relate to the theological argument being made, while posing as a message for Methodists and Catholics, who for the most part have no idea what the Calvinists are on about and don't care for them anyway.

INTERESTING!!!

Because I had wondered if it was trying to shame lapsed christians and be like "REMEMBER JESUS!? HE'S STILL HERE!" but maybe it's also saying to other groups "you're doing it wrong, and jesus is part of god" or something?

Uhhh what's the holy ghost btw, tim explained it once but I forgot.

What I find interesting about this billboard is the hubris involved in assuming people will understand it and then be shamed by it enough to do whatever it is the billboard wants them to do (which I still don't really get - is it convert to a different christian group?)

@exodus#15741 These churches often don‘t consider rival churches to be Christian at all. They’re either too Catholic or too Methodist, and thus teach the heresy of good works, or they're too liberal/modernist which is still a sore spot from the fracture of nearly every large Protestant sect in the 1920s over those lines.

My boyfriend's brother joined one of these vaguely reformed small churches and they baptised him, even though he already had a Catholic baptism. The idea of "double dipping" is heretical, but since the Catholic baptism "doesn't count" it's considered their first and only baptism. They see it more as conversion to Christianity from an imposter religion.

As for the Holy Ghost, it's another coequal person of the Trinity. Not mentioned all that much in the New Testament: it appears to Jesus at his baptism, and to the apostles at Pentacost, granting them the power to preach to a large crowd in their native tongues. It has some precedent in the Hebrew Bible, like in Genesis where "the Spirit of God was on the face of the waters", but it's equally vague in both.

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what’s the holy ghost btw

Sincerely interesting question that I'd love see anyone reading this weigh in on.

Without looking up anything, I'm say the "holy ghost" is like God's acting spirit on earth.

God is a triune being. Father stays in heaven. Son died for sins. The Holy Ghost is the intetplanar intermediary. When god works on earth he does it through the holy ghost? It's the tool through which god works his will on earth, but calling it "gods tool" is insuffienct because it's a part of god?

@Syzygy#15748 Cornelius Van Til, an influential bloke in these circles, even argued in his Christian Apologetics that an argument other than one along those lines is in a sense blasphemous. Faith in God is a gift from God, arguing someone to it logically doesn't work, is presumptuous on your part, and assumes common ground where none exists between the competing world views.

(my religious background: grew up mostly ignorant of the concept of religion, vaguely “christian” in a suburban non-churchgoing way, went to a catholic high school and took 4 years of theology classes, took a few theology classes in college to meet a requirement, went through edgelord atheist stuff from 13-18, vague buddhist phase in college, now kinda just think religion is whatever story people want to tell themselves about a universe that by all observations Came Into Being purely through the advancement of measurable and semi-predictable cosmic/galactic/stellar/planetary/biological actions across time, and all religions are more or less fine so long as nobody is using it as a weapon against anyone else)

the father is the old testament guy
the son is the new testament guy
the holy spirit is the angel who saves the day in christmas movies

I feel some things are at odds here because if this message is meant to inspire me to get into the kingdom of heaven, but I have to ask my forums to even begin to understand it, who are they really gonna even get??

Now the holy ghost - I still don't really get it. Is it that:

  • - god is busy and can't hang out
  • - jesus is dead
  • - so the holy ghost is god's James Cameron avatar to talk to people on earth?
  • Were that the case, why wouldn't the holy ghost come up a lot more? If that's the one we can interface with it seems like that'd be one of the main ones.

    But I guess since it was kind of like... We need one more thing, so we are better than the other christian versions, and they just kind of half-heartedly retconned it, I guess that makes sense. But it's hard to see who they meant me to believe it to be, and it sounds like it's not that clear to those of you who learned this stuff properly either? Hmm

    BTW I should've addressed this thread to people with knowledge of christianity, not christians necessarily, oops!

    P.S. I don't know what the different testaments are, I assume various revisions to start new religions with (like the king james vs whatever else?) but we don't really need to get into it

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    @exodus#15760 Now the holy ghost - I still don’t really get it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXWmIf-g9XQ

    Any questions?

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    @Moon#15732 “God” is a triune being composed of the father, son, and holy spirit.


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    Please, please forgive me -- but seeing this _immediately_ reminded me of Gene Ray's TimeCube.

    @exodus I suspect this is a case of the sender of the message (copywriter of the billboard) is so thoroughly engrossed in their belief that they do not even consider the case where a reader would not understand it. Perhaps a sloppy analogy would be a lazy tourist thinking that if they just speak english _slower_, the locals will finally understand them. The thought "maybe these people cannot understand english at all" never crosses their mind.

    This billboard is speaking god at you, slowly.

    this is why Islam seems superior, when speaking of the Abrahamic religions. there‘s just the one diety, that’s it. التوحيد!

    although I do believe there are some Christian denominations that practice 'Nontrinitarianism'?

    @exodus yeah in Islam they revere Jesus (PBUH) as one of the prophets, they call him by the name 'Isa'.

    @exodus#15760 It‘s vague precisely because the Church didn’t invent the Holy Spirit to serve a purpose and then retcon it into the Bible. They were working with what they had and trying to systematize a lot of contradictory and antagonistic texts. The Old Testament, which is the Hebrew Bible, was written largely during the Babylonian exile, but has texts are written by different schools (Chronicles and Kings cover the same ground but have wildly different opinions of the reigns of various kings), at different points in Judaism's development (the older Job has a whole divine council and Satan and God making bets with each other while the newer Daniel has Persian Zoroastrian apocalypticism in it), in different genres (Psalms has music, Proverbs has bourgeois etiquette, Ecclesiastes is a deeply atheistic and deeply pessimistic rant, The Song of Songs is porn) with the only thing tying them together being the reverence lent to them over a long stretch of time until a canon of texts is arrived at.

    The New Testament is a similar story, we have the author of Matthew, a Jewish man writing to a Jewish audience, the author of Luke, a gentile writing to other gentiles, and Paul, who has ties to both Judaism and Rome writing to mixed background churches that he set up that are fighting about circumcision and kosher diets. Paul and the author of James are explicitly at odds, the author of 2 Peter says Paul is hard to understand and people read him in dangerous ways, and yet they were all revered enough by enough people the early church was trying to unify that they all end up together. (We have much of the stuff that didn't quite make it, a lot of Zoroastrian inspired apocalypticism from the Old Testament, wild fan fiction from the New Testament, with Jesus zapping people to death and pulling pranks on birds).

    The Holy Spirit as theological doctrine is vague because the early church leaders have all these references to it they have to synthesize, but not much to go on. The _Ruah Elohim_ in Genesis, so old that it is referencing gods plural, needs to mesh with the _Pneumati Theou_ that appears to Jesus at his baptism and is being used by Gnostic sects to imply the primacy of the soul over the body. The resulting Trinitarianism is more the early church's best attempt to not piss off potential members than a whole cloth theological creation. They had something that was clearly separate from God and worshiped as God in their canonical texts and had to decide how to reconcile that. There's a rough division of labor, with the Father creating, the Son saving, and the Spirit empowering believers, but any question that gets too close to the differences between the persons usually gets answered by reference to the mystery of the Trinity, which is best not to put in non Church approved terms. The schism between the Orthodox and Catholic churches was largely caused by a disagreement over whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or from the Father alone to give an example about how careful one had to be about talking about the Spirit. A minute disagreement about it led directly to the fall of the Byzantine Empire.

    … but what if you could get to heaven on roller skates?

    The implications...

    @MichaelDMcGrath#15772 yes well said. Christian metaphysics were pretty wild and wooly for a few centuries before constantine's conversion and the religion broadly considered “hit the big time” and went legit.

    Part of the emphasis on Jesus being both God and His son simultaneously, has to do with the prophet-based Jewish-messianic arms race happening in the holy land during those centuries. Rather than receiving ecstatic visions or hearing the word of god in his or her brain, Jesus was God's Actual Kid, and a manifestation of God itself. So the trinity is kind of a weird idea, but it makes sense to look at from that prophetic tradition - if God wanted to further clarify or enhance the religious practices of his worshippers who were Jews living in Levant, he'd send a prophet to do prophet stuff, but with miracles+resurrection to seal the deal.

    I'm sure the billboard is just rehashing boilerplate christian outreach/advertising, but it's echoing this dynamic, as debased as it appears in the OP example

    Then again there's always the gnostic tradition that believes Christ is the Demiurge, and a deceiver that distracts us from apprehending the True God

    I don't think anyone adequately answered the question yet.

    A common Christian belief is that you have to admit your guilt of sin and invite Jesus into your heart in order to be saved.

    That is what the billboard is referring to.

    Unrelated:
    The atonement doctrine was mainly the apostle Paul's thing. Paul was Zoroastrian. Everyone knows Christianity was built upon Judaism but it's just as many parts Zoroastrianism, something most people don't know.

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    @treefroggy#15816 Paul was Zoroastrian.

    Do you have a source for this? This is the first I'm hearing of it