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Passions in Poetry

What exactly is Christianity?

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Denise
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25 posted 03-03-2002 05:00 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Yes, Ron, thank you, I've read that and I've also read definitions elsewhere stating the same and I've also read definitions stating that Allah was derived from the moon god (Alle, or Elle,  I believe it was, or something very similar) that was worshipped by the predecessors of Muhammad and that it was a type of incorporation or a blending of beliefs in the culture at the time, which is why they have the symbol of the crescent moon on their mosques, such as was also done with Rome and Christianity in the early days in certain aspects. Whatever the case may be, I'm certainly not an historian by any stretch of the imagination, I find that the Islamic interpretation of God to be counter to all that is revealed in the Old and New Testaments concerning the depiction of who God says He is, ie, evidenced in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Beginning in the Book of Genesis through to Revelations He depicts Himself thus. A careful reading of these scriptures can lead to no other conclusion, although the word Trinity is never mentioned. As I hold only the Bible as the inerrant word of God and do not accept the Qur'an as such, I don't accept anything that is taught in it. If the Islamic faith holds to the Old Testament as a part of their basis of belief, which I know they do, they can easily find revealed in it the One True God (and the link you provided even goes so far as to say that the word God is not permissable to be used, only Allah is the correct and only permissable designation that avoids idolatry, even though at the first they said God was just a translation, but then later in the article, forbid its use, completely)depicting Himself in these three differnt ways. If, as they say, Allah, is the One True God, does he offer to mankind the redemption as depicted even in the Old Testament? If he is truly the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he would, because God cannot contradict Himself. But I don't think that anyone will find that such is the case upon a study of Islamic doctine and faith. One would find merely man's efforts and striving to attain to something, in order to hopefully someday becoming worthy enough to enter Paradise. One would find a "religion" in the truest sense of the word. From what I have studied of Islam I have found that to be the case. If you can show me something to the contrary stating that Allah freely gives salvation unconditionally to undeserving sinful man, completely apart from man's works and efforts, because of the substitutionary sacrifice of his Messiah, then it could be argued that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Allah are one and the same. If not, then it cannot be argued that they are.
Ron
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26 posted 03-03-2002 05:25 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

So, correct me if I'm wrong, Denise, but you're also saying then that the Jewish faith is based on a "different" God than that of Christianity? Everything you've said would seem to apply to both Islam and Judaism.
Phaedrus
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27 posted 03-03-2002 05:37 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


Denise,

Your analogy to giving a gift to a friend or loved one requires the recipient to measure up to the qualification criteria of ‘friend’ or ‘loved one’.

What would somebody, who has not received such a gift, have to do to receive one?

Your answer seems to be “nothing” when logic suggests that to receive a gift they would have to become a ‘friend’ or ‘ a loved one’, the reward is the gift the cost and/or payment is friendship or love.

I’m confused now as to whether there are several Gods, one for each religion, or one God with several religions.

If, as you suggest, there are several gods but the Christian God is the true God does that not mean that all other religions are inferior to Christianity?

If however there are several religions all worshipping the same God, albeit under different names, it would seem fair to suggest that all religions are equal and membership of one above any another is only a matter of individual choice. If this is the case why become a Christian, why not a Muslim or Jew?
Brad
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28 posted 03-03-2002 05:59 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Why does everybody think adding Buddha to the usual list of gods makes sense?

As far as the gift, well, Mahayana Buddhism deals with much the same thing -- particularly the Pure Land and the True Pure Land sects.

In a way.

But it really is difficult to discuss this without a lot of background stuff. It's not that Christianity doesn't have something special to it (of course it does), but it's important to be weary of comparing these things so glibly.

Doing this, again, shows a lack or respect for the very people you're trying to make see your point of view. If you're not trying to make people see that point of view, then why talk? Anybody ever read Chaucer?

Brad
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29 posted 03-03-2002 06:34 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


Brad,

“Why does everybody think adding Buddha to the usual list of gods makes sense?”

I know as much about Buddha as I do about the Christian God or Allah, which amounts to virtually nothing and is my excuse for adding him to the list. I am however willing to learn if you want to start another thread.

“As far as the gift, well, Mahayana Buddhism deals with much the same thing -- particularly the Pure Land and the True Pure Land sects. “

This seems a good place to start.

“But it really is difficult to discuss this without a lot of background stuff. It's not that Christianity doesn't have something special to it (of course it does), but it's important to be weary of comparing these things so glibly.”

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘glibly’, I know what the word means but can’t understand which part of this thread matches the meaning.

“Doing this, again, shows a lack or respect for the very people you're trying to make see your point of view. If you're not trying to make people see that point of view, then why talk? Anybody ever read Chaucer?”

I don’t have a point of view at present, I’m simply trying to understand those already voiced by asking questions and questioning the answers given. Talking or discussing seems to be a fairly legitimate vehicle to that end.

BTW
No, I’ve never read Chaucer.


Brad
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30 posted 03-03-2002 06:41 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Phaedrus, Ron, me?

Geez, Denise, it seems somebody let the dogs out.
Phaedrus
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31 posted 03-03-2002 06:50 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


I’m a mere Poodle in the company of Philosophical Wolves.
Denise
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32 posted 03-03-2002 09:21 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

No, Ron, I am not saying that the God of the Jews is different. He is one and the same. You can see all throughout the Old Testament God's promises of redemption through the coming of Messiah. Those who believed God about that promise and put their faith in that promise were of the same faith of Abraham. Jesus fulfilled that promise of the coming of Messiah. It is the same God in both the Old and New Testaments. The salvation message is consistent from Genesis through Revelations.

Phaedrus, the difference with God's gift giving is that He even loves His enemies, not just those who love Him. In fact, He said in Romans 3:10-18: God says "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands. There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one; Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

That is describing you and me and the rest of the human race as we appear in God's eyes, compared to His perfect holiness. Even the "best" of us are worthless in our own self-righteousness. And then in Romans 5:7-10 we read: For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemeies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,(positionally in salvation) much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (experientially and progressively, as we live our lives, growing in the knowledge of His grace.)

And then in Romans 3:19 - 25 we find: Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.

And then in Romans 3:27-28 we read: Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

His love and gift giving are far superior than ours ever could be. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It's that simple.

There are not several Gods, one for each religion. There is only one true God. God says that there is none other than He Himself and He also says that some worship gods of man's creation, but not the very one who created them.

Brad, there is no lack of respect in sharing one's beliefs with others unless it has been made known that those ideas are not welcome. There is no other possible way to grow and learn than that, is there? If you want to share something, share it. No, I don't believe I've read Chaucer. If I did it was in high school and I've long since forgotten it along with my Spanish and German.

p.s. I like dogs!
Stephanos
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33 posted 03-04-2002 01:02 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

This may clarify Christianity's postion about God.

There is only one true and living God.  He created the cosmos and everything else.  All reality itself springs from his being.  


Yes there are other "gods", but they are misrepresentations.  There are gods created by mankind... idols made of stone and wood, or deities created in the mind.  Humanity in this sense has fashioned "God" as they want him to be, given him their own names and behavior patterns, and built religions around it.  


So is the "Christian" God the only God?  No... He's the only real one.


But then we get into another legitimate issue... You can have doctrines, names, and even Dogmas right, and misrepresent God.  You can even call him the God and Father of Jesus Christ, and still get him wrong (in spirit).  So all of Christendom has not given a true picture of God, because Idolatry can flourish, while holding on to an outward form of religion.  


This  brings up another interesting point.  Ron suggested that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have the same God, because of the same roots.  But  when we alter who that "God" is, to the point that it really isn't him at all... only the name, or the historical roots remain.  If there is one God behind Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, he is schizophrenic (to put it mildly).  On one hand, he exalted Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, and raised him from the dead, declaring that every knee would bow, and ever tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.. and then turns around a few centuries later, and through a "prophet" mohammed says that Allah's chief prophet is Mohammed and Jesus is a lesser prophet.  Mohammed goes on to teach that salvation is not by faith in the death burial and ressurrection of Jesus, but by submitting to Allah (works).  I believe the Koran also teaches that Jesus did not literally die on the cross but was saved from it.  


These are not the same "God", though the name might be the same.  Aaron in the book of Exodus made a golden calf for the people to worship when Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for a long time... He said about the calf "This is the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt".  This is an example of keeping the name, but what's behind the name is not the same.  It's a graven image.


Allah is not the same God as the God who raised Jesus from the dead.  The same goes for the Jews who reject Jesus as the Messiah...  The "God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob" commended the life and ministry of Jesus,  while the Jews who were "jealous for the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob", ended up putting him to death.  They had the name, but their heart was far from the God they professed.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (03-04-2002 01:12 AM).]

Ron
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34 posted 03-04-2002 08:49 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Let's carry that argument a little farther, Stephen.

The Roman Catholic faith represents a very different Jesus than does the Protestant faith. More ritualistic, less personal. And there's always that Mary thing they have, too. So, according to you, even if they're using the right name and the right historical events, their interpretation is so "wrong" that it's not REALLY Jesus at all, except in name? Of course, from the other side of the fence, it's those indulgent Protestants who have it all wrong.

Jew and Muslim both believe in a just, merciful, and loving God. Jew and Muslim both live their lives under Law, albeit a very different interpretation of that Law. Jew and Muslim both believe Jesus was a prophet of God, not the living Son of God. Jew and Muslim both believe in a salvation founded in Justice and Mercy. If you deny the authority of the Islamic God, just because He differs from your Christian interpretations, you really have no choice but to also deny the Jewish God for the very same reasons. And of course, at that point, you're stuck with a very serious paradox. Did Jesus worship the wrong God?

Doctrine CANNOT establish respect, else you'll find yourself in a tiny little corner with maybe three other people who believe exactly as you do. And you can never really be too sure about those three. Look for differences, and you'll always find them. There are HUGE differences between all major religions, and there are equally huge differences between every denomination of Christianity. Look for differences, and you'll set Jew against Muslim against Christian. Look for differences, and you'll set Baptist against Lutheran against Mormon. Look for differences, and you'll always find them.

Look for similarities, however, and you'll find those, too.

Whether the similarities are many or few, they will always exist, because every man since the dawn of time has been looking to fill the same spiritual hole. Muslim. Hindu. Jew. Catholic. Buddhist. Sikh. Protestant. At some level, they are always the same.

Here's a little multiple choice test for you, courtesy Kluckhohn and Murray (1953).

Every human is in certain respects
A. like all other humans
B. like some other humans
C. like no other human

The answer, of course, is D - all of the above. Which of those you emphasize at any given time will determine your life. And, sometimes, the course of history.

I believe that every person's faith is ultimately founded on divine revelation. You feel the presence of God and accept the Truth He brings you. As a Protestant, perhaps, you recognize that Catholics can experience the same sense of divine revelation, even if you think they get some of the details horribly wrong. We see enough similarities to negate the many differences. Why is it so hard, then, to accept that a Hindu can feel the presence and Truth of God?  Do you think a Catholic loves God less than a Protestant, or a Muslim less than a Jew? Ignore the differences, and you'll find the similarities remarkably striking.

No matter how strong my faith, I long ago realized my understanding would always be weak. Divine revelation may be boundless, but the receptacle is limited. Even what might seem like contradictions may be so only within my limited perceptions. Only God can understand God. Only God can comprehend God's plan.

I have to walk the path I see before me. I have to believe it's the right path. But to say that all other paths are wrong is the height of pride and arrogance, and suggests I know far more than I can ever possibly know. I see only what God has revealed to me, and part of that is to know He doesn't tell me everything. Who is to say whether the Hindu or the Muslim or the Mormon worship different Gods than the one who speaks to me?

I will never be able to see God through their eyes, through their hearts, but I often wonder, if I could, might I not recognize an old and infinitely complex Friend?


Opeth
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35 posted 03-04-2002 12:30 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Denise quoted,

"I'm certainly not an historian by any stretch of the imagination, I find that the Islamic interpretation of God to be counter to all that is revealed in the Old and New Testaments concerning the depiction of who God says He is, ie, evidenced in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Beginning in the Book of Genesis through to Revelations He depicts Himself thus. A careful reading of these scriptures can lead to no other conclusion, although the word Trinity is never mentioned."


To me, the bible never supported the trinity belief. In fact, in the NT, Paul begins almost every letter to the church without ever mentioning a Holy Spirit.

What is in a name?  God the Father = Yahweh.  The Son = Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit = ? No name. Being called "the Comforter, etc, does not count because it is description, not a name.

I don't believe the bible teaches a trininty. The trinity concept was derived from the Egyptian religion of the Ba and the Ra.

"In the beginning there was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God..."
  Upon reading that passage it would appear to me that their are only 2 persons in the Godhead.

Many Christians with whom I have studied the Bible with, along with myself came to the same conclusion = The Holy Spirit of God is how God (The Father and the Son) make contact, spirtually.  It is not an entity, but the power of both the Father and the Son.

Genesis reads, "...and the spirit of God moved over the earth."

So, Denise, it is your opinion that there is no other conclusion possible, but there most certainly is...

another note - did any of you know that during the 17th century, before the bible was massly produced, certain monks added to the sripture (I can't remember in which book, I would have to consult my notes), but they addes these words, "...and these three are one."  It is well known fact, and an embarassement to the leaders of the Christian faith, that these words were added during that time frame after the many hundreds of years of using that specific passage as concrete evidence of a trinity.

The more we learn and open our minds, the more we find that what we were told is not the truth.
Jamie
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36 posted 03-04-2002 12:37 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

The attempt to define something as diverse as Christianity, while good exercise for your debating skills is more likely to irritate rather than illuminate. Knowing I can't illuminate, I ask only that nobody get irritated at the following, which while not totally satirical isn't exactly serious either.

Assuming the atheists are wrong and there is a God, it would probably be safe to say there is only one of Him. ( the Holy Trinity not withstanding)

Now, imagine several thousand years ago someone knew all about this one God, and he told someone else, and they in turn....etc.. etc.. ( you get the idea )--
words  were written and amended, and more words followed-- some were declared to be the very words of God himself.

Since human beings did the writing and telling it isn't hard to imagine how it could become so mixed up thousands of years later.

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.
byron

Opeth
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37 posted 03-04-2002 12:45 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Questions about the NT

1. It is the Gospel of whom?
2. What was the good news (gospel) that Christ spoke of?
3. What did Christ say to those who think that they only have to believe in Him without doing what He says?
4. What is a sin? Are sins the same for every Christian?
5. What day of the week did Christ and his apostles (even after his death) worship on?

[This message has been edited by Opeth (03-04-2002 12:51 PM).]

Opeth
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38 posted 03-04-2002 12:48 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Good point, Jamie, but (mainstream) Christians believe that the Bible was Holy Spirit inspired while written and therefore cannot be error.  To those Christians who do not believe that the Bible is infallible...well, then I guess the entire religion is a "free-for-all" and believe what you want and disregard the rest.
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39 posted 03-04-2002 03:51 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


Stephanos,

“So is the "Christian" God the only God? No... He's the only real one. “

So what you are saying, if I’m reading this right, is that Christianity is the only true religion, all the others are inferior, praying to gods that are unreal; that don’t really exist.

So I take it that before Christianity there was no true religion and all gods up to that time were false or did not in fact exist or was there a religion that worshipped the Christian true God before the arrival of Christianity?
Denise
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40 posted 03-04-2002 09:18 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Ron,

On further reflection, if Islam indeed worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as they state and their diety is not the Arabian moon god as some references state, or an attempted combination of the two, then they are worshiping the same God as Christians.  Their concept of Him is vastly different though, and in that sense He is not the same. Regardless of how different religions or people see Him, the fact remains that there is only One God, which was the original question by Phaedrus.  People may have different perceptions of Him, but whatever their perceptions, He remains who He is.

Opeth,

I stand corrected. You have proven to me that there can be other interpretations of the number of ways in which God has revealed Himself. Yet, according to your own interpretation, there are still two manifestations,  as opposed to what is understood by Islam.  They still have to deny at worst or mistranslate at best, God’s word in Genesis, “In the beginning, We created…” to arrive at their doctrinal position.  I personally believe that He has manifested Himself in three.. In Matthew 28:19 we read Christ’s own words after His resurrection: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  I am not at all familiar with that verse that was supposedly added in the 17th century. You'll have to share that if you find it.

I’d have to say that the general consensus in Christian thought is that we are not bound by observance of the Sabbath, regardless whether it be believed to be on Saturday or Sunday or any other holy day. Some decide to hold it special and some do not but hold all days as holy unto the Lord. My understanding of the purpose of the Sabbath was to point to the future rest to be found in Christ. And like the rest of the Law, Christians are not bound to the performance of the Law to gain or maintain righteousness. The Apostle Paul taught Christians not to act as judges of each other in these matters and in other matters as well.

Gospel literally means good news. There are various ways that this word is used in the New Testament. Sometimes if refers to the good news of the literal earthly Kingdom of God to be set up in Israel.  Sometimes it refers to the good news of salvation. Sometimes it simply refers to temporal good news.

Whose Gospel?  That depends on how you are defining the word Gospel.

What did Christ say to those who think they only have to believe in Him without doing what he says? The thing that He said in response to the question, "What must we do to do the works of God?" was that the "works of God" is to believe in Him. Are you thinking of a different verse? If so, you’ll have to let me know what it is so I can look it up.  My belief is that once a person comes to Christ through faith for salvation they are no longer under the Law for righteousness. The requirements of the Law have been fulfilled by Christ on behalf of the believer. He did state that He did not come to abolish the Law, which is true. He came to fulfill it by His life, death and resurrection. If He has fulfilled its requirements, then we don't have to labor under it. We are to rest in Him and believe in Him to live His perfect life through us.


Which day of the week did Christ observe the Sabbath? He observed it on Saturday as He had to fulfill the Law perfectly on our behalf in order to be able to be offered as the sinless spotless sacrifice. I don’t know which day the apostles observed the Sabbath after Christ’s death and/or resurrection.  I have read literature that argues both positions. My view is that whatever day they chose they were not doing it to fulfill the Law, since Christ had already done that,  but were gathering together to worship God, as we do today.

What is sin? To my understanding, it is any act or failure to act that falls short of the perfect standard of God’s revealed will. And for the Christian, that is not the LAW with its commands. We live by a higher law of faith in Christ's fulfillment of the Law, the Law of Liberty, characterized by love. If we are resting in Christ and allowing Him to live His life through us, then we will not violate His will, since Christ cannot violate it. It is when we take our focus off of Him that we can fall into sin. In fact the Bible even says that whatever is not of faith is sin. So then it could even be argued that the good we do, if we are not resting in Christ to perform them, that is even sin.  Can something be a sin for one Christian and not for another. Yes. If something is not specifically against the revealed will of God, and yet it offends the conscience of someone, (that someone being described as weak in faith) then for him to partake of that which his conscience forbids, then for him it is sin.  (in the Bible it is a conversation about, eating meat as opposed to eating just vegetables.)  And the point of these verses was to tell us not to judge each other in these matters, but for each person to live at peace with their own consciences and with each other and that whatever we do, to do all to the glory of God.

Phaedrus,

That is not what Stephanos has said. Go back and read what he said again. There is only One True God, and we have seen that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has always existed and existed prior to Christianity. That has been stated numerous times in this thread. Different religions may have different perceptions of who He is and/or who He says He is and some religions actually do worship gods of their own creation.  That does not change the fact that He is who He is.  

Also, as I’ve said before, Christianity is not a religion. It is being rightly related to God, this being made possible by the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, completely apart from our own works and efforts, in fulfillment of His plan from eternity past. There is no religion that offers this to anyone nor even claims to. Only God can and does, through Christ. And the offer is available to anyone who wishes to receive it, regardless of who they are, regardless of their religion, regardless of anything they have or have not done. "Whosoever will"

[This message has been edited by Denise (03-04-2002 09:33 PM).]

Stephanos
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41 posted 03-05-2002 12:50 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

I hear much truth in what you are saying.  And yet I hope you hear the truth in what I am trying to say.  Jesus according to scripture (and according to the revelation he has given to me) is more than a prophet.  In fact the apostles interpreted his life in this manner...  "In the beginning was the word.  The word was with God.  The word was God. . .  The word became flesh and dwelled among us".  They believed that Jesus Christ was "God incarnate".  When you believe this doctrine (and it's really not a doctrine when we know him... it's an essence... it is Who he is) other views of Christ and by implication, God, must be denied.  


Jesus said many things which communicated his exclusiveness.  "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me". . . "He who has the Son has life.  He who does not have the Son does not have life" . . . "Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a theif and a robber ... I am the door of the sheep".  


I understand that we should not be trying to make all own God to the exact parameters of our limited and often erroneous views... And we should never operate in pride.  That's why even my own view of God must come under HIS scrutiny.  I don't always trust my own view of God ... though I glide along many times in seeming confidence, there is a sneaking suspicion that I have missed something.  Even Jesus' closest disciples were rebuked and corrected for views of "God" that were really images of "God" in man's image.  So there is alot of room for grace, compassion, and patience on the part of believers in Christ, who "see through a glass darkly".  There is also much grace and compassion for those who don't accept Christianity ... but it is also a grace that tells them they are wrong where they are wrong and right where they are right.  If someone follows a prophet (like Mohammed) who taught that Jesus was someone other than he revealed himself to be, then they are following a false prophet.  Jesus himself said to beware of false prophets.  The apostles echoed this by warning against the spirit of "anti-Christ".  


My attitude is always to seek Jesus for who He revels himself to be.  This goes way beyond doctrine... But it is not an all inclusive road.  Jesus said "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it".  I would rather be in that "tiny little corner with three other people, if I can be assured that one of them is Jesus Christ". . . (of course he came to save all who would believe)  He never came to honor man's ways to "god".  He came to say that there is one way to God, namely himself.  


He tended to upset people with his exclusive views of his Father.  He was called "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence".  He taught about "wheat and tares" that looked alike.  He said things like, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace but a sword..."  He even called the Pharisees, the religious elite representing the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, sons of the Devil.  He did not doubt that they claimed to worship the same God,  but in reality, they hated God... this was manifested in what they did to him in the end.  "Whoever rejects me, rejects the one who sent me".  The "paradox" which asks if Jesus worshipped the right God, is not a paradox at all.  He worshipped the right God indeed ... the God that a religious nation had quit worshipping in the main long ago, though they retained many outward ceremonies and doctrines and laws.  "They drew near to God with their lips, but their hearts were far from him".

All of these things sound harsh, especially coming from the mouth of one who is known for love and unbounded compassion... And certainly these ideas can be taken out of balance.  They can even be used to defend yet another personal "graven image" of God, with great Zeal and intimidation.  But that's the risk... Jesus said them.  I believe he said them for a reason.  Do I understand it all?  No.  But I recieve this one truth. . . "Let God be true, but every man a liar".  If God said it, it matters not who says otherwise, me, you, or anyone else.  


There is a tendency to take all world religions and make them different paths that lead to the same destiny.  But Christ taught one path to the Father... himself.  


Despite the exclusiveness of Christians, they are called love the outsiders all the more (and many do).  Being exclusive does not mean hating, abusing, or despising.  It means standing in the truth, yet being open to dialogue without a nasty spirit.


I am assuming you are a Christian from some of the things you have said before.  And I am not your adversary.  Nor Am I saying that I have it all right.  But I know that HE does.  I want to make sure I have it right.  If that comes across as rigid at times I cannot help it.  But I see the same in the scriptures, even in Jesus himself.  There were points on which he would not and could not move.  But his heart was more free and unbound than anyone, and he chose to suffer by a great love for us all.


respectfully,  

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (03-05-2002 12:55 AM).]

Ron
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42 posted 03-05-2002 12:44 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
If that comes across as rigid at times I cannot help it.  But I see the same in the scriptures, even in Jesus himself.  There were points on which he would not and could not move.

Jesus could justify rigidity, Stephen. He could justify righteous anger. He could, and did, and WILL judge people.

I am not Jesus.

I have to make my own choices every day, always in the face of what is necessarily imperfect knowledge. If God chooses to reveal some small Truth to me, I know it is just one thread of a much larger tapestry. I can't even be sure I haven't frayed the ends of my thread, or put a big knot right in the middle of it, because God promised me the free will to exactly that. I know next to nothing. Half of what I do know is probably wrong. I am surely not Jesus.

How could I possibly tell a man of conscience his thread is the wrong color for God's tapestry just because I can see it's not the same color as mine?

Brad
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43 posted 03-05-2002 02:31 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Opeth and others,

I see no contradiction between your dualist interpretation and the traditional trinity. If I win a race, was it I who won or my running ability? The unity of aspects or characteristics does not change that these things are different yet nevertheless the same and separable.

I like that you got Denise to concede that different interpretations are possible. That's a significant concession (it doesn't go anywhere of course, but I live for stuff like that ) -- I'm sure she doesn't feel it's all that significant.

On the seventeenth century addition: The question the comes to my mind is so what? If the Bible is endowed with the 'Holy Spirit', who's to say that the monk who did that wasn't also endowed with the 'Holy Spirit'? The term revealed truth has come up in a number of places but whether you accept a dualist or trinitarian view of God, you still have to accept the essential point that unity is a unity of multiplicity: each aspect in no way contradicts the other. In this sense, it was simply time to emphasize another point in this multiplicity, one that was already there but, for any of a number of reasons (humanity's immaturity immediately comes to mind), was not emphasized in the same light as now and by the seventeenth century monk.

This point simply follows from Ron's point about the infallibility doctrine (in another thread). If the Bible is infallible, it's
always already infallible, whatever mistakes, errors in judgement, or whatever we make does nothing to change that. It is so by definition. But that infallibility is still under the same multiplicity as unified God.

See how that works?

Of course, Ron said that infallibility is our check to determine God's prophets from the real ones, but doesn't it work the other way around? We assume infallibility first and then proceed to explain what only initially looks fallible into the infallible.

If we didn't do this, we would then be saying that our concepts, our ideas, our limited ways of thinking and seeing are above God's works, that we have the ability to judge God.

And nobody really wants to do that, do they?

In our mundane, historically situated world, this has led to some frightening consequences, and it's not dissimilar to the infallibility doctrine of the communist party.

But nobody really wants to go there, do they?

More later,
Brad

Next, similarity and difference, or why do we all want everybody to think like us and take all the fun out of life.
Opeth
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44 posted 03-05-2002 02:34 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth


"I personally believe that He has manifested Himself in three.. In Matthew 28:19 we read Christ’s own words after His resurrection: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”."


- Now one of us would have to be wrong, right? The nature and just who is the Deity is extremely important, lest Satan cast in confusion and we would all be worshipping a false God. I read that passage and means the opposite to me.  - In the NAME of both Father and Son and OF the Holy Spirit - which is the Spirit of both the Father and the Son.

I believe the bible teaches that God the Father, Christ the Son, and His Church which is the Bride and Bride and the Son ultimately bring forth the Born Again Children = the Christians of the Church (Bride). No trinity here.

"I am not at all familiar with that verse that was supposedly added in the 17th century. You'll have to share that if you find it."


- Well it is a fact. And it makes me wonder how many other ways in which the bible has been altered through translations to change meanings into what MEN think and want it to mean.

"I’d have to say that the general consensus in Christian thought is that we are not bound by observance of the Sabbath, ...Some decide to hold it special and some do not but hold all days as holy unto the Lord."


- Let me preface my answer to this by asking you this question. Out of the 10 commandments (don't say they were abolished, that is another issue), which one would you believe to be the easist to break without ever knowing it?  To me, the answer is simple, it is the 4th commandment, Keeping the Sabbath holy. No other commandment could be easily dismissed. Now Christ summed up the commandments by telling people to love the lord and love your neighbor.  The first 4 commandments deal with loving the lord, the last 6 deal with loving one's neighbor.

The bible defines sin for us. It is the breaking of God's commandments. It is in your bible, no matter what we think a sin is, man can't determine what is sin, the bible tells us what sin is. Many people confuse the "jewish laws" with the laws of God, which never were abolished, otherwise there would be no sin.

There are no laws, I will kill because that ******* deserves it. No, the commandments are alive and well, read the old testament, the prophecies of the end days in Isaiah, Ezekial among others...those prophecies are for today. I have much written on this and would have to obtain my notes...if I have the time, I will share with you with these passages. Even in the NT in revelations, read the final passages where Christ is coming back and only those who are keeping his commandments shall be saved.

Now with that being said, the Sabbath was MADE. It was created by God. Even before the laws of Moses, the Sabbath was a holy day unto the lord. Who and by what authority changed the Sabbath to Sunday? The apostles kept the Sabbath, read it in Acts...long after Christ died. If the Sabbath was changed after his death, why did they not celebrate Sunday or any day as the Sabbath?

Now, once one learns of this truth (if it is proven), and one dismisses it, or refuses to believe it, while other Christians believe differently, who is right? One of you are among the false churhces that was prophesized in revelations and througout the NT....Christ called his flock "little" - Revelations states that Satan deceives the WHOLE world, Christ told of those who worshipped him, but didn't do what he had told them to...A false christ, appearing as a minister of righteiousness (False Christianity)...which Christian church is the TRUE church? It does make a difference.

There was only one gospel, Christ said it himself, The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.
All other issues of being saved, etc is of course part of the teaching, but was not the thrust of his teaching. The meaning was changed by men, seeking a business.

The christian leaders of today are the scribes and pharisees of Christ's time, no doub in my mind. They have missed the point, just as those leaders did in Christ's day and these leaders today have a huge following, just as the scribes/pharisees did back then.

Here is what I have found to be true, to be truly taught by the Holy Spirit...and don't worry, it is not for all today to understand, but only a select few (which doesn't make the select few any better).

1. God is not trying to save the world today.
He is no contest with Satan in a soul saving mission.

2. Most people who have lived throughout the ages will ultimately be saved.

3. There are 3 ressurections to take place. One, immediately upon Christ's return. After that there will be the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth where those saints will teach the rest of the mortals who will be raised up just as Ezekial prophecized in the Valley of the Bones. Most of these people will accept Christ and become new spirtiual beings, those who rebel, will join in on the 3rd ressurection - the ressurection of the incorrigably wicked.

4. Those who will be ressurected for eternal punishment will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will burn up and no longer exist.

5. Satan and his minions will spend eternity in Tartaros, nothing but blackness forever in torments. Alas, they were created as immortal spirits, unlike the human being.

Now, this is what the Holy Spirit of God taught me as I seeked the truth. Most Christian churches would call me crazy or a heretic...so who is right?
Brad
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45 posted 03-05-2002 04:48 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Opeth,

But isn't that the whole point? The quest for rightness is an impossible quest as long as we remain in our limited, historically situated selves.

Yet, nevertheless the quest must be undertaken in order to show precisely our limitations without God.

Everybody knows I don't really believe in any of this stuff (actually, my position is that the TRUTH doesn't matter), but I really like Denise's example of religion as a kind of example, an example that gives us a way to live our lives in the everyday world. That we have no surefire way to know we're right fits quite well with the way I see the world.

Dealing with doubt, uncertainty, contingency, the unexpected, the unthought, the indifferent are uncomfortable concepts for most people, but while religion, faith, revelation, and the Bible may not  necessarily be solutions to this dilemma, they are ways of coping with them.

If the TRUTH were obtainable by human beings in human ways, I think this essential point would be missed:  

The jump across the abyss in any situation is one made blind but it nevertheless must be made.

Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (03-05-2002 04:53 PM).]

Ron
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46 posted 03-05-2002 06:43 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
People may have different perceptions of Him, but whatever their perceptions, He remains who He is.

Denise, I couldn't agree more. My point is that NO perception of Him can ever be complete and whole, certainly not in this existence, and probably not in any. The infinite is beyond our grasp. It's like the old cliché about the three blind men and the elephant. If you're feeling an ear and I'm feeling the leg, we're going to have very different perceptions of that elephant. But, it would still be pure folly for me to try to tell you that elephants don't have ears. God remains who He is - even if all I can ever feel is a leg.

quote:
Now one of us would have to be wrong, right?

See above, Opeth. I'm unclear why right and wrong is so important. I can mathematically show both that X=2 and X=3. So, if you think X=2, then you're right. If someone else thinks X=3, they're right, too. And no one has yet seen ALL the possible answers. Are we so foolish as to imagine God has shown us all that He is? Are we so arrogant as to believe we could understand all that He is?

quote:
And it makes me wonder how many other ways in which the bible has been altered through translations to change meanings into what MEN think and want it to mean.

Should we believe God is powerless to make His message known because of the handiwork of mere men? I think it's clear, if you examine ALL the holy books attributed to the same God, that something somewhere is less than kosher (pun fully intended). But I also believe the important message remains untouched and certain. That belief is based on nothing more than trust.

quote:
Out of the 10 commandments, … which one would you believe to be the easist to break without ever knowing it?

ALL OF THEM! Which was the whole purpose of the Law. There isn't a single one of them you can avoid breaking.

quote:
Many people confuse the "jewish laws" with the laws of God, which never were abolished, otherwise there would be no sin.

Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter. Because even if the Law still exists, the punishment for breaking it has been abolished. Or, more accurately, it's already been paid. Those who try to live in obedience do so out of love, not fear. (One also should be careful to not confuse sin with Sin. There was technically no sin in the world until Moses, because there was no Law. But Sin has existed since Adam and Eve.)

quote:
Even before the laws of Moses, the Sabbath was a holy day unto the lord.

God worships a day of the week? Gee, and I didn't even realize He was bound by the trivial movements of our tiny little solar system. Let alone a man-made calendar. Okay, setting aside cute for a minute (but, it's hard to refrain), this is one of those thousand-and-one instances where too much attention to minutiae risks overlooking the greater truth of WHY the Sabbath was deemed holy. Love God. Every day. Heed the why, and everything else is just detail.

quote:
...which Christian church is the TRUE church? It does make a difference.

Only if you're in the wrong one. (See, I told you it was hard to refrain.) Okay, more seriously, I don't think right and wrong, true and false, have anything at all to do with doctrine. Doctrine is all about obedience. What does God want us to do? That sort of thing. And that's important. But if your dad tells you do something, you misunderstand what he meant and do something different, he's not going to get mad if he knows your intent. Frustrated perhaps, but not mad. And God DOES know intent.

Usually, when you get doctrine wrong the results are about the same as when you misunderstand your dad. He told you to take out the garbage, so you buy it dinner and a movie, and your social life plummets accordingly. You suffer, but only because you didn't do what was good for you. Doctrine is invariably God's way of telling you what is good for you. Get it right and life is good. Get it wrong and you suffer. But not because you're being rewarded or punished.

In my opinion, the false church has nothing do with churches or organized religions. The false church is ANYTHING you value more than God. It replaces God not in the sense that it's a different or wrong God, but rather in the sense that you no longer have room in your life for any God. I'm certainly not a prophet, but I'd be willing to bet the false church will have a lot more to do with money than with doctrine.

quote:
There was only one gospel, Christ said it himself, The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand. All other issues of being saved, etc is of course part of the teaching, but was not the thrust of his teaching.

You sound Jewish? Because that's exactly what the Jews believed, and is THE REASON they crucified Jesus. They wanted a Messiah who would lead them out of Roman servitude, establishing the Kingdom that was their birthright. They couldn't understand that God's concept of "… at Hand" was on a little grander scale than their own simple temporal existence. Fortunately, God realized early on that the Kingdom of Heaven was going to be a little sparse without divine intervention, 'cause the number of humans who had earned entry two thousand years ago could be counted on one hand. Salvation isn't incidental to the message. It IS the message.

quote:
Here is what I have found to be true, to be truly taught by the Holy Spirit...and don't worry, it is not for all today to understand, but only a select few…

Please don't crap a brick, Opeth, but I essentially agree with all five of your points. I do not agree the understanding is only for a select few, nor do I believe this is the whole story. It's just the very small part we've been told, probably the only part we can hope to understand. I have this sneaky suspicion there's about a thousand years of glossed over prophesy that is far more important than we realize.

quote:
… but I really like Denise's example of religion as a kind of example, an example that gives us a way to live our lives in the everyday world.

I agree completely, Brad. I think many people miss the fact that Jesus was a teacher, centering instead only on His sacrifice. If salvation were His only purpose, it could have been done a lot more quickly. The death and resurrection deal with our eternity, but the life of Jesus deals with our here and now. He was the ultimate example of how to live our lives, not to earn brownie points with God, but because it simply makes for better and richer lives. God let's us make our own choices, but He has given us plenty of really good advice on what works and what doesn't.

What would Jesus do in this situation? No matter a person's faith, they could hardly go wrong by asking that question a little more often.


Phaedrus
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47 posted 03-05-2002 07:23 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


Denise,

I read the whole thread again and Stephanos definitely said:

“So is the "Christian" God the only God? No... He's the only real one. “

It’s in the 33rd post four paragraphs down.

What I asked was:

“So what you are saying, if I’m reading this right, is that Christianity is the only true religion, all the others are inferior, praying to gods that are unreal; that don’t really exist.”


“He's the only real one.” – this statement, unless I misread it, seems to point to the above, if I’m reading this right.

“So I take it that before Christianity there was no true religion and all gods up to that time were false or did not in fact exist or was there a religion that worshipped the Christian true God before the arrival of Christianity?”

This is an either/or question based on the first statement, I asked it to help clarify in my own mind the singular ‘real’ God and Christianity’s position with relation to that God.

Brad

I can see the merit that Christianity has as an example of how one might live ones life however the same thing could be said for the Islamic faith; Hinduism and the even the Waltons!

Most religions, as I see them, tend to stem from mans quest for an answer to the question that has been on his lips since he first raised his eyes from the savannah to gaze at the night sky – WHY?

Human nature does not allow an unanswered question, in the same way that nature itself abhors a vacuum, once a question has been asked answers rush to fill the void. One of those answers may even be correct but to elevate one above any other, at this time, would be foolhardy. As I’ve said previously, I know very little about any religion the only thing I can say with any conviction is that for every scrap of ‘proof’ offered by any member of one religion all the others will wave a counter proof.

Every man is entitled to his/her belief and disbelief, I’ll listen to all of them and jump if and when I’m ready. If others have already made their leap who am I to argue?

Thanks for the chance to read and reply.
Denise
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48 posted 03-05-2002 09:53 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Phaedrus,

Yes, I believe you are missing the point. Stephanos was simply answering the question you asked, and was expressing that He isn't the only God, in the sense that some people do worship "god's" of their own creation, thus the emphatic statement that He is the only true God. God is not "Christian". God is God, existing eternally, prior to any understanding of Him by man and also prior to any religion. Christians, the first of whom were all Jewish, are merely those who have believed (regardless of their culture, religion, ethnicity, strengths or weaknesses)that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ that God had promised (beginning in Genesis and foretold throughout the Old Testament) and as foretold, believe that He has provided salvation to us freely by the efficacy of His sinless life, substitionary sacrificial death in atonement for our sins, past, present and future, and that His bodily resurrection was the sign of approval that His sacrifice was accepted by God on our behalf. Christ's death was not only necessary, in other words, it was and always will be enough. All we need do is receive what He has done, personally for ourselves, through faith. When people finally realize the all-sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, they realize that there is nothing that they ever could have done or ever will be able to do to add to what He has already done.

To everyone,

Whenever you hear the gospel of Christ's death being proclaimed for salvation you are hearing God's heart calling out to the ones He longs to gather unto Himself. The message should never be interpreted as a put down of those who are caught up in the rituals of religion or in the imaginations of their mind, for that is not the intent nor the focus of the message. The heart of the message is God's infinite unconditional love for man. He is crying out "Look and live".

As I've said numerous times in this thread, Christianity is not a religion. It is not man's attempt to attain to or relate to God by man's efforts, works, observence of the Law, etc. It is simply receiving what God has already done on our behalf and it can only be received as a gift. In other words, it's free for the taking and we can't pay God for it with our imperfect attempts at law or rule keeping. If we want God to accept us on the terms of our own righteousness, we're in big trouble because His Law demands perfection, which means you have never or will never break a single command and in every good deed that you ever have done or ever will do it must be performed with pure motives beyond reproach. God said if you break one command, even once in your whole life, you've broken the whole and you are utterly without hope. A thousand "good deeds" cannot make up for it. He says He gave us His Law to prove to us that we cannot do it and to make us see our utter hopelessness and need for a savior. God doesn't grade on the curve. It's perfection or nothing. Perfection can only be found in God and His righteousness.

"Because by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight,for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested , being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:20-24

Ron,

Yes, I would agree that one would be arrogant and a fool to proclaim to know the mind of God in totality. I am convinced that there is much that man does not know and perhaps may never know, or may not be able to understand even if it were revealed, but I do know that what He has already said can be banked on. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. Now, since I believe that Jesus is God and that He is trustworthy, that He cannot lie, I can trust my eternal soul into His safekeeping and if I knew nothing more than that, that would be enough. Any other facet of His mind, revealed or not, could not contradict the truth of what He has already revealed. We first have to start with what we know He has said and done and then base all other thought and opinion in the light of that.
Stephanos
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49 posted 03-06-2002 01:24 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

As I mentioned before,  I see much truth in what you are saying... and the humility aspect of it is admirable.  I think we should all be humble and remember that He is God and we aren't.  Perspective is good.  But I do believe where God has given divine revelation through scripture, and where we can "rightly divide the word of truth", we can speak certainly about those things and proclaim them as right...  And yes conversely, other things as wrong.  What happened to speaking the truth in love?  This is the correct antidote for speaking in arrogance (truth or lie).  But "Do not speak the truth for you are too fallible to be confident of it" is not much better.  There is something to be said of a possible "false humility" creeping in. . .   a  kind of humility which fails to speak God's revealed truth, because of not wanting to offend, or to preserve an excusing "doubt of self, is really to not trust that God can reveal certainty to men that can be taught to others.  


If you want a pattern for good disclipleship to Christ, take his very twelve, or Paul, or Stephen.  These men taught certainty of unwavering truth.  Was Jesus the only one who seemed rigid or immoveable?  Take a look at the sermon of Stephen in the book of Acts.  This kind of "standing" is not in pride or human confidence.  But where God has revealed clearly, it stands with boldness.


There is a fine line between confidence in his truth, and arrogance.  Have I ever crossed that line the wrong way?  I'm more than sure I have.  But there is also a fine line between self-doubt and unbelief.  Just something to consider.


Stephen.

 
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