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Puddle Jumper
05-12-2005, 07:28 AM
Kind of like doing research for a story. :)

Can you give a list of reasons why you would leave a church? For example, "Change in Statement of Beliefs that I disagree with" or "Too much gossip." As many reasons as you can think of would be preferable. :)

Sonya
05-12-2005, 08:11 AM
A reason to leave in my opinion would be if the attitude has become judgmental or legalistic rather than having a spirit of grace.

Sonya

reph
05-12-2005, 08:53 AM
Dr. Rita, too-loud music is a genuine reason to leave. People with reactive tinnitus, in particular, need to avoid loud sounds. "Reactive" means environmental noise makes their tinnitus louder. For anyone, excessive noise has a cumulative effect, hastening hearing loss.

MadScientistMatt
05-12-2005, 05:30 PM
Biggest one - it turned out they were a cult. The church looked pretty normal on the surface, but had some real problems with their doctrine, acted pretty manipulative, and sometimes even used deception to get new people to come to their meetings. I was involved for about two months there.

Another reason I've left a church was moving to another city.

Some reasons I've left churches that I was just looking at and only visited for a few weeks:

1. The pastor preached too much about politics and not enough about God.
2. The church had no sense of community - just a large worship service and few opportunities to actually get to know members.
3. I just plain didn't agree with what they taught.
4. I was just about the only one my age there. (Trivial, maybe, but it's good to have Christian friends my own age to hang out with as a good influence.)

Reasons I could see myself leaving a church that I had been a member of for a long time that haven't happened yet:

1. The church's teachings change to something I have a major disagreement with, or takes something where I had considered it a disputable matter where it is OK to agree to disagree and really starts pushing it agressively.
2. A church becomes too unloving and legalistic.
3. The church gets a new pastor who either acts like a tyrant or introduces doctrinal changes that I do not agree with.

DrRita
05-12-2005, 07:41 PM
Dr. Rita, too-loud music is a genuine reason to leave. People with reactive tinnitus, in particular, need to avoid loud sounds. "Reactive" means environmental noise makes their tinnitus louder. For anyone, excessive noise has a cumulative effect, hastening hearing loss.

Dear Reph,
You are right; that would be a legitimate reason, and while I can be totally sympathetic to the ailment, in the cases I've sited, illness was not the reason. And if it were made known, I know a compromise could be made. Due to otosclerosous, I had a stapendectomy(sp?) done about 25 years ago and now have a small wire where the three little bones once were. Loud noises hurt and I cannot tolereate really loud music either.

Sonya
05-12-2005, 11:30 PM
I don't know what type of church you pastor or what your beliefs are but I would like to share some things with you from the point of view of someone who sat in the pews for twenty plus years.

The church I left years ago---the youth pastor ran off with one of the teenagers (a 14 year old). The pastor refused to notify authorities and shoved it under the carpet. The pastor was involved in some things I won't go into here that were wrong. People who spoke out against it were labeled as complainers. The church members who pointed out a problem became the problem. I cannot even begin to go into everything that went on in this church. Sadly, it's not the only one of it's kind. Definitely not the kind of church where anyone got fed. That's not an excuse, but truthfulness.

I study the Greek and Hebrew meanings of scripture. In the past, I've read my Bible through twice a year or more. Why? Because I want to know. I love to learn. My pastor at the time felt threatened by my family and I studying on our own.

Two years ago, we had a pastor who felt comfortable making fun of church members or trying to gossip to us about other members of the church. Because we'd been to Bible college he felt like we 'were on the same page'. He ran around demanding that people 'reverence' him and his wife. The church chased away people who didn't carry what they considered the 'right' Bible. We left there (again same denomination as the first church). We were very honest about why we left. After we left, we were shunned by 'friends' still in the church because we'd pulled away and were in their opinion 'sinning'. There is a mentality of 'ours is the only 'right' kind of church' and if 'you're not with us, we can't associate with you' outside the church.


I'm not referring to you, but I do want to point out that sometimes the sin is on the part of the pastor, rather than the members. There are good members who desire to see a church be healthy, nurturing, and a blessing to the members and community.

Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like to discuss church more in depth with me.

Sonya

DrRita
05-13-2005, 10:15 AM
Sonya,

I totally agree with you!! Believe me I know from first hand experience what it's like to be involved in churches that abuse their members both physically and mentally/spiritually. Before my husband and I started our ministry in 1997 we spent twenty years in several different churches and have dealt with all of the above from a members point of view. Before pastoring, in our "training" years, we were involved in leadership as well as just faithful members. We have been through all kinds of stuff and most of it was from pastors or leadership who abused their power. I could tell you stories that would make you cry. I'm writing a book about it infact. I just want you to know, I understand from personal experience what you have gone through. I also know from the other side what pastors go through. It's hard and very discouraging at times. I know there are many wonderful people who are faithful, hard working and diligent. I am sorry you have had such horrible experiences. It makes me ashamed sometimes to hear these stories and pray God will get the glory somehow out of the twisted stuff that goes on. Anyway, if you'd like to share anything, you feel free to send me a message. And if I've offended you, please forgive me.

ruki
05-13-2005, 12:45 PM
Very interesting topic and an issue I'm currently dealing with. I joined the church I presently attend about 8 months ago. I'd visited the church in the past and sited -- well, just let's just say "areas of concern". I struggled with placing my membership there but believe I was prompted by the Spirit to join.

This is a very small church, in a urban/rural setting. But God is God where ever. Seems like the first week after I joined, a member got up and testified that after 17 years her oldest daughters father and she were finally getting back together. He was there that morning and said the "Lord got a hold of Him and he wanted to do the right thing"

Well let me tell you the church went crazy, Oh they got up and shouted, and raised their hands and danced and praised (Still not sure who they were praising). I was glued to my seat for some reason, and later found out they weren't getting married -- they were "living together." and everyone knew it.

If that wasn't enough, 2 months ago , this same "shackin' sister" went up for prayer and whispered something in the pastors' ear. After the altar call was over he announced "Sis so and so, has a need, she lost her job and has been out of work for some time, so we're going to take up a special offering....." Oh, and the "boyfriend" well he didn't work either, and hadn't been to church since that first day.

Needless to say I was insensed, and of course did not contribute to this mess. There are several other problems I could list them, but someone might call the post police. But I'll just say this is why the Lord had me pull my article back out. (In case you've not read it).

The young people in this church are out-of-control, and I read where Dr. Rita said "parents will leave a church if they feel their child was threatened" well what about the other way around.

I produce and direct the television broadcast, and one of the youth "workers" told me on a particular Sunday "he didn't have to "man" the camera the entire service" it was o.k for him to sit 20 feet away from the camera and still do a good job. I said "well I'll speak to your Granddad and see what he has to say about this. I mentioned the incident to the pastor, he made excuses for this child, and said "well you know -- he's very tired on Sunday Mornings because he stays up so late." BTW, the young man IS the Pastors' grandson.

This kid is 14 years old and you have no more control over him than that?

Well I'd better stop now. But, all these incidents have just made it impossible for me to stay.

robeiae
05-13-2005, 09:10 PM
PJ, you might want to solicit reasons why people would join a church, as well. It can often be indicitive of why they might leave.

Just a thought,

Rob

Sonya
05-13-2005, 09:53 PM
Sonya,
And if I've offended you, please forgive me.

DrRita,

You didn't offend me at all! I sent you an e-mail because I felt it was just too long to post here. : 0 )

Sonya

aboyd
05-13-2005, 10:30 PM
Lack of recognition.

Personality clashes.These two are, right now, the reasons why I stopped volunteering at my church. (By recognition I don't mean I need my ego stroked, I mean that I do not like to be used & discarded.)

I worked on a church project for over two years. When I was laid off of my "real" job I sent an email to the leaders in the church who used my skills often. I was hoping for a job lead, or a reference, or prayer. Instead, nobody replied at all. I was really, really pissed that the church staff used my services for years and then when I needed help, they couldn't be bothered.

The next week, when a staff member screwed up a bunch of stuff, I was quickly called in to fix everything. While I was there, I learned that Mr. Screwup had gone to the pastor and made a bunch of decisions about the project without my input. I was the lead on the project, but this kind of stuff kept happening. So I said, "sounds like this is yours now."

Now it's pretty much dead. I know it will come back stronger than ever some day, but I'm glad I won't be a part of it.

Closer to the theme of this topic, I think my biggest issue now is that lately I'm having a hard time believing anything otherworldly. I remember reading an interview with some pop star a while ago, and she was asked if she viewed her oversexed near-porn music videos as offensive to God. And she gave a lurid answer and said, "if God don't like it, he can call me home right now."

I thought, "huh, that's interesting." I decided to apply a similar concept: someone came by our house to convert me, and I said, "I'll believe in your God if you can call down fire, just like they did in the Bible. Go ahead, call it down." Where is God? Is he the absentee landlord, as Al Pacino said? Or is he not there at all?

The next time I leave a church, my reason may not be "I'm going to another church" but just "I'm going."

-Tony

kappapi99
05-14-2005, 03:51 AM
Most of the churches I left were simply because we moved away...another reason, at least for me, was our time was done there. I'm sorry if it doesn't make much sense, but after praying about it, I just felt it was time to move to another church.

Less than a year later I am on the leadership team of our new church's men's ministry :).

As for other reasons why I would leave, I would have to say it would be most likely because the pastor was was off his rocker in what he taught. I don't mean minor differences in doctrine, I mean legalistic or cult-like preaching.

Just my thoughts...

KP

William Haskins
05-14-2005, 07:48 AM
got tired of hypocrisy and racism. how's that?

sgtsdaughter
05-14-2005, 09:59 AM
lost my faith, so to speak. that's a topic for another time.

but really, i've left churches because the money plate was more important that the message. the car you drove and clothes you wore were more important than being there. the pastor slept with various women in the congregation. the snake thing . . . let's not go there. a friend drug me to her church, and i waited in the car on that one.

the list is long.

MacAllister
05-14-2005, 10:57 AM
Dr. Rita, I was sorry to see you removed your post--I thought it intelligent, interesting, and a positive contribution to this very interesting thread.

pepperlandgirl
05-14-2005, 12:01 PM
I left the Church I was raised in because I became an atheist, and while I could have continued to attend the services for my family's sake, and for the sense of community (FTR, I was raised in the LDS Church and still identify culturally, to some extent, as a Mormon), I felt that it was disrespectful to the faithful members of the Church to the extreme, so I quietly removed myself.

Vipersniper
05-14-2005, 05:56 PM
:Coffee: That you have outgrown them and it is time to move on to something else. I have done this several times when the politics of the church regarding the preacher got to be a flame throwing contest. I do hate when someone asks me why I left the church so and so when it purely is not their business. I left the last church because of the way certain members treated the female pastor. One guy said he would never set his foot in the church as long as she was there. I said to him. "Why come back then?" Now the church that I attend is getting new minister as the old one retired. Did not get involved in the process because I am open minded. When I lose that feeling I leave and that is simple.

Betty W01
05-15-2005, 07:46 AM
Interesting thread, y'all!

DH and I have attended the same church for 30+ yrs and over the years have weathered all sorts of things we didn't agree with (some relatively minor, some big ones that eventually came to the light and were dealt with) and a pastoral search that produced four pastors in five years recently. (WE love the one we finally ended up with.) However, we left several churches before this one.

One was a cult which we got mixed up with due to baby Christian ignorance, one was anti-charismatic to the point of saying that anyone who believed in the baptism of the HS, speaking in tongues, healing, etc. was from the devil, and one we left because we felt God was calling us to the one we're in now. We still occasionally go back to the last one to visit, since we still have friends there and it's where our oldest daughter attended youth group (and right next to where she's now buried.)

Really, though, I'd have to say that the only reason we'd leave our church is if God made it perfectly clear to us that He was taking us somewhere else. Lots of things would make us start praying about it, though, like big doctrinal changes that we could not agree with.

During some of the tough times in the past, we've prayed about leaving and even looked around a little, but we never had a peace about leaving. We're very happy there right now, but happiness isn't why we came or why we stay. Obedience is.

Ralyks
05-17-2005, 01:58 AM
I have always found that churches I have attended are either too liberal or too conservative for me (both theologically and politically). None has been Goldilocks-just-right. But I decided a long time ago that, unless I feel my spirtual well being is at risk or my conscience is violated, I need to just stick it out somewhere. The community is what matters most to me, and as long as I have fellowship, I'm pretty happy in a church, even if I don't agree with everything spoken from the pulpit and all of the decisions made and directions taken.

The only time I chose to leave a church for a reason other than a geographical move was because one I attended was becoming too legalistic and narrow, and the old pastor left (maybe for that reason also--the elders were leading it in that direction). Leaving was very difficult--gut-wrenching really. We had made friendships and had ties. It was quite a difficult decion, but that was one instance where our spirtual (and mental) well being required it.

I actually may be confronted with this struggle again soon, this time on the opposite spectrum--the church becoming too liberal and worldly (and too politically involved) instead of becoming too narrow and rigid. But if I can find a way to stay without violating my conscience, I will. I'm really involved in several ministires and have good friends here (whom I would hope I could keep even if I felt the need to leave).

WVWriterGirl
05-17-2005, 05:29 AM
I haven't been to a regular Sunday-school service in over eleven years. I was raised in a Baptist church - the pastor lived across the road from me all my life. As a teenager, I left that church to attend with my boyfriend, whom I thought was the one. Things went well, and all my friends from my old church began attending at my new church.

Things began to get out of hand, somehow. The youth group leader was best friends with my boyfriend's mother, and the two of them (for some reason) didn't like me very well. They began to spread rumors amongst my friends, and I began to be "shunned" (that's the only word for it I have) both inside and out of church. I used to solo in Sunday evening services, played the piano, held youth group lessons, planned trips, led prayer...all of a sudden, and for no reason I knew of, I was a pariah. Everything, all my activity within that church, was put to a stop. The pastor would not even shake my hand before or after Sunday morning or Sunday evening services. It all came to a head when the youth group and some of the church elders planned a trip to the Amish Country in Ohio. The other members of the youth group (some of the elders, too, for all I know) drew up a seating chart for the 4-5 hour bus ride up, 4-5 hour bus ride back. A seating chart that ensured I would sit alone the entire time. Even if I spoke to others, they would not speak back.

My question was, what did I do so wrong in God's eyes? Love the wrong person? If that was it, why did He feel the need to punish me in his own house? I left that church, and was too humiliated to return to the church of my childhood. I have a young son now, and feel guilty that I'm not the one taking him to Sunday school. At least he's going, though. His grandparents take him every Sunday morning. I'd never dream of stopping them...through it all, I still have faith that He's out there...I just think He has a funny way of "toughening me up".

WVWG

Celeste
05-17-2005, 10:02 PM
Originally posted by WVWriterGirl

Things began to get out of hand, somehow. The youth group leader was best friends with my boyfriend's mother, and the two of them (for some reason) didn't like me very well. They began to spread rumors amongst my friends, and I began to be "shunned" (that's the only word for it I have) both inside and out of church.

Something similar happened to me when I was a teen attending a Baptist church. I was 14 or 15, a bit of a rebellious teen, was defiant, got into mischief, etc.. Well, the church pastor knew of the problems my parents were having with me (which were minor) and decided to take it amongst himself to announce that I was a heroine addict to other members of the church asking for prayers for me. I was not on heroine. The worst as far as drugs that I was doing was smoking cigarettes! So, after that I had all these church members giving me stares like I was some sort of lost junky. Another teen from the youth group told me her parents told her to stay away from me because of what this pastor said. I haven't been a member of a church since. I'm 33 now.
If I want to worship a God, I'll do it in my home, in my own way.

Betty W01
05-17-2005, 10:19 PM
WgWv and Celeste, please don't hold what some misguided Christians did against God. I'm sure He often sheds tears over what people do in His name, against His principles of love, forgiveness, and justice. I know I sure do. On behalf of the body of Christ, forgive us for the hurt we did both of you.

WVWriterGirl
05-18-2005, 12:22 AM
There weren't any rumors of anything I'd done - at the time, I smoke anything (not that I smoke anything harder than cigs now...). I don't hold it against God - I just can't seem to find it in myself to trust a congregation to show me the way when they can't find it themselves. I'm perfectly capable of reading scripture and finding what I believe is God's path for me in life. If I have questions, I've got several trusted pastors that I can go to, one on one.

I think that what happened to me made me what I am today. I have no friends from my high school days - they were all members of the shunners club - but it gave me the opportunity to find new friends, new ways of looking at the world, and new attitudes. I'm like Celeste - I'll worship in my own way and in my own home.

WVWG

Celeste
05-18-2005, 12:30 AM
I don't hold it against God - I just can't seem to find it in myself to trust a congregation to show me the way when they can't find it themselves.


Yeah, that's how I feel. I don't hold a grudge against God, or anything. Like you, I definitely lost my trust toward congregations.

MadScientistMatt
05-18-2005, 02:59 AM
Yeah, I've been burned that way too. The time I fell in with a cult, I had a really hard time trusting churches or pastors after that. I felt nervous, almost to the point of panic attacks, setting foot in a sanctuary. Some of the panic was rational: I knew I had to be very careful of how a church's members behaved and what they taught. The other half, though, seemed to come from some animal nature deep inside me. The same sort of thing that short-circuits your thought process and just brings up mindless terror.

But now I'm a regular church attender again and the nervousness is gone. What helped me the most was that I was able to go back to the church I had grown up in for several months, as that was a place I always felt welcome and knew I could trust them. That kind of offset the panic, but that sort of nervousness takes time to go away. It also fades the more you go near something that brings on the panic without anything happening to give you reason to be afraid.

But trust has to be earned... whether it is by a person or by a church.

Just my own experiences with pain caused by screwed up congregations.

Sonya
05-18-2005, 06:24 AM
WgWv and Celeste, please don't hold what some misguided Christians did against God. I'm sure He often sheds tears over what people do in His name, against His principles of love, forgiveness, and justice. I know I sure do. On behalf of the body of Christ, forgive us for the hurt we did both of you.

One of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome was realizing years later that God's love and complete acceptance of me had been twisted and twisted until it was a yoke I could not bear.

I did not know about grace until we left that independent fundamental Baptist church --a very judgmental, legalistic background.

I know that not all churches are bad, but the scars from being in a bad church run deep.

It's a terrible feeling to serve somewhere for years, to take your children to Sunday School faithfully, to attend a Bible college only to discover that you've spent half your life believing wrongfully.

Despite all of that, though, I don't blame God for any of it. It is hard to want to go back though.

Sonya

Ruukah
05-18-2005, 10:05 AM
REASONS I WOULD STOP GOING TO A CHURCH:

1. If a woman in the church started hitting on me. (I'm female.)
2. If someone kept pestering me to help out with the kids' Sunday school classes.
3. If I was visiting for the first time and the pastor said flat-out that he didn't want me in his church. (This actually happened to me once...)
4. If the place is so big I have to park and walk the length of 6 football fields to get there.
5. If when I tell people I'm a single parent, they give me "the look" and then back away slowly.
6. If they refuse to include songs written after 1800 in their praise & worship routine.
7. If the head pastor had an affair with the youth pastor. (This happend before also...)
8. If I showed up one Sunday to find a rainbow-colored triangle on the front door.
9. If my ex and his new girlfriend started going there.
10. If they stopped serving donuts. (Okay not really but I do love the donuts lol.)

rosewood
05-21-2005, 02:05 AM
These two are, right now, the reasons why I stopped volunteering at my church. (By recognition I don't mean I need my ego stroked, I mean that I do not like to be used & discarded.)

I worked on a church project for over two years. When I was laid off of my "real" job I sent an email to the leaders in the church who used my skills often. I was hoping for a job lead, or a reference, or prayer. Instead, nobody replied at all. I was really, really pissed that the church staff used my services for years and then when I needed help, they couldn't be bothered.

The next week, when a staff member screwed up a bunch of stuff, I was quickly called in to fix everything. While I was there, I learned that Mr. Screwup had gone to the pastor and made a bunch of decisions about the project without my input. I was the lead on the project, but this kind of stuff kept happening. So I said, "sounds like this is yours now."

Now it's pretty much dead. I know it will come back stronger than ever some day, but I'm glad I won't be a part of it.

Closer to the theme of this topic, I think my biggest issue now is that lately I'm having a hard time believing anything otherworldly. I remember reading an interview with some pop star a while ago, and she was asked if she viewed her oversexed near-porn music videos as offensive to God. And she gave a lurid answer and said, "if God don't like it, he can call me home right now."

I thought, "huh, that's interesting." I decided to apply a similar concept: someone came by our house to convert me, and I said, "I'll believe in your God if you can call down fire, just like they did in the Bible. Go ahead, call it down." Where is God? Is he the absentee landlord, as Al Pacino said? Or is he not there at all?

The next time I leave a church, my reason may not be "I'm going to another church" but just "I'm going."

-Tony I think it is God's grace that you are seeing when God does not take people "home right now" when they do not live as they should. I think people are constantly growing and our at certain points in their lives. Sometimes these levels are more apparent in some than in others.

On the subject, one reason I have left a church is because I was no longer a "young Christian" , but wanted something meatier to chump on than what I was being fed at the church I was attending. I wanted to get deeper into God's word and not just hear every week that I needed to be saved. I already was saved, but wanted to know what came next. I was glad I left, and I was glad I asked.

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?" ICor.3:2-3

eldragon
05-21-2005, 02:46 AM
I detest organized religion, choosing, instead, a personal belief.

(Plus, I hate getting up on Sunday mornings).


The main reason to quit a church is - you saw some hypocrisy or discrimination going on ...........

they are selective about who can sit in their pews.

Closed mindedness.

Door to door selling as a way of finding new associates.

Using a switch and bait technique to get you to go to church - example "We have free snacks and free daycare!"

The list goes on. Actually, my list would be much shorter if the question was "what would make you go to church again?"

eldragon
05-21-2005, 02:47 AM
Oh, and scare tactics. The worst thing a church can do.


I could go on and on about that.

Celeste
05-21-2005, 03:15 AM
(Plus, I hate getting up on Sunday mornings).



Yeah, that's it! Lol...:Thumbs:

celeste :sleepy:

eldragon
05-21-2005, 04:53 AM
i hate getting up ANY morning - period. I am a sleeper - and I sleep best in the early morning hours - any interruptions are not appreciated.

Betty W01
05-22-2005, 01:37 AM
WARNING: This is NOT meant to be taken as criticism of anyone's decision for or against church, it is only for my information, for something I'm thinking about writing. So please don't respond to it as though I'm attacking you or expecting you to defend yourself from attack. There's no attack. Really. There isn't. Just honest questions.

So, for those of you who consider yourself Christian* but don't go to church**, what would make you start going again?

And since you don't go, how do you respond to the verses in the word about not shunning gathering together with other Christians? In other words, as Bob Mumford has been known to ask in the past, "If you tell me you're spiritual, who are you being spiritual with?" Do you have other regular times you gather together with fellow believers for teaching, fellowship, admonition, and worship? If not, why not?

*i.e. have faced up to and confessed your sinful nature to God, asked for forgiveness, and then asked Jesus, part of the Holy Trinity, to be your Lord and Savior, with the expectation that it will and should change your entire life here as well as your eternal destiny - a sketchy definition, but needed, since some people consider themselves Christians without asking themselves why they think they are...

**obviously, if you don't consider yourself Christian, you'd have no real reason to go to church anyway. For y'all, the question is, what cha doing in here? Can we help you in any way? No matter, really.... You're welcome to lurk and even participate, as long as you don't start any fights and you take flaming questions to Take It Outside... :idea:

brinkett
05-22-2005, 06:18 AM
Anyway - why do I have to be spiritual with others? I am progressing by working with people, volunteering and being kind to other people, animals and the earth.

:Clap:

That is being spiritual with others.



*i.e. have faced up to and confessed your sinful nature to God, asked for forgiveness, and then asked Jesus, part of the Holy Trinity, to be your Lord and Savior, with the expectation that it will and should change your entire life here as well as your eternal destiny - a sketchy definition, but needed, since some people consider themselves Christians without asking themselves why they think they are...

Do we really want to get into who is a Christian and who isn't? Would Jesus waste his time on something like that. Did he ask people what their beliefs were before he helped them, ate with them, walked with them?



**obviously, if you don't consider yourself Christian, you'd have no real reason to go to church anyway. For y'all, the question is, what cha doing in here? Can we help you in any way? No matter, really....

People go to church for all sorts of reasons. To socialize, to feel like part of a community, to feel they're contributing by giving back to their community, for the bible study, to find a mate, to take their kids to Sunday School, because they're going through a bad time (Horrors! Someone attending church because they need support), whatever. There are a lot of people attending church who, if pressured, would probably fail your definition of Christian, but they go anyway, and make valuable contributions to their churches and communities. Good for them!

:Soapbox:

I've attended church off and on for years. I've found no difference in the "quality" of the people who attend church vs. those who don't. You get some nasty people inside churches, and some nasty people outside. Same goes for good hearted people. It doesn't matter to me what doctrine the person I'm sitting next to in church can spew, but how well they treat others. I've seen people who couldn't quote the most well known passages from the bible and would look at you funny if you started talking about lord and savior, but would give someone the shirt off their back if they needed it. Then there are those who know all the bible passages and consider Jesus their lord and savior blah, blah, blah, but would shut the door on someone needing help, and spend too much time looking down their noses at people they've judged to be heathens. Who's the real Christian? Who's the better Christian? At the end of the day, does the label matter? Will God care more about what someone believed, or what someone did to make their own little world a better place? Some of the best examples of Christians I know don't consider themselves Christians, and some Christians who wear the label with pride give Christianity a bad name.

End of Rant.

(I knew I shouldn't have strayed into this forum...)

kappapi99
05-22-2005, 04:07 PM
Will God care more about what someone believed, or what someone did to make their own little world a better place?

Both...if you reject God on earth, how can you expect to be with Him in Heaven?

In my own humble opinion, the way a person acts is a good indicator as to whether they are "saved" or not. However, you cannot be a CHRISTian without Christ. He is all that matters. The rest of what people consider "doctrine" can be broken down to "disputable matters" (Romans 14), but if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, all the good works in the world will mean nothing.

KP

brinkett
05-22-2005, 05:35 PM
Both...if you reject God on earth, how can you expect to be with Him in Heaven?

Not believing the same thing you do in the same way you do doesn't mean someone has rejected God. It means they don't believe the same thing you do in the same way you do. That's all it means.



However, you cannot be a CHRISTian without Christ. He is all that matters. The rest of what people consider "doctrine" can be broken down to "disputable matters" (Romans 14), but if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, all the good works in the world will mean nothing.

Not all Christians would describe their faith in those terms. To tell them they're not Christians would be arrogant.

As for all the good works in the world meaning nothing unless you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, that's insulting to people who belong to other religious communities, to those who choose not to belong to any religion, and to Christians who wouldn't describe their faith in that way.

MacAllister
05-22-2005, 09:50 PM
w00t! I thought the only really explosive threads on AW were in TIO and the Neverending PA thread...

Our wonderful mod Betty is, I'm sure, attending services today, and spending time with her family. Otherwise, I'd normally keep my mouth shut and my head down, while I lurked in here.

Religion is a terribly volatile topic. Let's all take a deep breath, and try to remember to be respectful of one another's differing beliefs. There are radically different definitions and understandings of "Christian" right in my home town--I bring this up just to point out that:

1--Yes, this IS the Christian forum...but to my knowledge, the Cooler does not hold anyone to a single, hard-n-fast, specific definition of Christianity.

2--People get pretty defensive about their faith when they feel attacked, and often respond emotionally.

3--We are all rational and articulate adults. Let's spend an extra moment or two over EACH of these posts, and consider our choice of words carefully. This is sensitive territory, and it's only civilized and respectful to tread lightly.

eldragon
05-22-2005, 11:05 PM
AH.....this is the Christian thread.


then, I guess I am the person in the wrong place.


In my own humble opinion, the way a person acts is a good indicator as to whether they are "saved" or not. However, you cannot be a CHRISTian without Christ. He is all that matters. The rest of what people consider "doctrine" can be broken down to "disputable matters" (Romans 14), but if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, all the good works in the world will mean nothing.



but if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, all the good works in the world will mean nothing. [/QUOTE]

I only had a problem with one post - the ones I have quoted. And, the last part in particular.

eldragon
05-22-2005, 11:19 PM
I did that before I realized I was standing in the center of the town church.


I erased my posts.




Sorry.

MacAllister
05-22-2005, 11:20 PM
noted, and deleted my own.

Eldragon, you're a classy human being. Thank you for your understanding and assistance here. :)

Betty W01
05-24-2005, 04:08 AM
This is not the town church, but a place to discuss writing from a Christian point of view. This means from a certain worldview, which includes a belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, whatever terms you want to put that in. Spiritual writing is not neccessarily the same thing, and has its own place in the forums. I'm sorry for any hurt feelings that arose out of not understanding the difference.

KP, you put it well.

Thanks, Mac, for being here when I couldn't be. Not feeling too wonderful at the moment.

So....

nice weather we've been having, isn't it?

brinkett
05-24-2005, 08:17 AM
This is not the town church, but a place to discuss writing from a Christian point of view. This means from a certain worldview, which includes a belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, whatever terms you want to put that in.
I'm confused. Is this a forum for people writing from a certain worldview, for people targetting a segment of the Christian market, or both? I would think that the forum would include people in that second group, in which case I don't see what the author's worldview has to do with anything. If I'm writing to the Christian market, a book exploring the book of Matthew, for example, I could very well be an atheist. Some theologians are. I would also think that this would be the appropriate forum to post in about my book, unless I'm missing something.

So my question is, what's the purpose of the forum? Is it a forum for Christian authors, a forum for authors targetting the Christian market, or both? Since the forum lives under the "Get With the Genre" category, I had assumed it was for authors writing to the Christian market, in which case anyone who is interested in the Christian market should be welcome in this forum, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack of). As with the other genre forums, I would also think it's a place where readers of books targetted at Christians might want to hang out. Again, that may not equate to Christians.

If I've misunderstood the purpose of the forum, I apologize, and would like to be pointed to the appropriate forum on AW for discussing books, writing, etc. targetted at the Christian market.

MacAllister
05-24-2005, 09:45 AM
Brinkett--you asked:
Is it a forum for Christian authors, a forum for authors targetting the Christian market, or both? My understanding is that the answer would be, yes, yes, and yes. That is, to my knowledge there is no requirement that you consider yourself a Christian to post here--but that Christian themes and topics will be both common and appropriate.

But a certain amount of familiarity and camaraderie between those with similar beliefs is inevitable. :)

Gravity
05-24-2005, 03:26 PM
Then you've got a guy like me, who was a hardcore athiest (before realizing how stinking hard it is having that much faith in nothing), then an agnostic (with the occasional side trip into the religion of the week), and now, for the past nearly thirty years, an unashamed, born-again, Spirit-filled Christian.

As Jerry Garcia put it, what a long, strange trip it's been.
Indeed.

All that said, Mac, my friend, seems like you nailed it rather neatly. And with that I'll bid you all a good day.

John

brinkett
05-24-2005, 03:50 PM
But a certain amount of familiarity and camaraderie between those with similar beliefs is inevitable. :)
Of course. But camaraderie is one thing; yanking away the welcome mat for those who don't have a certain worldview is another. Anyway, I'm glad it's all cleared up.

Roger J Carlson
05-24-2005, 06:09 PM
I'm confused. Is this a forum for people writing from a certain worldview, for people targetting a segment of the Christian market, or both? I would think that the forum would include people in that second group, in which case I don't see what the author's worldview has to do with anything. If I'm writing to the Christian market, a book exploring the book of Matthew, for example, I could very well be an atheist. Some theologians are. I would also think that this would be the appropriate forum to post in about my book, unless I'm missing something.

So my question is, what's the purpose of the forum? Is it a forum for Christian authors, a forum for authors targetting the Christian market, or both? Since the forum lives under the "Get With the Genre" category, I had assumed it was for authors writing to the Christian market, in which case anyone who is interested in the Christian market should be welcome in this forum, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack of). As with the other genre forums, I would also think it's a place where readers of books targetted at Christians might want to hang out. Again, that may not equate to Christians.

If I've misunderstood the purpose of the forum, I apologize, and would like to be pointed to the appropriate forum on AW for discussing books, writing, etc. targetted at the Christian market.Certainly there is no requirement to be a Christian in order to write for the Christian market just as there is no requirement to be a murderer or detective to write mysteries. But if you do write mysteries, you'd better know what makes a person a murderer or what proper police procedure is. In the same way, you need to know what the "Christian market" (as opposed to the "Spiritual" or "Religious" markets) understands the definition of Christian to be. Generally speaking, the Christian Market accepts something very similar to Betty's definition.

I just realized that I'm assuming that there is a general understanding of what the Christian Market is. Let me give some definitions:

Spiritual Market: Found in general bookstores, this includes topics of spiritually whether Christian, pagan, New Age, Self-Help, etc. Basically anything that can be termed "spiritual". Can include Religious and Christian (see below).

Religious Market: Also found in general bookstores. Covers topics of spiritually that involve an organized religion. It is not limited to Christianity.

The Christian Market is a (very large) subset of the Religious Market. While books from the Christian Market can also be found in the Religious section of your Barnes and Noble, it is predominant in "Christian Bookstores". It is made up of books published Zondervan, Eerdmans, Whitaker House, and the like. It is the kind of thing you can find at www.Christianbook.com (http://www.christianbook.com/) and is predominantly Evangelical Protestant. You will find Catholic books in Christian bookstores, but they are usually a minor component. However, their ARE Catholic bookstores which carry only (or mostly) Catholic books.

PLEASE understand that I'm talking about the realities of the publishing world here. I realize that Catholic is Christian. But in terms of markets, while there is some overlap, the two are really separate.

The Christian Market (as I've defined it above) is not very tolerant of opposing worldviews. (This is not a condemnation, just a fact.) If you want to write for Zondervans, you'd better know what THEY mean by Christian. Therefore, one of the real services this forum can offer is to help those with differing worldviews understand what the Christian Market worldview is all about.

Roger J Carlson
05-24-2005, 06:37 PM
I find it unfortunate that amid the brouhaha, no one answered Betty's questions, which were:

IF you are a Christian (by her definition) AND you don't go to church:

What would make you return?
How do you respond to Hebrews 10:25, where it says, “Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together”?
Do you participate in any other sort of "gathering together", like small groups and such. Why or why not?
Seems to me, she was very clear that she wanted to know for the purposes of something she was writing and NOT as an attack on anyone's faith. I assume she wants to give some character a realistic motivation.

I'll start off:

My grandmother was a committed Christian who never went to church in my lifetime. She did, however, take my mother to church went she was little. When asked, her answers were: 1) she felt she could worship God just as well by herself. 2) As for Hebrews, she always said that since it was couched as a double negative ("don't forsake") it was not a command, but a suggestion. Also, she said that the early church didn't have services like today. 3) Every Sunday morning she watched Christian programming religiously (ok, the pun was intended). She liked the music on Oral Roberts, but not the preaching. She liked the preaching on Hour of Power, but not the music.

My grandmother was a loner and wasn't comfortable around people. I don't think anything could have persuaded her back.

That help?

mommie4a
05-24-2005, 06:47 PM
PuddleJumper -

Just a thought - I've read through the thread and while doing so, started thinking about how what you've asked about - and many of the replies - could be applied to why a person leaves or joins any religion. If your article or novel or end product is only about churches, cool. But if it's about belonging and/or leaving organized religion period, then you might want to start a thread with similar questions for folks who adhere to other religions.

Just a thought - don't mean to intrude.

Good luck on your work.

Jill

brinkett
05-24-2005, 07:21 PM
The Christian Market is a (very large) subset of the Religious Market. While books from the Christian Market can also be found in the Religious section of your Barnes and Noble, it is predominant in "Christian Bookstores". It is made up of books published Zondervan, Eerdmans, Whitaker House, and the like. It is the kind of thing you can find at www.Christianbook.com (http://www.christianbook.com/) and is predominantly Evangelical Protestant. You will find Catholic books in Christian bookstores, but they are usually a minor component. However, their ARE Catholic bookstores which carry only (or mostly) Catholic books.

This is a very helpful clarification, and if that's the market being discussed here, rather than the more general Christian market, then I'd have no problem if an evangelical view of Christianity is assumed in threads, however I think the title of the forum has to change. Christian is too broad. Evangelical Christian would be more appropriate, or even Evangelical Protestant.

When I was thinking of the Christian market, I was including books that would be found in the Christianity section of what you termed the religious market. As I said in my example, if I was writing a book exploring one of the gospels and I came across AW, I would probably post about it in here. But it sounds like this forum is about Christian fiction/non-fiction aimed at a specific group of Christians. If Elaine Pagels, John Shelby Spong, or Marcus Borg dropped by (in my dreams!), they would be out of place in this forum, and the forum name should make that clear. Otherwise how is someone to know?

Roger J Carlson
05-24-2005, 08:17 PM
This is a very helpful clarification, and if that's the market being discussed here, rather than the more general Christian market, then I'd have no problem if an evangelical view of Christianity is assumed in threads, however I think the title of the forum has to change. Christian is too broad. Evangelical Christian would be more appropriate, or even Evangelical Protestant.Well, I can't really speak for this board. I'm not the moderator. However, I don't think that changing the name to Evangelical Christian would be appropriate. To do so would be to minimize the impact of the Christian Market as I have defined it here.

The Christian Market (again, my defintion) is not some small backwater of the Religious Market. In fact, it is the lion's share. I don't have industry figures to prove this because I don't think the publishing industry as a whole understands what the Christian Market is. They think that anything with a Christian theme is the Christian Market, but I disagree.

Here's my reasoning. I live in a small city (greater area population 100,000). We have two Christian bookstores, carrying ONLY what I've called Christian Market books. Multiply this by thousands of cities this size in the country. Add to that, mass distribution websites like Family Christian Stores (http://www.familychristian.com/) and Christian Book Distributors (www.Christianbook.com (http://www.christianbook.com/)), and you have a feel for the market.

What other genre can claim this? SciFi? Romance? Mystery? Literary? No. The market won't sustain it. You can only find these specialty stores in large cities like New York and Chicago. (The only thing close is Gay/Lesbian bookstores. We had one, but it folded for lack of business. Larger cities might sustain one.)

The reality is that while the majority of people who call themselves "Christian" are not Evangelical Christians, the majority of people who buy Christian Literature are. That's why I think the title of this board is appropriate.

Do the other board regulars agree? Or am I all wet?

Betty W01
05-24-2005, 08:58 PM
Nicely put, Roger. I agree. And Brinkett, there's no welcome-mat yanking allowed in here. All are welcome, but if you want to talk about writing for the market represented by this forum, you do need to recognize and understand the specific worldview it represents. And if you want to start an argument based on religious beliefs, it's better off in Take It Outside.

Not all Christians consider themselves evangelicals or Protestants. In fact, our church is an amalgam of several streams of thought - we call it non-denominational. And I know a number of Christians who are Catholic. The main thing I was trying to get across (badly, I see) is what "Christian" means in the context of this forum.

And yes, it's important. As writers, we are responsible to use words correctly. Should someone who eats fish and chicken but not red meat call himself a vegetarian because he wants to be classed with those who are vegetarian (for whatever reason) but doesn't want to give up meat? He can call himself that, but it doesn't mean he is that.

In the same way, "Christian" is not a label for someone who is nice, not an obvious sleeze bag, gives to charity, goes to church, does good deeds, and so on. "Christian" means "someone whose life has been voluntarily taken over by the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior". You can actually be a sleezebag and a Christian at the same time, although God won't allow you to do it in peace and is not pleased with you doing so. And many nice people who make the world a better place to live are not Christian, whether they call themselves so or not.

Yes, you can write for the Christian market and not be Christian, as long as you understand what the market believes and what it stands for and looks for. Just like I could write for the pagan market, if I understood what they wanted and was willing to give it to them. (I don't and am not, but I could...)

I guess I hoped that this forum (which was my idea originally) could attract Christians who write, whether for Christian or secular markets, as well as folks who write books for Christians, and I do expect Christianity and Christians to be respected in here and not criticized for something other Christians (real or so-called) have done to you. If I hurt you, tell me. If someone else has hurt you, tell them. Matt. 18 says that you have anything against your brother, go to him. Works for me.

Personally, I can't write for markets that I really disagree with or won't read, since I feel a bit dishonest doing so. Not that I'm saying you can't. It's just my own little hang-up.

brinkett
05-24-2005, 09:05 PM
Well, I can't really speak for this board. I'm not the moderator. However, I don't think that changing the name to Evangelical Christian would be appropriate. To do so would be to minimize the impact of the Christian Market as I have defined it here.

I don't see how it would minimize the impact. All it would do is make it clear that the forum is meant for discussion of books/writing aimed at Evangelical Christians.



I don't think the publishing industry as a whole understands what the Christian Market is. They think that anything with a Christian theme is the Christian Market, but I disagree.

But that doesn't change the fact that some people (like me, for example) will assume at first glance that anything to do with a Christian theme can be discussed here. Since it's not obvious, wouldn't it be simpler for the forum name to be a little more specific?



The reality is that while the majority of people who call themselves "Christian" are not Evangelical Christians, the majority of people who buy Christian Literature are. That's why I think the title of this board is appropriate.

I see that as more of an argument to change it to "Evangelical Christian", actually. I don't really care if the forum name changes. I just think it's confusing as is. Both I and eldragon stumbled into this forum because we thought it was something else. If I had known that this forum was meant for people who read or write books targetted at evangelical Christians, I never would have entered it, and I suspect she wouldn't have either.

brinkett
05-24-2005, 09:40 PM
And if you want to start an argument based on religious beliefs, it's better off in Take It Outside.

I haven't started any arguments based on religious beliefs. I merely questioned why only *one* view of Christianity seemed to be accepted here.



"Christian" means "someone whose life has been voluntarily taken over by the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior".

For the context of this forum, right? Because not all Christians would agree with that definition.



I guess I hoped that this forum (which was my idea originally) could attract Christians who write, whether for Christian or secular markets,

Well, if you want to attract Christians who write for any market, then you have to accept that there will be a wide range of beliefs among the people that post here, because some of those Christians certainly wouldn't define Christian the way you do. Posting unqualified definitions of Christianity the way you've been doing will drive people away. So if you're defining Christian as it would mean to the Christian Market, it would be better if you always qualified it that way. However, if your main goal is to attract people writing to the Christian Market as Roger defined it, then I think there at least needs to be a pinned thread in the forum saying "READ THIS BEFORE POSTING", spelling out what the purpose of the forum is. That would be helpful.



I do expect Christianity and Christians to be respected in here and not criticized for something other Christians (real or so-called) have done to you.

Since I've never criticized Christians for doing anything to me, I'm not sure why you included this in a post addressed to me.

I'm sorry if I'm being a pain about this, but as a Christian, one thing that really makes me see red is the appearance that Christians are shutting people out, especially when it's other Christians. I have no problem if the context of this forum is meant to be writing for the Christian Market as Roger defined it, or if Christian is defined in that context, as long as it's clearly spelled out somewhere, especially where new visitors to the forum can see it. If it was, I never would have entered the forum, or if for some strange reason I took a peek anyway, I would have had the answer to the question at the top of this post and so wouldn't have asked.

eldragon
05-25-2005, 01:24 AM
Both I and eldragon stumbled into this forum because we thought it was something else. If I had known that this forum was meant for people who read or write books targetted at evangelical Christians, I never would have entered it, and I suspect she wouldn't have either.

Right Brinkett. I frequently look at the new posts, and this thread came up.

I have a different belief in place, but my belief can incorporate most of what Christians believe ........however, Christians, for the most part, do not believe what I do.



It's a moot point......considering this is a Christian thread. It's like my going to the Jewish thread (if there is one) and demanding the posters to recognize Jesus Christ.


Some of the most heinous, hideous things have begun at the hands of religious people. In fact, I can easily see GW posting on this thread, with a clear conscious.

Pat~
05-25-2005, 02:39 AM
Brinkett, Eldragon, and anyone else who might be confused...maybe this might clarify things a bit. First of all, this forum is not just for Evangelical Christians, because not only Evangelicals are Christians. The forum aims to appeal to the broader Christian market because most "Christian" writers aim to appeal to the broader Christian market. That said, there is one common denominator that ties all the Christian subgroups together--whether Catholic, Charismatic, Evangelical, Episcopal, etc. All Christians believe the Bible-based doctrine that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died to pay the penalty for our sins, and that faith in what He accomplished on the cross is the only way one can be saved. This is not just "one opinion against another" but is a belief shared by all who call themselves Christians based on the absolute standard of the Bible. In other words, we're not all Christians because we all happen to agree with each other; we're all Christians because we base our belief on a standard outside of ourselves--the Bible.

And yes, alot of wrong has been done in the name of religion...alot of wrong has been done in the name of many things originally intended for good. That's the nature of evil...it twists even man's best attempts at institutionalized 'good.' And yes, unfortunately there are alot of church-going Christians who are hypocrites...because there are alot of hypocrites in the world, and the church is a microcosm of that. It is a myth that once one becomes a Christian, he or she lives happily ever after. The Christian life is a slow, often painful process of gradually becoming more Christ-like, and perfection will only be attained in heaven. But fortunately it's more than just becoming more Christ-like; it's about actually being able to know the God who created the universe on a close, personal basis--and we often get to know Him better IN the struggle--like when Jacob 'wrestled with God.'

BTW, I think it's neat when people come visit this forum out of curiosity. The ancient Greek and Roman forums were places where ideas got talked about, and where, even in Paul's day, many minds and lives were impacted.

brinkett
05-25-2005, 04:10 AM
Brinkett, Eldragon, and anyone else who might be confused...maybe this might clarify things a bit. First of all, this forum is not just for Evangelical Christians, because not only Evangelicals are Christians. The forum aims to appeal to the broader Christian market because most "Christian" writers aim to appeal to the broader Christian market.

Not according to the moderator, and she's certainly within her right to say what the intent of the forum is. The forum was set up for those who want to write to the Christian Market as Roger defined it.



That said, there is one common denominator that ties all the Christian subgroups together--whether Catholic, Charismatic, Evangelical, Episcopal, etc. All Christians believe the Bible-based doctrine that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died to pay the penalty for our sins, and that faith in what He accomplished on the cross is the only way one can be saved. This is not just "one opinion against another" but is a belief shared by all who call themselves Christians based on the absolute standard of the Bible.

I'm a Christian, and I don't believe that the only way one can be saved is to put faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. There are too many wonderful people of different faiths (or no faith) for me to accept that. Nor does the church I belong to believe it, and it's not some fringe church, but the largest protestant denomination in the country in which I live. My church also doesn't expect its members to believe that the bible is the literal word of God or infallible.

So I'm afraid that what you've written simply isn't true--it's not the common denominator that ties all Christian subgroups together, unless you're willing to dismiss the millions of people that belong to my church, and other like-minded churches around the world.

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 06:29 AM
I'd like to offer this:
Chris·tian http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/JPG/pron.jpg (https://secure.reference.com/premium/login.html?rd=2&u=http%3A%2F%2Fdictionary.reference.com%2Fsearch%3 Fq%3DChristian) ( P ) Pronunciation Key (http://dictionary.reference.com/help/ahd4/pronkey.html) (krhttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/ibreve.gifshttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/prime.gifchhttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/schwa.gifn)
adj.

Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
n.

One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
[Middle English Cristen, from Old English cristen, from Latin Chrhttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/imacr.gifstihttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/amacr.gifnus, from Chrhttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/AHD4/GIF/imacr.gifstus, Christ. See Christ.] Brinkett, Betty is a pretty terrific human being, and has always been respectful and supportive towards me--and I don't profess to be a Christian at all.

I read back over this thread, and see a definition Betty offered for "Christian" in the very specific context of a piece she is currently working on, headed with the disclaimer:
...it is only for my information, for something I'm thinking about writing. So please don't respond to it as though I'm attacking you or expecting you to defend yourself from attack. There's no attack. Really. There isn't. I honestly have not read anywhere that she expects her own definition of Christianity to be some sort of forum standard--if fact, quite the opposite.

This thread is only one discussion in a still growing forum. :) Have a little patience as we figure out different directions to go.

Meanwhile, if there is another discussion you'd like to see happening, start a new thread for it. :) Like any moderator--I'm pretty sure Betty loves to see action in the room.

Jump in and START the discussions you'd like to see happening! If you'd like to discuss Christianity from a more socially liberal point of view--let's hear it! I'm actually endlessly fascinated by the intensity of doctrinal disagreements between bodies of people who all follow Christ.


Cheers!
Mac

Pat~
05-25-2005, 07:10 AM
Not according to the moderator, and she's certainly within her right to say what the intent of the forum is. The forum was set up for those who want to write to the Christian Market as Roger defined it.


I'm a Christian, and I don't believe that the only way one can be saved is to put faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. There are too many wonderful people of different faiths (or no faith) for me to accept that. Nor does the church I belong to believe it, and it's not some fringe church, but the largest protestant denomination in the country in which I live. My church also doesn't expect its members to believe that the bible is the literal word of God or infallible.

So I'm afraid that what you've written simply isn't true--it's not the common denominator that ties all Christian subgroups together, unless you're willing to dismiss the millions of people that belong to my church, and other like-minded churches around the world.

Yes, I can see how it would always seem to be "your truth against my truth" unless you believe in an absolute standard of Truth outside of yourself. It comes down to whether or not you believe the Bible is that standard of truth; otherwise Truth is however anyone wishes to define it.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). The Bible tells us that everyone will one day have to give an account before Him as to how they responded to that statement. It also says that in the end Jesus will tell many who thought they were believers that He "never knew" them (Matthew 7:21-23). He taught the Pharisees that they were in error because they did not know the scriptures.

What do you base Truth on?

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 07:28 AM
Pat, you said:

Yes, I can see how it would always seem to be "your truth against my truth" unless you believe in an absolute standard of Truth outside of yourself. It comes down to whether or not you believe the Bible is that standard of truth; otherwise Truth is however anyone wishes to define it. Actually, that's an either/or syllogism, and a logical fallacy.

One can certainly believe in the Bible. However, interpretations of the Bible vary pretty wildly. I don't want to start a fight in Betty's room. I agree that a flame war belongs in TIO, not here.

However, I also would like to point out that extremely well-educated and dedicated individuals can't all agree on what the Bible means. It's all well and good to say, "It's the literal word of God, it means exactly what it says" (which I've heard on many occasions) but frankly, that doesn't cut it.

If you believe it's the literal word of God, why on earth wouldn't you be following kosher dietary requirements, straight from the Pentateuch? Or stoning your children to death for failing to honor you? (etc, etc, etc...)

Now, there is also, of course, the concept that Christ's sacrifice ended the relevance of legalism of the OT, however, the New Testament is pretty dodgy too, in terms of seeming contradictions and differing interpretations. We won't even go into the differences between the original languages the texts come from, and what happened to the text when it was translated to European languages.

So no. I cannot, as an thinking person, base my belief system strictly on the Bible. That does, of course, bring us back to your interesting and controversial question--what IS my standard of truth?

However, it does NOT mean that I'm going to set out and define "truth" for myself, willy-nilly, in arbitrary and haphazard fashion.

It's a question that philosophers and theologians have debated for centuries.

Betty--if you feel the need to split this thread off, I completely understand. :) I didn't mean to hijack.

On reflection, though, I think this discussion has a great deal of bearing on puddlejumper's original question: why do you leave a church--AS well as bearing on your question: what would take you BACK to church.

Medievalist
05-25-2005, 07:40 AM
Yes, I can see how it would always seem to be "your truth against my truth" unless you believe in an absolute standard of Truth outside of yourself. It comes down to whether or not you believe the Bible is that standard of truth; otherwise Truth is however anyone wishes to define it.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). The Bible tells us that everyone will one day have to give an account before Him as to how they responded to that statement. It also says that in the end Jesus will tell many who thought they were believers that He "never knew" them (Matthew 7:21-23). He taught the Pharisees that they were in error because they did not know the scriptures.

What do you base Truth on?

If you're arguing "what the Bible says" in English, you really don't know what the Bible says.

If you're arguing "what the Bible says" and basing it on printed editions, and not looking at the mss., you really don't know what the Bible says.

If you're looking at the Bible as received text, then you're not reading the same Bible that was read a thousand years ago. You're not even reading the same bible that was read six hundred years ago.

If you really want to know what the Bible says, it isn't enough to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine and Latin; you need to know Coptic as well.

And to answer the original question, roughly, why might someone stop going to church--it was because I started reading the Bible, reallyreading the Bible. And I started reading other, older texts, and realized that while I profoundly agree with much in Christianity, there is much about it as an organized religion, of any denomination, that I can't in good conscience say I believe, much in fact, that strikes me wrong, morally, ethically, and logically.

brinkett
05-25-2005, 07:45 AM
I'd like to offer this: Brinkett, Betty is a pretty terrific human being, and has always been respectful and supportive towards me--and I don't profess to be a Christian at all.

None of my posts have attacked Betty personally in any way. I've stated several times that as the moderator, Betty can run the forum however she likes, as long as the "rules" are clearly spelled out so people understand what they are.



I read back over this thread, and see a definition Betty offered for "Christian" in the very specific context of a piece she is currently working on, headed with the disclaimer: I honestly have not read anywhere that she expects her own definition of Christianity to be some sort of forum standard--if fact, quite the opposite.

The responses I received to my posts, not necessarily from Betty, but from others, too, left the impression that the forum is really meant for those who are writing to the Christian Market as Roger defined it, though the responses are contradictory.



This thread is only one discussion in a still growing forum. :) Have a little patience as we figure out different directions to go.

Okay. You better hurry up, though. ;)



What do you base Truth on?

See Mac's answer. I'll also say that I'm a pragmatic person, so if reality conflicts with what the bible says, I go with reality.

I mentioned that I belong to a large church. This is what it has to say (bold is mine):

"We have doctrinal standards and attempt to set them forth in continuity with the Biblical faith. But our grasp on the truth of God is finite and fallible, and we do not believe that faithfulness consists in assenting to particular statements. Rarely, if ever, do we use doctrinal standards to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging. Rather we lift up Jesus Christ and his way, saying to all who seek God's grace and service, "Come and see."

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 07:46 AM
Lisa, you've done a bit of textual work, yes? Perhaps you could elaborate on just some of the highlights of the difficulties of translations from the original languages of the MSS?

(Whenever you can squeeze in the time to write a whole book on a message board, of course--heh <g>)

brinkett
05-25-2005, 07:52 AM
In addition to what Medievalist said, you have to remember that even the bible differs between denominations (some include the Apocrypha, some don't), and that what's in the bible isn't everything that was written about Jesus and about early Christianity. Some council decided what made it in and what didn't (hmm... wonder if the authors received form rejections?). The Gnostic world view was excluded, for example.

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 07:56 AM
(hmm... wonder if the authors received form rejections?) :ROFL:

Pat~
05-25-2005, 08:00 AM
If you're arguing "what the Bible says" in English, you really don't know what the Bible says.

If you're arguing "what the Bible says" and basing it on printed editions, and not looking at the mss., you really don't know what the Bible says.

If you're looking at the Bible as received text, then you're not reading the same Bible that was read a thousand years ago. You're not even reading the same bible that was read six hundred years ago.

If you really want to know what the Bible says, it isn't enough to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine and Latin; you need to know Coptic as well.

And to answer the original question, roughly, why might someone stop going to church--it was because I started reading the Bible, reallyreading the Bible. And I started reading other, older texts, and realized that while I profoundly agree with much in Christianity, there is much about it as an organized religion, of any denomination, that I can't in good conscience say I believe, much in fact, that strikes me wrong, morally, ethically, and logically.

Actually, I'm basing it on what the original (Greek) language says. The New Testament was originally in Greek. One of my Bibles has both the Greek and English translation in it.

And I would agree with you that your "Christianity" is bound to change once you really read the Bible. Five years ago I read it cover to cover for the first time (and have every year, since), and there is alot of 'cultural' stuff--particularly legalism--that I shed along the way. It is a life-changing book.

Medievalist
05-25-2005, 08:15 AM
Actually, I'm basing it on what the original (Greek) language says. The New Testament was originally in Greek. One of my Bibles has both the Greek and English translation in it.


Except, you're not reading what the original Koine (it's a form of Greek, but it's a debased form) says. You're reading what a group of editors, good scholars, think is the best text based on comparing other printed editions, with occasional reference to a manuscript, preferring one ms. reading to another. You're probably reading it in a Bible compiled for the Christian market, possibly one for a particular denomination.

They've left out many books, the odd verse, and chosen one reading over another. They also probably don't tell you about the bits that were not in the same form of Koine, or the same literary style.

It's not really easy to tell, sometimes, what the "best" text is--the definition of what the Bible is, is equally complex.

Pat~
05-25-2005, 08:23 AM
See Mac's answer. I'll also say that I'm a pragmatic person, so if reality conflicts with what the bible says, I go with reality.

I mentioned that I belong to a large church. This is what it has to say (bold is mine):

"We have doctrinal standards and attempt to set them forth in continuity with the Biblical faith. But our grasp on the truth of God is finite and fallible, and we do not believe that faithfulness consists in assenting to particular statements. Rarely, if ever, do we use doctrinal standards to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging. Rather we lift up Jesus Christ and his way, saying to all who seek God's grace and service, "Come and see."

Actually, Mac didn't answer that question, either.

And I take it, by 'reality', you mean your perception, your take on Truth...(Truth as you see it)...

I'd agree with you that our grasp on the Truth of God is finite and fallible. I think there will be alot of surprises once we get to heaven...that the most common response heard will be "Oh...!" How can we possibly grasp the truth, for example, that God had no beginning and will have no end? And yet, we can't grasp the truth of the size of the universe, either--yet we don't throw out what we CAN understand and grasp. Many parts of the Bible are murkier and have actually led to the formation of our different denominations, too. Some denominations shy away from taking a strong stand on the grey areas, and are probably the wiser for doing so. But many verses, such as John 14:6 are pretty clear cut statements that challenge us all to respond. (How do you respond to that verse?)

Pat~
05-25-2005, 08:55 AM
Except, you're not reading what the original Koine (it's a form of Greek, but it's a debased form) says. You're reading what a group of editors, good scholars, think is the best text based on comparing other printed editions, with occasional reference to a manuscript, preferring one ms. reading to another. You're probably reading it in a Bible compiled for the Christian market, possibly one for a particular denomination.

They've left out many books, the odd verse, and chosen one reading over another. They also probably don't tell you about the bits that were not in the same form of Koine, or the same literary style.

It's not really easy to tell, sometimes, what the "best" text is--the definition of what the Bible is, is equally complex.

The 24 or so introductory pages of this particular Bible (The Interlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English) detail the scholarship involved in this Greek translation, and through use of footnotes, they do attempt to let us know where certain manuscripts differ. You're correct in saying that it is a complex science to delineate what the various manuscripts say, but I rest in the idea that a God who sent His own Son to earth in order to get the message across to us, wouldn't let insurmountable linguistic difficulties down through the ages keep us from knowing what Jesus claimed as Truth when He walked the earth.

Brainerd T.
05-25-2005, 10:15 AM
Why would I leave a church? Doctrinal issues, which I believe strongly about. Falling through the cracks. :Shrug:

brinkett
05-25-2005, 04:04 PM
But many verses, such as John 14:6 are pretty clear cut statements that challenge us all to respond. (How do you respond to that verse?)
I don't believe the bible is the literal word of God, or infallible. There are a ton of interpretations of every verse--it even contradicts itself; not surprising, since numerous authors contributed. I view the bible as a book that one reads to spark discussion or meditation, not a set of black and white instructions or absolutes.

As to the passage you referenced, there are many interpretations. Some take it to mean that you must be a Christian to be "saved", others don't take it that way. I'm in the don't camp.



I take it, by 'reality', you mean your perception, your take on Truth...(Truth as you see it)...

I think that would apply to everyone.

Pat~
05-25-2005, 05:08 PM
I do believe there are 2 'truths'; one is truth as I perceive it (which is on certain points flawed, since I'm mortal), and an absolute Truth which exists whether I perceive it or not...the Truth as God knows it to be. It would be my goal to line up those truths as closely as humanly possible in this life.

And actually, I'd probably disagree with you that there are a ton of interpretations for every verse--but setting that aside, I would be interested in how you interpret this verse ( and on the scholarship behind the interpretation, if any). You can PM me if you're more comfortable doing it that way...

brinkett
05-25-2005, 06:11 PM
I do believe there are 2 'truths'; one is truth as I perceive it (which is on certain points flawed, since I'm mortal), and an absolute Truth which exists whether I perceive it or not...the Truth as God knows it to be. It would be my goal to line up those truths as closely as humanly possible in this life.

The problem, as I see it, is that it's not possible to know what the "Truth as God knows it to be" is with any amount of certainty.



I would be interested in how you interpret this verse ( and on the scholarship behind the interpretation, if any). You can PM me if you're more comfortable doing it that way...
If you take a look at the post I made when I got on my soapbox (I think it's the first post I made to the thread), that'll give you a hint of what my interpretation is. I generally don't base my interpretations of scripture on what scholars say - I like to think for myself. Having said that, I do read what theologians have to say - there are quite a number of Christian books on my shelf, Christian meaning books exploring different aspects of the bible.

But just like people who belong to different denominations disagree, scholars also disagree with each other, and everyone will naturally point to the scholar who agrees with them. I'll pull out a scholar who agrees with me; you'll pull out a scholar who agrees with you--so why bother? I'm much more interested in hearing what people think based on their life experience. One of the things I love about the bible is that every person who reads it will respond differently, and if you read a verse when you're a certain age and go back and read it ten years later, you might read it very differently. That's why I think imposing an absolute and/or literal meaning to it weakens it considerably.

eldragon
05-25-2005, 08:07 PM
I'm much more interested in hearing what people think based on their life experience. One of the things I love about the bible is that every person who reads it will respond differently, and if you read a verse when you're a certain age and go back and read it ten years later, you might read it very differently.

I totally agree with this statement.


No two people interpret anything the same way - and that includes the simple things in life. Nevermind the Bible .....which comes in several versions. Plus, I believe some parts of the Bible are metaphoric.


And somebody mentioned that - nobody follows the Bible to the letter. It would be impossible to do.


But my concerns are that - people who have been disignated as translators over the years - have supplemented the original verse with how they interpretted it (which, of course, would be to their advantage).

So while I have ultimate faith in a higher power, I have little or no faith in anything written by men.

MadScientistMatt
05-25-2005, 09:15 PM
I go to a Southern Baptist church, but there have been times I've gotten into debates with fellow church members over whether the Bible is always to be taken literally. The Bible actually does not claim that all of its text is literally true. St. Paul at one point writes that Scripture is "inspired" by God (according to the most common translations), but whether this means that it is literally true or even written word-for-word by God is, of course, purely a matter of interpretation. While in many cases a literal interpretation of the Bible seems to make the most sense to me, I also don't see any completely unequivocal claim in the Bible for its entire text to be literal truth.

I've read a few of the gospels myself in translation (I'll admit that I do not know any of the languages the Bible was originally written in, although I know a little Latin). Most of them definitely did not match the ones that were selected. From what I have read of letters written between church members before the Bible was standardized, most of the Catholic church agreed on using the same books (except for one or two books) long before any council stated an official list.

Roger J Carlson
05-25-2005, 10:02 PM
But my concerns are that - people who have been disignated as translators over the years - have supplemented the original verse with how they interpretted it (which, of course, would be to their advantage).

So while I have ultimate faith in a higher power, I have little or no faith in anything written by men.If one believes in a higher power (OK, let's say God) that is in control, then you also have to believe that He is in control of his Holy Word. So the theory is that while the translations are created by men, these men are not free to write whatever they want, but will be controlled by God to have His Word represent His intent.

Assuming that translators are re-writing to suit themselves or to their own advantage is to assume there is no God in control. So if you really have "faith in a higher power", you should also have faith that He knows what He's doing.

How then to I reconcile the fact that translations have discrepancies? That there are denominations that disagree on doctrine and back their claims on the very same Bible?

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that God is less interested in splitting hairs than we are. I think one of the strengths of the Christian Church is its flexibilty, its ability to meet different needs in different people. I believe there can be differing beliefs that are all right.

This does NOT mean, however, that "all beliefs are right" or that "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you believe something". There ARE some basic beliefs that are irreductable. Based on scripture, I believe these are:

God loves us and wants a relationship* with us.
God's method of establishing this relationship is Jesus Christ (that is, the path to salvation is through Jesus Christ alone.)
God wants us to pattern* our lives after Jesus Christ. Therefore we should love God and others as much as we love ourselves. This sums up ALL of the Laws.
His Word (the Bible) is intended to show us how to pattern our lives after Christ.
When we die, God will take us to be with him ONLY if we have committed ourselves to patterning our lives after Christ.
Salvation does not depend on the success of this patterning, but on the intent to do so.
I think everything else is fluff. The Evangelical Covenant Church (an offshoot of the Swedish Lutheran church) has a tradition called: "Where is it written?" They believe in the authority of the Bible in things that are clearly written but license in areas of ambiguity. They don't implement this perfectly, but I think it's a healthy attitude.

*NOTE: I have deliberately avoided terms like: "inviting Jesus as your personal savior". While these have meaning to the churched, they are gibberish to the unchurched.

Pat~
05-25-2005, 10:03 PM
Pat said:

What a wonderful and succinct way to phrase it, Pat.

The leap from belief in a truth external to yourself to the assuredness you express about that Truth would be the place in which faith is encapsulated, then?

I'm not being at all ironic, here, by the way. :) I thought I'd clarify that, just in case the text on the screen fail.s to capture the nuances of honest and sincere questioning...

And no, I didn't answer the question about what I believe to be truth-with-a-capital-T. I don't have an answer for that, actually. It isn't that I'm saying there is no such animal...but if there is such a thing as Truth, completely independent from and external to thought--I don't know what it is.

The philosophical Mysteries of religion and faith are the areas I'm most drawn to, though.

Thanks, Mac. And yes, this is exactly where Faith must come in to play :) . It's not a blind leap; you get to search and weigh the evidence for yourself. I also love the mysteries of my faith (and despite the revealed Truth, there is still plenty of mystery to chew on)! If you like this sort of thing, you would probably enjoy C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. He was an agnostic before he became a Christian, and it covers alot of the ground he covered in his journey to faith.

Roger J Carlson
05-25-2005, 10:08 PM
If you like this sort of thing, you would probably enjoy C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity. He was an agnostic before he became a Christian, and it covers alot of the ground he covered in his journey to faith.Agreed. If there is one book (other than the Bible) that everyone who wants to understand Christianity should read, it's Mere Christianity.

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 10:25 PM
Ah! I've read all of his fiction, and a number of his essays--I adore Lewis. I think he's a fine writer and thinker. :) I'll order the book.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Medievalist
05-25-2005, 10:28 PM
It might be interesting to take a look atthe Nicene Creed (http://www.creeds.net/ancient/nicene.htm)

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 10:33 PM
<g> I have a couple of books about that, Lisa, thanks! (This one (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/155725236X/thecreedsofchris/002-6128668-2443243), and another I don't see on my shelf from here, just now...)

While you're here, though--do you know anything about the Martinez/Tigchelaar study edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls? I'm mostly wondering about veracity of scholarship.

brinkett
05-25-2005, 10:43 PM
If one believes in a higher power (OK, let's say God) that is in control, then you also have to believe that He is in control of his Holy Word. So the theory is that while the translations are created by men, these men are not free to write whatever they want

What happened to free will? And if the bible is supposed to be the literal word of God, why do people pick and choose what they follow? If God really wanted to make sure that we got his word verbatim, why use intermediaries?



God's method of establishing this relationship is Jesus Christ (that is, the path to salvation is through Jesus Christ alone.)

So only Christians can know God? People of other faiths are deluding themselves?


Salvation does not depend on the success of this patterning, but on the intent to do so.

So what you're saying is that if you have two people, a Christian who intends to pattern their life after Christ but fails miserably, negatively impacting many lives, and a non-Christian who didn't consiously make a commitment to pattern his/her life after Christ but lives in such a way that they do, positively impacting many lives, that God will save the first person but not the second?

eldragon
05-25-2005, 10:54 PM
If one believes in a higher power (OK, let's say God) that is in control, then you also have to believe that He is in control of his Holy Word. So the theory is that while the translations are created by men, these men are not free to write whatever they want, but will be controlled by God to have His Word represent His intent.


No, I don't believe in a higher power that controls us. My belief is that we are all part of a higher power, and by doing the right thing in life (which is, but of course is not limited to......loving each other and the universal....showing compassion and empathy), we grow spiritually. We have the freedom to do the right things, or not, but if we choose not to.......we suffer ourselves (no spiritual growth). If we do the right things, we continue towards our ultimate goal - which is to join the higher power.

We have to do the right things because we choose to them, not because we are scared into doing them, or because we are told to behave.


There are lots of spiritually written and inspired books, and many are represented to be God's (or whatever name they use to call their higher power) word. The Muslims have a God, Jews have a God, Chinese Buddhists have a God, Scientologists have a God, ETC.

Has the God you believe in ever caused these writings to cease or change?

Medievalist
05-25-2005, 11:00 PM
<g> I have a couple of books about that, Lisa, thanks! (This one (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/155725236X/thecreedsofchris/002-6128668-2443243), and another I don't see on my shelf from here, just now...)

While you're here, though--do you know anything about the Martinez/Tigchelaar study edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls? I'm mostly wondering about veracity of scholarship.

It's one of the standards now, and pretty reliable about indicating fact, consensus, opinion and hypothesis. I wish the Huntington would hurry up with it's series of pamphlets/image analyses. It's been promised for about ten years now.

MacAllister
05-25-2005, 11:02 PM
Great! Thanks. :)

Pat~
05-25-2005, 11:12 PM
No, I don't believe in a higher power that controls us. My belief is that we are all part of a higher power, and by doing the right thing in life (which is, but of course is not limited to......loving each other and the universal....showing compassion and empathy), we grow spiritually. We have the freedom to do the right things, or not, but if we choose not to.......we suffer ourselves (no spiritual growth). If we do the right things, we continue towards our ultimate goal - which is to join the higher power.

We have to do the right things because we choose to them, not because we are scared into doing them, or because we are told to behave.


There are lots of spiritually written and inspired books, and many are represented to be God's (or whatever name they use to call their higher power) word. The Muslims have a God, Jews have a God, Chinese Buddhists have a God, Scientologists have a God, ETC.

Has the God you believe in ever caused these writings to cease or change?

Interestingly, Christianity is the only religion based on the words of someone who claimed to be the Son of God--who claimed to be God, in fact. We can all have our views and conjure up our own comfortable brand of spirituality based on human reasoning, but there still is the historic fact of Christ's visitation to this planet, and the claims He made which beg our answer. To use someone else's phrasing...we need to decide whether He was a Liar, a Lunatic, or who He claimed Himself to be--God.

brinkett
05-25-2005, 11:13 PM
There are lots of spiritually written and inspired books
I always find it ironic that some Christians who talk about a living God insist that He hasn't had anything new to say for the past 2000+ years. That's a God in stasis, not a living God who wants to engage His people.



and many are represented to be God's (or whatever name they use to call their higher power) word. The Muslims have a God, Jews have a God, Chinese Buddhists have a God, Scientologists have a God, ETC.

In fact, the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written for different audiences, and this is why they repeat each other, but sometimes with small differences. The author is using the language, imagery, etc. that would most appeal to his intended audience. Advertisers do the same sort of thing when targetting different markets. So I'm confident that God is intelligent enough to manifest Himself (Herself, or Whateverself) using the imagery, cultural symbols, etc. that the target group would be the most familiar and comfortable with.

eldragon
05-25-2005, 11:20 PM
We can all have our views and conjure up our own comfortable brand of spirituality based on human reasoning


Or, we can use our God given brains to research different views that were created by a group or one person ......... and decide for ourselves.

I can assure you that I believe 100% in my "comfortable brand of spirituality." And, it's not something that allows me to go out and murder people - or steal - or or lie.

How many Christians do you know that do not lie? Or, cheat on their spouse? Or, engage in war?
Or, hoard wealth while others starve?

Roger J Carlson
05-25-2005, 11:22 PM
First of all, let me emphasize that I am not deciding these things, nor am I condemning anyone -- I don't have the power. These are things that I believe based on scripture.


What happened to free will? And if the bible is supposed to be the literal word of God, why do people pick and choose what they follow? If God really wanted to make sure that we got his word verbatim, why use intermediaries?We're not going to solve the free will vs. determinism debate here. There seem to be and equal number of scripture references that support either. That being the case and because I believe the Bible is without contradition, there must be a way for us to have free will AND have God still in control. How this can be, I don't know. But it is because of free will that people can "pick and choose" what to follow. Perhaps free will is the reason God chose to use intermediaries instead of writing it physically himself. Why would we need faith if we had proof?



So only Christians can know God? People of other faiths are deluding themselves?According to the Bible, yes. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6



So what you're saying is that if you have two people, a Christian who intends to pattern their life after Christ but fails miserably, negatively impacting many lives, and a non-Christian who didn't consiously make a commitment to pattern his/her life after Christ but lives in such a way that they do, positively impacting many lives, that God will save the first person but not the second?That is exactly what I am saying. Our lives, no matter how clean we believe them to be, are impossibly filthy by God's standards. It's as if we came from the pig sty and ask admittance to a surgery. We rub our hands on our pants and wipe our noses on our sleaves and say, "See God, I'm clean." He smiles an points us over to Jesus. He says, "Follow this man here. You don't have to do anything, just follow him." Jesus leads us to a shower, washes us off, then presents us back to God.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." Isaiah 64:6

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9

But let me say this. Your scenerio is a paradox that resolves itself when examined closely. If a man intends to pattern himself after Christ and does those terrible things, did he really ever intend to pattern himself? God doesn't look at the outside. He doesn't care if we walk down the aisle in an "alter call". He looks at the heart.

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

Conversely, how do you know that a man who lives a godly life isn't following Christ, even if he's never heard the name? I'm not prepared to define exactly what "following Christ" means. However, I DO know that a conscious intent to follow Christ IS the way the Bible explicitly teaches and so that's the one I go with. (See Acts 8 for the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.)

Medievalist
05-26-2005, 12:33 AM
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

This verse, of course, is the crux of the Protestant reformation.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 12:34 AM
Interestingly, Christianity is the only religion based on the words of someone who claimed to be the Son of God

No, based on the words of whoever wrote the verses in the bible. Remember, the gospels and letters were written years after Christ's death.



To use someone else's phrasing...we need to decide whether He was a Liar, a Lunatic, or who He claimed Himself to be--God.
http://www.eskimo.com/~cwj2/atheism/lll.html
I've seen longer refutations of the Lord, Liar, or Lunatic trilemma, but this one does just as well. That's not to say that Jesus can't possibly be the Son of God, but that the Lord, Liar, or Lunatic question isn't any sort of proof.

Pat~
05-26-2005, 12:59 AM
[QUOTE=brinkett]No, based on the words of whoever wrote the verses in the bible. Remember, the gospels and letters were written years after Christ's death.
QUOTE]

Actually, I probably didn't make myself clear. Christianity is the only religion based on a person who claimed to be God (rather than a prophet of God). And though the words of Christ were written some years after his death, and inscribed by human hands, that doesn't prove that they weren't His words. The close corroboration between the gospels seems to imply that they were listening pretty intently to what He had to say, in fact.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 01:09 AM
Perhaps free will is the reason God chose to use intermediaries instead of writing it physically himself. Why would we need faith if we had proof?

You've lost me here. Either God completely controlled what these men wrote, in which case free will went out the window, or he didn't, in which case it's quite possible that what they wrote was coloured by both their own beliefs, and what they wanted to impart to their target audience.



According to the Bible, yes. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

Okay, quoting scripture doesn't really work because everyone has their own interpretation, and by everyone, I mean individuals and churches. Unless we both agree to the meaning of each verse you quote, there's no point. And if we agreed to the meaning of the verses you quoted, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Unlike you, I don't accept that everything written in the bible automatically has to be accepted, so it can't be used as the standard for what's true in any discussion you have with me.



That is exactly what I am saying. Our lives, no matter how clean we believe them to be, are impossibly filthy by God's standards. It's as if we came from the pig sty and ask admittance to a surgery. We rub our hands on our pants and wipe our noses on our sleaves and say, "See God, I'm clean." He smiles an points us over to Jesus. He says, "Follow this man here. You don't have to do anything, just follow him." Jesus leads us to a shower, washes us off, then presents us back to God.

I have an answer to this in a book at home. I'll have to see if I can dig it out later.



But let me say this. Your scenerio is a paradox that resolves itself when examined closely. If a man intends to pattern himself after Christ and does those terrible things, did he really ever intend to pattern himself? God doesn't look at the outside. He doesn't care if we walk down the aisle in an "alter call". He looks at the heart.

This boils down to God only considering what someone actually does. Think about it.



Conversely, how do you know that a man who lives a godly life isn't following Christ, even if he's never heard the name?
Bingo! In my view, he is, because he's following Christ's example (unknowingly). That's what I think is meant by "I am the way" in John 14:6. This means that someone doesn't have to be a Christian in order to be saved. I don't believe a conscious decision to follow Christ has to be there. You've stated that you do, so we'll have to agree to disagree on that.



Actually, I probably didn't make myself clear. Christianity is the only religion based on a person who claimed to be God (rather than a prophet of God). And though the words of Christ were written some years after his death, and inscribed by human hands, that doesn't prove that they weren't His words. The close corroboration between the gospels seems to imply that they were listening pretty intently to what He had to say, in fact.

That's not proof. We can never prove what Jesus said and didn't say. But let's assume for the moment that Jesus did claim to be God and Christianity is the only religion in the world based on someone claiming to be God. That doesn't mean all other religions are false.

Pat~
05-26-2005, 03:46 AM
That's not proof. We can never prove what Jesus said and didn't say. But let's assume for the moment that Jesus did claim to be God and Christianity is the only religion in the world based on someone claiming to be God. That doesn't mean all other religions are false.

No, I didn't say it was proof. And I also didn't say that the fact that Christianity is the only religion based on someone who claimed to be God proved that all other religions were false. I merely said it was interesting.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 03:52 AM
No, I didn't say it was proof. And I also didn't say that the fact that Christianity is the only religion based on someone who claimed to be God proved that all other religions were false. I merely said it was interesting.
You're right. I may have read something into your response to eldragon that wasn't there. Sorry.

Pat~
05-26-2005, 03:58 AM
Brinkett and Roger--Could it be that there is some confusion here over salvation versus sanctification? The Bible simply says "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (and in context meaning, believe on His work on the cross for your salvation); following Him (discipleship) is what comes after, and is actually alot harder. And yet, how hard we try or don't try doesn't affect our salvation...that would be salvation by works. The thief on the cross didn't have time to 'follow' or even imitate Christ, yet Christ told him, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise." That was because the thief believed Christ was who He said he was, and confessed it as he hung dying.

Pat~
05-26-2005, 04:02 AM
You're right. I may have read something into your response to eldragon that wasn't there. Sorry.

No problem :) .

Brainerd T.
05-26-2005, 04:10 AM
At this point we have an impasse. It's like sixteen different sides arguing about which side is right. At the same time unwilling to accept a common ground.

The arguments are all over the map. I tried to respond this morning, but deleted it because I knew it would be like adding logs to a fire in which everyone stands around and asks who owns the fire.

I don't like to use outside resources. I think it's a cop out. I like to use my own powers of reasoning. Even God said "Come, let us reason together". He does not want mindless obedience. He requires an active faith, not a "do nothing" faith. As a matter of fact, He requires us to "study to show ourselves approved".

It is not enough to simply know the Bible. It is contingent upon us to know as much as we can about science, and all other knowledge. However. The Bible isn't a book of Knowledge, but when it quotes history, that history is exact. It has never been proven false. When the Bible mentions science, that science is just as exact. People go to such great lengths to "prove" the Bible wrong, science is misapplied, misaligned, and misrepresented. There is much debate among scientists about what constitutes true science - especially concerning evolution.

God never gave dictation. At one point He talked to the "patriarchs", or "fathers" verbally. But man pushed God away, and He went to using "prophets". What God wanted kept, He gave instructions for it to be written down. Once in written form, no one could ever claim that God said one thing, and someone else say that God said something else. The problem is, with the Word being written down, too many people are wont to say "What God is trying to say is....." No. Wrong answer. He said what He said. You see, the problem lies in the interpretation, not in the word. Seems everyone wants the Bible to "prove" that their interpretation is correct.

Hermeneutics, when properly applied, will show that there is virtually no contradictions in the Bible. True, everyone says it, but is it true? Does faith only save? Does the religious ceremonies save? What saves, exactly? How does one get into Christ? When do we worship? Whould we have women preachers? What about leadership - Can there be single men as leaders? That's enough for now. My point is that there are a thousand answers to the questions I just posed. Each denomination wants to be right, so they provide "proof texts".

What causes denominations? What is a denomination? Basically, it means "a part of something else". If the church is the EKLESIA, or the "called out", then by definition, we have The Baptist "called out", the Methodist "called out" and so forth. Stop right there. We already have two distinct sets of doctrines. Which is right? Does it matter? There is only one written set of instructions. Baptists insist on immersion for baptism. Methodists don't. What causes denominations is "seeing what you want to see". "This is what I believe and see - here's the proof". (I'm not dissing anyone, just making a point) We need to see what The Bible says. See it for what it says, not "What this verse is trying to say........"

The Bible itself. How can we know it can be trusted? Who here is not a writer? When you tell a story, write an essay, write a poem - who can do so without putting your personality into what you write? There were 66 writers of the Bible. There are 66 personalities that wrote that Bible, spanning about 1500 years. They quote from each other freely. None of them quoted from the Apocrypha or the book of Mormon, or any of the others books that were not accepted by a council. (Those others were also rejected because they contradicted each other internally and externally).

Take Samson. If man had written about Samson, he would not have painted his hero as a womanizing imbecile, who thought with his his sexuality (a nice way to say it). My hero would be handsome, good looking, a real "God's man". In truth, God's man showed his weaknesses. He told it like it was, not the way we would want it to be. Especially David. A murderer, a womanizer, an adulterer, a liar......... And he was God's favorite?

Archaelogy has proven the Bible to be correct at every turn. Exactly where the cities of the Bible said they were is where they were found.

Last thought. I know I'll not sway anyone. Because no matter what proofs are offered, there must be a reason to disbelief. A paradigm shift is like an earthquake. Faith is things hoped for. Evolutionists have faith in evolution, making it their religion. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. There is plenty of evidence. Hebrews says there is a cloud of witnesses who have seen first hand the wonders of God. Luke 16:31 (NASB-U) says ".......'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' " Someone did.

Other topics have been discussed. but I will cease for now.

Pat~
05-26-2005, 04:29 AM
When the Pharisees demanded proof, Christ's response was that the only 'proof' would be 'the sign of Jonah' (a reference to his own death and resurrection in a 3-day period). Christianity is not something that can be 'proved'--it requires (and rewards) Faith. But, though I do not attempt to prove my belief system to others, I am told to "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks about the reason for the hope that is within me" (1 Peter 3:15). So I do :) , and it is a joy to do it.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 05:49 AM
At this point we have an impasse. It's like sixteen different sides arguing about which side is right. At the same time unwilling to accept a common ground.

That's not how I saw the discussion. I'm not trying to convince anyone that my view is right, nor did I get the feeling that anyone was trying to convince me. I was asked what my interpretation of a certain verse was and I gave it, and then defended it. I love discussing these sorts of issues just for the sake of it. In some ways, it's an intellectual exercise, an exchange of views, or at least that's how I see it. I love to be challenged about what I think, and to challenge others. It forces everyone to get in touch with why they believe what they do, and having to defend your beliefs every once in a while is healthy, IMO. It's too easy to become complacent.

As far as the bible goes, I do think it's ripe for interpretation, otherwise we wouldn't have so many denominations or discussions about it, and theologians wouldn't spend the time they do exploring it. As I said in a previous post, I think the bible is an amazing book because of its ability to challenge, engage, and spark discussion such as the one we've been having, but my faith isn't based on it. If someone came along tomorrow and proved that the bible was a hoax, my faith would be intact. Everybody else's should be too, otherwise you believe in a book, not in the living God.



But, though I do not attempt to prove my belief system to others, I am told to "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks about the reason for the hope that is within me" (1 Peter 3:15). So I do :) , and it is a joy to do it.

Right. Anyone who is comfortable with their faith, and I can tell that you are, isn't threatened by discussions such as the one we've been having here. I find it's people who are uncertain about their faith, or whose faith is based only on the bible and not on any real experience of the divine, that start to become very defensive when the authority of the bible is questioned in any way.



Could it be that there is some confusion here over salvation versus sanctification? The Bible simply says "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (and in context meaning, believe on His work on the cross for your salvation); following Him (discipleship) is what comes after, and is actually alot harder.

Possibly there's confusion. If I can summarize where I stand, I think all that really matters is that we respect ourselves and respect others. As long as someone does that, I think they'll be fine. I really don't think the rest matters. At the end of the day, I don't think it'll matter what you believed, what version of the bible you preferred, what church you attended, or anything like that. All that will matter is how you conducted yourself--on balance (because we're all hurtful and disrespectful at times), were you respectful, did you offer help when it was needed, did you impact someone in a positive way? If the answer is yes, then God won't turn you away, or at least the God I believe in won't. To me, everything else is just window dressing.

I have too many people close to me, good people, who aren't Christians, to believe that they'll suffer in horrible pain for eternity despite all of the good things they do. Sometimes I wonder if people who blithely condemn them have really thought about what they're doing, and about what type of god they've chosen to worship. No bible passage or scholar will ever sway me from my opinion. It's one of those instances where reality, what I perceive to be The Truth, or perhaps just plain old common sense, trumps everything else. Having said that, everybody is entitled to their own view.

Brainerd T.
05-26-2005, 06:35 AM
I thoroughly enjoy discussions of this type. It is very difficult to engage in discussions like this without offending someone. I do everything I can not to let people know what I believe. It's not important what I believe specifically. Generically yes.

Many christians just get angry when their faith is questioned. I think it is very important to be, and to remain, open minded. However, being open minded does not mean "willing to compromise". I will not compromise with error. The only way to be comfortable with your belief system is to face it head on and accept it. It is hard for the human spirit to accept being wrong. Naturally, a lot of people are. If I find myself in the wrong, I hope to be man enough to change. I've done it before.

I believe that it is incumbent on each person to let their faith be their faith, not dictated by a preacher. If this is the case, it is not your faith, but his. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing (comes) by the word of God." Without a bible study, a person is dependant on what someone else believes.

I am staunchly conservative. I believe that the Bible can be seen alike. I do not believe it contains errors. I believe that I can mis interpret it. Having said this, I realize that I may be contradicting myself. But there are minor things and there are major things.

For example, marriage, divorce and remarriage will always be a deep subject, and will be debated for eternity. Some even say that if there is divorce and remarriage is in your life, you can't go to heaven. (I don't believe that. I do believe that an adulterous relationship must cease. Some say that a person who has been married fifteen times should go back and remarry #1 in order to be acceptable to God. Bull. Jesus to le the woman taken in adultery to "go, sin no more". did she marry the guy? Did she kick him out? She obviously knew what to do.)

I have a problem with "Faith only" in order to be saved. Nor do I believe in "accepting Jesus as your personal savior". You accept his terms. Salvation is not unconditional. His love is. There are more veses that deal with obedience than faith. But then, neither do I believe in "obedience only". "What must I DO to be saved" is a thought, not an act. Acts 8, Mt. 16:15-16; Ro. 6. as well. However, this gets into another arena. I'm just stating what I believe.

Some things are just not worth debating, especially in a forum such as this. The Bible calls them "vain jangling". "Empty talk" in other words. God has said He gave us "everything that pertains to life and godliness". If it don't pertain, we should NOT engage in useless arguments.

I have a great deal of respect for all the views expressed here. I'm glad to see that no one has (apparantly) erupted. Thanks one and all.

Wendy J
05-26-2005, 07:10 AM
I am a Christian, and I would leave a church for the same reason that I am going to quit reading this thread. Ya'll are giving me a headache!

Seriously, what turns me off is a man deciding what something means and expecting everyone to follow along. I think you have to find a church that lines up with what you believe as close as possible. You have to keep in mind that we are all mere humans, and the perfect fit just won't happen, ever. So, you have to find what you can, overlook minor things that don't interfere with your own beliefs and just get on with it.

Wherever there is a human involved it will be full of flaws. You just have to know where you stand. There comes a time when religion has to die . . . and all you are left with is you, Christ, the Holy Spirit and God. That's when the rubber will hit the road and you'll know what you are truly made of.

Side note: Love C. S. Lewis

Now, I'll head back to the freelancing thread.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 07:17 AM
I thoroughly enjoy discussions of this type. It is very difficult to engage in discussions like this without offending someone. I do everything I can not to let people know what I believe. It's not important what I believe specifically. Generically yes.

Many christians just get angry when their faith is questioned. I think it is very important to be, and to remain, open minded. However, being open minded does not mean "willing to compromise". I will not compromise with error. The only way to be comfortable with your belief system is to face it head on and accept it. It is hard for the human spirit to accept being wrong. Naturally, a lot of people are. If I find myself in the wrong, I hope to be man enough to change. I've done it before.

Brainerd, you come across as being open minded while at the same time, knowing exactly what you believe and why. That's certainly a combination I can appreciate. You're right, any discussion on religion has the potential to deteriorate into a shouting match. I think everyone in the thread did a great job of keeping their emotions in check.



There comes a time when religion has to die . . . and all you are left with is you, Christ, the Holy Spirit and God. That's when the rubber will hit the road and you'll know what you are truly made of.

Amen.



Now, I'll head back to the freelancing thread.

I'll be ducking out soon, too. I've been spending more time posting in here than I have on my WIP.

(I have no idea why Brainerd's quoted text is in italics...)

Pat~
05-26-2005, 07:58 AM
Possibly there's confusion. If I can summarize where I stand, I think all that really matters is that we respect ourselves and respect others. As long as someone does that, I think they'll be fine. I really don't think the rest matters. At the end of the day, I don't think it'll matter what you believed, what version of the bible you preferred, what church you attended, or anything like that. All that will matter is how you conducted yourself--on balance (because we're all hurtful and disrespectful at times), were you respectful, did you offer help when it was needed, did you impact someone in a positive way? If the answer is yes, then God won't turn you away, or at least the God I believe in won't. To me, everything else is just window dressing.

I have too many people close to me, good people, who aren't Christians, to believe that they'll suffer in horrible pain for eternity despite all of the good things they do. Sometimes I wonder if people who blithely condemn them have really thought about what they're doing, and about what type of god they've chosen to worship. No bible passage or scholar will ever sway me from my opinion. It's one of those instances where reality, what I perceive to be The Truth, or perhaps just plain old common sense, trumps everything else. Having said that, everybody is entitled to their own view.

One last thought, from C.S. Lewis, who says it so much better than I could:
"...the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or--if they think there is not--at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it" (Mere Christianity, p. 64).

Sonya
05-26-2005, 08:13 AM
So, for those of you who consider yourself Christian* but don't go to church**, what would make you start going again?

And since you don't go, how do you respond to the verses in the word about not shunning gathering together with other Christians? In other words, as Bob Mumford has been known to ask in the past, "If you tell me you're spiritual, who are you being spiritual with?" Do you have other regular times you gather together with fellow believers for teaching, fellowship, admonition, and worship? If not, why not?
. :idea:

Hi Betty, haven't been on the board in a few days and just saw your post. I read all the other posts as well. First of all, I am a Christian. I trusted Jesus as my Saviour in August of 1988. I went to church and was faithful to all the services. I taught a Sunday school class. I shared my faith with others. And even though I was saved, I didn't walk with the Lord. I got my spirituality from the church (because I went to church, I was a 'good Christian'--a belief that was taught in the type of church I attended.) I discovered that church attendance doesn't make someone a good Christian. Please hear me out--I'm not against church attendance at all. I think it's a good thing IF a person is in a good church rather than a spiritually abusive one.

In 1995, I remember telling a friend that God didn't answer prayer. I was faithful in church at the time. Shortly after I made that statement, a terrible tragedy struck my family that destroyed several lives and almost ended mine.

For days afterward, I couldn't eat or sleep. In desperation, I began to read my Bible and the more I read, the more strength He gave me. I learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that He answers prayers and He is everything He says He is. He proved it in the valley of my life. I've had people tell me later that they were amazed at the calmness and grace I had during that time.

The verses you're talking about refer to not forsaking the assembling together. To forsake means to renounce or abandon--to desert, not intending to return. None of which apply in my case.

I left a legalistic, damaging Baptist church. Please understand that there are other issues at work here which I'll be glad to share with you privately.

Thankfully, my walk with the Lord isn't dependent upon whether or not I'm in church. I'm sure this won't come as a surprise but a lot of Christians actively involved in church do not have a day to day relationship with the Lord.

I listen to preaching sermons I asked for from a nondenominational church after counseling with that pastor. I also get tapes from my father in law's Southern Baptist church.

I read books--Philip Yancy, Max Lucado, Gary Smalley and others. I interact with a mature Christian woman. I fellowship with other Christians who-even though I don't attend their church--have been examples of the love of Christ. I read my Bible and study meanings in the Greek and Hebrew. I read commentaries.

I believe in attending church. However, I also believe that there are no cookie cutter situations when a family withdraws from church.

I hope I haven't offended you in any way, Betty.

Sonya

Mr Underhill
05-26-2005, 09:00 AM
Money matters are one reason many people leave churches. Specifically, who gets to control the real estate or endowment, for those churches that direct these things by committee. I stay away from those matters myself, but have seen it in action many times. People always say it's something else, though. (That probably applies to most of the reasons, I suppose.)

Whole congregations split over pastors. Sometimes this is due to something the pastor has done (I once heard Pastor Kirbyjon in Houston say "It's either messin' with the money or messin' with the honey"), but it is just as often the congregation. In fact some congregations have reputations as "pastor-killers" because they quickly turn on the pastors they have called and blame them for all the problems.

For myself, I once left for a very practical reason: I belonged to a small singles group which of a sudden all married, mostly to each other. One other gentleman and myself were all who were left (we joked that we must have been absent the day they drew the names out of the hat). So I started attending a church downtown with a larger pool of singles. (The other fellow was older, so he could move into the divorced-with-kids singles group, and soon found a lovely wife and two kids.)

One more reason I can think of would be worship styles. People in a church that does traditional liturgy might feel the Spirit more in a contemporary service, while some people might want the solidity of tradition as their church's worship goes contemporary. Or maybe one might get excited about Taizé. (Myself I'd love to find an Ancient Future service, but they're hard to come by.)

And of course, recent news shows that you just might be going to the church from hell. Literally. If there is child abuse (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-16/1117030142166050.xml&storylist=sex_cult) and people are sacrificing cats in pentagrams (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/25/national/25church.html) in the youth hall, that would seem to me an excellent reason to leave. In fact, run. You might want to get clear out of the state while you're at it.

Sonya
05-26-2005, 09:14 AM
(we joked that we must have been absent the day they drew the names out of the hat).
And of course, recent news shows that you just might be going to the church from hell. Literally. If there is child abuse (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-16/1117030142166050.xml&storylist=sex_cult) and people are sacrificing cats in pentagrams (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/25/national/25church.html) in the youth hall, that would seem to me an excellent reason to leave. In fact, run. You might want to get clear out of the state while you're at it.

ROTFLOL! Love your sense of humor.

Sonya

brinkett
05-26-2005, 03:40 PM
One last thought, from C.S. Lewis, who says it so much better than I could:
"...the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or--if they think there is not--at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him.
:Ssh:

;)

(I really do have to focus on my WIP now...)

Roger J Carlson
05-26-2005, 05:06 PM
That's not how I saw the discussion. I'm not trying to convince anyone that my view is right, nor did I get the feeling that anyone was trying to convince me. I was asked what my interpretation of a certain verse was and I gave it, and then defended it. Ditto. I'm not trying to convince anyone, I'm simply explaining my own beliefs.


As far as the bible goes, I do think it's ripe for interpretation, otherwise we wouldn't have so many denominations or discussions about it, and theologians wouldn't spend the time they do exploring it. As I said in a previous post, I think the bible is an amazing book because of its ability to challenge, engage, and spark discussion such as the one we've been having, but my faith isn't based on it. Again, I agree, except my faith IS based upon it. Every logical argument (in syllogistic terms) has a premise, which is assumed to be true. My premise is that the Bible is an accurate depiction of God and God's will for us. If we cannot agree on that, then I cannot prove anything to you and, in fact, I'm not trying to. Again, I'm simply explaining what I believe.


I find it's people who are uncertain about their faith, or whose faith is based only on the bible and not on any real experience of the divine, that start to become very defensive when the authority of the bible is questioned in any way.I'm not really sure what you mean by "experience of the divine", but I know many, many people whose faith is based on the Bible who are not defensive and will willingly discuss their faith.


Possibly there's confusion. If I can summarize where I stand, I think all that really matters is that we respect ourselves and respect others. As long as someone does that, I think they'll be fine. I really don't think the rest matters. At the end of the day, I don't think it'll matter what you believed, what version of the bible you preferred, what church you attended, or anything like that. All that will matter is how you conducted yourself--on balance (because we're all hurtful and disrespectful at times), were you respectful, did you offer help when it was needed, did you impact someone in a positive way? If the answer is yes, then God won't turn you away, or at least the God I believe in won't. To me, everything else is just window dressing. This is a very common belief, even in many Christian churches today. My only problem with this is that it is not backed by scripture. Why scripture again? Why am I so hung up about it? Simple. I don't think I'm smart enough to figure everything out myself. So I go looking for authority. Many, many people who are smarter than I, the likes of CS Lewis and Charles Spurgeon, have studied the Bible in depths that I cannot plumb and have been convinced of it's truth. I have decided to accept that authority. Please understand, I don't blindly accept just any authority. I use discernment. But ALL of us accept authority in one way or another every day. Whether we believe in Global Warming or not (for example) depends on which authority we choose to believe. We can't ALL conduct the experiments necessary to prove or disprove it.


I have too many people close to me, good people, who aren't Christians, to believe that they'll suffer in horrible pain for eternity despite all of the good things they do. I have too and I hope I'm wrong. I don't believe I am though.


Sometimes I wonder if people who blithely condemn them have really thought about what they're doing, and about what type of god they've chosen to worship.This is a common misconception about Christians. While there may be Christians who delight in waving their "salvation" under the noses of others to demonstrate their moral superiority, the vast majority of Christians that I know have a real concern for the "lost" souls around them. Christians don't "blithely condemn" others. We don't have the power. We DO believe, however, that without Jesus you WILL be condemned and if we did not at least try to tell you, we would not be following our faith. Christ demands it: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel..." Try to see it as an act of concern rather than an act of judgement.

A few years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention came under fire for asking it's people to pray for the salvation of the Jews. Jewish groups were up in arms. They condemned the SBC for it's anti-Semitism. In fact, it was just the opposite. Far from condemning jews, the SBC was concerned for a group of people they considered to be "lost" and were following their Lord's commands. Jews should have been flattered rather than offended. If Christians really hated the jews, they need only sit back and wait for judgment. Instead, they chose to pray for them.

It's what we're called to do.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 05:54 PM
I'm not really sure what you mean by "experience of the divine"

What I mean is experience of God in your life. So even if there was no bible, you would still know God.



This is a very common belief, even in many Christian churches today. My only problem with this is that it is not backed by scripture.

You mean not backed by your interpretation of scripture, or by the interpretation of scholars you choose to read. There's a reason it's a common belief in many Christian churches. Because their interpretation of scripture is different from yours, and there are theologians/scholars who agree with them.



Whether we believe in Global Warming or not (for example) depends on which authority we choose to believe.

Exactly. Which is why I don't think it'll matter when all is said and done.



the vast majority of Christians that I know have a real concern for the "lost" souls around them. Christians don't "blithely condemn" others.

You'll notice I wrote "Sometimes I wonder if people who blithely condemn them have really thought about what they're doing," which implies that I'm not including all Christians.



A few years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention came under fire for asking it's people to pray for the salvation of the Jews. Jewish groups were up in arms. They condemned the SBC for it's anti-Semitism. In fact, it was just the opposite. Far from condemning jews, the SBC was concerned for a group of people they considered to be "lost" and were following their Lord's commands. Jews should have been flattered rather than offended. If Christians really hated the jews, they need only sit back and wait for judgment. Instead, they chose to pray for them.

I'd try to help you see why Jews were offended rather than flattered (God help us), but I suspect I'd be doing this:

:Headbang:

So I'll pass.

reph
05-26-2005, 07:11 PM
I'd try to help you see why Jews were offended rather than flattered (God help us), but I suspect I'd be doing this:

:Headbang:

So I'll pass.
A wise decision.

eldragon
05-26-2005, 07:41 PM
Originally Posted by brinkett
I'd try to help you see why Jews were offended rather than flattered (God help us), but I suspect I'd be doing this:

:Headbang:

So I'll pass.



I concur.

Roger J Carlson
05-26-2005, 08:14 PM
I'd try to help you see why Jews were offended rather than flattered (God help us), but I suspect I'd be doing this:

:Headbang:

So I'll pass.Brinkett,

I'm sorry if I've offended you. I hope I didn't imply that I'm not open to opposing viewpoints. If I did, it wasn't intended. I thought we were having a thoughtful discussion.

I'll say one last thing about the SBC and jews situation and then be done.

I am a Christian. If moslems threatened to over-run this country and impose Islam on the US, I would resist. BUT if a muslim group prayed that Allah would bring the wisdom of the Prophet to the US, I would be flattered by their good intentions. Wouldn't you?

That is, I believe, exactly analogous to the SBC situation. It is a concern for their souls that motivated it, not any wish to impose ideology on them. Although it wasn't always this way, modern Christianity does not seek to impose it's doctrine externally by force, but from within, one soul at a time.

Thanks for the stimulating discussion.

brinkett
05-26-2005, 09:13 PM
That is, I believe, exactly analogous to the SBC situation.
I don't believe it is. Praying that wisdom be brought is different than praying for "lost" souls. The motivation for the prayers is important. If a muslim group announced that they intended to pray for the SBC because they're concerned for all the "lost" souls and have decided not to sit back and allow all these poor, misguided SBC members to be thrown into eternal punishment, but to try to save the members of the SBC from God's condemnation, I doubt we'd see the leaders of the SBC beaming on CNN about what a wonderful idea it is and how flattered they are. Instead, I suspect some areas of the US would experience earthquakes from all the bible thumping that would ensue. That could just be me, though.



Although it wasn't always this way, modern Christianity does not seek to impose it's doctrine externally by force, but from within, one soul at a time.

-and-



If moslems threatened to over-run this country and impose Islam on the US, I would resist.

Draw your own conclusions.

(and it should read "modern evangelical Christianity")

Brainerd T.
05-27-2005, 01:28 AM
We don't have permission to force anything on anyone.

I don't understand how any other religion can be taught in public, preached on the streets, in the classrooms, and given a pass everywhere in society, but as soon as a Christian takes a Bible to work, takes a cross to school, or mentions God, all of a sudden the Christian is "shoving it down their throat"? This worn out excuse for religious persecution has gone on long enough.

I for one, do not believe in the Rapture, "Left Behind" or all the other money makers out there that play on emotions to sell books and movies However, I do believe we are living in the "End Times". I Tim. 3 spells out exactly what the world will be like at the end times. I will not quote it for you. It is not hidden in prophecy, it is not written to seven churches. It is written in plain every day language.

(Many people like to go to Revelation (singular) and try to say that the seven churches could not understand what was written to them - but all of a sudden 2,000 years later we DO understand -- that's crazy. If someone wrote me a cryptic letter fifty years ago warning me about a Nazi invasion, you bet I'd understand it right then, not 2,000 years in the future.)

Persecution is the best way for Christians to multiply. That's the very reason they were persecuted. They were content to keep it to themselves. That's history, but I believe it will be repeated over and over. Remember the famous verse "upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". The way it is constructed shows that the church is supposed to be on the offensive. The gates of hell is to be beaten down by the church. Today, as in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas about the time Revelation was written, the church (es) are content to be persecuted and keep the message inside those four walls of comfort. Christians are soldiers. Those who believe the kingdom is yet to come are soldiers in a non existent kingdom. (Do a word study on church and kingdom).

I believe that we cannot win the war against evil without God calling an end to the world. ".....will wax worse and worse".

Not wanting to start a fire, but just explaining what I believe.

reph
05-27-2005, 04:10 AM
I don't know a lot about what Muslims believe, but I do know that they advocate destroying people who disagree with them.
Most Muslims don't advocate that, any more than most Christians advocate bombing abortion clinics.


Christianity is the only "peaceful" religion in the world. We don't have permission to force anything on anyone.
How warlike do you think Buddhism is?

Brainerd T.
05-27-2005, 05:16 AM
Please excuse my gaff. Firstly, about Muslims. Most are peaceful. I was trying to make a larger point. Secondly, I didn't mean to imply (which I did) that other religions were out to destroy.

I erred in my expression badly. What I had in mind was that Christianity is the only religion that teaches to love your enemies, and to pray for them. I will now go edit out the insensitivity. It was unintended. I didn't notice it until I read Reph's post. Thanks Reph.

My apologies to anyone who may have been offended. I need to do better than that. I didn't proof read before I submitted. (bad writer)

Sonya
05-28-2005, 05:19 AM
I for one, do not believe in the Rapture, "Left Behind" or all the other money makers out there that play on emotions to sell books and movies However, I do believe we are living in the "End Times". I Tim. 3 spells out exactly what the world will be like at the end times. I will not quote it for you. It is not hidden in prophecy, it is not written to seven churches. It is written in plain every day language.
.


Brainerd,

I believe you meant to say II Timothy 3, not I Timothy. : - )

Sonya

Brainerd T.
05-28-2005, 06:36 AM
OOPS!!!!

Now, I'll move over and let someone else talk.

Betty W01
05-28-2005, 10:08 AM
Wow, you go away for a couple of days to take care of business and look what you miss!

I am not offended by anything anyone here shared - I know that none of you meant anyhing other than to try to shed light on something that is important to us all. I also am not going to jump into any of the arguments on either side.

See, here's the thing. We could argue theology and religion and philosophy until the cows come home, but it's unlikely that any of us will change anyone else's mind; all we are likely to do if we continue on in this vein is end up producing more heat than light (and possibly start a fire).

Here's the bottom line for me. Like the blind man who was healed by Jesus and then hauled in front of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court system) to defend himself, all I can say is, I once was blind and now I see.

I was raised in an unchristian home. (No insult meant, just that my mom took us to church once in a while, but my dad didn't and does not go, and church was only ever something you did for 45 min. on Sunday that didn't impact or touch the rest of the week.)

At the age of 19, I became a Christian.

At that moment, my life changed.

I was instantly healed of a lifelong horrible irrational terror of the dark. (I mean the very instant, and it has never come back.)

I became able to act kindly and selflessly in ways I had never been able to or been interested in before, and started actually caring about people outside my own skin. (This process, as those of you who know me can testify to, needs a lot more work...)

I have received two different miraculous physical healings (a shoulder twisted by scoliosis and a severe back injury) and I have seen my sons instantly healed of foot and leg problems that they were both born with and now no longer have.

And when my oldest daughter died in a car, crushed under a falling tree, it was only the constant sense of God's love and care for me, close as my own skin, that brought me through the deep darkness of those days to light on the other side. He held onto me when I was too numb and devastated to hold onto Him, and I absolutely know that if it had it not been for my relationship with God and my faith in His goodness, I would not have survived Lisa's death. Instead, I too would be dead, for I would have taken my own life.

Yes, I do believe in most of what Roger and Pat had to say about their beliefs and definitions, but I usually try to avoid those kinds of discussions. I've found out the hard way that words alone won't convince anyone and often end up doing damage. The Bible as the Word of God may be a two-edged sword, as one verse says, but I think the Lord expects us to be wise about when and how we use it <grin>

So, I usually choose to make my life speak for me. My hope is that the way I live my life (through the changes He has made and continues to make in me) will speak louder than any words: I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see. Not perfect, nope. But aiming for it, someday, when I see Him face to face.

DrRita
05-28-2005, 04:55 PM
I agree with you Betty! Discussions are wonderful (sometimes) but a life lived by faith is still the best testimony to the grace, mercy and love of Christ.

brinkett
05-28-2005, 05:13 PM
I agree with this too. It's what I've been saying all along. :)

Doyle
05-28-2005, 05:27 PM
Greeetings from esteemed new member -- reason to leave a church? last one actually voted me out, speacial meeting and all -- an experience I have since heard referred to as the "left foot of fellowship"

This was quite the thread, in my own informal survey of Christians I have found that most have not read the Bible, not necessary for salvation, but indicative of degree of seriousness, most Christians do not know if there is a difference between the soul of a person and the spirit of a person, and those who do rarely know the differences.

Loud music can definitely be an issue, my landlady had been a member of a fellowship for years, then they got a new pastor, and the new pastor took the fellowship into a new direction leaving all the "old" people behind -- sad story.

cya

Puddle Jumper
07-11-2005, 07:10 AM
Dr. Rita, too-loud music is a genuine reason to leave. People with reactive tinnitus, in particular, need to avoid loud sounds. "Reactive" means environmental noise makes their tinnitus louder. For anyone, excessive noise has a cumulative effect, hastening hearing loss.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I think every reason given would be a genuine reason. Whether it's rational or irrational is something that would be individually based and not what this thread is about.

I asked the question because I was thinking (and still am) of writing a prodigal story (story about a prodigal) and was trying to think of every possible reason that a person might give to leave a church, whether it's a good reason or not.

Side note, the music at my church is so loud that I can't hear my own voice unless I plug my ears with my fingers and then I sound funny. It's really too loud for my own tastes though on the flip side, I can't hear if anyone else is out of key. ;)


Biggest one - it turned out they were a cult. The church looked pretty normal on the surface, but had some real problems with their doctrine, acted pretty manipulative, and sometimes even used deception to get new people to come to their meetings. I was involved for about two months there.
I know someone who said she had the same thing to her. I forgot the name of the place but I know of several people who have checked it out to figure out what goes on there. I guess at some point they make you confess to all the bad things you've done in life and they record them and if you ever try to leave they threaten to take it before the church. So I totally agree, great reason to leave if you find out it's actually a cult.


Another reason I've left a church was moving to another city.
Always a good reason.


1. The pastor preached too much about politics and not enough about God.
2. The church had no sense of community - just a large worship service and few opportunities to actually get to know members.
I'm experiencing those with my current church. It's just so big and people get into cliques and I've never been one to be in a clique and it's really hard to make friends when people look at you like, "You're not a part of my inner circle of friends." And my church strongly emphasizes political issues and recently fired the pastor who preached at my services saying that one of the reasons why was he was not preaching enough about political issues.


The church I left years ago---the youth pastor ran off with one of the teenagers (a 14 year old). The pastor refused to notify authorities and shoved it under the carpet. The pastor was involved in some things I won't go into here that were wrong. People who spoke out against it were labeled as complainers. The church members who pointed out a problem became the problem. I cannot even begin to go into everything that went on in this church. Sadly, it's not the only one of it's kind. Definitely not the kind of church where anyone got fed. That's not an excuse, but truthfulness.
Yeah, the pastor aiding criminal activity or engaging in it would be a good reason to leave in my book.


PJ, you might want to solicit reasons why people would join a church, as well. It can often be indicitive of why they might leave.
True, if people go to church for the wrong reasons and don't discover the truth while their there, that could explain why they leave.


I worked on a church project for over two years. When I was laid off of my "real" job I sent an email to the leaders in the church who used my skills often. I was hoping for a job lead, or a reference, or prayer. Instead, nobody replied at all. I was really, really pissed that the church staff used my services for years and then when I needed help, they couldn't be bothered.
I've found it very common among Christians if you write to someone for them not to respond. I used to be great about writing, but I think they've rubbed off onto me to where I found myself having the attitude, "no one else cares so why should I?" I'm still working on that. Recognition and acceptance are two basic human needs. The church likes to teach that we shouldn't ask for such things because Jesus told us to live our lives as living sacrifices and if we get such things on earth we won't get them in Heaven.

But you know, God wants recognition for all that He has done. We see that in scripture. And God wants us to accept Him. So is it wrong that we have characteristics that God Himself has? God will have nothing to do with people who do not recognize Him and accept Him and all that He has done, so why does the church think members should have anything to do with a church that doesn't accept and recognize them and thing that they have done?


I left the Church I was raised in because I became an atheist, and while I could have continued to attend the services for my family's sake, and for the sense of community (FTR, I was raised in the LDS Church and still identify culturally, to some extent, as a Mormon), I felt that it was disrespectful to the faithful members of the Church to the extreme, so I quietly removed myself.
Although mormonism isn't Christianity. I remember a pastor in my church one time preached on cults and mormonism was one he talked about.


The time I fell in with a cult, I had a really hard time trusting churches or pastors after that.
That sounds almost identical to the person I know who had a similar experience. She said she really struggled after that experience.


One of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome was realizing years later that God's love and complete acceptance of me had been twisted and twisted until it was a yoke I could not bear.
I'm confused with what you're saying. Are you saying God was putting too heavy a yoke on you or others?


1. If a woman in the church started hitting on me. (I'm female.)
Yeah, especially if that woman was the pastor!!! :p I've not had either happen, I'm just saying. ;)


2. If someone kept pestering me to help out with the kids' Sunday school classes.
I kind of had that experience. I wanted to volunteer to help in the nursery. I just wanted to volunteer, they made it a job. If I couldn't make it for some event or if I wanted to go to the event that they needed people to volunteer in the nursery for, they would try to guilt trip me. I didn't leave the church, I just stopped helping in the nursery altogether. I don't respond well to people like that.


3. If I was visiting for the first time and the pastor said flat-out that he didn't want me in his church.
I'd say, "Well that's great because I don't want to be around you." Probably not, I'd probably be too shocked at the time to come up with a comeback like that, which is probably best anyway.


8. If I showed up one Sunday to find a rainbow-colored triangle on the front door.
Triangle?


I detest organized religion, choosing, instead, a personal belief.

(Plus, I hate getting up on Sunday mornings).
I hate getting up early on the weekends too. I have to get up early five days a week. That's why I'll choose an evening service if I can.

I don't like "religion" either and my biggest complaing about churches is how "religious" they are. Christianity is not meant to be a religion, it's meant to be a deeply personal relationship between the individual and the Lord. When we get together it should be personal and informal, like getting together with family, not putting up a fake front and trying to show yourself to be better than you are.


Oh, and scare tactics. The worst thing a church can do.
Another thing I don't respond well to. I tend to tune such people out. I didn't become a Christian by being scared of hell or whatever. I became a Christian because of people who showed me love.


So, for those of you who consider yourself Christian* but don't go to church**, what would make you start going again?
Someone inviting me to go with them. Sounds really pathetic I'm sure. But the only reason I have not to go to church is that I feel so lonely when I go there. As I said, it's a humongous church and people have their cliques and all the friends I used to have there have moved on. I go and people I somewhat know don't invite me to sit with them, they don't approach me to ask me how it's going, and I don't feel lonely anywhere but at church. So someone showing me a little kindness and attention would get me to go to church.


And since you don't go, how do you respond to the verses in the word about not shunning gathering together with other Christians?
Is being around other Christians and not communicating with them any different than not being around them? I can pop in a praise and worship CD at home and sing to God. Church should be about community, which includes communication with one another. We're suppose to be helping and encouraging one another.

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. Shortly after posting this thread I got a new puppy and haven't had as much time to be on the computer.