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  • Please Help Questions About Faith (replies from the experienced person ONLY please)

    To Everyone who believes in God:

    This is my first post and it is a big/good one:

    I have studied theology for 8 years and many ideas have "plagued" my mind about theology. I have studied many different religions, and have come to know their practices and histories. While many of them are very unique in their own way, most religions show very common similarities between one another. These similarities can be from "rules" (like the Ten Commandments) to ways to worship and everywhere in between. Because humanity is susceptible to error and flaw, some things in religion display these flaws and to make claim that anything created by humans is "flawless" would be wrong. To begin this discussion of my questions about faith and religion, I am going to start off asking the very basic why. To give some display to my current standing on "why" I'm going to begin by giving my understanding of why people have religion. First, I believe that religion provides meaning. Not only meaning through the belief and meaning into the practice but to life in general. A promise of an afterlife gives people a reason to live. Not only this but it allows for "manipulation" of those who follow this belief. Now when I say manipulation, I do not mean it in a negative manner. Simply that those who follow the religion adhere to the beliefs of the religion itself. Next, humanity creates this religion. Regardless of being inspired by a greater deity, the basic premise is that it is 100% created by humans. The question of what is created by humans is my next question. What I believe is the "what" is faith. When someone adheres to the beliefs of a religion and that religion's belief basis stems from that which is unintelligible by the human mind but seems to simply create a guideline for someone to live their life by seems completely unrealistic to me. If our basis on Christianity is on God and God is completely beyond our dimensions of reality, we have to assume that our reality is connected to that of God's "reality" otherwise those teachings understood as God's would have absolutely no impact on us whatsoever. If we establish that our reality is connected to God, then we can safely assume that there is a Heaven that we do not exist in yet but are connected to. Likewise, if we choose to not connect ourselves with Heaven then Hell is our alternative choice. This seems to sum up "what" in my opinion but I am looking for other people's philosophical outlook on the "what" question. Next, I would like to ask why are there radicals that believe they are the only person that is right.
    I have been to Christian organizations who seem to downgrade the authenticity of other religions by examining their holy texts such as the Qur'an or the Book of Mormon. While I believe everyone has the right to feel they are correct I believe that in absolutely NO sense is it OK to believe someone else is wrong. I guarantee that 50% of the people on this forum believe that at least one religion that they know of is "wrong". First, God says not to pass judgement onto others, therefore, stop judging other religions. Second, nobody knows the answer because A) there is no concrete proof and B) Faith constitutes 90-100% of religion. I don't care if you believe that you know for a fact the Bible is inspired by God and all of the writings are correct, that still gives you no right to slander someone else's beliefs (not to mention that many of the books of the Bible that were not placed in the Bible (like the gospel of Judas or gospel of Mary) paint much different pictures of the passion). I am going to name a name here because I want everyone who reads this to know and I want to provide factual evidence to my statement, that the college organization called Navigators occasionally brings in people or holds meetings that attempt to point out all the failures and disprove other religions.
    I have asked a few of my questions that I have with religion and I would like to point out that I am a devout Catholic. If anyone believes they can answer my questions in a religious/philosophical manner, or believes in any sense that my views are "skewed" please email me *email address removed* Thank you for taking your time to read my post.

    Sincerely,
    Jeff
    Last edited by tango; May 20th 2010, 12:06 PM. Reason: removed email address

  • #2
    Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
    To Everyone who believes in God:

    I guarantee that 50% of the people on this forum believe that at least one religion that they know of is "wrong". First, God says not to pass judgement onto others, therefore, stop judging other religions.
    It's a common misconception that God says not to judge. The culprit is a particular verse of Scripture which is constantly quoted in part. I hear this often:

    Mat 7:1 "Judge not...

    The verse actually says:

    Mat 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.

    Jesus is not say that we should never judge. He's saying don't judge hypocritically. Here it is in context.

    Mat 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
    Mat 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
    Mat 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
    Mat 7:4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?
    Mat 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

    Contrary to the popular idea that we are never to judge, Jesus himself tells us to judge.

    Joh 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

    Now for your contention that we should not consider other religions wrong. Scripture says that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Therefore, for Christians not to reject other religions would be inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles.

    Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Act 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
    In His Service,

    Nomad

    Got questions about Reformed theology? Want solid Biblical answers without all of the usual nastiness, mud slinging and straw-man portraits of Reformed Theology found in public forums? Then ask a Calvinist.

    Ask a Calvinist

    http://abidingtruth.wordpress.com/

    Warranted Faith - Reformed Apologetics & Theology

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    • #3
      That is very interesting and I have heard that even by many people who "religiously" study the Bible. The normal claim is that passing judgement should be saved for God and God alone. While this helps out a lot about judgement, the fact of the matter is that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. If someone practices the Golden Rule, then it is unreasonable to like someone is wrong in their beliefs lest they think you are wrong (ironically this is exactly what happens because Christians think Muslims are incorrect in their beliefs and vice-versa). While the answers are completely unclear to us as to who is correct, I think everyone should follow the "to each, his own" policy towards other religions and focus more energy on understanding their own religion rather than slandering someone else's because honestly, regardless of what you think you know about your faith, it is probably incredibly skewed or at least has a lot of missing pieces. For example, ask your priest or pastor or minister what/who God is and they should give you the proper answer of "I don't know" simply because NO ONE can know that answer. Also, many people base their faith on text in the Bible but most Christians are unaware of the fact that when the modern day Bible was founded, about 150 of the books and gospels of the original Bible were left out.

      Comment


      • #4
        We are called to judge false teachers.

        The Navigators is a very solid Christian evangelical organization and is certainly within the mainstream of orthodox Christianity.

        The statements you make in your two posts above cast serious doubt on your statement "Yes, I am a Christian," as the statements you make are not consistent with orthodox Christian faith.


        Contrary to your assertion, I know exactly who God is. He has revealed himself to us through his son, Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the sins of the world, who was buried, and whom God the Father raised from the dead by the power of God the Holy Spirit, who now indwells every believer.

        God has chosen to reveal himself to us. We are not entitled to reject his revelation of himself to us.

        Comment


        • #5
          I very much agree with you, RabbiKnife, that God has revealed himself to us through his son but the fact does remain that the Word was made flesh. Understanding the Word is what I mean by knowing God. The Word is beyond our reality and beyond our capacity of understanding. All we know is the Bible and it's message as it constitutes the Word. To say that the Word is limited to one book is very simplistic as well. We would be wasting our minds that God gave us if we did not attempt to understand God and His Word more. To clarify, we must not attempt to be like God just understand the nature more-so. While faith alone is a good enough answer for most people to believe in God, I try to go for a faith + 1 approach where I believe fully in my understandings of God and attempt to relate them to me and the reality we live in as humans. This relation comes through what we have grown to know as physics and mathematics (I am a physics major with a mathematics minor after all) and I will be posting this post again as my understanding of the nature of God later because I feel that it has basis on our reality and has come through my understanding of God and my attempt to learn more about our universe through the study of science and mathematics.

          Buckle your seat belts please:

          It is safe to say that the nature of our existence is characterized by the reality upon which we exist in. While our entire existence is probably much more beyond our senses and our own capacity for understanding, I will use what we can sense as my basis for the discussion. What do we exist in? That answer can be concluded as dimensions. If we compare this to mathematics, we see that 1 dimension is a point in space, two dimensions is length and width but zero height (a line or a plane), three dimensions is length and width and height. When we look at something beyond that is where it begins to get harder to understand. According to mathematics, the 4th dimension on a coordinate plane is when you take the x,y, and z axis and move all of them along another axis. Applying this to our reality, the 4th dimension is time such that our three dimensions that we exist entertain time as we can see change. Trying to understand more dimensions becomes increasingly difficult to understand such that it would suggest parallel realities (seemingly infinite as well) and alternate realities. Where God comes into all this for my understanding is that there is theoretically an infinite amount of dimensions; but infinity can be conceptualized as a single point. That single "point" is God. Now the question becomes what is that single point? Well, I believe that that single point is the ultimate dimension. As we know from physics, if something exists in dimension X, any dimension "lower" than dimension X is unrestrictive to dimension X itself. Therefore, if God was in dimension x, he would not be restricted by absolutely anything except for Himself, which would be whatever He desires. Given that, it would give God the power to "control" absolutely everything he saw fit and thus allow life to be created and allow people to retain freewill and allow us to exist. Also, this would give Him the capacity to give us souls which are not bound by time and can not be seen or touched because they exist in a dimension beyond our own. This may sound heretical or un-Christian but believe you me, it has helped build my faith because it allows me to see things people that stop at the Bible don't see. Honestly, I hope that many people are happy with what they believe in but sadly, not everyone is. I was one of those people who did not want to stick to the teachings in just some book written 2000 years ago about some "homie" that went around and made people's lives better. But, by furthering my education in theology and physics in unison, I have grown to accept teachings in the Bible and live my life as according to the message presented in it. Another thing that is sad about how I feel is that I guarantee you that someone is going to reply to this message saying that my assumptions are incorrect and that the Bible is the only thing to believe and that Jesus is God and God is something and .... it goes on. Unfortunately those people do not use their minds or intellect and go beyond the writings to make those words and stories apply to their lives directly. But, as Nomad surprised me by helping my understanding of judgement, so else may there be someone who can help my understanding of the nature of God. I am curious to know what other people believe.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
            If someone practices the Golden Rule, then it is unreasonable to like someone is wrong in their beliefs lest they think you are wrong (ironically this is exactly what happens because Christians think Muslims are incorrect in their beliefs and vice-versa). While the answers are completely unclear to us as to who is correct...
            Hello cthulu89,

            I'm sorry but I can't agree with your skepticism. I don't think things are as hopelessly unclear as you believe. Example: I've studied Islam and quickly found that it is nothing more than a corrupt amalgamation of Judaism and Christianity that doesn't begin until 600 years after Christ. Even a cursory reading of the Qur'an will reveal Mohammed's shallow and even mistaken knowledge of Christianity and Judaism and yet he is supposedly writing the words of Allah.

            I don't say these things to get this thread bogged down in a discussion about Islam, but merely to demonstrate that it is indeed possible and right to be discerning.


            Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
            For example, ask your priest or pastor or minister what/who God is and they should give you the proper answer of "I don't know" simply because NO ONE can know that answer. Also, many people base their faith on text in the Bible but most Christians are unaware of the fact that when the modern day Bible was founded, about 150 of the books and gospels of the original Bible were left out.
            Again, I can't agree that things are that hopeless. God has revealed himself generally in his works of creation and we are given special revelation through the Scriptures.

            As far as your contention regarding "left out" books goes, it's simply not true, nor is it historically defensible. The Bible and how it came down to us can be seen in the transparent trail it has left over the past 2000 years. The vast number of Biblical quotations and allusions found in the writings of ante-Nicene, Nicene and post-Nicene ecclesiastical writers alone show very clearly that the contents of the Bible have been extremely consistent throughout Church history. That's not to say that there were never questions or even squabbles about certain books, but that's a far cry from the wholesale corruption and conspiracy espoused by some.
            In His Service,

            Nomad

            Got questions about Reformed theology? Want solid Biblical answers without all of the usual nastiness, mud slinging and straw-man portraits of Reformed Theology found in public forums? Then ask a Calvinist.

            Ask a Calvinist

            http://abidingtruth.wordpress.com/

            Warranted Faith - Reformed Apologetics & Theology

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
              I think everyone should follow the "to each, his own" policy towards other religions

              For example, ask your priest or pastor or minister what/who God is and they should give you the proper answer of "I don't know" simply because NO ONE can know that answer. Also, many people base their faith on text in the Bible but most Christians are unaware of the fact that when the modern day Bible was founded, about 150 of the books and gospels of the original Bible were left out.
              You have a lot more to learn.

              A) We absolute can and do know who God is. We know His character and His nature.
              B) Texts were left out if they did not meet the standard for Canon. Plan and simple. You talk as if we don't have all the facts which is a lie.
              C) Jesus said, "I am the Way, The Truth, and The Life. No man comes to the Father but by me." You say you are a Christian which would mean that you believe in Jesus Christ. Thus, we absolute can NOT follow a "to each is own" policy. While we don't kill non-believers as the Muslims do, we follow the Great Commission to go and tell all the world about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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              • #8
                I was one of those people who did not want to stick to the teachings in just some book written 2000 years ago about some "homie" that went around and made people's lives better.
                That is the creator of the Universe, Multiverse, or Omniverse or whatever else you can conceive in your mind, so I would appreciate it if you would show a little more respect to Him, even if spoken in jest.
                For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? ~ Deuteronomy 5:26

                If you're not prepared to risk your very life for your "enemy" you have no right to speak to him of love. ~ Daughter

                Many say they are called... but I am pretty convinced that with many of them it was the wrong number. ~ Project Peter

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Urban Missionary View Post
                  That is the creator of the Universe, Multiverse, or Omniverse or whatever else you can conceive in your mind, so I would appreciate it if you would show a little more respect to Him, even if spoken in jest.
                  Very good point.

                  Now Christianity is the only "religion" where God has done all that is necessary to reconcile His creation back to Himself that His creation may have eternal life. God has concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy on all. Rom 11:32 All the other religions require men to prove themselves worthy to their god(s). Christ has not only done all that is required to make us worthy but He has risen from the dead in testimony that His word and His promises are true and trustworthy.

                  For the cause of Christ
                  Roger

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
                    I have asked a few of my questions that I have with religion and I would like to point out that I am a devout Catholic. If anyone believes they can answer my questions in a religious/philosophical manner, or believes in any sense that my views are "skewed" please email me *email address removed* Thank you for taking your time to read my post.
                    So are you going to ask any questions? I have read every post in this thread, but must have missed all of your questions.
                    For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? ~ Deuteronomy 5:26

                    If you're not prepared to risk your very life for your "enemy" you have no right to speak to him of love. ~ Daughter

                    Many say they are called... but I am pretty convinced that with many of them it was the wrong number. ~ Project Peter

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Allegory of the Cave

                      It is very difficult for me to accurately portray my understanding because of my lack of mastery of the English language but I feel that most religious people in general say they know something for a fact when they actually don't. To say that I know the nature of God and I know what God is seems to me like a little bit of an overstatement. My reasoning to this comes specifically from Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Regardless of how well the individual who saw the outside explained to those on the inside, they still could not understand regardless of how well they thought they understood. While those people who were told the light in the story down-right rejected the truth, religious people make up that group that accepts the truth. While we all here accept the truth of God and Jesus, the fact remains that we have not seen Heaven nor God but are simply graced by His presence. Now when I say "see" God I do not mean see a brilliance in the clouds or felt a sensation that feels holy, I am talking about literally standing directly in front of God himself after we have passed on. Until then, we are bound to this body where we can only use faith as our means of being with God. Because this is true, and I do not believe that there is a better way I can explain it, until we see it for ourselves, we simply don't know A) the nature of God B) what heaven is like C) anything about God besides our readings and interpretations. Not only that but we must understand that the average intelligence of someone in the time of the Gospels was much lower so the stories are even "dumbed" down to the point that a child can understand them, except for books like Revelation of course. Therefore, I feel that even though several people have said they know the nature of God because it has been revealed, our capacity for understanding God and life and our souls and heaven is strictly limited to what we can understand which is almost nothing.
                      I also want to address the person that feels that I am not Christian. While my understanding of Christianity and being a practicing Christian may be different, I feel that I am doing what I am being called on to do. If I fail sometimes here and there or don't meet up to certain standard most "Bible Pushers" have, I believe that God knows us a heck of a lot better than we know ourselves and has seen every reason in the book for why someone has sinned and regardless of what we did (yes, I do mean regardless of what we did) that absolutely anything we are sorry for, God understands and loves us that much more. Oh, for those who might get offended by the term "Bible Pusher", it is not meant as to be taken offensive just I do not feel that books like the Bible should ever be taken word for word literally ever. I am sorry if you do not support my "to each his own" idea about the Bible but no one can convince me otherwise because too many deaths are caused by people who are radical. Radical Christians killed thousands of innocents during the crusades and thousands of radical Muslims kill innocents by the tens of thousands today, so I am sorry if you are that radical about the Bible because I truly believe it is meant as a guideline on how to live rather than to be taken literally but if you do then I support you and love you just the same and I am definitely sure God does too.
                      Never have I once felt like God or the afterlife or my life is hopeless. Faith is the entire opposite of hopelessness. So I am sorry that I portrayed my views as hopeless as they were not intended to be. My intentions of this thread were not to slander anyone, especially my religion, but rather show people my problems with religion and ask them what their interpretations of God and life were from a scientific and philosophical standpoint. There is too much stress, pressure, and one-upsmanship that goes along with religion that I separated myself from a while ago. God said He is the Shepard and we are the flock. This is not to be taken literally either. People are not sheep, we should think for ourselves and follow God how we think He wants us to follow Him rather than blindly following the Bible. Again, if you disagree, I am sorry. My intention here is to help me get some answers from people that understand and can relate what is going on.
                      Ask an atheist why he doesn't follow a religion and then you will find some of my reasons why it is hard to blindly follow Christianity. Like I said before, too many people have died because of religion and there is too much conflict between religions when if you look at the basics (like Christianity and Islam), they are the same thing; Islam has Allah and Muhammad while Christianity has God and Jesus; not to mention Allah is literally translated to mean God. To clarify my previous statement about Atheism, I am in no sense an atheist but do believe that several points people have against religion are valid points.
                      P.S. Here is an off-topic question: Why can there only be male priests and why can't priests marry? Because Jesus' 12 apostles were male, I can understand that but just because the 12 were male doesn't mean that someone like Mary didn't make a big enough impact on the entire Jesus story that female's can't be priests. The funny thing about priests not being able to marry is that when this became "illegal" was when there was a problem with after a priest dies, the land that the church was on went to the wife or son instead of back to the church so instead of making it so that the land stays in the church, Vatican made it illegal for priests to marry. While I do see some verification for this such that getting married would distract from the call, many other Christian sects have adopted it and have very good success by having next to none child rape cases and also making the church community look more like a family. Maybe I am just unlucky but a huge difference between Catholics and Lutherans in church is how welcoming Lutherans are to new members. Several Catholic churches I have gone to have given me either the cold shoulder or make me experience the church for myself unlike Lutherans who every time I go to a new church, everyone welcomes me with open arms and hearts, especially the pastor who at least had to shake my hand and give me a hug before I left.

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                      • #12
                        Again, where is your questions?

                        I cannot answer for the Roman Catholic Church. This is a protestant board.
                        For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? ~ Deuteronomy 5:26

                        If you're not prepared to risk your very life for your "enemy" you have no right to speak to him of love. ~ Daughter

                        Many say they are called... but I am pretty convinced that with many of them it was the wrong number. ~ Project Peter

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cthulu89 View Post
                          Until then, we are bound to this body where we can only use faith as our means of being with God. Because this is true, and I do not believe that there is a better way I can explain it, until we see it for ourselves, we simply don't know A) the nature of God B) what heaven is like C) anything about God besides our readings and interpretations. Not only that but we must understand that the average intelligence of someone in the time of the Gospels was much lower so the stories are even "dumbed" down to the point that a child can understand them, except for books like Revelation of course.
                          I will grant you that we humans have a finite ability to understand an Infinite God. That said, God has made His character and nature clear. As far as the Gospels being "dumbed down" because the people weren't as intelligent as today -- poppycock! You have far less intelligence of a spiritual nature than they had. You thnk you have a wealth of knowledge but you are simply full of hot air and pride.

                          P.S. Here is an off-topic question: Why can there only be male priests and why can't priests marry?
                          Why ask us on this board? This is a Protestant board, not Catholic. To my knowledge, no orthodox Protestant denominations forbid their preachers to marry.

                          Why are you not asking the questions you said you were here to ask? You do well with New Age apologetics but this isn't the place for that. Do you want to discuss Protestant Christian theology or what?
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                          • #14
                            cthulu89,

                            You called yourself a devout Catholic and yet a devout Catholic would never speak the the way you do. I know this with 100% certainty. I have the same questions as a few others here... when are you going to ask questions as opposed to lecturing us about our hopeless ignorance ?
                            In His Service,

                            Nomad

                            Got questions about Reformed theology? Want solid Biblical answers without all of the usual nastiness, mud slinging and straw-man portraits of Reformed Theology found in public forums? Then ask a Calvinist.

                            Ask a Calvinist

                            http://abidingtruth.wordpress.com/

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                            • #15
                              to Grand Master,

                              I understand that you may think I am full of hot air and pride. Thank you for your comment because I understand myself that I have less intelligence of a spiritual nature. That may be because I am only 21 and have only taken 8 years of theology 2 of them being years of philosophy so my knowledge is limited to what I have learned inside the classroom. My comment about the Gospels being "dumbed down" purely suggests that they are incredibly easy to see the message behind them. The questions I was intending were in my first post but many of them were asked through my understanding. I simply gave my understanding and asked people to give theirs. For example, why do you believe in religion? What is religion? What is God? Why do you believe in an afterlife with no evidence besides the Bible and previous history? What is our existence? These were some questions I tried to answer in my first post by throwing out some ideas I had and hoped someone could better my understanding by giving me the light to theirs.

                              To Nomad, I am a devout Catholic because I would never forsake my religion or doubt it for a second. I am a devout human being because I question myself, my being, and especially my faith because I have decided to put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, so I want to make sure it is the right decision. As to my questions, the same thing that I am writing to Grand Master, please reread my first post talking about my understandings and help me understand better by providing an extrapolation of your own understanding as it relates to mine.

                              To both of you, Thank you very much for commenting although the comments have been mostly negative and basically calling me a heretic or non-believer. Also, you must understand that the "lecturing" I was doing was mostly me blowing off a lot of my steam I have towards the Church (in my case Catholic but we are all Christian so you can relate) and towards religion because I see too many people practicing wrongly or taking it TOO far in terms of restricts on life. I can relate to those who chose to save sex for marriage but one of my "friends", you could say, decides to inflict pain upon himself by simply thinking an impure thought which is beyond radical and borderline insane.

                              For the future, my personality, as I am told, very much resembles me playing the devil's advocate which I understand some of my mannerisms can be too negative themselves but I ask that you maintain a positive state of mind and look upon my discussion here as one to help me and maybe benefit yourself through a greater understanding of your own faith.

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