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  1. #51
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    I was once ELC Lutheran, Jennifer. That is now the ELCA.

    In one church I belonged to I joined an evangelistic team with encouragement from the Bible and others to go about helping people get saved. Was that an experience of helpful intrusion! I wince.

    I also drew the line at going forth and multiplying. Please. Two's enough.

    Okay. So help me with why Christians would want to draw Christians closer to the Eastern religions, nolla? Living in peaceful acceptance is one thing. . .
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  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    I like this way of thinking. I think it actually draws Christianity closer to the eastern religions.
    lol -- that wasn't my purpose, but... okay. (It just seems to me to make the most sense.) Could you explain that a bit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    I was once ELC Lutheran, Jennifer. That is now the ELCA.
    Ah, okay. I was in the ELCA denom from 6-12th grade (simultaneously with participating in a local camp/program that was more Baptist/evangelical in nature). That would have been around 1980-1986 or so.

    In one church I belonged to I joined an evangelistic team with encouragement from the Bible and others to go about helping people get saved. Was that an experience of helpful intrusion! I wince. I also drew the line at going forth and multiplying. Please. Two's enough.
    I went through that at college (with Intervarsity). It always bothered me and I felt intrusive and unloving. Later I understood better why, but at the time I didn't know why and so felt I had to do it since I had been told to and had no solid argument to deny it.
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  3. #53
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    In practice it comes closer to east because it encourages living a fulfilling life / heaven on earth. So life isn't only the preparing part, as in most Christian beliefs.

  4. #54
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Yeah but Eric, can't you see that the MEANS by which the Bible seems to claim that this process took place (the mass genocide, slavery, suffering of millions of innocents etc) are somewhat inconsistent with the idea of a loving, forgiving, merciful God who shows his nature in the life of Jesus AND claims to not have ever changed that nature?
    I can't easily answer that. The general consensus is that since man was sinful and deserved death, then that was what we all should have gotten, and now we get mercy. A lot of that in the OT was Israel's wars, and since Israel was susceptible to adopting these peoples' religions (which included child sacrifice), God then began telling them to clean them out.
    So basically, we are shown two sides of God (both wrath and mercy), and He did not change, but showed us one side, then the other.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Approaching it from another direction: Does it make sense for God to dump an impossible law on his kids' backs, so that they at some point say, "Hey, I can't do this? I'm not good enough?"

    Do parents do that nowadays? How do we view parents who would teach such a large object lesson that way? Good or bad? Loving or evil? What's the normal results when a dad drives his kids too hard? Do they change course in SPITE of the parent or BECAUSE of the parent? And so on.

    (Those are serious questions, I would be interested in hearing what people have to say on this. )
    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    These views are why I don't consider myself Christian anymore. I just don't want to believe that god is really that petty. This is not "God's Master Plan", this is ridiculous: "I create you so that you can try and get to heaven, but I have already chosen the ones who get in. Ha! Now worship me!" or "I create you so you can try to get in heaven, but I set the bar so high, you can't get in anyways. Ha! Now, believe in me and I will be merciful" This makes me think that god is really a six-year-old child toying with us. I rather believe that when I die, everything just ends.
    I've felt that way too, but it's not that He "set the bar so high", but that man fell into this position from the way he was originally created. That is why man needed redemption.

    I guess, if we think this way is silly, then what better way is there, short of a world that was perfect all along. But that would be quite different from anything we know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    OK, the whole thing behind this is that man's good deeds are not enough to save him, because they are imperfect and inconsistent. Israel was given the entire Law, which included loving neighbor and so much more, and even those who meticulously tried to follow it (and then became judgmental of others) could never meet its requirements. God's standard was extremely high, and this was to show man his need for God's grace.
    That was Paul's assumption and many people's "best guess," yes.
    But it was "after the fact" thinking, wasn't it?

    I'm not saying it's unreasonable; but it's definitely intuition trying to "fill in the gaps" to reconcile old and new testament concepts, based mostly on Paul's beliefs.
    It does fit in with the entire revelation, including the other apostles' writing. Peter, in Acts 15 (before the religious leaders) also speaks of the yoke that neither they nor their fathers could bear.
    This might be a tangent, but I believe the focus on "heaven" as something that happens later is misguided. Jesus invited us into the Kingdom of God -- starting NOW. Physical death is an arbitrary barrier. When you live as a member of the kingdom, you're a citizen of the kingdom and you live and behave under the rules of that kingdom. That's how you recognize Christians: By how they live, by how they treat others.

    The kingdom surrounds every believer and extends itself into the world based on where any believer goes. Where they are, there is the kingdom -- THERE the law of love is being followed. THERE is freedom.

    This talk of heaven seems so silly to me. Like, misguided. It's just an extension of kingdom living NOW... perhaps perfected because the people will have been purified, but it's not like all of this life is a precursor to heaven. we're in the kingdom as soon as we become citizens.

    Jesus didn't say, "Realize how bad the world is and what an awful sinner you are and admit it", etc he said, "Today the kingdom of heaven is in front of you, pledge loyalty to it and join and be part of it."
    And that's basically what Pantelism is all about. In fact, all of the passages used to describe Heaven ("New Heavens and New Earth, the harps of God, the pearly gates, streets of gold, etc) are symbols of this Kingdom, and current freedom from the curse of death. There is actually very little in the Bible about what Heaven is like. I was shocked when I first heard that, but when I saw its full implications for the world, it became the only answer with any hope. (Makes it so unfortunate how the Church interpreted all those passages as descriptions of heaven, to try to woo people to believe and/or do good to get there, yet everyone still winds up headed for the other place anyway by virtue of still being under the curse of death Christ promised freedom from!)
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  5. #55
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    In practice it comes closer to east because it encourages living a fulfilling life / heaven on earth. So life isn't only the preparing part, as in most Christian beliefs.
    yes, which brings me to the idea of hell as something you do to yourself here in this life, cutting yourself off from the love and grace of God - not him cutting you off as a punishment because he's like the father of the prodigal son, always ready to forgive and reinstate. It's us turning our backs on him, and hell is a state of existence wherein you're cut off totally, empty, discontent, dissatisfied and stuff... I've seen people living that kind of hell and it ain't pretty.

    I just never could quite square the whole Jesus story as being about sacrifice and atonement for inherent sins, as I mentioned above. I've never had any difficulty in accepting the idea that when we die, it's possible that absolutely nothing happens. I keep an open mind but in the end nobody can know for sure. For me, it seems obvious that Jesus (ie God in flesh form) was here to show us himself. Looking at him, the more you do, the more you cannot help but love, because God is love and love begets love. And the more you allow love to permeate you, the more you become one with him. Your actions are borne out of love and when this happens things tend to go more right... usually lol

    I don't 'try' to love God to get to heaven. I just DO love God, and that *is* heaven. I don't need scriptural 'proof' or explanation, or high falutin' promises of eternal bliss or fear of eternal damnation. All the explanation I need is in the Gospels and living out Gospel principles is its own motivation and reward.

    God is not a snooping neighbour or a forbidding schoolmaster. He's in you, he's all the best parts of you, the parts that want you to be fulfilled and at peace; that want your spirit to be at rest no matter what goes on around you. He wants you to listen to these parts of you, that is, to him, for your own good, because he knows it will bring you contentment and peace. He knows that if you don't, you'll suffer, not from any punishment meted out by him but by inevitable consequences of your actions here in the world without any need for supernatural intervention.

    The alternative is to listen to the outside world and seek instead for OUTER peace, an easy life etc, at the cost of inner turmoil. I'd rather, anyday, be at peace inside despite the world raging around me, like the Buddhist sage who "smiles like an amused infant" despite whatever fortune brings.

    IMO, Jesus wasn't here to save us from eternal hellfire or the wrath of God. He showed us quite explicitly that God forgives; it's not his wrath that we should be fearing but his love that we should perceive and accept. He was here to show us an example that, if followed, saves us from ourselves. The exact parts of ourselves that the suffering he endured highlighted in our other selves, the people who persecuted him. The parts of ourselves that fear and try to gag truth out of our fear and self delusion. And through his suffering and rising he showed that the truth CANNOT be gagged or killed and will always resurface, especially within ourselves. No matter how much our egos try to bury it, there's a part of ourselves that's the breath of God within us that will keep on whispering within us. The longer we ignore it, the closer we come to hell on earth. The more we listen to it, the closer to heaven.

    I might even go so far as to say that Jesus also symbolized the dual nature of our own lives, part flesh, part divinity; the Jesus that lives in us.

    To say that God punished the Israelites - and all the other nations that he supposedly egged the Israelites onto massacring when he happened to be pleased with them, apparently - for disobeying a bunch of rules he laid on them for being just not good enough (despite being only what he created and allowed them to be) goes against, to me, the spirit of the God who stands at the door, knocking, never forcing himself on anyone but gently asking to be allowed in.

    Death isn't something to be pointed out as a flaw in everything, something that, unless we can explain it away, renders life pointless. It's just a natural consequence of being alive. And we're given the wherewithal to make being alive a good thing. But this is the Taoist in me... haha...

    "When the master died, his friend Yi came to the funeral. While everyone was weeping, Yi only stood and smiled. 'Why do you not weep?' asked a student, 'were you and the master not as brothers from one womb? do you not lament his death?' 'Of course not!' replied Yi, 'the occurrence that was the master's life was something good to me. His death was a natural consequence of that, as all that lives, dies. To be sorry he died would mean being sorry he lived. And so, I do not weep, but smile.'"

    I don't really understand why all the 'good stuff' has to be seen as happening after death in order to give life meaning. And I can't help but speculate that it's more actually about people not really being willing to put in any effort unless they're promised a more specific reward. To say "your reward is that, through a path of self-denial and transformation, you will achieve oneness with God" is a bit vague for the average Joe, who's more interested in getting the harvest in...

    I don't think you need to be a Christian or even necessarily to think of God in the same theist terms as Christians and religious people commonly do. Quakers for example, often refer to God as 'the Light within', which removes a lot of the negative connotations associated with theism which hinder many people from seeking or achieving the peace available within themselves.

    Sorry, bunch of slightly disjointed stuff there that just came out by itself. It's late and I'm tired so... I know how it's connected but... well, good luck LOL
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  6. #56
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    I like this way of thinking. I think it actually draws Christianity closer to the eastern religions.
    Here it is.

    The politically correct position of homogenizing all human kind. What does that do to someone who follows the Bible?

    Did I make too big of a leap here, nolla?

    Yes. I do understand hating the sin and loving the sinner. But recognization of the differences.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  7. #57
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    TBH Anja nobody knows what leaps you've been making because you've been very vague about everything from the start. It's like you were asking us to help you figure out both the question and the answer and you haven't really thrown any bones either way.

    Reminds me of an NF friend of mine who has a habit of thinking "Hm, NT's are clever and like discussing things, so if I just lay this big vague plate of 'bleurgh' on their doorstep, I can come back in a couple of days for a complete diagnosis and prescription".

    So I've just been laying out whatever intuitive leaps *I've* made from what's been said, and leaving you to pick out whatever you feel fits the bill...
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  8. #58
    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    You'll see view points of all variety, some of it quite wacky, mainly if you're using a Bible as reference. This variety and twist of interpretations doesn't shock me in the least, but even I as a non-Christian thinks it's safe to say that if you're following Christianity and using the Bible as a final word, that dude is just way off...

  9. #59
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    TBH Anja nobody knows what leaps you've been making because you've been very vague about everything from the start. It's like you were asking us to help you figure out both the question and the answer and you haven't really thrown any bones either way.

    Reminds me of an NF friend of mine who has a habit of thinking "Hm, NT's are clever and like discussing things, so if I just lay this big vague plate of 'bleurgh' on their doorstep, I can come back in a couple of days for a complete diagnosis and prescription".

    So I've just been laying out whatever intuitive leaps *I've* made from what's been said, and leaving you to pick out whatever you feel fits the bill...
    And thank you.

    I'm not "going anywhere" with this, substitute. There's nothing to second guess. I find my spirituality difficult to express in words but comfortable to me. I can say that I find modern day interpretations of the Bible to be more vague to me.

    Let me try.

    "Thou shalt not kill" means (unless I/we think someone is bad.) But if someone is suffering and trying to die then we shouldn't kill him. That's how I see that commandment playing out in a Christian nation.

    I once saw a cartoon of God which gave me pause. He was crying over a battlefield and saying, "What part of 'Thou shalt not kill don't you get?'"


    In a rush to modernize ancient teachings, many of them excellent, and define does and don'ts while trying to be inclusive it is nearly impossible to define one's self as a Christian anymore. That's my perspective.

    One must rely on reinterpreting the written word in order to comfort one's self that one is a Christian in good conscience. Or one must follow the letter of the law in which case he will be doing many un-Christian appearing things. Such as "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

    I just couldn't do the mental gymnastics any longer and had to do what all good Christians are doing, finding a way to live comfortably with what I believe.

    I don't care to turn this thread into what Anja believes and why. If so I'd have just laid it out and then there wouldn't be much to say except words of criticism or approval. When it comes to my spirituality I need neither at this point. I don't know about down the road. . .

    I'm not here to convince or to be convinced. Just here to lsten to all you folks who have so generously shared the way you handle the many inconsistencies.

    My comings and goings aren't an effort to sit in evaluation of what has been said but more an effort to think carefully about each post and say something worthwhile, or not, depending on how well I understand what each one is saying.

    That's it. No games. Sorry to be vague, but I think it's a vague issue. I appreciate everyone's generosity and hopefully I can repay your efforts on threads you start.

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    Wow. Is this a classical example of the T/F thing? Interesting. Anyone want to dissect what they see?
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  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    yes, which brings me to the idea of hell as something you do to yourself here in this life, cutting yourself off from the love and grace of God - not him cutting you off as a punishment because he's like the father of the prodigal son, always ready to forgive and reinstate. It's us turning our backs on him, and hell is a state of existence wherein you're cut off totally, empty, discontent, dissatisfied and stuff... I've seen people living that kind of hell and it ain't pretty.

    ....

    I don't really understand why all the 'good stuff' has to be seen as happening after death in order to give life meaning. And I can't help but speculate that it's more actually about people not really being willing to put in any effort unless they're promised a more specific reward. To say "your reward is that, through a path of self-denial and transformation, you will achieve oneness with God" is a bit vague for the average Joe, who's more interested in getting the harvest in...
    Yes! Your whole post was excellent and very close to how I see the significance of Christianity in my life. Very much symbolized, very much in this life and not the next that might never come. That kind of Christianity certainly has meaning in the current society. But.. I don't really call that Christianity, since I can see that while it might be what Jesus meant, it isn't what people have made out of his words.

    Anyways, I need this kind of practical comprehensible philosophy, not a book filled with anecdotes that contradict each other.

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