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  1. #71
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Oh hello, substitute. Glad you're back. Perhaps we'll work some on that sense of accord.

    Okay. I'll tackle it again. The watered down part? The new "let's just ignore that politically incorrect stuff that's in the Bible." We'll change the interpretation. We'll put it into historical perspective, whatever. It's a dishonest dance from my perspective and therefor un-Christian. I keep thinking I've said this several times. . .

    I should add that I do understand the historical significance of the Old Testament and am thinking more in terms of the New Testament when I speak.

    It seems that true adherence to ANY doctrine requires faithful obligation to the letter of the law. Otherwise we're fudging. Even if our motives are pure. This is not a popular modern view. Situational ethics, I believe it's called.

    In that way, as you note, strict adherence to a set of tenets is necessary to be a practicing and sincere whatever. And, as such, needs to be exclusive. And very, very difficult to do within today's society. I guess that's where the nutsos come in. . . And hardly anyone wants to be considered that!

    Can one be a sorta Christian? Then there's that pesky matter of hell again.

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    I wonder if this is more difficult matter for you to see as you have been born into the age of political correctness and didn't have to experience the wrenching shift required to impose it, with good intention I believe, on people who were raised differently.

    But then, if you have been among the fundamentalists you have met a challenge, indeed. The social atmosphere is different today and many obvious truths, from my perception, are not spoken of for fear of one being accused of being judgemental. And again, it seems to me that discernment of good and bad is a necessity in Christian religion.

    You know, conversing with you staunch thinkers is definitely a stretch for me!
    "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

  2. #72
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Well, with all due respect, the societies I live in (plural) are not the USA and are very different from the USA, like chalk and cheese, so you can't really safely theorize as to what 'age' I was born into or what I'd find easier or whatever... no offence, but...

    Those tenets, I agree, need to be adhered to. However, if that's going to be the case, then they need to be clear, simple, unambiguous and proven to achieve positive results if followed correctly. But because people are all so very diverse and different, it's just not practicable to impose too much rule following because otherwise it reaches a point where you're just trying to turn everyone into clones. Whenever I see the Jehovah's Witnesses walking around the block, I can see they stand out a mile because they all look the damn same. They talk the same, act the same, there's no individuality there because they're all taught that this incredibly comprehensive set of rules must govern every aspect of their lives.

    This is why I guess I can see 'watering down' as a positive thing, if what you're doing is extracting the core essential meaning of something and distilling it into something that's universally applicable, allowing, encouraging and fostering the individual strengths and best parts of every individual to shine through rather than confusing the hell out of everyone so that only the occasional mastermind manages to tease anything useful or practicable out of it that allows him to still remain true to himself. But I wouldn't call that watering down - more like the opposite: distillation.

    As for 'can one be a Christian if...?' it's a loaded question that assumes that Christianity is ALL ABOUT the other stuff surrounding or tacked onto Christ's teachings. It's not, IMO. Taking what nolla said before, I'd answer that if what you've got left when you distill the central teachings of Christ out of the current multi-sectal mess, doesn't 'look' like Christianity any more, then it's that mess that should have the rights to the logo taken away, not the true Christianity invalidated by its non-resemblance to its corrupted form!
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  3. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    And more than his death itself, I mourn that such a good man had to go to his death questioning whether he had been good enough. No. He didn't say it, but I "saw" it.

    I'm wondering if Christianity doesn't put that burden on believers.
    Yeah, I'm sure it does. You can never really be sure if you are as good as god wants you to be. How can you forgive yourself the mistakes you've done and move forward?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    I should add that I do understand the historical significance of the Old Testament and am thinking more in terms of the New Testament when I speak.
    This is confusing to me. You are very clear about not "cutting slack" with the new testament, but can make compromises with the old?

    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    I don't agree however, with the idea that not defining a religion as exclusive automatically means it gets watered down or weakened, necessarily. Perhaps you could define more clearly what you mean by 'inclusive'?
    Yes, I guess there could be religions that are very inclusive... like the way you put it earlier, the "eastern style Christianity", but if we are talking about Christianity that takes everything by the bible as literally as possible, then it is very hard to see how it could be both popular and by the book.

  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    But I wouldn't call that watering down - more like the opposite: distillation.
    I like this metaphor.

  5. #75
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    You know, My dad died after living a very highly prinicpled life and I watched over him for the last four days of his life.

    He was a pillar in the church all his life. And he rarely spoke of his feelings. But I could see that he was frightened. I spent time in that way of not saying what "it" is, since he didn't, comforting and reassuring him that he had been a good man and lived a good life.

    And more than his death itself, I mourn that such a good man had to go to his death questioning whether he had been good enough. No. He didn't say it, but I "saw" it.

    I'm wondering if Christianity doesn't put that burden on believers.
    I'm sorry, hon. That's hard.
    (At least, that's what I imagine.)

    And you're right, I think the fear is there. How can it not be, if there's such a desire to conform to do the right things as the expression of faith?

    I never had a father who was there for me, but I see how I parent my own children and how I feel towards them. How I delight in them no matter whether they do good or bad... and as a parent I engage them so that I can model good behavior for them, and so that they know I noticed them and love them and treasure their individuality, and enjoy being with them. I know their hearts are good because I know THEM; and even when they really are having trouble doing the right thing, I never come to the point of wanting to not be involved with them, it's not even a question to me.

    I never want them to have to sit around at the end of THEIR lives and wonder if I had been proud of them. This fear of God, that he might decide we're not worthy although we've been trying to please him our whole lives... that just seems so off to me. It's not a matter of my performance, it can't be. All I can see is that God would value me, regardless of my screwups and my successes, and would leave the light on for me when the end came.

    I believe in daily self-checks to make sure I'm living up to my own standards and I want to go to my death with assurance that I have taken this gift of life and done the absolute best that I have been able. I was sad that he hadn't been able to do that and it was a gift to me to realize something that is important to me. If I measure myself by someone else's standards that will be a set-up for failure and self-doubt.
    I'm sorry that he felt so unsure at the end of his life, but I'm glad that you were there to model God's love for him. I hope it made a difference to him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    The watered down part? The new "let's just ignore that politically incorrect stuff that's in the Bible." We'll change the interpretation. We'll put it into historical perspective, whatever. It's a dishonest dance from my perspective and therefor un-Christian. I keep thinking I've said this several times. . .
    That's probably what's so hard. It sounds like you consider your original interpretation -- the one you were taught -- to be the standard and thus the rest are deviations. So of course you end up in this conundrum. You frame any other view you hear in context of the version you were taught to be "authentic."

    Have you ever considered that the way you were taught things and read them might be a less correct interpretation? Or that it's only one interpretation among many valid ones?

    But then, if you have been among the fundamentalists you have met a challenge, indeed. The social atmosphere is different today and many obvious truths, from my perception, are not spoken of for fear of one being accused of being judgemental. And again, it seems to me that discernment of good and bad is a necessity in Christian religion.
    Actually, discernment of good and bad (or even just good versus best) is necessary in any discussion of ethics and morality, let alone religion. Otherwise none of it matters.

    Personally, I dislike fundamentalism AND political correctness about equally. Neither are flexible and adaptable; both are prideful to me in their insistence that their way is correct, and both attempt to dominate the discussion through wielding of power, rather than allowing people to dialog and come to their own conclusions.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  6. #76
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    The watered down part? The new "let's just ignore that politically incorrect stuff that's in the Bible." We'll change the interpretation. We'll put it into historical perspective, whatever. It's a dishonest dance from my perspective and therefor un-Christian. I keep thinking I've said this several times. . .
    There is no way to participate in a religion as old as Christianity without "watering it down". Many people advocate following the bible word-for-word, but often that's very difficult in modern society (e.g. never wearing more than one kind of fabric - Leviticus 19:19). The bible was written for a certain time, and Jesus' metaphors were made to appeal to his society. The world has changed since then; therefore, so must our practice of the Christian faith.

    Of course, I'm incredibly easygoing about religion. I agree with the person mentioned in the OP, who says that we all believe in the same god. Well, at least, I mostly do... I think religious extremists who believe that God wants them to kill people don't believe in the God of peace that I believe in, and Buddhists obviously don't believe in the same God (but then again, I don't believe that Buddhism and Christianity are mutually exclusive).

    I also feel that the afterlife will be whatever you think it will be. I do NOT believe in eternal damnation, because I believe in redemption. I believe that anyone can go to heaven if they lead a good life. Then again, my beliefs on that are very mild because I'm young enough that I haven't really had to worry about death yet. Or at least, I haven't wanted to.

    Final thoughts: 1) Most of my religious beliefs can be explained by the fact that I'm an Anglican/Episcopalian, and socially liberal, and 2) I believe that religious beliefs are personal and not something to convince each other of. I am not an evangelical, and I never will be.
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  7. #77
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    There is no way to participate in a religion as old as Christianity without "watering it down". Many people advocate following the bible word-for-word, but often that's very difficult in modern society (e.g. never wearing more than one kind of fabric - Leviticus 19:19). The bible was written for a certain time, and Jesus' metaphors were made to appeal to his society. The world has changed since then; therefore, so must our practice of the Christian faith.
    Exactly. I'd like to see the fundamentalists start kicking all the cripples out of their church and all the menstruating women... lol

    Of course, I'm incredibly easygoing about religion. I agree with the person mentioned in the OP, who says that we all believe in the same god. Well, at least, I mostly do...
    See Jennifer? Not all Te people are evil

    Final thoughts: 1) Most of my religious beliefs can be explained by the fact that I'm an Anglican/Episcopalian, and socially liberal, and 2) I believe that religious beliefs are personal and not something to convince each other of. I am not an evangelical, and I never will be.
    Oh, more that we have in common
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  8. #78
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    Wow this is certainly one discussion. There's much I can say about this.

    I'll start by stating that I agree with Thomas Merton's stance:

    "If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it."

    That is not to say that all religions are true, or even equally true. But it doesn't mean Christianity, being the true faith, is exclusive from the truth contained in other traditions. All truth and wisdom comes from God and was implanted into the hearts of man via natural law.

    Pope Benedict XVI meditates upon this wonderfully in his Introduction to Christianity concerning the early relationship between the faith and Greek philosophy.

  9. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    There is no way to participate in a religion as old as Christianity without "watering it down". Many people advocate following the bible word-for-word, but often that's very difficult in modern society (e.g. never wearing more than one kind of fabric - Leviticus 19:19). The bible was written for a certain time, and Jesus' metaphors were made to appeal to his society. The world has changed since then; therefore, so must our practice of the Christian faith.
    Christianity is built upon eternal truth. As Chesterton once noted, it's like a water spring: constant but always fresh.

    I wont address the rest of your post.

  10. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    I agree with the person mentioned in the OP, who says that we all believe in the same god. Well, at least, I mostly do... I think religious extremists who believe that God wants them to kill people don't believe in the God of peace that I believe in, and Buddhists obviously don't believe in the same God (but then again, I don't believe that Buddhism and Christianity are mutually exclusive).
    I tend to think that way too. If we consider all the religions in the world, wouldn't it be reasonable to think that each of them has their origin in god or truth, but due to misunderstandings, interpretations and even conscious manipulation they all have been changed by people? The way I find out what are the right pieces is to think what is right and what is wrong. I don't see this to be too subjective way to find out, since it is for my personal use anyways, and I guess people are about on the same level here.

    Things that god does in the old testament are actually evil or at least over-reacting and very much incompatible with Jesus' way. There are few possible reasons for this: 1) God grows older and stops being such a brat; 2) Jesus wasn't god's son after all, he had his own agenda; 3) The interpretation that is written in bible is wrong. I don't see how "perfect" god could age, but I could accept that Jesus was just a guy with important teaching. They wrote the testaments a lot later than the actual events took place, so it could be that they got it wrong. By thinking like this I will eventually get into a place that doesn't go any further with eyes on Christianity anymore. Now I compare it to the other religions and see how much they correlate. There are patterns. They might seem too simple for to be religions, but they are there and I don't need an epic fairytale religion. If we think what Jennifer and substitute wrote about Christianity that is in this life, we can easily see that the hell that follows from not taking the right path can be seen as karma, and the path itself is close to tao.

    I don't want to go too deeply into this subject because I know I don't know yet as much as I should. But, the way I see it, all religions are originated from very wise men and they used the metaphors available to them in order to express their thoughts. This kind of thinking is atheism in a way, but so that it doesn't take the importance of religion away. That is because I believe there is way, and I just have to decode it from different sources that are talking about the same thing in different languages.

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