My original focus of this topic was to provide a roundtable discussion only with people who believed the way I do or very similarly. My frustration in the past had been that I never got a chance to lay out my beliefs for myself or others to understand.
After losing my fear of opening the topic up a little bit, I saw that it became a bit of a runaway smorgasbord of opinions. While this is a good thing, and while I myself found that I learn more through discussions with those who believe differently than I was taught versus those who believe the same or nearly the same as I do, I thought it wise to issue a challenge in order to further encourage controversy regarding traditional conservative protestant beliefs in the United States.
I suppose that I should read the book before completing this post, but I am going to attempt to skim enough of it to present Bilezikians opinions so has to provide fodder for further debate within my topic. He is called "Dr.B" by his students and friends, and is respected greatly within the community of like-minded believers. I don't attempt to defend this mans integrity...that is reserved for people who actually know him....but I trust that I have picked a source that speaks in as educated and eloquent of fashion as the conservative Protestants can muster.
As our discussion continues, and as I read Dr.B's book, I will be using quotes that I find which jump out at me as relevant ideas that ring true with my belief.
My belief is evolving, to be sure...and it has been pointed out to me that I will usually cling to ideas which I may find comforting whether or not they can be proven to hold any substance.
Rather than quote the book, I thought that I would present the basic table of contents and allow anyone who is interested to ask me questions which I will attempt to relay through the lens of the author.
Here is the eight doctrines covered in the book:
The Bible As God's Revelation
The Doctrine Of God
The Doctrine Of Christ
The Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit
The Doctrine Of Human Beings
The Doctrine Of Salvation
The Doctrine Of The Church
The Doctrine Of The End Times
This is about as close to conservative Protestantism as you can get. We have discussed, dismissed, and debated these topics before, but it will be interesting to see what this man actually has to say about each of them and his reasoning behind what he says.
BTW when any of you see me quote Dr.B., this is the guy I am quoting.
Greg Laurie is one of the pastors I listen to online. They are all found at OnePlace Anyway, Greg tells an anecdote of a little girl who is drawing a picture of God. Her Mother says to her, "But honey...nobody knows what God looks like!" The little girl replied adamantly, "Well they will when I'm done!"
Its funny but so true. (and thanks to everyone for helping me with my logic) I am clarifying my belief to read: I am unafraid to question Gods existence but I shall never doubt it!
I can still say with defiance that I am getting to know God!
I believe that His Spirit lives in me! I believe that He desires relationship with every individual on earth, but that this relationship takes many forms.
I believe that by reading a Bible, I can gain much insight into mans description of interactions with God as we understand Him. This insight is not found only in the Bible, but is confirmed internally by the Holy Spirit.
Jars question still remains in my head: How do I (or we) know that it is God?
I guess thats why we keep talking about this stuff!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TOPIC FOCUS<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< From this point, I want anyone who comments in this topic to believe in God as they understand Him to be. Anyone who comments is welcome to do so, but I want this topic to live up to its name. Evangelical Support Group.
evangelicaladj [LL evangelium gospel, fr. Gk evangelion, fr. eu- good + angelos messenger] 1 : of or relating to the Christian gospel esp. as presented in the four Gospels 2 : of or relating to certain Protestant churches emphasizing the authority of Scripture and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual 3 : zealous <~ fervor> Evangelical n Evangelicalism n evangelically adv
Keep in mind that an atheist could be an evangelical as described within the context of definition # 3 above!
Just for everyone's information, however, this is going to be my pet topic here at EvC, and don't be surprised if you see a version 2 once this one hits 300 posts!
Oh...and one more thing: In my Post 158 where I mentioned Dr.B, I am changing my approach.
I mean, why not just say what you think,instead of practicing parroting protestant preachers points?
On one hand, I appreciate your honesty in telling us that that is what you'll be doing (instead of doing it secretly), but I guess I don't get why the lens of someone else is desired.
Maybe the exercise of practicing this may help convince you of the arguments you want to be convinced of?
The reason, Equinox, is that I am still trying to frame and define what it is that I think and believe, and it often helps to quote sources that say what I think I wanted to say better than I can, at the time, say it. (Does that make any sense? )
Edited by Phat, : added features!
Edited by Phat, : fixed quote
Edited by Phat, : clarification of belief statement, upon further reflection
Edited by Phat, : No reason given.
Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain " ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
Iceage, I think that nemesis is asserting the Christian world view as exclusive rather than inclusive, but I don't think he consciously chooses to be arrogant.
Some critics maintain that the chief turnoff in organized Christian conservatism is the exclusivity. Others maintain that Christ is exclusive. He reaches out to us inclusively yet we then accept Him exclusively. Get it?
14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Now for the newer Message translation:
The Message writes:
I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myselfâ€”after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Hi, Equinox! :) This link provides some insight into differing Biblical translations. I am of the personal opinion that they lead a reader to the same conclusion if the reader is interested in grasping the overall concept.
My question to you was whether the above two passages said basically the same thing or not.
In my E-Mail, I often get an advertisement for joining John Shelby Spongs sermon series...for a yearly fee.
Each month, they send me a sample letter written to Spong and answered by him.
This is one of these letters:
Chris from Central Texas writes:
I attended your recent lectures in Austin and realize I forgot to ask you a question that has been increasingly on my mind: How does the concept of "worship" figure into your vision of a new Christianity?
For a long time I have felt that God doesn't need my worship or praise, and to think that God does need my worship and adoration seems silly. (I think that "worship" and "adoration" are different from feeling a sense of gratitude and connection to God.)
My church has been having some serious discussions regarding worship changes and I've heard some folks say that worship shouldn't be about us â€” it's simply about praising God.
Well, I think that worship is very much about me and about the other worshipers as well â€” it's about drawing us closer to God, about the community called the church, about inspiring us to care for others, etc. Creeds that I can't say, prayers of confession that beat people up, hymns focused on atonement messages, and an emphasis on liturgy and ritual over spirituality only impede my relationship to God.
Am I just spoiled and self-centered to want a more meaningful and more relevant worship experience?
The Good Bishop replies: Dear Chris,
Yours is a perennial question. I cannot imagine a God who "needs" worship, or a God who has some innate need to be flattered by the human praise that is so often the content of worship. Listen to the words of such hymns as "How Great Thou Art" and "Almighty, Invisible God Only Wise."
Worship is always a human activity that meets a human need. Whenever one engages in worship, it is not for the purpose of working on God but on the human being who is worshiping. Worship is designed to enhance our humanity: to increase our capacity to live, our ability to love and our courage to be all that God created us to be. If worship makes us "religious" or "righteous" or turns us into being intolerant "true believers," then it has become nothing more than an act of idolatry.
Worship in most of our churches today is a mixed blessing. It is frequently the result not of careful study and critical planning, but of rote and tradition. Much of it is designed to keep us childlike and immature and to make a virtue out of chronic dependency. One of the reasons churches exhort its people to be "born again" is that this will postpone forever the necessity of their growing up.
Worship at its heart is the practice of becoming aware of the presence of God so that we become more deeply and fully human. I judge every worship experience in which I participate by that definition.
- John Shelby Spong
What do you think of that,Nator? :)
Edited by Phat, :
Edited by Phat, :
Convictions are very different from intentions. Convictions are something God gives us that we have to do. Intentions are things that we ought to do, but we never follow through with them. * * * * * * * * * * â€œThe world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.â€--General Omar Bradley * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Homer Simpson:Sometimes, Marge, you just have to go with your gut! Marge:You *always* go with your gut! How about for once you listen to your brain?
John Shelby Spong writes again! (Just for you, Schraff! :p )
Question: Where was the Christian God before he appeared to Moses and declared that the Israelis were his chosen people? Why didn't the great civilizations of the world, prior to this appearance, know about this God?
I'm tempted to follow the old adage attributed to Augustine of Hippo, who, when asked what was God doing before he created the world, responded, "God was creating hell for people who ask questions like that." I shall, however, avoid that temptation.
The Christian God, as you describe this deity, did not appear to Moses. That would be the God of the Jews. The idea that any people are God's specially chosen is a tribal idea that is shared by all tribal entities. We tend to associate that idea with the Jews because Christians have incorporated the Jewish God into the Christian story by proclaiming that we have encountered this God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses in a new way in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
However, it is not God who is ever changing. It is the human perception of God. Of course, God was present among the ancient people of the world. God was called by different names, endowed with different qualities and understood in different ways. Some of these aspects of God are seen as immoral by people living today, such as child sacrifice, the purging of anyone who thought outside the box and the divine blessing of violence.
The human God consciousness is always growing. This is true even in the Judeo-Christian faith story. There is an enormous difference between the God of Moses, who was perceived as sending plagues on Israel's enemies, the Egyptians, the last of which was the murder of the firstborn son in every Egyptian household; the God of Joshua, who was perceived as stopping the sun in the sky to facilitate the slaughter of the Ammonites by Joshua's army; or the God of Samuel, who ordered King Saul to commit genocide on the Amalekites; when that God is compared to the God of Jesus, who said, "Love your enemies."
Please remember that while the experience of God may be a universal experience, the explanation of the God experience is always a human creation shaped by the perceptions of people living in history. Every God explanation, every sacred text and every creedal formula is always time bound and time warped. That is why literalizing religious formulas is so destructive. It is literalized formulas that cause us to believe our limited view of God is the same as God. Out of that view come questions like yours that reveal the absurdity of so many popular religious claims and therefore I thank you for your question.
- John Shelby Spong
I am not sure that I can accept what Spong implies concerning literalism, but I have no supportable argument apart from personal comfort beliefs.
One more example, so you have an idea of how I read Genesis. I believe that God called the sun a greater light and the moon a lesser light on purpose. He wanted us to get a more applicable lesson than that the sun and moon were created on the fourth day. The greater light is the light of God, and the lesser light is the light of the church. The moon has no light of its own, but it reflects the light of the sun. So the church has no light of its own, but it shines with the glory of the Son. Jesus spoke of this when he said, "The night is coming when no one can work." He was the light of day, and now the church lights the night (or it's supposed to, at least) with his light.
Thats a new way to look at this scripture that I have never seen before.
Another good article which I recently read, one which challenges John Shelby Spong, is this one.The authors do a great job at stripping away the intellectual mystique of John Shelby Spong and his heretical views of religion.
There actually is searching and questioning going on in "contemporary Christianity" and I would be more than happy to point you towards such sources.
What types of questions are people asking? What on earth are we searching for? Seems to me that we have found Gods character alive within us...(Jesus) but perhaps you may accuse me of taking the cheap and easy solution being sold.
I will agree that humans are expected to think and ask questions, but I feel that we are making a big mistake if we never agree on any tentative answers, nevermind permanent ones.
You look at what they say that can be tested. And when you find they lie about the simple stuff that can be tested like the age of the earth or if the Biblical Flood ever happened why would any reasonable person trust anything that they say?
Would you not agree that the Flood story is more of a parable?
I think the Gospel is that GOD tells us it's okay to fail, but it is not okay not to try.
I don't disagree with this statement except that I don't think it is all that we are supposed to do.
On the one hand you ask the ongoing question of how do we know it is GOD. Good question in that it is impossible to fully understand the creator of all seen and unseen. And yet you also say that we are expected to correct God as was done in the Bible during times prior. So how does one correct someone who is essentially unknowable?
...others have commented that I don't talk about my relationship with GOD.
Such Testifying is a big part of the Christian Cult of Ignorance. Oh, it might make folk feel good, or even raise a joyful sound, but what does it mean?
How is it tested?
Teachers will be judged more seriously than others due to their influence and being respected members of the community and who are in positions of trust.(officially or unofficially)
Telling people that the source is unimportant and that GOD could care less whether or not we believe in "Her" are in my opinion slippery slopes.
We can't do anything for GOD.
Come on, She created the whole universe. What the hell can we do for someone who can create all that is, seen and unseen?
Well according to you we can correct her when She is wrong!
All that we can do is try to do for others, for the world we live in, for plants and animals the environment, for friends and enemies and for children and knowledge.
All we can do is try to do our best, honestly try to evaluate our behavior, honestly acknowledge when we do wrong, try to make amends when we do screw up and try to do better in the future. That really is all that we can do.
It really is that simple.
In my opinion, we can ask the Spirit of GOD into our heart---that is---in communion with us. It may well be our responsibility to try and do our best but we cannot do it alone. In this case the source is important.
Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain