and have morality without relying on organized religion. IMO, we are spiritual beings, having a human experience.
I also approach understanding the past via the comparative mythology method. If I had to label myself, I would be a neocatastrophist.
References that have helped shape my view point:
Symbols of an alien sky
I am guessing that I fall into the OP's bucket of everyone else.
Just to get this straight, theology and religion are not one in the same. "Theos" means "god," thus thology means the study of god.
Where in the definition of religion does the word "god" appear?
I'm religious about a lot of things: investing, heath, spending quality time with friends and family, the list goes on. Nothing to do with God.
If I wanted to become religious about anything, I sure wouldn't waste my time reading about the past. I'd simply spend time in the present experiencing life in all it's joy and wonder. Nothing to do with God.
You said, from an earlier comment, “What you are advocating is no less than Arianism (claiming Jesus is not God), one of the oldest heresies in the faith. The matter was more or less settled with the adoption of the Nicene Creed in the 4th century. I would assume you do not accept it.”
First off, let me try to untangle some of this. True, I am advocating, as does the bible clearly state in numerous places, that Jesus is Christ and His Father, Jehovah God is our one true God, Creator of the universe. But I have to take issue with another bit of your comment, “… one of the oldest heresies in the faith”.
You probably didn’t intend this, but the way you’ve arranged my beliefs alongside Arian beliefs and then call it a heresy of “faith” would be an erroneous assumption, and in that context, guilt by association. Additionally, whose “faith” are you referring to? Catholic faith, since they were in abundance during the Council negotiations on changing texts of the bible? Or do you mean “commonly accepted faith”, as in Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox?
Must all Christians buy into the trinity?
Are you assuming, as many do, that all Christians must believe in the “trinity”? If it were the latter, would it not have been clearly explained or at least mentioned once by Jesus, or found even once in the bible? Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, and they consider themselves as such, although they have spent many painstaking years translating ancient Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew and have come to understand that most Christian bibles have misinterpreted certain phrases and words. A small change can make a huge difference in meaning.
At this point, I’ll add biblical reference and credibility to my beliefs shared here. To “level the playing field”, I’ve not used the bible that most on this thread probably use, the New King James (NKJ) version instead of my own, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Please crosscheck your preferred bible for confirmation of accuracy. One of the very first places most Christians go to in order to quickly settle any argument that “Jesus is God” or the “trinity” (3 entities that are all equal, forming one God) concept is by referring to John 1:1, which reads:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.
Now, if that scripture stood alone in the bible as the only reference to Jesus and God I’d certainly buy it. If I were certain that the Greek words had been translated properly because humans never err, I’d buy it. But it is not the only scripture that explains God’s relationship with Jesus. There are many that explain it much better and more clearly. Also, if the ancient texts were translated properly from, in this case, its Greek origin and by the researchers that published the NWTHS, I believe it would more accurately read,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god”.
See what a difference that would make? It becomes clear, not subject to centuries of parsing, confusion, obfuscation, misconception and debate. If we were, for just a moment, open to this translation then we would take quite a different meaning from John’s first verse.
In other words, in the beginning was [Jesus] (God’s first creation), and [Jesus] was with God (meaning that Jesus was with God, His Father), and [Jesus] was [a god]. This translation, based on more accurate Greek translation tells us that Jesus, while not God, does hold a high position among God’s creatures and is “a god”. The term, “god” with lower case g, signifies “mighty one”.
More than my example could ever hope to explain or convince, I’ll let the scriptures in the bible explain this in other verses. Later in the same chapter we begin to get a fuller, more clear and concise truth of Jesus’ relationship with God, in (John 1:14), we see that “the Word” is Jesus.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John further writes in Chapter 1, verse 18:
“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him”.
Later, (John 17:3) Jesus makes a clear distinction between himself and his heavenly Father:
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was”.
Further, (John 20:30-31) we have Jesus’ relationship with God further refined and confirmed:
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
It becomes perfectly clear that if one takes the time to read the entire book of John… or even if even if they just finish reading only the first chapter of John, they will discover that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus said so himself, many times.
If one doesn’t believe Jesus’ own words or the Apostle John accounts, or if they would just like more proof, then I would suggest they look to (Matthew 24:36), which gives us even more knowledge of the relationship of Jesus with God… again, from Jesus’ own lips:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
There are so many bible verses that I could print here to support my belief that God and Jesus Christ are separate, as Father and Son, but the few above should provide a clear resolutions of the matter. If more proof is required, perhaps this might serve as an icebreaker to find a favorite bible and start studying.
Fried chicken, pole beans, mac & cheese and sweet tea… amen.
Honestly, before I began serious bible study I had no idea what details and truth I would find or if I might discover things that were contrary to my Methodist teachings. I was a lazy Christian, although it never occurred to me since I was surrounded by so many like me and supported by so many churches that seemed to be content with collection plates, ceremonial circumstances, anemic sermons and fried chicken dinners a few times a year.
We all had our “ears tickled” and spoon fed out of context, mistranslated or myopic rationale supporting trinity with verses such (as is done with John 1:1). There we sat on Sunday mornings listening to a nice and good but lazy preacher giving his short rationale to support the trinity. John 1:1 and a few other out of context, misinterpreted or vague verses work to satisfy all that might want to perpetuate the trinity doctrine, or perhaps quell further pesky truth seeking. This quick ‘trinity salve’ is used in churches of all denominations all over the world today.
In the end, preachers of the “comfort gospels” and congregations that are easily satisfied with traditional tenets, dogma and doctrine are not going to answer for our ignorance of the bible, our lack of knowledge of our Creator and our lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ and Jehovah God.
Why this trinity idea came to be is in itself a convoluted mystery, and has been passionately debated since shortly after Christ was crucified. Determining the motivations of those that translated, negotiated, parsed, edited and deleted has been studied (and argued) for centuries.
Enter the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea.
What little I know of the historic and available detail of Arian teachings is probably more than most but in fact, very little. My general understanding is that Arian teaching concludes that Jesus was a man and that God was the one true God.
To go into greater detail I’d have to do much more in depth research to determine the Arian’s view of the divine nature of Jesus that was accepted and taught. If they believe that Jesus is Christ, a divine being, the Son of God and Savior of mankind through His ransom sacrifice, then yes… I agree with Arianism.
If they believe Jesus was first born a human, then no, I would passionately disagree with their teachings. Perhaps you could offer up some sources on this. Without much effort at all, I’ve just Googled and have found the following site, linked here. Haven’t read it yet, but after a quick scan, it looks fairly credible: Arianism
Now I’ll take that most pertinent portion of your earlier comment and expand on it a bit. I’m pleased that you brought up Arianism, but more to the point, I appreciate that you bring the Nicene Creed (Council of Nicaea) up. At some point I’d like to know if you were you doing this to support my belief that Jesus is not one in the same as Jehovah God, or to correct me and dispute my belief?
If the former, you have strengthened my position. If not, and you do believe the Jesus and God are the same, then I’ll suggest that you do further research. I think you’ll find that the Council was a quasi-religious, politically minded, power and control hungry group that was essentially ordered together by Roman Emperor Constantine to come together to hash out the differences in organized religion at the time.
The Council spent years battling each other to see who would succeed in rewriting the bible. They essentially bent themselves into pretzels in their attempt to agree on certain beliefs and texts, and proceeded to parse words and change (or negotiate) words and meanings along the way to finally coming to an agreement. I can only imagine how this might compare to what we have today when secret organizations and shadow governments meet to determine a New World Order.
Constantine evidently leaned toward the Arias teaching of Jesus and God separate entities for whatever that is worth. Seems he was willing to compromise his beliefs to some extent, or say one thing and do another after the fact (Council agreement). His main interest was to get Christians to stop fighting each other, come together and begin fighting others in his quest to conquer the world.
His and Rome’s imperialist ‘one world order’ agenda required having everyone (those pesky Christians) working together for one sovereign cause. Compromises would be made if necessary. Threats of banishing anyone in the Council that refused to agree to a consensus on biblical content were Constantine’s mode of “getting a deal done”. Funny how some things never change.
We could set all other things aside for the rest of our lives and never reach the place that so many bible scholars have arrived in terms of knowledge of ancient Rome and the church.
We could spend countless hours defending our beliefs with opinion and cherry picking bible verses that appear to support our view of Christianity, the relationship of Jesus, the cross icon, the inclusion of Pagan holidays into most churches, the identification of Babylon The Great, the last days and other bible prophecy.
But in the end, no matter how settled we are with our own long held beliefs or acceptance of what we’ve been taught at our traditional church… or how dedicated we are to continue searching for truth, there is nothing we can say or do that would come anywhere near equaling the value of opening the greatest gift ever given… the bible.
For any that would like to learn more about what the Jehovah Witnesses believe and teach, it’s as easy as visiting online or attending a Kingdom Hall meeting in your area.
You’ve mentioned other questions but I’m out of time, so I’ll circle back one day soon and see if I can cite scriptures for specific questions, instead of writing a novel. :)
In the meantime, I’ll pray that my comments here are taken to heart and considered in the sincere manner in which they were intended. My objective is to increase knowledge and understanding of an organization that I have discovered, The Jehovah’s Witnesses. I would never want to make anyone uncomfortable or discount anyone’s beliefs. We come to understanding of God and His relationship to His Son Jesus through study of scriptures and we take these things to heart through prayer and reason. My only desire is to glorify Jehovah God and honor my Savior, Jesus Christ.
After having read MILE LONG posts and taking it all in, believe me I truly do read and take it all in. I must admit to being overwhelm. Am I to believe I must be like some scholar to understand the teachings of God ?? I don't profess to belonging to organized religion. I have never been baptised or otherwise "accepted" into religion. I believe what I believe in my own heart and trust God accepts this as a viable alternate religious education.
One might ask "What were you taught growing up"? I was not brought up in any organized religion. I was basically given a blank slate to research and fill in at my will. Is this so wrong? Actually, I don't think it is. Many times I felt lost and alone growing up this way. But I sought out the truth on my own, in my own heart and as such I feel I have a personal relationship with my God. Is this not the way it was meant to be? Does memorizing/repeating things written by mortal man make you better? Or, does contemplating it all with a free, unbiased mind/soul give one a different perspective?
There are many things that I would criticize my parents for, but their choice to leave my religious preferences to myself would not be one of them.
Thanks for the thread, but I'm not reading posts that take me more than a couple of minutes to read. JW's believe only they are God's people and only they are going to be saved. Sorry, I don't believe in that kind of cultic mindset.
Everyone is either atheist, believing we are here due to the forces of nature only; theist, believing we are here by the intelligent design of a Supreme Spirit; or agnostic, believing no one can know for sure how the universe and life originated.
I am a Theist. I am a Christian Theist. I believe the Creator has spoken to this world thru Jesus Christ. C.S. Lewis was once an atheist. After studying the claims of Christ, he wrote "Mere Christianity" and said that everyone must decide who Christ is. He is either a lunatic, a liar, or the Son of God... sent by the Creator to teach us the truth about our world.
There can only be one reality and only one way to describe that reality. I believe Jesus Christ was sent by God to tell us the truth about reality.
May God help everyone to find the truth about life and in doing so find Him.... who is love and promises eternal life to "whosoever believes in Him."
Here's a raw breakdown of what human beings believe:
....let him got crucified
The essence of the gospel is that God offers humans eternal life. This is possible because He came and died for sins. Evidently, God has an eternal law that is necessary for LOVE and freedom to rule and that is that 'the wages of sin is death'. You and I are going to die like everybody else. The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares the good news that thru Jesus Christ God has made a way for those who have failed to love..and sinned...to live forever.
Jesus allowed Himself to be put into the hands of evil men full of the Devil and the spirit of evil. God allowed that to show the evilness of evil. Satan and evil was exposed for what it really is, the hater of all that is good and loving. But God raised Jesus from the dead declaring that evil will not stand and will soon be eradicated....and God's kingdom of love will soon destroy forever...the kingdom of darkness.
Thank God. He is the only Hope in this world that I see.
Watcher, I'll only respond this once to what you wrote and then hope that you reconsider your stance and soften your heart. Throwing stones is not a Christian attitude or activity. If you feel in your heart that you have the truth, then I suppose you should continue your course. But you should not pretend to know things that you obviously have no clue about.
You stated, "Thanks for the thread, but I'm not reading posts that take me more than a couple of minutes to read. JW's believe only they are God's people and only they are going to be saved."
Your second sentence above about JW's beliefs is completely false and could not be further from the truth. I'd love to see you provide a shred of evidence that forms your opinion on Jehovah Witnesses. There is none, because it is a lie. Only you and God know where you came up with this and why you felt the need to say it.
Your first sentence could explain much.
You ask good questions and your comments are straight forward and honest. Don't feel alone. Many if not most... even Sunday Christians don't have good knowledge of the bible. Do you need to be a scholar to understand the teachings of God? No, absolutely not. Nor am I or anyone else on this thread or the Faith Thread. But to love someone you have to know them. God expects no less than our earnest effort to do just that.
You get to know God the same way you get to know history, math and science. You study. The bible will teach you all you need to know about God, Jesus, history and the future. Pretty amazing stuff. But don’t feel alone. I’d venture to say that most people who profess to be Christian have not read, much less studied the bible. They get to a place of comfort with the basics and pretty much coast from there.
That being said, there is more you’ll need to do. To “understand” is to have knowledge, and this is good… but to be forgiven for sins and have everlasting life after death you must develop a relationship with God. If you approach your Christianity as an academic without giving your heart, then you have not accomplished the most important aspect of spiritual life.
If you are interested in learning, pick up any bible. You’ll have many questions. Write down those questions and take them to a church or religious organization of your choice and enroll in their bible study program.
Most of us put this off because we don’t have time, and it’s not easy to study the bible. This is why so few Christians actually do. So much easier to bop around the internet to pick and choose little snippets that suit our likes and dislikes. This can be dangerous to your soul. There is much false teaching out there.
Godspeed with your learning. I hope that you do. You’ll be amazed at the things you learn and you’ll be awakened by the things that begin to happen in your life. Seek Him and know Him, so that you can be known and blessed by Him.
God is good… all the time.
The Christian community classifies JW's as a cult (see Walter Martin's "Kingdom of the Cults" for example). If you need other links and authorities for that classification let me know.
I went to the Kingdom Hall for several years because my parents were led there by neighbors. So I know all about JWs, their beliefs and have no need to read your long posts. JW's deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They also have strange peophetic teachings like only a literal 144,000 are part of God's government. JW's also believe that Jesus has already returned and began to reign in 1914. JW's also believe that everyone that is not a JW is part of Christendom that is doomed to die in Armageddon. You don't permit blood transfusions even if your child will die. I could go on with our differences...
I have no animosity toward you Larry or any JW. But if you're going to push your beliefs on this thread, I will take the initiative and oppose them in Christ, in love and with Scripture. It was only as I began to read outside of JW literature that God was able to open my eyes to His beauty, His love and the joy of walking with Him in the Spirit in willing and glad obedience. I pray you will allow yourself to reading what others have to say about JW teachings. Truth has nothing to fear. God bless you.
Stephanie...A born again Christian is not a brand of "Religion". It represents a member of the human race who has accepted the free gift of the Father and taken Jesus the Christ into their heart. This is the definition of a Christian. All others are imposters.
The bible is not the word of god. It isn't inspired by god. It is no different than the Koran, Torah etc... If you were born in Muslim land, this thread would be full of muslims pretending there is a difference between their sects.
The reason there are so many christian sects, is the bible says pretty much what you want it too. Just take out the parts you don't like, for instance, the endorsement of slavery, the killing of homosexuals and a million other horrible things.
God didn't sacrifice his son. It's impossible for God to sacrifice his son, and then bring him right back 3 days later. That isn't sacrifice. It be pretty nice for me to "sacrifice" my son, and then raise him from the dead. Not much of a sacrifice, more of a gesture on god's part. A sacrifice involves loss.
Most christians I know, have never even read the bible all the way through like a novel. They go to church as a social event, and vote to take others money.
That being said, I have no problem with true christians who honestly try to emulate the overall good themes of the bible. Ron Paul is one of them. I support those types of christians. I wish they weren't the vast minority they seem to be.
First off, I'd like to say I personally appreciate everyone's contributions on this thread. I may not agree with everything I read but I find most things to be expressed in a heartfelt manner.
I'm also heartened to see that this thread has not devolved into anger or flaming. Let's keep it this way.
With that in mind, here are two notes/suggestions:
1. There's still a sense of people talking past one another than really hearing and listening with open hearts and minds.
2. Using words like "cult" and "imposter" don't do much to bring people together - they put up walls. Are there better ways to express things that are more welcoming and opening rather than likely shutting people out?
I'll just try to give an example (don't mean to "pick" on you, Larry)...but rather than responding to Larry's conversion to Jehovah's Witness with comments about JW being a "cult," could we perhaps learn and share by asking Larry more about what he wasn't getting from the Methodist church that he is getting from the JW? And for everyone, what is it that draws you personally to your faith, or lack thereof?
Just some thoughts. Carry on!
I find this website helpful and I go to it everyday.
I hope you find it helpful or useful. Enjoy!
An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246
Just don't have the time to invest in thoughtful responses. Keep on stackin...I guess ;)
I read your post. Thank you for sharing. I shall respond in more detail as time allows. This topic is no good for quick replies.
Beauty is truth.
Truth is God. Let Truth and Beauty fill Your hearts. God bless.
Some of you may have heard of Centering Prayer. Catholic monks practicing this have held conferences with Buddhist monks to share techniques and ideas. At one such, the Catholic monks asked their counterparts to explain their theology of the afterlife. The Buddhist reply was, "We don't have one." Their concern was to cultivate awareness and compassion, and to concentrate on living justly and morally in this life. Not much energy should be expended on the unknowable.
We Christians have been arguing with one another for a couple of thousand years now about points of theology that have goddamned little to do with how we conduct our lives, and I challenge anyone to point out a benefit of those two millennia of often deadly strife.
As to how one should evaluate or select a faith tradition, I find Siddhartha Gautama's Kalama Sutta to be a gem of wisdom:
After enduring 12 years of Catholic education which, btw, I am in many ways very grateful to have received, I'm completely turned off by organized versions of God or Jesus. I see all of the major religions of the world as matrices that are constructed and used by unusually cunning people in order to extract "things" from trusting, unsuspecting and innocent souls. I would like to believe that the Divine exists in everyone and everything, but my direct experience with people on this planet does not support that belief. I always endeavor to work "it" out, in my mind and in my heart, the best I can. "It" is the mystery, "it" is for all to explore each in their own way. Religions offer versions of the mystery that are not acceptable to me. There is so much to be grateful for in this life, there is so much love, joy and beauty everywhere, no matter where I look. Leonard Cohen once said (I'm paraphrasing) that he tried to be a devoted student of the great religions, but joy would find its way into his life and that would be the end of it. That's pretty much how I feel.