Today has felt quite strange. Ian got up and went off to class; shortly thereafter, I found myself laying in bed thinking “Why should I ever get up? I don’t even have class until 1:00 today.” However, I did drag myself out of bed and puttered around doing apartment-maintenance things until about 10:30. Then…commence the studyin’! Nobody wants to hear about other peoples’ life minutiae; suffice it to say, I should be studying right now instead of blogging. Anyway, the oddest part of today was the surreal feeling when I went to my WPI class. That’s when I realized I had 3 whole classes left (counting today) while all my Clark friends are done with their classes and have buried themselves in mountains of work. Also surreal was the feeling of not having to scrounge for a ride back to WPI “in time,” as well as not stressing that the shuttle would be late and I’d have to miss part of class.

I’ve been thinking a bit about a conversation I had with a friend. We were talking about theology, and he said that he didn’t think people needed to go to church or any of that to be saved (similarly, Jess and I talked some about Christianity and she hasn’t been inclined to go to church either). I suppose you don’t; but what Ryan replied when I talked to him about it was that no, of course you aren’t saved by works; but as a Christian you’ll want to do “all that Christian stuff.” Including going to church. Does that mean that, if I’m not inclined to go to church, I’m not a Christian then? What if the institution of church just disgusts somebody so much with its hypocrisy and overblown sense of ritual that it becomes abhorrent? What if, for somebody, true worship is impossible because the church has been so destroyed by the humanity of its members? The other thing that struck me about that conversation was the fact that my saying “If you’re not a Christian, you aren’t saved,” really bothered him.

It bothers me too. No, I am certainly not God, but if Jesus said that he was the only way to get to the Father (John 14:6), isn’t that pretty definitive? But may college student are reviled by the idea of condemning anybody’s system of belief. The suggestion of any one Right Way – and every other way is wrong – is the only true sin to them. How could I be so audacious to claim that a righteous Islamic imam isn’t saved? Not I; all I can do is believe what the Bible tells me. Yet that has had more than a couple people miffed with me. And what can I say, in the end? I am certainly in no position to judge people; though Christian, I am no better than anybody else. I think that what I believe is right – that’s fine with them – the problem comes when I extend that to saying that they are wrong. But, but, but… that’s part of believing what I believe!

Then again, we also talked about this: how do Christians decide what rules to follow and what rules not to follow? After all, the Old Testament is chock full of rules for the Jews; yet they don’t apply to us why? I think I recall it’s because Christ made a new law when He died for our sins: the reason for those rules no longer exists. The point of the rules in Deuteronomy and those books is to set the Jews apart, to make them holy as God’s people. Now, however, Jesus has died for our sins and His blood covers us. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ perfect life as a result of that sacrifice. Mr. Jones explained in class that for every rule in the Old Testament there’s a parallel in the New Testament.

I’ll stop the little theological ponderings, now, and get back down to earth. And math. And Life.

– KF –

Countdown

1/2 Paper – Would somebody please be willing to look this over for me? Please?

4 Final Exams

8 Days to Seattle

14 Days to Christmas

38 thoughts on “Hum Drum and Theology

  1. So many things to talk about in your current entry! But alas, there isn’t the space. I guess I’ll have to find you online agian sometime and we can have a good long chat. But for now I’ll comment on one item: “What if, for somebody, true worship is impossible because the church has been so destroyed by the humanity of its members?” Isn’t that what the church is made of? Humans? What good is a church w/o the people? It reminds me of a joke I say every once and a while: life would be so much better w/o all the people messing it up! The same could be said about church. But then again, w/o the people, there would be no church. . .

  2. Right, I know. It’s a strange paradox; actually in that question I was paraphrasing a question a different friend asked of me. She felt church was ruined by the way people were, and I wasn’t quite sure what to say: the church IS people, that’s the point, but when people are being fools…

  3. For John 14:6, it all depends what Jesus meant by “me”. Is he talking about his literal body, or those who believe in him as a prophet, or those who simply follow the principles of love, mercy, and sacrifice he embodied?

  4. Come on, Eric. What do YOU mean when YOU say “me”? You mean yourself, who you are. Jesus meant people who believed in who he was (the Son of God), what he did, (died on the cross) and what he taught. I don’t think Jesus meant to have people arguing semantics about his phaseology.

  5. Oh, no, its not like the Bible to speak in metaphors. “I am the way, truth, life” couldn’t possibly mean anything besides your interpretation. And if Eric says something in one way, then would Christ, a prophet, a Gnostic, dare I say even the Son of God(!), would speak the same as he? Anytime Christ is speaking to the Apostles, I always reach for that grain of salt.

    It’s quite a bold jump to take something mentioned offhandedly like this (if this is such an important axiom of the Church, how come only John, the chronologically last of the Big Four, mentions it?) and make that into “Only Christians are saved”. Hypothetically, if this were true, is this really the way Jesus wants to recruit, tell people that damnation awaits those who don’t join the party? This kind of interpretation spawns the unloving, conflict-seeking Christians who gather their flock in fear and forced repetance. We want people who love Him because they see He is so fricking awesome, not cause He’ll lock us in the tool shed if we don’t! Those who don’t see yet, we have faith they will, when their time is right.

    In fact, in this same chapter is the “In my Father’s house are many mansions” verse, often interpreted by many theologists as symbolic as the Father’s benevolence; that He’s ready to take in all kinds of people.

    Remember, this is merely difference of our scripture interpretation. I don’t know how far you will proceed to refute my positions, but can’t we at least agree that if God holds benevolence, and man has at least followed the steps of Christ, in some other form, without even knowing who He is, then he would have a chance at salvation?

  6. John’s comment rules.

    Also worth noting is that more than one faction of Christianity claim to take the bible literally, yet these factions disagree. It all depends what passages each faction chooses to take the *most* literally, to suit whatever current philosophy its leader or original thugz had at founding time.

  7. You are absolutely correct: Jesus surely did speak in metaphors, hence his parables, etc. However, in this context it doesn?t seem that Jesus was speaking in a metaphor. He?s speaking directly to his disciples, answering a straightforward question from Thomas. ?How do we know the way?? Answer: ?I am the way.? My point with Eric was to say that Jesus wasn?t being all tricky here. Yes, he?s the Son of God and a prophet, but he was speaking to the people, using examples that they would understand. His parables were clearly translatable examples from daily life that elucidated his points. I say that you don?t have need for that grain of salt; what Jesus said, he meant.

    As for recruitment, nobody?s trying to convert people by threatening to send them to hell! That is of course the absolutely, completely last thing that anybody would say to convince people of how awesome and wonderful God is. Yes, we want people to believe because God is good, loving, etc. No forced repentances here. I?m not sure where you?re getting the idea that I or others are trying to ?scare? people into Christianity. When I am asked point-blank what I think, you will naturally hear what I believe, and what I believe is what the Bible teaches. As for the John 14:6, also check 1 Thessalonians 5:9 or 2 Timothy 2:10. To paraphrase, God wants us to be saved through our Lord Jesus Christ. Or 2 Timothy 3:15, ??make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.? Not to bring up the condemnation part again (though, unfortunately, that is part of it), but Mark 16:16 and John 3:36 say that anybody who has believed in Christ (Mark also says and has been baptized) has been saved.

    Nobody?s debating God?s benevolence. There are too many instance to count when God has been good, starting with his sending his Son to die for us. And yes, he?s willing to take in all people ? who believe in His Word. Anybody can become a Christian and they are saved. I honestly don?t know how strict God wants to be about this issue; the Bible seems pretty definitive about that being the only way, being God?s word, and anything else is wrong. Thankfully I?m not God; I?m not even much of a theologian. I would like to think that other people can be saved, but if that was so ? if you just had to sort of do the right thing even if you weren?t the same religion ? why such an emphasis on missions throughout the whole New Testament? The entirety of Acts is Paul?s mission trips! Again and again throughout the New Testament God commands people to GO, share the good news, that others might be saved. Why do that if those others were already saved?

    Sadly, the church is human. Factions happen and I can’t speak for them all. The key thing is that we all believe this: Christ is the Son of God, He died for our sins, and on the third day rose again. That’s what it means to be Christian, and in that belief lies salvation.

  8. Amen, Katie! Well put. Here’s something else that I’ve put together in my head after many years of mulling it over and studying: Anyone who is truly seeking God and His truth will find it. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with allyour heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. I think that puts to rest the argument people make that it isn’t fair if a person hasn’t even heard of Jesus Christ. If anyone is seeking God, He can bring that message to them through a human agent or God can choose to reveal Himself directly to that seeker. I’ve read about people that have had that experience. If you’re just arguing with God because you don’t like what He’s said in is Word, the Bible, you can’t complain if you don’t find yourself in heaven someday. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

  9. Katie is absolutly right. The foundation of Christianity is not the theological finer points that christians are so famous for disagreeing about. Christianity is a *realtionship* with the Almighty God, creater of the universe and our souls. He has a love that is huger than anything we could possibly imagine, hence why He sent Jesus, His son, to die for us and take our penalty for our sins. But the story doesn’t stop there. Not only did Jesus die, but He also was raised from the dead, which demonstrates that God accepted His sacrifice and that those who believe in Him (not mearly that He existed, but that He is the Son of God; as James 2:19 mentions, even the deamons believe in God!) and are willing to live their lives for Him have a part of that salvation.

    But what good is salvation if there is nothing to be saved from? What would be the point of all the “rules” and even for the Bible and for prophets or Jesus Himself if there was no Hell to be saved from? I’m sorry. Hell is not a happy subject, and sometimes it is missused to scare people into christianity (as “fire insurance), and that is wrong. However, Hell is real, and the possibility of going there is just as real, and I don’t know about you, but I find that a bit scarry. By the very act of acknolwedging that Hell exists, you sound scarry and condeming. I’m sorry, its not me doing the condeming, its God, and, in a way, those who choose not to accept the Way out He provided. God “desires all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4), but He will not force it on anyone. Its a choice that each person must make for themselves. If God were to force that choice on someone, it wouldn’t really be a choice, then, would it?

    Some people argue that all the world’s religions are the same, and really no different. There is one major and important difference between Christianity and the rest of the world’s religions: there is nothing that can be done to EARN salvation. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or even how bad you are, you cannot save yourself. How prideful of us humans to think that we could ever make ourselves acceptable to God! Got is all powerful, perfect, without sin. All it takes is one sin on our part, and we are not up to par. It’s like each of us is a window. All it takes is for the window to be broken in one part, and the whole window is broken. Even something like a bullet hole that doesn’t shatter the rest of the window: there may not be cracks thru-out the window, but the whole window is broken. It is the same with us and sin, all it takes is once. So what options are there? Only one: to replace the window. And that’s what believeing in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, does. He takes our old window and replaces it with a new one. Its at that point that the actions *follow*. You don’t have to be good first, and then become a Christian. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have any Christians! No, you chose to submit your life to God fir

  10. Speaking of the fickleness of belief:

    “I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong.”

    Salman Rushdie

    There is no denying that the power of Christianity has become misused in the calloused hands of mortality. Katie’s “nobody?s trying to convert people by threatening to send them to hell!” is quite opposed to Ryan’s fear of said place. The concept of Hell itself, as portrayed in scripture, is even open to interpretation! In the original gospels, as written in Aramaic, Christ is quoted as referring to “Gehenna”, the Greek word for a place of eternal suffering. It’s vastly interpreted by moderns (or forever equated thanks to Puritanism and others) as a dominion, a ethereal place for the evil dead to dwell. But, there are also the Hebrew and Greek concepts of “Sheol” and “Hades”, which are all translated as “Hell” in our modern Romanse Bibles. The former is considered a purgatory-type containment for everybody, while the latter, as we all know from Greek Mythology, is also a place of punishment for the wicked (but is the real Hades as funny as he was in Disney’s Hercules?).

    Either way, it does not matter if you see it as a place where Satan Lucifer dwells and organizes the damned in Dante-like circles for some big torcha, or something resembling the movie “Little Nicky” ‘s portrayal, or like mine and others’, coinciding with belief that Christ was a Gnostic: that ‘Hell’ is just the negative experience that a soul receives for every bit of distance it puts between Itself and God. Enough distance and a soul drifts further and further from Sophia and sweet sweet Pleroma. This lends itself greatly to the Jewish/Kabbalist “Sheol”, where everybody of the afterlife is away from G-d to some degree, because nobody is worthy ever to do such a thing. But then, none of us stay there for very long anyway, but I won’t even try to open the “We’re just vessels so God can experience mankind” can of worms here.

    Most Jerusalemites of the early ADs knew Gehenna as a GARBAGE DUMP in the Hinnom Valley, which was a popular place to execute Pagans by immolation. If total burnination (forget spiritual, this interpretation is solely physical) is not a fear-driving image then I don’t know what is. Before you start accusing me of saying The Christ was going to throw us all in a fire, which is giving me hillarous mental images, again this is interpretable Metaphor!!! Gehenna the Garbage Dump was analogous to whatever Jesus said would results from disbelief (Again, what is it? Who knows, but we can agree its not good). But a few misinterpretations, a few hundred years, a few murders by the Catholic sect of the fringers who believe otherwise, a few bad translations of scripture, the dissipation and death of the Knights Templar, and viola! Hell is like a vacation that very naughty persons go on at the end of the life t

  11. Oh yeah, the point of this whole thing was to show how a single concept can be strung out like so. And I can’t wait to see you all string it further. Go on, you know you want to.

  12. I’m curious, FxBx, what do you believe, and on what do you base your belief? It seems you’ve got this whole thing figured out.

  13. Re to Ryan:

    I’ve got nothing figured out, and that’s the idea. What I’ve tried to argue here is that something as immense and intangible as one’s unique purpose and personal relationship with higher powers is something not to be treaded lightly upon. I have come to terms with that fact that I certainly will never, unto my final day, ever say of my faith “This is it. All others must not be.”

    If I believe in anything other than that, it is that the purpose of our time in this world is to not only find justification in whatever ground we wish to stand upon, but also to find justifcation in the grounds stood upon by others.

    Of these two beliefs: The first is an admission of mortality and our limited possible knowledge of ‘God’ (Gnosis); we as humans will never fully understand why we were created, where we go after life, or the plans that this higher power has for us, and being omniscient, It must know these (this creates a deception of Fate, but if ‘God’ is the only one to know our ‘destiny’, is it really fate as we think of it?). Let this not be mistaken for agnosticism; we are capable of knowing what we do need to know, have some ideas as to the what or why, but the absolutes on a lot of parts of this schema will always be unknown, not even because we aren’t allowed to know, but because we wouldn’t understand it if we did. Is that open unknown stuff filled in by what we call “free will” and “choice”? I can confidently say “I don’t know”, cause I don’t and can anyone know?

    The second part is a hope that this higher power, having been omnipotent and benevolent (as Christ tells us He is; He not It in this instance because in His perspective Christ and the higher being shared a Father and Son relationship) would not purposely deceive humans with what one might call “false religions”, ones that have no true spiritual basis, or one based in an artificial source (converse of a “true religion”, which are devoted to servicing this power as It has chosen). This defining of false religion serves not only to have seperation of deceptive non-religions created by man from those whose foundations are right, but to also invoke the fact that they must have a purpose of their existence, or why would they exist? It is here innumerable conundrums are unleashed, and the subject of free will is back to bite us. Why can’t a person choose to abandon a false religion for a true one? Does God ‘fate’ these people to this, and does this ‘fate’ ensure their ‘damnation’, an existence forever away from ‘Him’? I thought he was All Good!?!?!?! Again, I feel no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Does anyone?

    I only know this: not all religions can be true (then it cannot matter which we select, so why contend with any of this?), and not all relgions can be false (‘God’ could not possibly give us no means of finding truth, that would be quite the abandonment). [Personal addition to this: Christia

  14. I think I bent my Wokiee on that last one. The comments window done did expli-izode. I’ll check back tomorrow and see if I did damage.

  15. It seems that it comes down to this: Christians think they and they alone are right, that a personal relationship with Jesus is the ONLY thing that will lead to eternal life in the presence of God. Other people disagree.

    Will an accord ever be reached? Probably not, because we all believe strongly in what we’ve been saying: for Christians, compromise just isn’t an option. Loving people is an option, and I know we’ll keep doing that. So as usual, what can we do but simply disagree in the friendliest possible manner? If you don’t want to believe what we say, disregarding what we consider to be good proofs, nothing can induce you to change your mind save divine revelation (which, of course, we believe we’ve had and you don’t agree with).

    All I can say is, Christians will keep believing, praying, and witnessing as we have for 2,000 years. God alone knows all.

  16. The main problem that I generally suffer with Christianity, besides being told I’m going to hell if I don’t buy into it, is that you are not saved by your acts. It’s so against my nature to see things that way, if I was God I would definitely make acts the definitive way of doing things. And if there really is a true Christian God, and he does not reward people by their acts, and solely by their faith, and sends the most caring and generous of Muslims to their eternal damnation, then God is wrong, and I’ll tell him so to his face.

  17. You miss the point of God entirely. Yes what you say would be valid if God wasn’t God, but just some human we elected to be in charge. But He isn’t now is He?

    If you accept the fact that there is a god who made the entire universe, including us, then you have to, by definition accept the fact that he is in control and therefore he gets to make the rules. If you don’t like that, too bad. You don’t write a program and let it do whatever it wants. Does your code get to say, “Look you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re wrong.”? Of course not.

    The fact is, God made the rules. He gets to decide. You can’t say, “This is dumb.” It doesn’t change anything. Who are you to question who made you?

  18. Ian?s right. There?s one other thing that I?m thinking. Before Christ, God had Jews trying to earn salvation through works. Do you have any idea how many rules they had to try to follow? If you want to save yourself through works you somehow have to be as good as God: perfect. And no matter what people do, they can?t be perfect. So no matter how many good works you do, you can?t earn salvation?and that?s why Christ came. Since He is both God and man, he was able to live perfectly as God does, but to die as man for all people. Basically, nobody can be good enough to save themselves through works.

    And 1) Good luck telling God exactly what you think when you meet him; 2) no offense but I?m really glad you?re not God.

  19. Since we have free will, the analogy isn’t between programmer and code, but between Father and Son. You don’t have to have the same principles as your father, or become a banker just like he is, or whatever.

    If you and your dad are walking down the street and a homeless man comes up asking for change, and you see him kick the guy away, you will probably lose respect for your father, just as any God who I see sending good people to hell will lose mine.

    He can make all the rules he wants, but his idea of perfection doesn’t have to agree with mine. Saying “this is dumb” doesn’t change anything about the rules, but it can keep my peace of mind.

  20. In this case Father and Son is the same as Programmer and Code. Your father may have had a hand in your birth, but God actually made you. Just like the programmer crafted the code. You adn your dad are both human, but God is God and you are human. There is a difference.

  21. Maybe you don?t respect your father, but that doesn?t mean he?s wrong. In fact, I don?t agree with your metaphor at all. The problem is that God offers everybody a choice of salvation for everybody: he doesn?t summarily kick them aside at all! Your analogy would be more appropriate if the father offered the beggar a job, the opportunity to stand on his own, but the beggar rejected it preferring to scrounge desperately for change. In that case, I don?t see that not giving the beggar change would be wrong at all, and in the same way God doesn?t just arbitrarily condemn people. He gives them every opportunity to find the true way.

    As for not becoming like your father ? no, you wouldn?t want to be like your human father because he?s fallible. But what about being like God, who is perfect and beyond sin? Naturally you?d want to be as much like that as possible.

  22. Oh no, now we’ve got Grace Versus Works in our mix. Making it less finite on the issue, there are Christians who do believe in the Works! Ohhh no! Ask a Catholic if God’s grace alone will get you out of Hell, and for maximum effect, do this during their confessions, ejaculations, or communions. Also recommended: interrupt the reading of the Last Rites of a dying Catholic and ask “Is this stuff really necessary?”

    Focusing on Roman Catholicism: There is a matter of progression due to one’s knowledge, growth, and correspondence with the Trinity, and this begets need for the order of pontiffs, the saints, and the Superfriends: the Apostles and the Virgin Mary. These are examples of people who have taken the Church of Peter and it’s faith and used it for the beneficence of mankind. (An important aside: do others within other faiths, who’ve commited incredible works in the name of their god, exist to be such examples to us, in understanding our own particular faith? Catholics say no way, but me? Oh yeah definitely. Eric’s example of such was the Muslims. I do know Mohammed was pretty awesome, although not a Son of God, an incredible prophet and forever (Yes, forever) influential in Middle Eastern society. An example of piety and devotion applicable to anyone seeking to further their own disciplines. Both Judiaism and Islam view Jesus as such: an incredibly gifted mystic who must be respected for this rare talent. Rattling of a few other choice ones real quick here: The Bible’s own Daniel (ack Nebuchadnezzar!), Jalaluddin Rumi, Thomas Aquinas, Lao Tse, the obligatory Siddhartha Guatama, and Spongebob Squarepants.)

    We’re any of these people trying to be as gods? Nope. Are all these Catholics saying they’re striving for perfection, to be an exact duplicate of Christ is the way to be with Him? They admit there’s only so close we can get, but so close is still pretty good.

    I want to end this with my personal ideal, that reconciles both sides best as possible: that having the grace of God makes people want to go out into the world and do works in His name, while some believe that they do these works in order to earn that grace, but the fact remains that neither should not hold idle minds or idle hearts (Does Christ want either of these, even in the Graced?), and whatever reason motivates us has to be good, and also eventually, that God’s beneficence is felt throughout both groups.

    Then who’s to say then that the Catholics are not to be saved, if we as Protestants are the same as them under it all? Jack Chick et al, but I’ll leave that subject for another time.

  23. To respond to Katie, it’s not different because he’s inherently perfect, if I disagree with the model of perfection. Why would I not want to be like him? Cause he’s an ass, and I don’t have to like him.

    And Ian, if the relationship is completely Programmer and Code, then the people who don’t believe in Jesus and go to hell are blameless, and don’t deserve it. If God created them to be infidels, well that’s another asshole thing on his record.

    But I don’t think you’d agree to that, so I don’t think Programmer and Code holds up at all.

    John’s reconciliation is more or less fine with me, that we should keep neither idle minds or hearts. Keep searching, and keep doing what’s right.

  24. That’s great. But who determines what “right” is? While there are some common threads running thru different religions, there are things, such as the Jihad, that aren’t agreed upon. There are also things, like the sin of extra-marrital sex, that Christianity says is wrong, but others disagree with. Ok, let’s keep doing what’s right, but according to who?

    And in reference to the works/grace debate: “14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your F6 works, and I will show you my faith by my F7 works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? F8 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” F9 And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” -James 2:14-26

    Works are important, they lead to justification, they are the evidence of the belief in the heart. But one cannot be saved by works alone. To think that is to think that we can make ourselves perfect by just trying hard enough. If that were the case, why don’t we see perfect people?

    We continue to go round and round, and I know no one is going to convince the others that they are right. The part that makes me sad is that we can’t all be right (though we could all be wrong), and when the end comes, and we see reality as it truly is, it will be to late for any to change. The consequences, whatever they may be, will be.

  25. Tell me: what?s right? WE believe in absolutes, but if you don?t, then that thief could legitimately claim that stealing your PS2 would have been perfectly moral.

    Works/Faith: The idea is that Christians are so full of Christ that, completely voluntarily, they want to do good works. The problem is that we?re human, the Church isn?t perfect, and everybody likes to sit on their lazy butts and watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force instead of, say, helping the poor or giving money to the needy. Good works aren?t a requirement for our salvation but are a result thereof. You show the world that you are a Christian by works, but the actual salvation part comes through faith.

    There?s too much history to get into for the Catholicism business. It goes back to how you interpret the Bible; they offer Biblical justification for their claims just as Protestants do theirs. Another interesting rift right now is the Episcopalian church struggling with the gay bishop business. The Bible says being gay is wrong, so should he be allowed to be a bishop? We wouldn?t let a murderer or a child-molester be an official in the church because that is blatantly wrong both Biblically and according to societal values, but being gay is getting ?in vogue? so now the Christian church is having to decide where it falls on that issue. The problem again is that the church isn?t just The Church (though that?s what Roman Catholicism considers itself); it?s a huge conglomeration of petty arguments and rifts caused by slight discrepancies in textual analysis. As with anything, I can only offer what I know Christianity says? but then, I?m as human as the next guy, and less educated in that than many, so I can hardly do the theological analysis required to say THIS is correct and THIS is not. Indeed, nobody can! We keep on believing what we believe, and that?s that.

  26. I don’t think saying other people are wrong is a very important part of Christianity. What matters is that you believe something and do your best to stick to it. Worrying about whether everyone else believes the same thing seems futile to me.

  27. I’m the other Ryan, and I live in Seattle, WA, so I don’t think we’ve ever met. But to answer your question, you worry about what other people believe when you believe what they believe is going to get them into trouble, either here on earth, or after we die. It’s not (or at least shouldn’t be) about *making* everyone believe the same thing as much as a genuine care for the souls of your fellow humans, and not wanting them to edure pain.

  28. Just wondering: what about the Great Commission? Go and make disciples of all people, right? As we?ve seen you can?t force anybody to believe anything, but as Ryan Number 1 suggests, the idea is that we want to save people (only of course a lot of the time people think we?re just being big pains and why don?t we just leave off? To which I answer, because who doesn?t like talking about metaphysics?)

  29. Ryan 1: My point exactly. A little bit of both is required in all of us.

    KF: I agree that Catholicism straight up taken with our Protestant perspectives doesn’t go down easy, and I only used it as a example showing mine and Ryan 1’s arguement. I do feel however that a gay individual who is able to love and be loved is a much greater servant of higher powers than a heterosexual who denies either of these. Again I favor Sophia (intangible) over Scripture (tangible), so our difference of opinion will always be.

    Ryan 2: Again, what Ryan 1 has mentioned before; our beliefs are always our own, and if we have that HOW and WHY that is all that really matters.

    Whew, post #31. Got Marriage? has truly become “Refined writing for the most distinguished readers.”

  30. Pardon me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that Sophia is ‘wisdom’. And yes, any loving Christian, gay or otherwise, is a better witness than an unloving one. The question is, should somebody blatantly living in sin (however loving they are) be allowed to be in a position of power in the church until that sin has been addressed? I don’t see how it’s different in any way from the Catholic priests being severely reprimanded for their *ahem* behavior.

  31. KF: Whoa whoa whoa, but of course you are right. To omit my position on your bishop example can only lead you to take the given general position and then extend that to me advocatiing a gay Episcopalian bishop. If the Episcopalians believe that homosexuality is a sin, and they are ready to put what they believe is sinner in a position of power and upstanding, then something is definitely wrong here. As I’ve said before, these pontiffs have purpose in being examples, and what kind of example is it to a religion where the example is a marred one? This is the part where I admit I don’t know what the Episcopalian position on homosexuality is; and IF they are okay with it then they can have their gay bishop and I’m all for it. Otherwise, WTF hole in wall.

    Sophia as ideal is an intangible, unperceivable wisdom that mankind carries today from the Tree of Knowledge. In consuming the fruit, humanity must endure the sorrows of death and mortality, but is given the opportunity to know God through his own means and attain a personal relationship with Him. Mankind is not only indebted to God by this great sin, but this sin gave us the route which is the very thing granting us this beautiful responsibility that we all undertake: to want to know what God is and why we are here. This is a wisdom beyond books and speeches and prophecies and such. It is a direct line between ourselves and the higher being. And yes, that’s right, no mortal ever attains such a perfect thing, but that doesn’t stop any of us from trying. So, as in the context I used before to oppose scripture (a misinterpretable attack I confess, but allow me to explain), is that any manmade route to gnosis will always fail, and only this ‘Sophia’ thing, this invisible highway, can succeed. That is to not refute the entirety of the Holy Book: the true words of God are of course a part of this highway, but the writings of Paul, the Revelation, even the Gospels when Jesus Himself is not quoted, always make me cast a pinch of doubt as to the true ‘purity’, if you will, of the claims being made. I’m not asserting we all throw half of our Bibles in the garbage, either, just because they MAY or MAY NOT be truth. This is definitely an issue of faith within the Word, and we all know everyone here has varying degrees of that, and that is fine. It is my personal nature of skepticism in mortal means that makes me yearn for higher validity on a basis of faith. That is what I meant in what I said I put a higher trust into Sophia. Yes, in something I can never have nor understand in this form, but I know it is there.

    [End note: Sophia as entity however, is the embodiment who dwells, among others, in Pleroma (the perfect space above reality) and first convinced Adam and Eve to consume the forbidden fruit, and begged her mother Sophia the Elder to send The Christ to earth and die for the empowerment of humanity. But this is all a part of Gnostic ‘mythos’, the entirety

  32. As you probably well know, Christians have for years debated the authenticity of various parts of the Bible; indeed, the Catholic Bible has a couple of additional books that the Protestant Bible doesn’t contain. I guess it comes down to how much you’re willing to believe, and since Christianity is all about faith….

    On the other hand, it’s a common “Christian-ism” to say that all the writing in the Bible, including non-Jesus-quote sections, are written by men inspired by God – He uses their fingers to hit the keys, but he’s dictating the letter. That’s why we include St. Paul’s letters, Revelation, etc.

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