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Are theocracies preserving cultural integrity or persecuting the minority? - Page 3

post #41 of 54
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Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Oh, just that the evangelical church I grew up in basically taught that Christianity, being the only true religion, was the only one that demanded followers truly "give themselves up". That all other religions were designed by Satan to trick people and so all appeal to some baser nature -- like in the case of Buddhism, that it is a "works" religion that appeals to man's pride because one can say one got to Nirvana on their own good works. Vs. Christianity which not only encourages good works but also demands man give up pride and humbly accept Jesus' sacrifice because one will never be worthy no matter how many good works one does. So Christianity was always the religion that demanded the most from it's true followers. I'm not saying that all churches teach this, but I think it is pretty common in the evangelical fundamentalist churches.

Needless to say, as a Buddhist now, I don't agree with that view at all. I find being a Buddhist much harder.
yeah sadly, I agree. I think you're right that is what is usually taught in most "fundamentalist evangelical churches". *sigh* I wish I could defend it, but I can't. I do not agree with it AT ALL!

which is why I think it so important to lookf or God on our own as well as corporately. If we are so busy trying to keep up with the right way to be a christian, we miss the point entirely. Christianity - or any relationship that pursues seeking God is a journey. and rarely are real journeys actually easy.

God has many tools to use to talk to us... but the best way to find Him, I believe, i through prayer and personal seeking every single day of our lives. all the rest is fluff... it may be fun and helpful but it's not "the" way to God.
post #42 of 54
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I DOn't know what you mean about c.s. lewis. he makes it clear that He beleives in one God... is there something more that you can fill me in on? if you're wanting to know what *I* believe about getting to God... well again. I could write a book. but in short i will say this - the common analogy of the "many paths/one path" leads to God thing is very confusing. for instance, if a person was born in the woods and his mother died off leaving him alone before he ever heard the word "God" or "Jesus" or any stories about them... would he not be "saved" from sin and separation from God? and would his experience make him any closer or farther from the "right path to God" than from a person in modern day America who attends a strict service every single Sunday and prays in earnest? it's two different paths, but one God (regardless of what we call him) and it's two people searching for God in total earnest. just like any other human, as we can find God in the things of God - nature is His biggest testimony. and there are personal experiences, interactions and relationships that teach us continually. NOT one of us is privileged to be in the know about God in total. it just isn't so. and any religion or person that claims that is seeing through very dim light in my opinion. I think there are many experiences and paths that lead us to God... but not many gods that lead to God.... if that makes sense.
Well, I actually think we are pretty close in our thoughts here. I'm afraid I wasn't very clear when I started the tangent, because I was talking about all the different Gods back in the old days and that monotheism brought about claims to exclusivity. As I tried to clarify my thoughts, I talked more about "multiple paths to God/the Divine" and that is what I really mean. In other words, the same thing you are talking about (I think) in the part I bolded. If a guy who has lived in a forest all his life and has no knowledge of Jesus can come to a true knowledge of God through nature, couldn't a Wiccan who worships the spirit in nature do the same? Or a Muslim through his/her religious practice?

This is what C.S. Lewis basically said in his last Narnia book, don't know if you've read the series? It tells the story of the last battle, where Aslan (Jesus)'s armies battle the armies of ??? - can't remember the name but obviously symbolizing Satan. In the end, one of the soldiers of the enemy army finds himself in heaven and falls down before Aslan saying, but I fought against you Lord! And Aslan tells him that although he thought he was fighting against Him, in reality his good heart and good works showed that he was always on Aslan's side. So he is admitted to Heaven. He didn't take the "right" path to God, he was never "saved", but he got there anyway.

Maybe you would say that people of other religions can come to God *in spite* of their religion, rather than *because* of their religion (like the soldier in the story). To me that is still believing in multiple paths to God. Because the bottom line is, they can get there.

So I understand now. Because if you believe that, the horrible urgency to proselytize that I described just isn't there. Which is a healthy thing for all concerned as far as I am concerned.

Oh, and although I was brought up fundamentalist, I did spend years in liberal congregations such as Quakers and Mennonite, so I've pretty much been on both ends of the Christian spectrum. Needless to say I "fit" much better on the liberal end of the spectrum but I don't have any bitterness towards my fundie past. The vast majority of people I knew in those churches were really good people.
post #43 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
This is what C.S. Lewis basically said in his last Narnia book, don't know if you've read the series? It tells the story of the last battle, where Aslan (Jesus)'s armies battle the armies of ??? - can't remember the name but obviously symbolizing Satan. In the end, one of the soldiers of the enemy army finds himself in heaven and falls down before Aslan saying, but I fought against you Lord! And Aslan tells him that although he thought he was fighting against Him, in reality his good heart and good works showed that he was always on Aslan's side. So he is admitted to Heaven. He didn't take the "right" path to God, he was never "saved", but he got there anyway.
I think you would have to be very careful with this passage from the Narnia books. Not that it doesn't represent Lewis' views but it could easily be misinterpreted on it's own. To get a clearer view of his ideas you really need to look at his non-fiction.

I think, as you point out, that Lewis is saying that God looks at what is in our hearts, in our hope and yearning for him. He also knows, better than we do, the limitations of time, place, and nature that we face. It is with all of this knowledge that Aslan judges the young man in the story.

However, Lewis makes it quite clear in his writings that he does not accept the "many paths/one God" theory. He agrees most religions have real truths to them, and are working from a real perception of the divine. That is to be expected, since we all learn about God in much the same way; by considering the nature of our own soul, from reasoning, and observing the natural world and other people. All of these things are the creations of God, and so reflect his nature. This is what would be called "natural religion" and is what the ancient Greeks, Romans, and many other people had.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims, however, have something which has a different character though. They believe that God revealed himself to us directly, and that is quite different than revelation through creating. Christians in particular believe that God became incarnate and so we can really see, touch, and have interaction directly with God. This is what, in Lewis' view, destroys the equality of natural religion for Christians. Christians believe they have a kind of truth that is much more than that of other religions, because God proclaimed it himself.

Now, Jews do tend to be agnostic about natural religion, but they also believe they have extra, special knowledge which God revealed to them. But they also believe that the Law given by God was not intended for everyone to follow. That being said, practices by pagans which contradict the revealed nature og God are seen as negative. Also, Christianity and Islam, which make, in their view, spurious claims about revelation, are also seen negativly. So they don't really go for the many paths/one God theory either.

I am not sure Buddhists really do accept it. From their view, all of it is illusion, so is equally untrue, if I can put it that way. In any case, we'll all be stuck in the illusion until we realize it's nature, which the tenets of Buddhism describe. So other religions might be part of an individuals movement to enlightenment, but he or she won't be enlightened until he realizes their illusory nature. To my mind that implies Buddhism has a kind of truth other religions lack.
post #44 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
You make some really good points, Bluegoat, but I don't think I understand your point here. We aren't talking about Bhutan having a choice between Christianity and Western values, we are talking about the choice between Christianity and Buddhism. Are you saying that their traditional values are more in line with Christianity than with Buddhism? Or that Christianity will be a better "shield" than Buddhism to resist Western materialistic values? Or none of the above?
I guess neither. All I meant, I think, was that the assumption that a change in religion would destroy their cultural values is wrong, though some might shift of change.

In particular, I was thinking the values of Christianity are really not opposed to the traditional values of the people of Bhutan. Although many nations perceive Christianity as always being tied to materialism, oppression, and a hedonistic lifestyle, I think that is a misunderstanding. I don't think Christianity supports those things.

I am starting to think I might actually be wrong about this though.

What I suppose may be behind it is they perceive Christianity as supporting secularism and individualism. And I think that may be true. Even the Christians on this thread have made it clear they think religion must be assented to by the individual, and that each person has the right or power to decide our own beliefs.It does seem to be opposed to ideas, present in many traditional cultures, which emphasize authority, the group, obedience to family, clan, church and government. The individual is seen as having less importance, and there is more of a collective feel to society. People are defined more by their relationships and connections with others.

Now, it could be argued that Christianity gives rise to secularism and individualism, which give rise to materialism and hedonism.

Food for thought.
post #45 of 54
Bluegoat-

you bring up a lot of good points and thoughts... lots to think about it.

you touched on something i've been thinking a lot about.

it seems people think either a religion is a corporate religion or an individual religion. as in you find God through corporate worship and obedience or you find God through some personal journey on your own. (nature, daily experiences, personal revelation...)

but what I'm been trying to express in my posts about Christianity is that is should be both. one can't be without the other. the the latter could be with out the former if it HAD to be (such as if you're were perhaps stranded on an island alone with no other Christians?)

There is God's calling on our hearts which is individual... and there is God's commands to adhere to fellowship with other believers and share the gospel with people who are around you. But see... something so important is that the personal JOURNEY is first and foremost and should NEVER end. it happens all day long every single day and never ends. the corporate devotion/worship stems from it. or rather, it should. But that also doesn't mean the corporate aspect doesn't need to exist either.

But as I wish my children to obey from the heart - I want them to hear my words from the heart AND act on the rules. it's most important to me their heart's intent... but from that I should see their obedience to the rules. One is the fruit of the other. HOWEVER in so many homes (and churches) it is polar opposite. one obeys the church rules, and fellowships regularly and "witnesses" to the "unsaved masses" but neglects (or perhaps doesn't even recognize) his own daily personal journey.
post #46 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
I think you would have to be very careful with this passage from the Narnia books. Not that it doesn't represent Lewis' views but it could easily be misinterpreted on it's own. To get a clearer view of his ideas you really need to look at his non-fiction.

I think, as you point out, that Lewis is saying that God looks at what is in our hearts, in our hope and yearning for him. He also knows, better than we do, the limitations of time, place, and nature that we face. It is with all of this knowledge that Aslan judges the young man in the story.

However, Lewis makes it quite clear in his writings that he does not accept the "many paths/one God" theory. He agrees most religions have real truths to them, and are working from a real perception of the divine. That is to be expected, since we all learn about God in much the same way; by considering the nature of our own soul, from reasoning, and observing the natural world and other people. All of these things are the creations of God, and so reflect his nature. This is what would be called "natural religion" and is what the ancient Greeks, Romans, and many other people had.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims, however, have something which has a different character though. They believe that God revealed himself to us directly, and that is quite different than revelation through creating. Christians in particular believe that God became incarnate and so we can really see, touch, and have interaction directly with God. This is what, in Lewis' view, destroys the equality of natural religion for Christians. Christians believe they have a kind of truth that is much more than that of other religions, because God proclaimed it himself.

Now, Jews do tend to be agnostic about natural religion, but they also believe they have extra, special knowledge which God revealed to them. But they also believe that the Law given by God was not intended for everyone to follow. That being said, practices by pagans which contradict the revealed nature og God are seen as negative. Also, Christianity and Islam, which make, in their view, spurious claims about revelation, are also seen negativly. So they don't really go for the many paths/one God theory either.

I am not sure Buddhists really do accept it. From their view, all of it is illusion, so is equally untrue, if I can put it that way. In any case, we'll all be stuck in the illusion until we realize it's nature, which the tenets of Buddhism describe. So other religions might be part of an individuals movement to enlightenment, but he or she won't be enlightened until he realizes their illusory nature. To my mind that implies Buddhism has a kind of truth other religions lack.
Sure, I've read C.S. Lewis' non-fiction too, I understand what you are saying. I think we essentially agree but are getting stuck on semantics, different ideas of what "many paths" and "one path" means. I've said several times that *to me* the multiple paths concept does not mean that all religions are equal. Even Buddhism believes, as you point out, that it is superior in that it is usually (not always) the final step before enlightenment. But it also says that other religions are valid because they teach morality and moral living is the first step on the path to enlightenment. In other words, the other religions are doing good, not harm. C.S. Lewis was one of Christianity's great apologists so naturally he considered Christianity superior to other religions, but he also indicated that people of other religions could make it to God. I don't know if he would say other religions are doing good, not harm, but at least he did leave the door open to people of other religions. This is a stark contrast to what *to me* is the one path concept, which is that other religions are doing harm, not good (because they are inferior substitutes distracting people from the real Truth) and that people of other religions will never make it to heaven.

Many paths, to me, means that some paths may be rocky with lots of brush, others may be barely a foottrail, and others may be paved with gold and have lots of lemonade stands along the way , but they all lead to the Divine, or at least get close enough that God then meets the traveller partway. Buddhism would probably say that other paths are country roads whereas the Dharma is a super highway, and C.S. Lewis might only be willing to say that other paths are winding donkey trails compared to the superhighway of Christianity, but it is still many paths to the same destination. One can believe that your religious tradition is the best/highest/clearest/most definitive revelation of God, but as long as there is room in your belief system for non-believers (that doesn't involve them languishing in eternal torment) then the chances for peaceful co-existence goes up dramatically. Because you are free to let people to work out their own salvation, like HP said, without feeling like they will go to hell if you don't spread the Word.

Does that make sense?

As I said, I know I muddled it because in the beginning I talked about the multiple Gods in the old days. But even back then, there was a current of thought that all the Gods were but different aspects of one Divine Reality. You see that when one culture would identify a foreign God as being the equivalent to one of their local Gods. Now I know that is another can of worms and I want to make it clear that I am not talking about something as simplistic as Yahweh = Allah = Nirvana = Brahma. 'Cause obviously all the stories contradict each other. Rather I am saying that all of these names are pointing to certain aspects of the Divine Reality. They all "see through a mirror darkly". Now a person might believe that the Yahweh stories see through the mirror more clearly than the others, which is fine. But at the same time, it is possible to believe that a person who believes in the Allah stories could also grasp certain parts correctly, just not as fully. Like maybe the Yahweh stories describe 3/4 of God correctly while the Allah stories only get the big toe right (and of course the person who believes in Allah is thinking that the Yahweh stories only get the big toe right LOL). To me, it's all good as long as it is recognized that all the stories participate in something valid, even if your own story is the best.

ETA: I just wanted to add that while your characterization of Buddhism is accurate, the whole "life is illusion" thing is often misunderstood to mean that nothing is real, and that is not what Buddhism teaches. But that is REALLY off topic, so I won't say any more.
post #47 of 54
Quote:
What I suppose may be behind it is they perceive Christianity as supporting secularism and individualism. And I think that may be true. Even the Christians on this thread have made it clear they think religion must be assented to by the individual, and that each person has the right or power to decide our own beliefs.It does seem to be opposed to ideas, present in many traditional cultures, which emphasize authority, the group, obedience to family, clan, church and government. The individual is seen as having less importance, and there is more of a collective feel to society. People are defined more by their relationships and connections with others.

Now, it could be argued that Christianity gives rise to secularism and individualism, which give rise to materialism and hedonism.
That is a very good point! The question is, did Western individualism spring from Christianity or did it spring more from cultural sources (like the Enlightenment) and then get grafted onto Christianity?

Traditionally, the Catholic church doesn't have the emphasis on individual choice that Protestantism has, does it? I'm thinking of things like infant baptism and submission to church authority, which don't exist in Protestantism.
post #48 of 54
Quote:
That is a very good point! The question is, did Western individualism spring from Christianity or did it spring more from cultural sources (like the Enlightenment) and then get grafted onto Christianity?
I would say the latter.

IMO Christianity "fits" much better with traditional cultures in terms of behavior, morals, and practices found in the Bible. It can be practiced in any culture but it differs less radically from "traditional" cultures than from the materialistic, individualistic Western culture.

Although my dh is very, very evangelical (as in, he will tell completely random strangers about Jesus ) he is not American and is very annoyed with the way Westerners have decided that their culture goes hand in hand with Christianity. IOW, it bothers him that the first thing some people do after converting to Christianity in Muslim countries is for the women to start running around in tight Westen clothes and uncovering their heads. He experienced real persecution for his faith, but when people deliberately offend their local culture where the Bible does not require them to, claiming it's because of Christianity, he really doesn't have much sympathy if they're harassed for it.
Same with FGM. It is a cultural practice that does need to change IMO. But those who practice it would be less resistant to change if the "education" against it didn't come from people who's culture they view as wildly sexually loose and immoral. FGM is practiced in large part for "cleanliness" and sexual purity. And those concepts are an important part of the culture. So traditionalists correlate "uncircumcised women" with American sexual values, and therefore continue FGM, even within the evangelical Christian churches, because they don't want their daughters to be "loose like Americans". Biblical Christianity would keep people from mutilating girls but not lead to sexual looseness--rejecting a particular cultural practice but not rejecting the cultural values behind that practice.
post #49 of 54
Maggie,

you made a lot of good points!

(I was hoping you'd join the thread soon, I always like what you have to say)

it depresses me what impressions we christians have given of ourselves to other people. like I said, the few loud, proud and obnoxious always seem to take the front seat. nobody sees the rest - the real passion of the religion. the part that keeps it going...
post #50 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
That is a very good point! The question is, did Western individualism spring from Christianity or did it spring more from cultural sources (like the Enlightenment) and then get grafted onto Christianity?

Traditionally, the Catholic church doesn't have the emphasis on individual choice that Protestantism has, does it? I'm thinking of things like infant baptism and submission to church authority, which don't exist in Protestantism.
I thing that Western individualism does spring from Christianity, though many of the ways it asserts itself are unchristian.

In Christianity the emphasis shifted, historically, from an external to an internal focus. Now, that internal stuff was still there is pre-Christian Judaism and paganism, but there is defiantly a shift of emphasis, so the Law, for example, became something to be applied internally as much as, or more tan externally. So when Jesus tells us that lusting after someone in our hears is adultery, it is not just what we are doing, but what we are thinking.

I'm going to give an example because I am not sure I'm being very clear:An example of how this has played out might be seen in cappuccinosmom's story about changing to Western clothing. Suppose Christianity is brought to two new lands. In one women traditionally cover most of their bodies and their hair. In another the people wear little or no clothing. How to interpret what Paul said about women covering their hair in these places?

Now, how Christians have answered this has not always been the same, but it hasn't been seen as a straightforward question, "just follow the law Paul gives us." In many cases the answer has been that Paul was talking about modestly, and people should be modest within their culture. So naked ladies in the jungle do not necessarily need to wear hats to church. Nor should the covered ladies necessarily uncover more than they are if that would be culturally immodest. Modestly is about expectations, about intent, not about hair, per se.

But as soon as we recognize that a person's religious life has a very personal element, and that God has given them free will and we must try to respect that, we will begin to see people that take that freedom in ways we, and perhaps God, don't approve of.

I think your point about the Roman Catholics is a good one and also applies to the Orthodox - there is less a sense of individualism. But people are still free to reject the Church, and nowadays both those churches do support religious freedom. So in a primarily catholic society you might find less individualism? I wonder if that is actually the case, I will have to look in my atlas and see what I come up with!
post #51 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by HennyPenny View Post
it depresses me what impressions we christians have given of ourselves to other people. like I said, the few loud, proud and obnoxious always seem to take the front seat. nobody sees the rest - the real passion of the religion. the part that keeps it going...
I wonder if by saying this you are referring to "pushy" evangelicals? The ones who are smuggling Bibles and knocking on people's doors to share the Word? If so, I don't think it is accurate to set up an "us" and "them" paradigm where "they" are wrong and "we" have the true interpretation of the Word. I certainly prefer your interpretation of the Bible, but I would disagree that the more fundamentalist interpretation is wrong. Christianity is an evangelical religion, it has been from the day Jesus himself instructed His disciples to go to all nations. There are also multiple verses talking about how Jesus is the only Way, and that God sent Him so that people "may not perish but know everlasting life". Really, there is a lot of Biblical support for the evangelical doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. Believe me, I studied it a lot back when I was a Christian, trying to find a loophole, and I couldn't find one! Because of this, there are a lot of people who out of compassion (not arrogance or pride) feel the need to evangelize. Personally I disagree with them, but I would not assume their motives, and I would assert they they are very much Christian, not some sort of perversion of Christianity. They are passionate about their beliefs, and their beliefs are firmly based on the scriptures.

I used to stand on street corners with others from my church and play the guitar and sing hymns. I used to hand out tracts. I'm sure I pissed off some people when I did those things. But I can assure you that I was never doing it out of arrogance. I actually didn't even like doing it, but I felt that if God used me to save one person from eternal torment, it was worth it.

Forgive me if I misunderstood you, however!
post #52 of 54
Quote:
In Christianity the emphasis shifted, historically, from an external to an internal focus. Now, that internal stuff was still there is pre-Christian Judaism and paganism, but there is defiantly a shift of emphasis, so the Law, for example, became something to be applied internally as much as, or more tan externally. So when Jesus tells us that lusting after someone in our hears is adultery, it is not just what we are doing, but what we are thinking.
But the shift you say happened with Christianity actually happened 500 years earlier with Buddhism. It is so introspective and individualistic there isn't even an external God involved. Yet it spread all over Asia without displacing the local customs or encouraging a culture of individualism in the way Christianity does. Maybe Christianity was the first religion to make the shift in the West, I don't know, but the shift had already been made in the East, and it didn't play out in the same way. Which makes me think that Western individualism may have sprung more from cultural rather than religious roots.

I don't think that Catholic communities in the West are going to be less individualistic than Protestant communities, that's not what I meant. After all, they are still Western, and so participate in the Western culture of individualism. What I was thinking when I wrote that is that Catholicism is the older branch of the Church and so when its traditions were formed there was apparently more of a culture of community and less of individual choice. Protestantism arose in large part as a rebellion against those values - Church authority, barriers between the individual and God, etc, which is why they dumped traditions like confession and infant baptism. So it seems a shift happened sometime after the Catholic church was established and before the Reformation.

Mind you, I'm not saying religion didn't play any role at all, but maybe just not the decisive one.

Fascinating topic, I'd love to hear what you think!
post #53 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I wonder if by saying this you are referring to "pushy" evangelicals? The ones who are smuggling Bibles and knocking on people's doors to share the Word? If so, I don't think it is accurate to set up an "us" and "them" paradigm where "they" are wrong and "we" have the true interpretation of the Word. I certainly prefer your interpretation of the Bible, but I would disagree that the more fundamentalist interpretation is wrong. Christianity is an evangelical religion, it has been from the day Jesus himself instructed His disciples to go to all nations. There are also multiple verses talking about how Jesus is the only Way, and that God sent Him so that people "may not perish but know everlasting life". Really, there is a lot of Biblical support for the evangelical doctrine of hell and eternal punishment. Believe me, I studied it a lot back when I was a Christian, trying to find a loophole, and I couldn't find one! Because of this, there are a lot of people who out of compassion (not arrogance or pride) feel the need to evangelize. Personally I disagree with them, but I would not assume their motives, and I would assert they they are very much Christian, not some sort of perversion of Christianity. They are passionate about their beliefs, and their beliefs are firmly based on the scriptures.

I used to stand on street corners with others from my church and play the guitar and sing hymns. I used to hand out tracts. I'm sure I pissed off some people when I did those things. But I can assure you that I was never doing it out of arrogance. I actually didn't even like doing it, but I felt that if God used me to save one person from eternal torment, it was worth it.

Forgive me if I misunderstood you, however!
hmm maybe there is confusion in how I've stated myself....No I don't have problem evangelicalism at all. I think it's a big part of Christianity! I have problem with uneducated people, and newbies preaching about things they don't yet understand. they are generally very loud and proud with very little substance behind it... sets up things to be quite problematic.

I think in the modern day church pushes people out to evangelize before they really get set on their feet within Christianity. I mean really, if I joined another religion (lets say I decided to become muslim for instance) I can't imagine that it would be a good idea for me to start preaching and trying to convert others until I spent PLENTY of time getting to know about the religion and practicing in myself for a good while so I could better understand it on a spiritual and experiential level. I mean really it's like this with anything - I am a veyr health conscious person. I spent a great deal of time reading and studying about the body and how it works and how foods and supplements are assimilated into the body. BUT when I first started getting into a "healthy diet" - I had much interest and passion and very little knowledge and experience. it would have been very foolish of me to start preaching to everyone around me on how to eat! infact I could have been very wrong and advised someone on something that could be very dangerous to them.

when someone goes out proselytizing too soon it often becomes them trying to "sell" the religion for some kinda points. no religion should be sold... it should be shared generously. but in other to share it, one must have some experience with it first. (I'm not putting a time long on how much b/c that would be silly - but I think it would depend on situation to situation and person to person...)

In most cases the first "proselytizing" should be by example and quiet word. keeping opinions to ourselves and showing our changes through our daily actions. it just seems... well... common sense if nothing else. if this was done in this away under normal circumstances, I think Christianity would have a much better standing with other people. and I also think Christianity would have a much better standing with it's own people.


I'm not exactly sure what you meant about the "them vs. us" part.... maybe you could better explain?
post #54 of 54
I guess I misunderstood you. You've talked several times on this thread about being very sad how some people give Christianity a bad name, and most of the thread is about evangelism, so I thought that is who you were talking about.

I'm not sure who the "uneducated, newbie" people you mention are though. I doubt the image problems Christianity has are caused primarily by overenthusiastic new converts; rather more by people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Debbie Pearl who are neither uneducated nor newbies. I imagine those Westernizing missionaries also had to go through lots of training, even seminary before being sent overseas; they were not newbies either. It's not that they don't know God or the Bible, but rather that they have come to very different conclusions than you have.

That's what I meant by the us vs. them comment. In any religion, it is tempting to say about people with whom you strongly disagree "well, they aren't REALLY Christians, they are not following the Bible (or Koran, or whatever)". But if the scriptures actually DO support (if interpreted differently) their actions, as the Bible does in the case of evangelical fundamentalists, then in fact they are following the Bible, just a different interpretation of it. So it is not accurate to try to place those people outside your religious tradition (us vs.them). Like it or not, they are your brethren.

I guess I wasn't sure if your approbation was directed at evangelical fundamentalism in general (since they are usually the ones being criticized as being pushy, "scaring" people into salvation, etc.) or just certain people in that group that get really nasty about it. Like that horrible preacher who demonstrates against homosexuality at funerals .
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