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Wrestling with the "exclusivity" of Christianity... please help! - Page 6

post #101 of 279
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Originally Posted by hopefulfaith View Post

We're all walking up the same mountain. Just different paths.

I'm glad we can wave to each other and support each other up, though, no matter which trail we're on.
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post #102 of 279
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Originally Posted by ILoveSweetpea View Post
From what I can understand reading the bible and from what I can understand by what my pastor says, Christians believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. DH and I struggle with the notion a great deal. Our church is fairly conservative, and when we have spoken to our Elders there they have affirmed that the only way to God/Heaven/Salvation is through Jesus. All others need to be saved.

DH and I have friends of other faiths. Maybe we aren't being good Christians, but we've never attempted to convert them. We don't believe they are going to hell... we just can't believe that. I don't understand how someone who seeks God and lives a moral life could be condemned to hell just because he or she is not Christian.

Our elders have told us that such thinking is just the result of modern liberalism. They tell us (and we do see) that the bible is pretty clear on this issue.

How can we accept this? Do we have to accept this? This is such a troubling issue to us. Are there any alternative ways to interpret the scriptures? How do other Christians reconcile this? Do other Christians really believe that (for example) Gandhi is in hell right now? That just seems ... unthinkable!!

Please help... anyone! Thanks!
I had a hard time accepting it when i became a christian, but reading and researching on my own has made me believe it. The ONLY way to heaven is thru accepting Jesus as your saviour.
post #103 of 279
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Originally Posted by indie View Post
I'm the one who posted the C.S. Lewis quote. I can't keep up with this thread so sorry for not replying sooner.

I can see how some Jews might find this offensive. My question is if you were to die and go through a similar scenario as the character in the quote; if you found out that Jesus was actually G-d and was accepting your service would you still be offended? Or are you offended because you believe its not true and could therefore never happen to you? I would like to think that if I died and found out that Jesus was a hoax or that I had made some other big mistake about my faith that whatever higher power was true would be accepting of what I had offered in good faith.
If I were to die and G-d were like "HEY! Remember when you were Catholic..............shoulda stayed that way!" Then of course I'd accept it. I'd hope at that point, he wouldn't hold what I honestly believed he'd led me to (Judaism, and a disbelief of Jesus as a messiah) against me.

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Originally Posted by indie View Post
I just know what I believe has been revealed to me and try to live my life accordingly.
Ditto.
post #104 of 279
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I don't buy into the idea that truth is subjective.
I agree. Which is one of the reasons why I do not believe that only Christians get to Heaven.

Mathmatics can be understood by anyone with enough cognitive ability. It can be studied independently and replicated, regardless of one's faith or lack thereof.

The same cannot be said of religion; even a passing glance at human history confirms that.
post #105 of 279
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I had a hard time accepting it when i became a christian, but reading and researching on my own has made me believe it. The ONLY way to heaven is thru accepting Jesus as your saviour.
Did you read the earliest text available in Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew? Did you study the Samhita?

I ask because typically when I ask Christians who tell me they did their own reading and research to clarify what I find is that they only deeply studied Christianity and even with that the oldest language they know is English.

When we want to prove something, we find the proof and that's fine. But it's different than real research. I wouldn't care at all except for organized religion's track record with those who do not share their belief system. Factoring that in, I do find it important to remind people that perhaps the English bible they have in their hand is not exactly what the divine said.
post #106 of 279
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Did you read the earliest text available in Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew? Did you study the Samhita?

I ask because typically when I ask Christians who tell me they did their own reading and research to clarify what I find is that they only deeply studied Christianity and even with that the oldest language they know is English.
You see, tho, and this is something that will be unable to be varified, I accept that, we have the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit IS God given to us upon recieving Jesus Christ as our Savior. The Holy Spirit is the one who instructs us. I understand what kay4 is saying. Im of the same opinion as her. And I, too, have done my own study on the subject and have come to the same conclusions. The assertion that *I* have studied only Chrisitanity is false, bc I havent. I dont follow doctrine, actually I wrestle with it alot of the time, pray about it, and GOD, believe it or not, gives us the answers via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, much in the same way he inspired the Word of God in the first place, as well as having preserved it all these years. Others may have a hard time understanding or even accepting this 'method', the way christians use this method to find Truth, but I no longer wrestle with it. Its part of my joy in discovering God as He reveals Himself to us.


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I wouldn't care at all except for organized religion's track record with those who do not share their belief system. Factoring that in, I do find it important to remind people that perhaps the English bible they have in their hand is not exactly what the divine said.
I sympathise wholeheartedly with the first sentence here. Organised religion is very different from actually humbly serving and knowing Jesus Christ as God and Savior. I just want to clarify that. It upsets me too that 'organised religion' has usurped and maligned the Truth. My understanding is that man has used organised religion (any and all of them) to their own gain.
post #107 of 279
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The Holy Spirit is the one who instructs us.
It's not that we have a hard time understanding or accepting this, it's that there are people who have prayed the same prayers you have with the same sincerity and open heart and have gotten a different answer than you. As another poster asked, why wouldn't God give the same answer to everyone? Your answer was simply to assert that God does give the same answer, but that is a subjective opinion that quite frankly is not supported by the facts. To maintain your belief you have to believe that either a) the millions of people who have prayed and received a different answer must have some failing that resulted in their not being able to hear the correct answer or b) that God purposefully gave them the wrong answer i.e. left them to damnation because all humans deserve it anyway.

Or you can just say, well, it is a mystery, but to me it is a cop-out to state a belief that leads to certain clear corollaries but then deny the corollaries.
post #108 of 279
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To maintain your belief you have to believe that either a) the millions of people who have prayed and received a different answer must have some failing that resulted in their not being able to hear the correct answer or b) that God purposefully gave them the wrong answer i.e. left them to damnation because all humans deserve it anyway.
Thao, its not for me or anyone else to judge the sincerity of ones' heart when they ask these questions. I think that lies in the hands of God. He judges the heart. I dont assert either of those things. I believe God does give everyone the same answer tho. But that he gives it in different ways and is ALWAYS seeking to get into a relationship with every single individual he ever created. He tells them the same thing. That Jesus Christ is Lord, that we are indeed all sinners, that Jesus died in our place on the cross, that he rose from the dead and continues to seek a relationship with us. He tells everyone in different ways, and Im convinced that He goes to enormous lengths to do so, either via the quiet wispering of the Holy Spirit, or by sending someone else to tell them. One takes a chance or rejects it, refuses to accept it. I wish I could explain it better, but I cant. I wish these posts of mine did come across with the heartfelt sincerity that I intend, bc I honestly dont mean to cause offense. I do believe that people choose to accept or reject it, perhaps based on all kinds of things, so called evidence and such. I say 'so-called' bc I dont believe its evidence at all. Thats my personal opinion.
post #109 of 279
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I do believe that people choose to accept or reject it, perhaps based on all kinds of things, so called evidence and such.
So it sounds like you believe in a) the millions of people who have prayed and received a different answer must have some failing that resulted in their not being able to hear the correct answer. You clearly are rejecting what several of us have told you i.e. that it was none other than "that still, small voice" that told us that Jesus was NOT the only way.

Which is fine, I don't have a problem with that. But in that case it is disingenuous to say things like it's not up to you to judge our sincerity. Your stated belief inherently judges our sincerity.

ETA: I'm sure you are a very sweet person who never intends to offend, and I hope my post doesn't make you feel sad or defensive. I just want to challenge you to clearly recognize the ramifications of your beliefs. You say you don't assert either a) or b), but unless you can come up with another option, it has to be one or the other.
post #110 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
To maintain your belief you have to believe that either a) the millions of people who have prayed and received a different answer must have some failing that resulted in their not being able to hear the correct answer or b) that God purposefully gave them the wrong answer i.e. left them to damnation because all humans deserve it anyway.
I am not sure those are the only two options.

As for a, I think the most we could generalize is there is some reason not everyone receives the right answer. Which isn't saying much.

And for b, I'm not sure how we can assume that any of those people are damned?
post #111 of 279
Bluegoat, my comments are specifically directed towards the version of Christianity that believes in eternal damnation in Hell for those who do not accept Jesus as savior. Genifer has professed belief in this version. I know that you have quite different beliefs.

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As for a, I think the most we could generalize is there is some reason not everyone receives the right answer. Which isn't saying much.
Whatever the reason, it must either on the part of the person doing the praying (which I think we can classify as an undesirable thing, because clearly it would be better for them to get the correct answer) or on the part of the Person giving the answer (i.e. God has a reason for giving the wrong answer which will result in eternal damnation for the prayer). Can you think of any other option?

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And for b, I'm not sure how we can assume that any of those people are damned?
The belief in Hell for the unsaved is what leads to this assumption. I know that you don't necessarily hold that belief, but Genifer does.
post #112 of 279
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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Thao, its not for me or anyone else to judge the sincerity of ones' heart when they ask these questions. I think that lies in the hands of God. He judges the heart. I dont assert either of those things. I believe God does give everyone the same answer tho. But that he gives it in different ways and is ALWAYS seeking to get into a relationship with every single individual he ever created. He tells them the same thing. That Jesus Christ is Lord, that we are indeed all sinners, that Jesus died in our place on the cross, that he rose from the dead and continues to seek a relationship with us. He tells everyone in different ways, and Im convinced that He goes to enormous lengths to do so, either via the quiet wispering of the Holy Spirit, or by sending someone else to tell them. One takes a chance or rejects it, refuses to accept it. I wish I could explain it better, but I cant. I wish these posts of mine did come across with the heartfelt sincerity that I intend, bc I honestly dont mean to cause offense. I do believe that people choose to accept or reject it, perhaps based on all kinds of things, so called evidence and such. I say 'so-called' bc I dont believe its evidence at all. Thats my personal opinion.
See, and that's what's hard for me to believe. I WANTED to stay a Christian. I desperately wanted to stay a Catholic. I love the religion, the ritual, the history, and my ENTIRE family is still Catholic. What, then, could possibly have possessed me to turn from all of that? G-d. He told me at an early age that I wasn't Christian any more, and I fought desperately against it. I didn't want to go against something so beautiful and so pervasive in my family. Me becoming Jewish meant that my own parents refused to come to my son's bris - one of the most important things in his life. They still refuse to talk about my job at the synagogue, and tell people I'm unemployed. Only with the strength of G-d could I have gotten through all of this, and I only would have done this if I KNEW that this was what He wanted for me.

So, according to your above-stated belief, either I (willfully) heard wrong or G-d wants me to be damned to hell. That's just really tough for me to swallow.
post #113 of 279
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Originally Posted by Thao View Post

Whatever the reason, it must either on the part of the person doing the praying (which I think we can classify as an undesirable thing, because clearly it would be better for them to get the correct answer) or on the part of the Person giving the answer (i.e. God has a reason for giving the wrong answer which will result in eternal damnation for the prayer). Can you think of any other option?
I guess the only other option would be a third party.

I think that sometimes it is something to do with the person doing the asking - we aren't always as open to answers as we'd like to think we are.

Also, it seems that God does not always feel it is necessary to give out all the information, for whatever reason. In some cases he has given special revelations, for example. But other peoples have not had access to these and have only natural religion. Why? I suppose it must serve his purpose in some way, so I am not going to contradict that.

And related to this - there is no question in my mind that we do not, any of us, see the divine clearly. We are confused by our limitations - by our limited nature: time, space, our mental limitations, the experiences we have had that affect what we understand, what we have been taught, our emotions, and so on. We aren't even like angels or unfallen humans, who can see God perfectly in so far as it is in our nature to be able to. Things are harder for us.

Why? Well, I think there are two reasons I can think of. One is that part of being creatures in space and time means that we cannot perceive things wholly at once, like angels can. We can even look at individual things and see them just as themselves, not in relation to God. So we can misunderstand these discrete things, draw incorrect conclusions about them. On the other hand, it means we are capable of a special kind of love that angels are not - we can love a thing, like chocolate cake, just for itself, without reference to God. We can see and appreciate creation in a totally unique way.

And what the story of the Fall tells us is also part of this. Somehow through choice, we have affected ourselves in a way that things become obscure to us when they should be clear. Our bodies, our pride, get in the way of our understanding, sometimes even when it is not what we want.

Then there is the third party possibility. We can be damaged by others in such a way that we cannot see or hear God properly. Or maybe even the possibility of demonic interference, a Screwtape whispering in your ear kind of scenario. I suppose God would allow this because he allows the consequences of sin to play out in the world.
post #114 of 279
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I think that sometimes it is something to do with the person doing the asking - we aren't always as open to answers as we'd like to think we are.
Right, this fits squarely into a) not hearing the correct answer due to a failure of the listener. But surely you understand why it is really offensive to someone like smeisnotapirate. After the struggles she's been through, to say she just wasn't open enough???? Yikes, I just can't go there.

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Then there is the third party possibility. We can be damaged by others in such a way that we cannot see or hear God properly. Or maybe even the possibility of demonic interference, a Screwtape whispering in your ear kind of scenario. I suppose God would allow this because he allows the consequences of sin to play out in the world.
Actually I thought of this, but in essence it still comes back to a) or b), either a failure on the part of the person doing the praying or unwillingness on the part of the Person giving the answer. If a person isn't able to properly discern a demon's voice from God's voice, it is ultimately a failing of the person, not the demon. Even being damaged by others to the point we cannot hear God properly -- certainly the person made choices along the way that contributed to them to becoming so hardened they can no longer hear God. So the third party is an influence, but ultimately it comes down to a choice, a failing, on the part of the person praying. To say anything else would be to deny free will.

As for b), in any of those situations God could certainly make Himself known. I often hear testimonies from people who talk about how God just wouldn't let them go, how God just kept trying and trying until He reached them. Why wouldn't God try that hard with those who are emotionally damaged or being tempted by demons? Maybe He doesn't want to for some reason.

So we come back to either a), which inherently implies that anyone who is not a Christian is such because of a personal failing, or b) which has other pretty obvious problems.
post #115 of 279
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So, according to your above-stated belief, either I (willfully) heard wrong or G-d wants me to be damned to hell. That's just really tough for me to swallow.
Well said and a very important point.

Through out my life, I've met people who truly believe that if a person prays with an open heart, the truth will be revealed to them. Not any "truth" but the One Truth.

The problem is that these people do not agree on what the truth is, they practice different religions or none at all.

These are people who love me, who couldn't fool me about their belief system if they tried. They believe it as surely as they believe the Earth is round.

If there is a G-d, the G-d did not gift me with the ability to tell which of my friends are right and which are wrong. Perhaps G-d doesn't love me or wants me to go to Hell, I don't know. I just know that I cannot believe in a G-d who punishes people like me, people who have had believers of many faiths cross her path.
post #116 of 279
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Others may have a hard time understanding or even accepting this 'method', the way christians use this method to find Truth, but I no longer wrestle with it. Its part of my joy in discovering God as He reveals Himself to us.
I understand this.

What I do not understand is when people try to speak of the concept of truth in religion and science as if they were similar. One is based on evidence, the other on lack of evidence.

And to touch back on the idea that if people were truly open hearted or open minded, then the Christian God would reveal himself. The reason that touches on some fears of mine is that, historically, it's been a rather short step from "If you really wanted too, you could believe as I do" to "If you choose not to believe as I do, then I might as well send you to Hell now instead of later."

As a non-Christian and as the mother of a son who is gay, I may not believe in God, but I relate to the bumpersticker that says, "God, Please protect me from your followers."
post #117 of 279
I had initially deleted my post bc I didnt have time to make sure I was saying exactly what I wanted to say.

I will tell you what *I* am certain of.

Im certain that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
That humanity is plagued with sin, I believe the bible (even the Jewish scriptures, the Old Testament according to my 'tradition') when it says that every heart has gone astray. So I do believe the human heart is sinful.
I believe that we needed a redeemer, and that Jesus Christ fulfilled that role. That he was crucified, I believe this, that he died and rose from the dead. I believe all this is true. I believe he did this to bring us into a relationship with God the Father.

...what else... as far as hell is concerned I will not deny that in this thread I said this...

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He doesnt send people to hell simply bc they didnt get the same answer to their prayers, bc I believe he always gives the same answer, Jesus is the Only Way to the Father. He sends people to hell for refusing to put their faith in Him, for refusing to accept that they need Him and His forgiveness.
But having said that, I dont honestly know who will go into heaven or who will go to hell for eternity. I do believe hell is a real place. I think its a very senstive subject that I dont think a whole lot about. Who goes there, I dont know.

I do believe tho that Jesus is the way, the truth and the Life.

It is difficult to show emotion, how this sort of thing makes me feel. Ill say it breaks my heart tho. I dont say all this flippantly or with a confident air of arrogance. Confidence, but I dont want to come across as arrogant (altho I accept that the nature of the subject would cause one to assume I was arrogant holding these beliefs). Its also hard to formulate all of my beliefs, how I wrestle with all this myself. Its not as if my views on the subject of hell change with the time of day or anything but there is room for clarification that isnt always easy, for me anyway. Im new to actually talking about these things. I used to be rather confused about these things, and asked the same questions as yourselves.

Im not sure what else to say.
post #118 of 279
Genifer, I appreciate your honesty and your struggle. FWIW, I don't think you are arrogant . I really understand, because I have been in exactly the same place.

At the risk of being tedious, I'd like to re-emphasize that I don't bring this up as a way of questioning your faith or encouraging you to in any way water it down. Your faith is a beautiful thing. I do however challenge you to be honest with yourself about the ramifications of your beliefs. I see a lot of people who hold certain beliefs without really thinking them through, then when they are confronted with the unpleasant ramifications of the belief they say, well, I don't believe THAT. Um, yes, you do believe that. If you can live with it, great. If you can't, then you need to question the belief.

As has been mentioned on this thread, there are many ways to interpret the phrase "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father -except by me". It doesn't actually require you to believe that all non-Christians go to hell.

I'd also encourage you to not buy into the line of thought that people who don't accept the literalist interpretation of the Bible just "have a hard time understanding" or aren't open enough, or courageous enough, or devoted enough to handle it. I know people don't usually come out and say that explicitly, but it is the undercurrent of much of the teaching I used to hear about this issue. The implication was that if you didn't accept their interpretation, you were a lukewarm Christian. That is, quite frankly, a lie. Many people who hold different beliefs DO understand, and are open, courageous and devoted. There are other reasons why they believe differently.
post #119 of 279
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I do however challenge you to be honest with yourself about the ramifications of your beliefs.
Thao, as far as Im concerned, Ive been thru all that, and have already 'suffered the consequences' of believing what I believe. Ill not 'bore' you with the details bc its nice to have a life outside of the internet, yk, a private life. But my faith is something I do NOT take lightly. I understand there are all kinds of reasons why people dont believe as I do, and quite frankly, Im the kind of live and let live sort of person. I do believe all that Ive stated here with all my heart. If you didnt know this thread was started in the spirituality section, posted by a christian and I responded as a christian with what I believe. I have never gone into threads here where other faiths are discussed and tell them to consider the consequences of their beliefs, or try to convince them that their beliefs are wrong. yk?
post #120 of 279
Oh dear, I'm sorry I caused offense, it was certainly not my intent!

I believe you that you do not take your faith lightly and that you are a good and compassionate person.

My comment was directed only at this:
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Thao, its not for me or anyone else to judge the sincerity of ones' heart when they ask these questions. I think that lies in the hands of God. He judges the heart. I dont assert either of those things.
You say you don't assert either my hypothetical a) or b), but they are necessary ramifications of your belief that God always answers prayers with the message of Jesus. Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but the only way I can understand our exchange is that you are not comfortable with either ramification and so don't want to claim them. If you are comfortable with them, why wouldn't you simply say, yes, I believe it is a) or b)?

I have not and will not try to convince you that your beliefs are wrong. I've stated several times that if you are at peace with the ramifications of your beliefs then I'm fine with that, re-read my posts . What I have a hard time with, and have been trying to gently point out (but evidently failing in the gentle part ) is holding a belief while denying the corollaries of that belief.

Sorry, hope that's clear!
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