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#1 of 62 Old 01-24-2004, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
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I knew I could turn to you ladies. Please Christians don't be offended by any comments, this is really a work in progress....

I am struggling hard with my faith and spirituality lately (perhaps tortured is a better word)....

In my search for answers, I of course decided to read. At a bookstore tonight, all the material was written by Tim Lahaye or some other people along those lines. (Please don't take offense - these are just my opinions).

Hopefully someone can give me ideas of books that can educate me without giving me a bunch of propaganda. I was raised Baptist and evangelical. I am searching now for Christ's place (if he even exists - gasp) in the world and in my life. I am not interested in being convinced or scared into believing. I would like a fact based Christian outlook. I would like to read theology.

I would really appreciate insight and suggestions. I am really starting to scare myself. I'm afraid to talk to my husband or family about what I'm gradually starting to embrace. I mean I'm surrounded by people who embrace everything they were ever taught. They will just tell me I'm going to hell, YKWIM. Even if I do believe in God and Jesus, I'm having a hard time believing in the rapture. And who decided all I needed to know about God and Jesus were those Books that are in the Bible. I was raised to believe in God but it really doesn't make sense...... Logically anyway..... maybe that is my problem. My mom says I read too much. BUT that is where I'm coming from.. What is the old saying about being 30 and not believing and then getting older and embracing faith.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Lisa

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#2 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 12:48 AM
 
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Your post touched me. I well remember being in college and realizing that I didn't really buy the whole Jesus story anymore.

And it terrified me.

For the longest time, I had a really hard time even admitting to myself that I thought maybe Jesus was just an interesting person and not a God or a God's son.

Each step on my journey was a hard one.

My own personal way of dealing with it has been to be really angry that I was so "indoctrinated" and "brainwashed" as a child that I was afraid to admit my own feelings to myself. Afraid of what Life seemed to be telling me (I wasn't even actively searching; just that Life's experiences kept piling up evidence that went against what I was taught). It has made me insistent that I will not teach my own children one faith as if it were True.

I don't have any books to recommend, though I do encourage you to search. I just wanted to let you know that I really understand how you are feeling; the fear, the uncertainty...you may not leave your faith in the end, as I did. But you have my sympathy for where you are in your journey right now!

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#3 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 10:21 AM
 
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Dear lab,
Hey! I lived in Weddington too--right off of Tilley Morris Rd. And went to Providence High School!
Anyway, I would strongly suggest reading C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity would be a good place to start. The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters are excellent too and really fun to read. Now he was not a perfect person and he was shaped by his times just like all of us are but he was brilliant and writes very well. He went through a faith crisis so has respect for what you're going through.
I'd also encourage you to re-read Romans...if you don't have that much time just read Romans 8.
And read up on Church history. Search for the Christian History Institute on the web and devour the info. It's really fascinating.

This may not be the kind of thing you're looking for but Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict is really powerful. It's chock full of information. At least check it out. Its actually pretty fun to read if you like that kind of thing.

And remember that these days, practically anybody can get published and if even 2 or 3 scholars give credence to even the most outlandish theory, they'll gain a following. So be careful. Read everything you can get your hands on but don't believe everything you read. Pray for understanding and discernment as you read.

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#4 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 10:32 AM
 
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Oh and lab, I also wanted to add that it might be helpful to read up on the history of the Baptists and of the evangelical movement in America. That might help you understand why you were raised and taught the way you were and also help you integrate and evaluate your Baptist experience based on the larger picture of worldwide, 2000-yr. old Christianinty.

Finally, I'm making a major assumption here but if you are a NC native I would suggest getting your hands on some old timey gospel music. Listening to the soul of our forbears and trying to understand what about their faith was most important to them is powerful. Emmylou Harris' Angel Band and Allison Kraus and the Cox family's I know who holds tomorrow are fantastic albums by more contemporary artists but they are the old songs.
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#5 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 11:09 AM
 
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One more comment and then I'll shut up....
Lab, it's really cool that you are trying to get beyond Churchianity ( a term I learned here at MDC) and dig deeper to figure out what it's really all about.
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#6 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 12:25 PM
 
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Biblical scholarship since the early 19th century has been investigating the true origins of Xtianity. Unlike what most of us were told when young, the origins were very diverse. There were many different sects with many different ideas about who Jesus (Yeshua) the Christ (Messiah) actually was.

If you read Pauls's first few letters in the bible (the later ones are forgeries) you will find, as you reread all 4 gospels, he had a very different idea of who Christ was/is. His is not a flesh and blood Christ, just for starters. The 4 canonical (accepted) gospels were written in pieces from different sources, rewritten, edited, added to, glossed over, over decades.

Read The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Gandy for more on this.

For more than the canonical gospels, dip into the Other Bible. There were dozens of gospels, proto-Xtian, Jewish and Greek "pagan," circulating in the early centuries CE that were believed and followed by early Christian sects (gnostics such as Marcionites and Valentinians) that were damned as heretical in the 4th century CE by the Roman Church, just b/c they didn't fit the party line (which was involved in power [as in: world domination], money and male dominance).

General page on early Christianities, esp as informed by the discovery of ancient Xtian texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945:

http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html

Gospel of Mary (ie: the Magdalene)

http://www.gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

Gospel of Philip:

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html

The Protevangelion (or Infancy Gospel) of James:

http://www.gutenberg.net/etext04/fb02w11.txt

Gospel of Thomas:

http://www.misericordia.edu/users/da...omas/Trans.htm

Before "The Way", there were thousands of years of history of religions based upon a god who died and rose again. The first historical record is that of Isis and Osiris of Egypt, but there were hundreds more, esp in the last few centuries BCE. Look here:

http://home.earthlink.net/~pgwhacker/ChristianOrigins/

Whew! That should get you started, lady!
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#7 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 01:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by lab
In my search for answers, I of course decided to read. At a bookstore tonight, all the material was written by Tim Lahaye or some other people along those lines. (Please don't take offense - these are just my opinions).
I run screaming from LaHaye too. His might be the prevailing belief in the US but the "pre-Trib rapture" is a fairly recent viewpoint (and very escapist IMO) with little grounding in the way God does things. And the Left Behind series, while moderately entertaining for the first three books, has gone a bit far and needs to finish already. :P

Quote:
Originally posted by lab
Hopefully someone can give me ideas of books that can educate me without giving me a bunch of propaganda. I was raised Baptist and evangelical. I am searching now for Christ's place (if he even exists - gasp) in the world and in my life. I am not interested in being convinced or scared into believing. I would like a fact based Christian outlook. I would like to read theology.
I'm not sure what you would consider "propaganda" really. Everything has a "spin" so it depends on what spin one prefers. Books that helped me include:
  • The Bible (in whatever translation you prefer as long as you understand it easily)
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine
  • A good Bible commentary (Matthew Henry, John Calvin or whoever you prefer)
  • The Life of St. Teresa of Avila
  • Story of a Soul by St.Therese of Lisieux

Most of these can be found online at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL).

Quote:
Originally posted by lab
I would really appreciate insight and suggestions. I am really starting to scare myself. I'm afraid to talk to my husband or family about what I'm gradually starting to embrace. I mean I'm surrounded by people who embrace everything they were ever taught. They will just tell me I'm going to hell, YKWIM. Even if I do believe in God and Jesus, I'm having a hard time believing in the rapture. And who decided all I needed to know about God and Jesus were those Books that are in the Bible. I was raised to believe in God but it really doesn't make sense...... Logically anyway..... maybe that is my problem. My mom says I read too much. BUT that is where I'm coming from.. What is the old saying about being 30 and not believing and then getting older and embracing faith.
I don't read anyplace in the Bible or the writings of the early church that says we can't question what we believe and are told. Heck if people questioned stuff more we might not be in the messes we are in, but that is another soap box. Questioning means that you are thinking and thinking is what we are designed to do. I would pray for insight and wisdom and then embark on the journey. Research is important. Look at your foundations, look at your teachers, look at their teachers. Baptists aren't the be all and end all and have painted themselves into a poor light with most people because they are very sure of themselves--even if that sureity makes them harsh and unloving. It's a failing of people however and not the entire faith of Christianity.

My prayers for you.
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#8 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 02:31 PM
 
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Pro-pagan-da is a Latin word, indicating material created by the Roman Church specifically to convert pagans. Ideas such as, if you don't believe Jesus died a bloody sacrificial death to wash away your sins, you will burn in a firey hell forever.

Here is another site about the historical Jesus:

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

Quote:
The purpose of this web page is to explain and explore some of the theories offered up by contemporary scholars on the historical Jesus and the origins of the Christian religion. Issues include the nature of the historical Jesus, the nature of the early Christian documents, and the origins of the Christian faith in a risen Jesus Christ. An attempt has been made to include historical Jesus theories across the spectrum from Marcus Borg to N.T. Wright and to describe these historical Jesus theories in an accurate and concise way.
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#9 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 03:16 PM
 
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Everything has a spin. It depends which spin you like best. My spin is christianity, yours might be something different. I won't demonize the tenets of your spin if you don't demonize the tenets of mine.
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#10 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 04:05 PM
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I am sure someone said this before but the best thing to do is read the Bible ! One Book of the Bible I would recommend is the Gospel of John. And pray that God will open your eyes to the truth!
I hope this helps!
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#11 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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You people are just awesome. Piglet, thank you so much for your warm post. I have really been letting this eat at me for such a long time. My husband was raised the same way so it is hard to talk to him. Actually, he has no idea how I feel. It has gotten to the point lately that I can't hardly say the blessing without rolling my eyes. And I feel SO bad. I go to church and I take my children to church but I was thinking the other day that I am force feeding them aren't I? I can't dare raise them any different though, sheesh, I can't imagine the fallout. My daughter asked me the other day what was the deal with the Bible? (She's 8) She said, You know mommy, the Bible said God created the earth, but if he created the earth how do we know. Nobody was there to see it. Why is it in the Bible."

If you do any research at all you know that there have been changes made to the Bible. Of course, when I questioned my mom as a child, she told me that the men that wrote it were divinely inspired by God and whatever they wrote is what we should accept. I just can't do that any more.

So the more I read, the worse it makes me feel. Because deep down, (oh man - I can't even write the words) I don't believe it

Thank you all so much for all the suggestions. Not only did I get my questions answered without being judged, but SuperPickle even knows where I live! That is sooo cool! SuperPickle - I have lived here since birth and went to Sun Valley. I know exactly where you are talking about - have you seen it lately? Man it's grown around here. I still live in Weddington - love the place......

Any way, bless you all. My main purpose for this is that I need to make a decision on what to teach my children. They are 6, 8 and 9 years old. You know what I told them the other day? We were talking about Jesus and how he died for us and we mentioned some good friends of ours who don't believe Jesus died for us. And ds#2 worried about Kais going to Heaven. (he of course has heard that in Sunday School) I told them that Kais was going to Heaven and that I believed in it all. Can I do that? :

I believe in being and doing good, kind things. How 'bout that.

Thank you all so much - I will certainly have a busy week next week going through all this great material.

Trying to do the right thing with three kids and a hubby. 
ds20, dd18, ds17
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#12 of 62 Old 01-25-2004, 06:15 PM
 
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I hope you find what you are looking for but I don't think you are force-feeding your children. If your current church isn't meeting your needs you might seek a new one. We left our old church because it was dead dead dead. Same Sermon Different Day. We were learning nothing and just languishing on the pew.

Once we found a new church that had a teacher (as opposed to an evangelist)( as a pastor we began to grow again. It also helps if your pastor is available to speak with. Our church is very big but we have associate pastors we can contact with "hard" questions (and after 9 years of disappointments with God I had/have a slew of them) and whom we know won't come down on us for asking God to answer for Himself.

Still...You do need to discuss things with your dh. It took me almost a year to tell my dh that I was having a lot of spiritual questions and problems with God and the Bible and etc etc and so on and so forth. He was hurt that I hadn't given him credit enough to think he'd be sympathetic of my plight and protective of me while I worked through it. I don't know your situation with your dh but you might think about telling him. It might help a lot. And if you do decide you don't want to be a Christian, he should know that too. I hope that is not the case but if it is what you decide it could only breed resentment if you don't come to some sort of compromise about the subject of religion, KWIM?

Happy researching!

EDIT: And the Johns (Gospel of and Epistles 1, 2 and 3) rock!
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#13 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 12:48 AM
 
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I enjoyed Elaine Pagels The Gospel of Thomas. She also wrote The Gnostic Gospels but I haven't read that one. The first one I mentioned actually just came out and with the scholarship is interwoven her personal faith crisis and experience (she lost a child to a fatal congenital disorder). She contrasts the Gospel of Thomas to that of John as there are many parallels to be drawn.

I am also reading an absolutely fascinating book called Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. I didn't know anything about her but apparently she's a rather prolific spirituality writer. The book I think is somewhat unfortunately titled; I picked it up in a used book store on a lark not really expecting much. It explores more issues than the title would suggest and I think the title might be somewhat off-putting for people who would otherwise enjoy reading it.

I find that I'm exploring ways to integrate my faith with a growing feeling that Christianity doesn't have "all the right answers," which is what we are often taught. There's an arrogance to that which I have always found distasteful but increasingly so to the point that I must find some sort of middle ground even if it is in my own mind.

I find that my experience is similar to yours, the more I find I need to explain things to my children, the more comfortable I need to be in my own skin - and it's hard when you have these unanswered questions.

You'll probably see my thread I just started looking for information on nature-based faith. Don't think I'm too way out there! I think we are all on a faith journey and the questions are the first few steps.

Good luck in your journey!
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#14 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 01:26 AM
 
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It can feel very uncomfortable to lose faith in the religion in which you were brought up.

I have recently read an interesting idea: your faith should be based upon fear or love of God, not fear or love of other people.

My mom, a closet atheist, forced my sister and me to go to church with her for 13 years, out of fear of her devout Lutheran mother. This is a sin I can never forgive her for. The hypocrisy was huge.

If your faith is shaky, do not tell your kids you believe. Nothing could be worse for them. Kids can tell.
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#15 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 02:29 AM
 
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I understand where you are coming from.

a King James Bible

Fox's Book of Martyr's

Strong's Exaustive Concordance of the Bible

Newman's Church History

Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin

a site with the works of Spurgeon

www.spurgeon.org

A Christian Classic Ethereal Library

www.ccel.org

A site with study help

http://crosswalk.com
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#16 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 02:38 AM
 
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I recommend reading The Case For Christ.
It was witten by a former athiest and lawyer. It takes a very logical and methodical approach to finding faith in Christ and why it was the logical conclusion for the writer.
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#17 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 02:47 AM
 
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Just wanted to let you know that I went through the same thing when I had my first child. I was raised traditional Lutheran - where you were supposed to pledge allegiance to your denomination and preferably marry another Lutheran.... There was alot I didn't get, until I started reading the Bible for myself and questioning things. Basically we must come to a point in our lives where we don't just accept the traditions that have been handed down to us. We need to search them out ourselves. God proved Himself to me in a very real way and continues to do so. He is constantly showing me new things and revising my beliefs. It's a walk. Be honest with God. I totally believe he's OK with a questioning heart, so don't feel any condemnation I'm now appreciative of many of the things my upbringing gave me but I also had alot of mindsets to undo too. God bless as you journey.

Melissa
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#18 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 03:34 AM
 
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OK - now I'm embarrassed. How did I end up triple posting when I thought I had lost the post. And the server won't let me delete the entire thing. Just call me technology-impaired.
J
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#19 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 03:34 AM
 
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Sigh...guess I found my lost post. Am deleting in favor of the finished post.
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#20 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 03:46 AM
 
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(dang - I just wrote a rambling post and then lost it. Am still getting used to the laptop)

Lab - I was really touched by your post as well. I too have really struggled with many of those same thoughts and emotions. I grew up in a fairly conservative and somewhat evangelical Christian environment...went to the schools and everything. I've even taught in Xtian schools (interesting when you're seriously questioning things). Oddly enough, I always felt I had the right to question things. I feel sure that the whatever/whoever it is that we call God (and that I have begun to refer to as 'the Divine', or 'Other' to myself) was OK with me questioning everything I had been brought up to believe. It was more the fact that I felt so alone along the way. Every sermon and minister and person I met in the church seem to be making so many basic assumptions that I just couldn't make anymore. I've also struggled with how I'm going to raise my DS. Its also interesting to do it in partnership with similarly-raised, but more literal-minded DH.

But - I'm beginning to digress. I loved that you had the courage to ask these questions and I'm going to hop on your coattails and read some of these books as well. Here are a few that I've read that provided moments of disquiet as well as a sense of finding some sort of 'home' for the moment for me.

A History of God - Karen Armstrong (I've read it twice. The first time really blew the roof off for me.)

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time - Marcus J. Borg (Sub-title reads 'The historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith-I'd like to read more in this vein...which is probably why I jump on Daryllls' posts like crazy.)

Finding Your Religion - Rev. Scotty McLennan. (Sub title 'When the Faith You Grew Up with has lost its Meaning' A pretty simple, fun read...but good food for thought and lots of comfort for the journey.)

I wish you lots of luck and feel free to pm me if you'd like some company on the journey. I'm beginning to really enjoy the search.

Jenelle
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#21 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 09:44 AM
 
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I do not recommend the King James Version. It is often mistranslated. For more insight, a good study bible such as the Oxford Annotated is much more helpful. It is loaded with notes with alternate translations of difficult passages, essays on life in biblical times, writing styles of the time (pseudepigraphy will blow your mind!), maps, etc, etc.

I read the Strobel book and was not impressed at all. The word for that kind of writing is apologetic.

There is a book out by Doherty that historically refutes nearly every point Stroble makes. Here is a site with excerpts from it:

http://human.st/jesuspuzzle/ctvadvert.htm

Quote:
Review of "Challenging the Verdict" by Lee Salisbury, former U.S. evangelical church pastor:
"Well-intentioned people like Lee Strobel and his ‘expert witnesses’ in The Case for Christ have been inspired to speak half-truths, misrepresentations, and plain absurdities in defense of Christian doctrine. Earl Doherty confutes Strobel and his theologians point for point so thoroughly and convincingly that one is left wondering, how did I not see that before? Christian apologetics’ faith-based thought processes contrast with Doherty’s reasoned refutation and clearly reveal how intellectual integrity is sacrificed at religion’s altar of ‘believe at any price’."
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#22 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 12:59 PM
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I agree with Dary about KJV.

I would recommend reading a couple versions of the Bible for perspective (say, NIV and NASV) and if something doesn't make sense or ring true do a study and get into the original languages.


There's nothing wrong with questioning and wondering, doubting, and questioning are a normal part of spiritual growth.

There are a lot of head games that are played in churches (at least in conservative type churches.) Right now I'm hot and bothered by tithing teaching. What a self serving thing to do to other people.

I'm sick and tired of the patriarchy within the church as well.

None of this, however, seems to be related to Jesus Himself.

Debra Baker
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#23 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 02:59 PM
 
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In the words of Uncle on the Jackie Chan cartoon..."One mooooore thing!"

It will help if, prior to your research, you know what you are looking for. Are you looking for reasons to remain a Christian and find your way to a more meaningful relationship with Jesus or are you looking for reasons not to remain a Christian and want to blow all the "Jesus freaks" out of the water? If you don't know yet please decide which you want first.

Having been through my own crisis of faith recently, I discovered it was crucial to know this. It helped me focus on what to read--whether to shore up a flagging faith by knowing what I believe and why or to rip the whole thing out, trash it and not look back. And I also started with prayer, even when I thought it was bouncing off the ceiling.

As I said, I don't know what you mean by propaganda but everything you read on the subject is going to have a spin. You need to know what spin you want to choose and focus.

And I too agree about the KJV--I personally use the NIV, NASB and RSV. The online Exegeses Bible is a good Bible resource too.
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#24 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 03:57 PM
 
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Quote:
I do not recommend the King James Version. It is often mistranslated.
The King James version is not mistranslated. Misquoted, twisted, taken out of context to say what people want it to say for their own alterier motives, yeah. But don't blame the King James version for that. For serious study of Theology, the King James version is a fine choice.

This link has on it the book "The King James Version Defended" by Edward F. Hills TH.D. To find the book, click where it says "Textus Receptus". This is a defense of the manuscript that the King James Version was translated off of, which is called the Textus Receptus.

http://www.oldpathspublications.com

That said, I mean no offence to anyone who chooses to use other versions, and I hope we can all get along without any flaming or anything.
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#25 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 06:27 PM
 
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...There's nothing wrong with questioning and wondering, doubting, and questioning are a normal part of spiritual growth.
..
Well said. I attended a Catholic high school and one of my favorite teachers, a nun, had written above the blackboard, "Doubt is the keystone of faith." I loved her for encouraging doubt and questioning in an enviroment that often seemed to discourage those things.

My favorite quote about a religous life is, A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn. - Madame de Stael
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#26 of 62 Old 01-26-2004, 06:39 PM
 
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Lab,
Sorry you are going through this. Many people do--you are not alone, and you're not bad for questioning or doubting!

I would recommend you visit equip.org, and maybe even call in on the radio program. They are very much focused on the reasoning, logic, and history behind Christianity. If you are trying to figure out who Jesus is, and what part He plays in your life, that's the place to go with your questions.

I second the recommendations to read Josh McDowell's books, as well as to visit the Christian Classics Ethereal library. (Take a listen to thier clips from the Southern Harmony hymnbook while you're visiting--awesome music!!!!!!!!)
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#27 of 62 Old 01-27-2004, 12:37 AM
 
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Originally posted by DebraBaker
I agree with Dary about KJV.
and i'll third that sentiment, KJV has too many politically motivated intentional mistranslations.
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#28 of 62 Old 01-27-2004, 01:35 AM
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Correct me if I am wrong but I think the New King James Version is a little better translation because with it they corrected some translation errors that were in the King James Version. Could someone back me up on this?
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#29 of 62 Old 01-27-2004, 04:15 AM
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Hi,
sorry to hear youre having a crisis of faith; i had a similar one a few years back. mine was not in rejecting any particular one ( was raised lapsed catholic, but it never figured strongly) , but feeling strongly the absence of one.
I sense a lot of guilt and fear in your posts for even having these thoughts; but as other posters have rightly pointed out, its a normal , healthy part of the process. You wont burn in hell for seeking a stronger spiritual connection!
Ill go one further, if I may: I think these crises are often designed as tests or callings by God to get closer to Him, and to find a path to Him that works best for you.
Since Im not sure where the moderators on this forum would draw the line between explaining one's search and what might be misconstrued as proselytizing, i wont post how i resolved my crisis - but may I merely suggest you may wish to examine some non-Christian approaches as well, both within the other Abrahamic traditions ( Judaism, Islam), and/or outside them...There is much wisdom and truth in this world.
best of luck, and I'll keep you and your search in my heart.
best and blessings,
MSD
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#30 of 62 Old 01-27-2004, 09:19 AM
 
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Originally posted by MaryKate
Correct me if I am wrong but I think the New King James Version is a little better translation because with it they corrected some translation errors that were in the King James Version. Could someone back me up on this?
quick test is to look at Acts 12:4: if it still says "Easter", it's still mistranslating.
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