Wrestling with the "exclusivity" of Christianity... please help! - Page 7 - Mothering Forums

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#181 of 279 Old 10-18-2009, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thhhhhhhhhhwpt!

That was the sound of me getting sucked back into this thread. So much for bowing out. I guess I feel responsible for any drama here since I started this thread. And there were some general points I wanted to respond to…

First I want to say that people come to their personal faith in many different ways. For me, I actually come to faith through reason. A starting point for me was reasoning through the Big Bang. Hubble himself was an atheist and believed the universe was eternal and unchanging, and therefore did not have a beginning and therefore no cause for a beginning. However - once he discovered red shifts and realized the universe was expanding and discovered the universe did indeed have a beginning, he came to a reasoned faith. The universe had a beginning, and learning more about that was the beginning to me explore faith. I don't claim to have anywhere near the intellect of Hubble - but I put his name out there as just one intellectual icon that came to faith via reason. (The fact that I did the same is not compelling or impressive - lol!) Christianity, specifically, is also a faith of reason. Archeological records support the bible. Historical records support the historicity of Jesus. Etc. etc. There is extensive research published out there by people far more scholarly than me. Apologetics is a fascinating field of study for anyone wanting to learn more about a reasoned faith in Christianity. There is a lot of great apologetic literature and resources out there for anyone interested. My husband, on the other hand, has just always had faith. He believes deeply in the truth of Christianity. Yes, we struggle with some concepts (obviously! That's why I started this post!) – but that ‘s all just part of nurturing faith and growing as a person and in your walk with God. Anyway – I say all this to simply say that people come to faith in different ways – and Christianity can absolutely be a reasoned and rational faith.

Second general point: I don’t have to understand or even agree with every aspect of something to have faith that it’s true. For example – based on everything we knew about physics and the technology we had available to us in the 1930s "proved" that bumblebees should not be able to fly. Based on physics and logic, someone could argue that bumblebees do not fly – they must hover or have some other form of locomotion. If they personally have never seen a bumblebee fly, they could even chalk up flying bumblebees to legend or mass hysteria. But, many people knew that bumblebees fly. The math doesn’t add up, but they knew they fly. Perhaps they had seen it themselves, or perhaps they had been compelled by reliable eyewitness accounts. Fast forward to modern day, and we now have the technology to explore bumblebee flight more closely so now it can be "proven" in theory and on paper. Did this change the reality of bumblebee flight? Absolutely not.

Ok… help! I’m getting lost in my own bumblebee analogy. I’m just trying to say that many of us feel we have more than sufficient evidence for our faith. We know based on both evidence and what we have experienced. (I’m sure folks of other faiths feel the same way, and I don’t take it upon myself to question their faith or reasons. Not my place.) Of course we all evaluate evidence based on our own biases - but I think many atheists forget that they do suffer from these biases as well. I think for some people, no amount of evidence of personal experience would be compelling. They desire to believe that there is no God for a variety of reasons.

Finally - I don’t know why some people get so upset when Christians claim to know the way to God. Why is it wrong for a Christian to believe that? So, yes, I happen to think my Muslim girlfriend is incorrect – but guess what? She thinks I’m wrong too! She thinks I am waaaaaaay off base! LOL! We don’t dwell on it. It isn’t the basis for our friendship. I think atheists forget when they vehemently attack Christians (and others) for the “arrogance” of believing they are correct and others are wrong – they are forgetting that they are doing the exact same thing. They are insisting they are correct (“there is no God”) and others are wrong. My wording here is very clunky… hopefully that made sense to someone.


OK. Can I just pause to say that this is THE MOST nonsensical post I have ever made? I doesn't help that I've had to write this in one-sentence increments as I'm chasing around my one year old. Haha! Hopefully I haven't made a total fool of myself with my words here. (Oh well... won't be the last time! I always feel intellectually inadequate when trying to express something as complex - and simple - as personal faith)


Brightonwoman – Thanks so much for sharing! I absolutely agree that God wants there to be a way for every person. I love that concept of the waiting place after death. Do you know if that concept is found in the NT? Or is it part of the Book of Mormon? I don’t know much about the LDS church, so thank you very much for sharing.

OK… now I am signing off this thread for good. Really. I swear. (We’ll see! LOL!) Thanks to everyone who is participating respectfully in this discussion. I think at some point we all just need to agree to disagree and move on. I don't see anyone changing their hearts on the issues discussed here. Personally, I am not interested in changing anyones heart, but I do find it exhausting to have to defend my own.

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#182 of 279 Old 10-18-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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If Christianity makes sense to you, then that is wonderful. It doesn't make sense to me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it places belief above everything else. All I have to do, according to the New Testament, is believe that Jesus is God's son and died to save my soul and accept it. Everything else is secondary.

Whether or not the Bible is historically accurate or Jesus was a real person (never mind being the son of god, born from a virgin, rose from the dead, etc) is debatable. I won't pretend to be well-read enough to debate it, though.

But if I died and the Bible turned out to be the literal truth, then I would really like an explanation that makes sense to me because it seems way too arbitrary to make the simple belief or lack of belief in Jesus Christ be the deciding factor in where one's soul goes for eternity, especially since the only thing we really have to go on here are the words of men. You may believe that the Bible is the word of god, but it was written by men, so we have to believe the men who say they know what God said! How can God condemn people for not believing what other people say is true? People lie all the time - how are we supposed to know that these people know the truth any more than other people? And then be punished for getting it wrong....it doesn't make sense to me.


I don't have hard solid proof for what I believe, either, but all of it makes sense to me. I'm a polytheist - I believe in a whole bunch of Gods but I don't take the myths about them as the literal truth. I do feel like I have sufficient evidence to believe in them, but luckily they don't threaten me with eternal damnation if I don't. They are way more concerned with how I live my life...and that is something that makes sense to me and that I take very seriously.

That's my rambling post for the day.

ETA: I'm not intending my posts as an attack on Christianity - I'm just explaining why it doesn't seem reasonable to me. There's no need to defend anything, and while agreeing to disagree is surely going to be the ultimate outcome, the discussion is very interesting and (dare I say) fun.
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#183 of 279 Old 10-18-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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Interesting Purple Sage when you say this...

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more concerned with how I live my life...and that is something that makes sense to me and that I take very seriously.
Because as I read the gospels, thats what I get about Jesus too, except he was WAY more radical about how we should live our lives then anything Ive ever heard of.
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#184 of 279 Old 10-18-2009, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...
But if I died and the Bible turned out to be the literal truth, then I would really like an explanation that makes sense to me because it seems way too arbitrary to make the simple belief or lack of belief in Jesus Christ be the deciding factor in where one's soul goes for eternity, ...
In my understanding of the bible, and Christianity in general, there is actually a pretty extensive mandate for how we Christians are to live our lives.

Yes, someone really only needs to accept Christ in their hearts... but with such an acceptance we must strive to live our lives as He requires. In fact, it's not just that we are supposed to, but we WANT to. If someone claims to accept Christ, but then goes on to live their life apart from God then they really haven't accepted Christ at all. So it isn't just a matter of "saying the magic words" and getting into heaven.

I hope that makes sense. And thanks for sharing a bit more about your personal faith.

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#185 of 279 Old 10-18-2009, 11:02 PM
 
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I got sucked back in, too! I've mostly been lurking, but I have been following along! I had said way back when that I would post scriptures that argue for a univeralist view of God. There are several, but here is one, Romans 5:12-21:

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12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If sin entered the world through one man, and we're all sinners, how could God's forgiviness through Jesus Christ not also apply to everyone? We're automatically born sinners, per the scriptures, but the forgivenessss as a result of Jesus' sacrifice is only activated if we believe it? How could "God's wonderful grace" be less powerful than Adam's sin?

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#186 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 01:19 AM
 
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I've been on threads where posters with deeply held religious beliefs that contradict each other cheerfully agree to disagree, and I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree. I don't think you are a bad or arrogant person for holding that belief. But exclusivity is inherently judgmental, and I think that needs to be recognized.
Can I address this one, small point? I think it might be fairly central to the disagreements here.

First: Nobody thinks the concept of one theory being correct, and others being incorrect, is judgmental in any area except religion. It is not considered judgmental to say the earth is round, so therefore those who believe it is flat are mistaken. Yet saying "God exists, therefore those who believe there is no God are mistaken" is seen as judgmental.

One difference might be that the existence of God, the nature of God, or any facts about God, are not provable. There are things none of us can know in this lifetime. This does not mean that all statements about God are equally true. Some beliefs about God are mistaken, and we will all (I assume) eventually find out which things are true and which are not.
This may sound simplistic, but I think we are missing an essential starting point for the discussion: the concept of reality itself, and whether reality exists objectively, or varies according to human thoughts and beliefs.

Second:
It is possible to separate the idea that objective truth exists, where God is concerned, from any theories about the consequences of knowing/believing/not knowing/not believing that truth. A discussion of ultimate truth always starts to slide into snide arguments about who is going to hell and who is not. They are two completely separate subjects. You can believe in absolute truth, even revealed truth, without also believing in any form of condemnation for those who do not believe or know it.
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#187 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 05:23 AM
 
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Yes, someone really only needs to accept Christ in their hearts... but with such an acceptance we must strive to live our lives as He requires.
In fact, accepting Jesus is only the beginning! Lol. Im telling ya! As I read the gospels I see that even the closest disciples didnt understand who Jesus really was... then even after his death and ressurrection (which I believe to have literally happened) it took time for God to continue to teach them about who He is. This is how I believe God does things, gradually and over time, slowly revealing things about Himself and His kingdom.
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#188 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 05:26 AM
 
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If sin entered the world through one man, and we're all sinners, how could God's forgiviness through Jesus Christ not also apply to everyone?
Hrsmom, thanks so much for coming back into the debate. Ive wanted to discuss this further and thats a very good point. Im not fully convinced either way just yet, altho I will admit that I lean more in the opposite direction as you do, I still dont want to debate it, I want to listen and ask questions and learn, ykwim? For me this isnt about debate, its about learning. So thanks a bunch for rejoining the discussion. Im finding this most exciting!!

And coupled with what mamabadger said, you have brought the 'discussion' turned ...

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snide arguments about who is going to hell and who is not
back to its original purpose... after how many pages?? 10, wow!

See, this is why I didnt want to give up on it! I knew we could get back to the heart of the issue originally brought up...

Thanks a bunch!!

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but the forgivenessss as a result of Jesus' sacrifice is only activated if we believe it? How could "God's wonderful grace" be less powerful than Adam's sin?
I wonder the same thing. Though I wonder if we're going to run into problems bc of how we view the bible. I think, with respect, we disagree on it being inspired by God and whether ALL of it is to be taken into account? Im not trying to find fault with where you stand, Id like to understand it better (even if we never agree on it).

Is it possible for us to get some of this out of the way before we carry on? Even if its to agree to disagree on that one issue. I think we, or I can still learn from you. Then maybe we can put those differences aside and further discuss the issue.

With all due respect, I feel as tho this is a discussion best left for believers, so we can get on with learning from each other about our shared faith.

I think we've established that we can discuss things respectfully and without getting snidy over who's right or wrong.

Would you guys be willing to continue with the discussion? (Id be most happy to get into it, finding it quite exciting really!) But if not thats ok, I understand.

Id love to see more scripture you find that lends to a universal salvation.
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#189 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 10:02 AM
 
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Interesting Purple Sage when you say this...



Because as I read the gospels, thats what I get about Jesus too, except he was WAY more radical about how we should live our lives then anything Ive ever heard of.

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In my understanding of the bible, and Christianity in general, there is actually a pretty extensive mandate for how we Christians are to live our lives.

Yes, someone really only needs to accept Christ in their hearts... but with such an acceptance we must strive to live our lives as He requires. In fact, it's not just that we are supposed to, but we WANT to. If someone claims to accept Christ, but then goes on to live their life apart from God then they really haven't accepted Christ at all. So it isn't just a matter of "saying the magic words" and getting into heaven.

I hope that makes sense. And thanks for sharing a bit more about your personal faith.

I didn't mean to suggest that the New Testament was devoid of instructions on how people should live their lives. I just meant that, as was the question in the OP, it doesn't make sense to me that someone can live a right and moral life by Jesus' standards and still end up in Hell because of what they believe and not anything they have done. In that way, belief does trump action, and that is the part of it that doesn't make sense to me.

The only way that can make sense is to believe that a person can't live a right and moral life without accepting Jesus as their Savior and everything that goes along with that. Of course, as a nonchristian, I would find that rather objectionable.

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I got sucked back in, too! I've mostly been lurking, but I have been following along! I had said way back when that I would post scriptures that argue for a univeralist view of God. There are several, but here is one, Romans 5:12-21:



If sin entered the world through one man, and we're all sinners, how could God's forgiviness through Jesus Christ not also apply to everyone? We're automatically born sinners, per the scriptures, but the forgivenessss as a result of Jesus' sacrifice is only activated if we believe it? How could "God's wonderful grace" be less powerful than Adam's sin?
Now THIS makes sense!



I apologize for butting into a discussion that was directed at other Christians and not nonbelievers like myself, but it is a discussion that as a former Christian I am extremely interested in, so I really hope my involvement isn't too distracting. It's just that this very question is what has shaped my spiritual beliefs and is continuing to do so. I appreciate being able to participate!
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The only way that can make sense is to believe that a person can't live a right and moral life without accepting Jesus as their Savior and everything that goes along with that. Of course, as a nonchristian, I would find that rather objectionable.
You have hit the nail on the head, whether you find it objectionable or not, I believe this is what Jesus taught, especially in the beatitudes.
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#191 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 02:50 PM
 
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You know, I can't entirely agree with this. If I look at it from the perspective of, in the end, the Christian view turning out to be the correct one, then I am confused, while hate seems a strong word I do reject god as he is, I do love to do things -- make false claims about god's nature, prophecy, and intentions, for example -- that could easily be called unholy, and I do not at all live for god in the same way as someone who believes that faith alone is either all or enough. And I am so devout to a belief that so rejects so much of the christian view of Jesus in particular that I could actually see the argument being made that, face to face with a different truth, my own heart may be hardened against it.
Thank you for posting this, Liquesce, it is a very good point and challenges me to think harder about what I am saying.

What you are saying if true. I think the point of difference from what I am trying to say is that I am talking about these concepts from a subjective point of view whereas you are talking about them from an objective point of view. The difference between reality as I see it vs. actual reality.

So, if we are talking about being confused, I can tell you that I do not feel confused (or at least, I feel much less confused now than I did when I believed that all non-Christians were going to Hell, LOL). But that is just the reality inside my head. Naturally if the Ultimate Reality is that all non-Christians do go to Hell, then I am, in fact, confused about that reality.

If we are talking about rejecting God, I can tell you that I absolutely do not believe that I am rejecting God, in fact I believe that it was God who led me to where I am (I'm guessing you feel the same about your religion). If I die and Jesus meets me and says, you got it wrong Rosemary, that wasn't me talking to you when you heard those things -- well, I will have no problem falling at His feet and weeping my remorse. I love the Jesus I read about in the Bible. Nonetheless, the objective fact would remain that during my lifetime I rejected the religion that He founded.

So when I say I am not confused, not rejecting God, etc, I am really talking about my intentions. But do intentions matter? They don't change Ultimate Reality, that's for sure. But I would say that intentions very definitely matter if we are talking about Ultimate Punishment. Disclaimer: at this point I am ONLY talking about the version of Christianity that says that anyone who is unsaved at the time of their death is going to Hell. What I say does not apply to all other forms of Christianity.

Let's say you go into a store and a product accidentally falls off the shelf into your open purse and you walk out with it without realizing it is there. In one sense, it could be said you committed the crime of theft. However no court will convict you of that if they believe that you truly did not know it was there. Intent to do wrong - knowledge of what one is doing - is an essential element to judging someone worthy of punishment. If you didn't know that product was in your purse, it may technically have been a crime but no one in their right mind would say that you should be punished for it.

In the same way, in order to believe that God is just in sentencing Ghandi etc to Hell, one has to believe that they (we) knew that Christianity is the right path and intentionally chose to reject it. That we were not open enough, too proud, too hardened, etc etc. In other words, you have to make assumptions about others' intentions.

Naturally if you believe that people get a shot at a decision after death when everything is perfectly clear, or that there are other options beside Hell (like BrightonWoman mentioned) then one doesn't need to make such assumptions.
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#192 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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You have hit the nail on the head, whether you find it objectionable or not, I believe this is what Jesus taught, especially in the beatitudes.
Well, I do find that objectionable because that is not the reality that I see. I see that there are countless people living right and moral lives who are not Christians. But I guess the definition of what is right and moral is in the eye of the beholder.

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If we are talking about rejecting God, I can tell you that I absolutely do not believe that I am rejecting God, in fact I believe that it was God who led me to where I am (I'm guessing you feel the same about your religion). If I die and Jesus meets me and says, you got it wrong Rosemary, that wasn't me talking to you when you heard those things -- well, I will have no problem falling at His feet and weeping my remorse. I love the Jesus I read about in the Bible. Nonetheless, the objective fact would remain that during my lifetime I rejected the religion that He founded.

So when I say I am not confused, not rejecting God, etc, I am really talking about my intentions. But do intentions matter? They don't change Ultimate Reality, that's for sure. But I would say that intentions very definitely matter if we are talking about Ultimate Punishment. Disclaimer: at this point I am ONLY talking about the version of Christianity that says that anyone who is unsaved at the time of their death is going to Hell. What I say does not apply to all other forms of Christianity.

Let's say you go into a store and a product accidentally falls off the shelf into your open purse and you walk out with it without realizing it is there. In one sense, it could be said you committed the crime of theft. However no court will convict you of that if they believe that you truly did not know it was there. Intent to do wrong - knowledge of what one is doing - is an essential element to judging someone worthy of punishment. If you didn't know that product was in your purse, it may technically have been a crime but no one in their right mind would say that you should be punished for it.

In the same way, in order to believe that God is just in sentencing Ghandi etc to Hell, one has to believe that they (we) knew that Christianity is the right path and intentionally chose to reject it. That we were not open enough, too proud, too hardened, etc etc. In other words, you have to make assumptions about others' intentions.

Naturally if you believe that people get a shot at a decision after death when everything is perfectly clear, or that there are other options beside Hell (like BrightonWoman mentioned) then that resolves this issue.
Yes, exactly!
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This topic is the number one reason I left my most recent church. I was OK with not believing in the exclusivity of Christianity, but after my dd was born, I knew we needed a different church home. (I said that already!) I've sat through sermon after sermon about the exclusive claims of Jesus, how "those other people" distort the Bible by not taking it as a historical report, how "some people" have given up because Christianity just didn't work for them. And now I am one of "those people" and I don't feel comfortable discussing this with anyone from my old church. They were nice enough folks, but I never understood how they could believe in hell.

It's difficult to keep up on the many excellent points that are raised here! Genifer, I totally agree- there's no point in debating these things! I think the discussion vs. debating distinction is good. So someone "wins" a debate- does that mean they are right? Of course not!

I believe the scriptures are divinely inspired, in that the writings come out of the writers' close relationship with God. I do believe they are written by human beings, though. That's why I'm so fascinated to know what Paul meant when he wrote the book of Romans, what did Luke mean when he wrote, etc. etc. These people had encounters with God that changed the world in a significant way, that's what I want to know about! I want that! I don't believe God had a special message for Kimberly so he had Jesus say something specific to a crowd close to 2000 years ago in a different language, different culture, and different time period. I've never felt comfortable appropriating the scriptures in that way. Perhaps God has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29) but in that text, the prophet was writing to some specific people, not me! That's where I'm coming from.

So what did Paul believe about this God that he had encountered through Jesus, which is clearly different from the God he grew up believing in, according to what he writes? What did the gospel writers believe?

Can I ask this? Totally off the current This bugged me for the longest time: where is the resurrected body of Jesus?

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#194 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 03:27 PM
 
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Can I address this one, small point? I think it might be fairly central to the disagreements here.

First: Nobody thinks the concept of one theory being correct, and others being incorrect, is judgmental in any area except religion. It is not considered judgmental to say the earth is round, so therefore those who believe it is flat are mistaken. Yet saying "God exists, therefore those who believe there is no God are mistaken" is seen as judgmental.
Actually, I think you are right and I need to revise what I said about exclusivity being inherently judgmental. Well, it is, but no more judgmental than saying "Sardines taste awful" which is a similarly exclusive statement based on a subjective experience, but no one gets upset when people say it, right? But if you've been reading my posts, you'll see that I've been talking about a particular belief which basically says not that the other person is mistaken, but rather that the other person intentionally rejected God and will suffer eternal punishment for that. That is the part that I think is inherently judgmental.

And BTW, I agree with you that Ultimate Reality exists apart from our perceptions of it; I'm not one of those that say "my truth is true for me and your truth is true for you."

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Second: It is possible to separate the idea that objective truth exists, where God is concerned, from any theories about the consequences of knowing/believing/not knowing/not believing that truth. A discussion of ultimate truth always starts to slide into snide arguments about who is going to hell and who is not. They are two completely separate subjects. You can believe in absolute truth, even revealed truth, without also believing in any form of condemnation for those who do not believe or know it.
Right. I've been saying all along that my comments are ONLY directed at the version of Christianity that does believe in condemnation for those who do not believe it at the time of their death.

BTW, I do hope that your reference to "snide arguments" wasn't pointed at me. Truly, I am not trying to be snide. If that is the way I am coming across, I'll drop out of this thread.
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Finally - I don’t know why some people get so upset when Christians claim to know the way to God. Why is it wrong for a Christian to believe that? So, yes, I happen to think my Muslim girlfriend is incorrect – but guess what? She thinks I’m wrong too! She thinks I am waaaaaaay off base! LOL! We don’t dwell on it. It isn’t the basis for our friendship. I think atheists forget when they vehemently attack Christians (and others) for the “arrogance” of believing they are correct and others are wrong – they are forgetting that they are doing the exact same thing. They are insisting they are correct (“there is no God”) and others are wrong. My wording here is very clunky… hopefully that made sense to someone.
FWIW, ILoveSweetPea, I completely agree with what you've said here (and your wording is very articulate!). For me, anyway, I don't think it is arrogant simply to think that one is right and others are wrong, because as mamabadger points out everyone thinks that about pretty much everything . I don't agree with people like Richard Dawson who attack Christians for their beliefs, I think he's a jerk. However what we are discussing here (or at least I think we are) is the belief that everyone who is wrong knows that they are wrong but intentionally refuses to admit it. That to me is a different order of magnitude beyond "I'm right, you're wrong". I'll be very honest: it does upset me . Because it is saying not that I made an honest mistake, but rather than I intentionally rejected God due to some character flaw.

However I'm not saying this to put you on the defensive, so I hope you don't feel that way! It's my problem if I am upset, it doesn't mean you did anything wrong/bad. I can tell from your posts that you are not a judgmental or arrogant person. If we met in RL we'd probably get along like gangbusters, particularly since you seem to be very well read in science and religion and I could probably learn a lot from you. I'm just trying to explain my feelings since you have said twice now that don't understand why people might get upset.

Aiyah, this is hard stuff to discuss. I don't know if it was you or genifer that mentioned being able to discuss this issue without the potentially upsetting input from non-Christians, but I got an idea. Maybe you can re-post, and put in the heading something like "seeking Christian opinions only"? I know that was your intent from the beginning, and I think that is allowed in this forum. Mods?
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#196 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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Can I ask this? Totally off the current This bugged me for the longest time: where is the resurrected body of Jesus?
According to Christian belief, he took his body with him at the ascention. This is an important theological point because it implies that his body was really a part of him, rather than just a thing he was wearing like a pair of clothes. God really took on our essential nature as material beings.

Some Christians also believe this is true of Mary, and even a few OT figures. But it is closely connected either way to the idea that we will all have our bodies back at some point, though they will be transformed in a way we can't imagine. The material universe is an important and good part of creation, rather than something to be overcome.

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#197 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...However what we are discussing here (or at least I think we are) is the belief that everyone who is wrong knows that they are wrong but intentionally refuses to admit it.

Um... I didn't know that was what we were discussing.


I don't at all believe that people who "wrong" (from my personal perspective, that would be non-Christians - although I'd shy away from using such a strong word as "wrong"). I don't think people who are non-Christians "know they are wrong". Of course, the majority of non-Christians sincerely believe their own beliefs for a wide variety of reasons. I don't they are are "intentionally refusing" to "admit" they are wrong.

I'm glad that you clarified what you believed this discussion was about though - because I can now see that we have been two ships passing in the night! LOL!

I thought (as my original post stated) that this discussion was about the Christian belief that those who do not accept Jesus cannot obtain salvation. Then it evolved into a discussion about whether or not that belief or interpretation of the bible is valid.

Perhaps you got hung-up when someone discussed "hardened hearts"? Or, and this is absolutely a real possibility - I could be completely lost in this discussion and in my own world. LOL! Maybe I am way off base about what we have been talking about!

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#198 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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BTW, I do hope that your reference to "snide arguments" wasn't pointed at me. Truly, I am not trying to be snide. If that is the way I am coming across, I'll drop out of this thread.
Not at all. I was not even referring to this particular thread, just to discussions on that subject in general. It was certainly not pointed at you.

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I thought (as my original post stated) that this discussion was about the Christian belief that those who do not accept Jesus cannot obtain salvation.
I think a belief in the absolute truth of Christ's divinity, etc, could see this from the opposite direction - that anybody who obtains salvation has, by definition, accepted Jesus Christ.
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#199 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 09:02 PM
 
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I think a belief in the absolute truth of Christ's divinity, etc, could see this from the opposite direction - that anybody who obtains salvation has, by definition, accepted Jesus Christ.
Ooh, now that's a whole different can of worms...

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#200 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 09:41 PM
 
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I don't at all believe that people who "wrong" (from my personal perspective, that would be non-Christians - although I'd shy away from using such a strong word as "wrong"). I don't think people who are non-Christians "know they are wrong". Of course, the majority of non-Christians sincerely believe their own beliefs for a wide variety of reasons. I don't they are are "intentionally refusing" to "admit" they are wrong.

I'm glad that you clarified what you believed this discussion was about though - because I can now see that we have been two ships passing in the night! LOL!
Hee hee, there should be a emoticon of two ships passing by each other...

OK, now I'm confused about what this thread is about too, so may I clarify? You started out with whether or not those who do not accept Jesus can be saved (from Hell, I assume?) and at one point said that you've come to the conclusion that they cannot. I was also under the assumption that you believe the choice to accept Jesus has to be made during this life (because at one point you said something about it being "wishful thinking" to believe otherwise) and that those who *truly* seek will find God (= Jesus, Christianity) because He gives us so many signs.

If I've got that much right, then the logical corollary of this set of beliefs (as far as I can see) is that non-Christians have some fault that caused them to fail to make the choice that would give them salvation: either they didn't seek sincerely enough, or they did seek sincerely but when confronted with the correct answer (Jesus) rejected it for some reason, or something else, but none of it could be good because it has led to them being condemned to eternal torment. I said "intentional" up there because if the choice is not intentional you basically have God sending people to Hell for something they had no clear knowledge about, which is hard to understand as just (see my post to Liquesce above). Unless of course you are of Calvinist bent, in which you believe that God has every right to condemn people to hell because He created us and we all deserve it anyway, but that is hard to understand as loving.

So, I'm really sorry if I misunderstood you, can you let me know where I got it wrong? Or better yet, how you would answer the question of why people who seek God hear different answers to their prayers?

I truly am interested in knowing if there is another alternative besides a) God gave the right answer but the listener heard wrong or b) God gave the wrong answer for His own reasons. Because those are the only two possibilities I can think of!
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#201 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 09:42 PM
 
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Not at all. I was not even referring to this particular thread, just to discussions on that subject in general. It was certainly not pointed at you.
Whew! Thanks mamabadger, I was getting quite insecure there!
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#202 of 279 Old 10-19-2009, 10:56 PM
 
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Thank you, Bluegoat! So is his body somewhere physically now? But his spirit is everywhere? I always have wondered about that, and the other people said to have ascended bodily. I guess it's not something we can fully imagine. At least I can't. Pardon the digression, everyone, please!

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According to Christian belief, he took his body with him at the ascention. This is an important theological point because it implies that his body was really a part of him, rather than just a thing he was wearing like a pair of clothes. God really took on our essential nature as material beings.

Some Christians also believe this is true of Mary, and even a few OT figures. But it is closely connected either way to the idea that we will all have our bodies back at some point, though they will be transformed in a way we can't imagine. The material universe is an important and good part of creation, rather than something to be overcome.

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#203 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 01:55 AM
 
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You started out with whether or not those who do not accept Jesus can be saved (from Hell, I assume?) and at one point said that you've come to the conclusion that they cannot. I was also under the assumption that you believe the choice to accept Jesus has to be made during this life (because at one point you said something about it being "wishful thinking" to believe otherwise) and that those who *truly* seek will find God (= Jesus, Christianity) because He gives us so many signs.

If I've got that much right, then the logical corollary of this set of beliefs (as far as I can see) is that non-Christians have some fault that caused them to fail to make the choice that would give them salvation: either they didn't seek sincerely enough, or they did seek sincerely but when confronted with the correct answer (Jesus) rejected it for some reason, or something else, but none of it could be good because it has led to them being condemned to eternal torment. I said "intentional" up there because if the choice is not intentional you basically have God sending people to Hell for something they had no clear knowledge about, which is hard to understand as just (see my post to Liquesce above). Unless of course you are of Calvinist bent, in which you believe that God has every right to condemn people to hell because He created us and we all deserve it anyway, but that is hard to understand as loving.
Are we factoring in the predestination vs. free will debate with all of this, or are we presuming free will absent predestination?

Because of we presume predestination of God intentions (God knows everything past/present/future) then we can presume that God created some people with the explicit intention of being damned to hell.

Which is an extremely interesting and juicy discussion tidbit if you ask me...

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#204 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 04:15 AM
 
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If we factor in predestination to the equation, we have to really understand what predestination means biblically speaking.

It means that God forknew those who would accept Him or not. Some versions use the word predestination (in Romans and Ephesians, will find the exact verses when I get home) and some use the word forknew, 'in His forknowledge, he knew those who would ..be His, call on His name' etc.

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then we can presume that God created some people with the explicit intention of being damned to hell.
Perhaps not his 'intention' bc God does not wish any to be condemned to eternal destruction but certainly with the full foreknowledge that they would be. I believe He knew beforehand every single human ever born very intimately, even before they were born. And with the knowledge that they would reject him, deny his existance etc, he still created them, allowed them to be born. *I* beleive He still loves them. But that he has a conflict and its one I mentioned before. He knows what is righteous. He knows what is Holy. He created us for eternity and wants to spend eternity with us. To me, thats mind boggling. We are pretty clever by our own estimation, but by God's standards we arent so. Not even close. That he would actually want us in the first place, have created us for the express purpose to show off his eternal qualities; His love, first of all (which I can understand why some cant fathom that, why its so hard to wrap your head around, I do understand that but bear with me), His grace, his mercy, judgement, even his terrifying and terrible qualities. The bible goes on and on about how all *this*, life as we know it, is all for his glory. And I can understand how many cant get their heads around that one, but Im standing on a different side here, I do understand it, its terrifying, its awful sometimes, but its awesome, for me, its humbling. It makes me crumble to my knees sometimes.

This is me just thinking 'outloud' tbh. Im learning as I go, which is why I cant give a satisfactory answer to some of the questions posed in this thread. I have no doubt that Ill eventually get the answers tho and it may be that they arent palatable. I dont say this blithely or lighthearted, not with any joy, or with a sanctimonious air, or flippant in anyway.

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If I've got that much right, then the logical corollary of this set of beliefs (as far as I can see) is that non-Christians have some fault that caused them to fail to make the choice that would give them salvation: either they didn't seek sincerely enough, or they did seek sincerely but when confronted with the correct answer (Jesus) rejected it for some reason, or something else
Thao, I think what we have said is that all that is possible, but that as of yet, we dont have all the answers on that one, which is why Im still here seeking and not running away trying to hide from the truth of the matter.

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I said "intentional" up there because if the choice is not intentional you basically have God sending people to Hell for something they had no clear knowledge about
Im not sure if God does this. I have no idea. But in this life or the next, Im certain we'll all find out. Im here still discussing it, searching for the answer, bc I think its worth knowing now. There's a lot of questions I have about all this. I do know that whatever the answers are, I want to know them whether they are palatable or not, then whatever the answer is, if I have to make decisions or changes in my life, lets say from an evangelistic pov, I want to make those too. But, I have to know the facts first of all. The idea that theres a second chance after death, of coarse Im open to that. *Ive* not seen a whole lot of scripture that refutes that, so its still a possibility, lots of christians dont think so tho. Im not so sure. From my studying/understanding up to now, its possible, not certain, but possible.
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#205 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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This idea of a second chance after death is interesting. Second chance at what? This is assuming we know what God requires of us, and if we don't get it before death, we have a second chance after death. I don't believe he requires anything of us, he just loves us. So no need for a second chance, the way I see it. Just my thought on that!

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#206 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 01:00 PM
 
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hrsmom, see I believe God requires a lot of us!


Luke 12:47-48
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47"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
And this is a very interesting chapter altogether.
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#207 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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Are we factoring in the predestination vs. free will debate with all of this, or are we presuming free will absent predestination?
I've been presuming free will absent predestination, because I thought that was the version of Christianity ILoveSweetPea adheres to. But since it seems I've been misunderstanding her, I just mentioned Calvinism there as a possibility. I wasn't trying to take the thread off topic .
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#208 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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There's a lot of questions I have about all this. I do know that whatever the answers are, I want to know them whether they are palatable or not, then whatever the answer is, if I have to make decisions or changes in my life, lets say from an evangelistic pov, I want to make those too. But, I have to know the facts first of all. The idea that theres a second chance after death, of coarse Im open to that. *Ive* not seen a whole lot of scripture that refutes that, so its still a possibility, lots of christians dont think so tho. Im not so sure. From my studying/understanding up to now, its possible, not certain, but possible.
And I honor your integrity and your search . Christians have been dealing with this for generations. Such luminaries as C.S. Lewis and Madeline L'Engle (my favorite Christian author) have struggled with this issue and implied in their writings that they accept mamabadger's concept that anyone who is saved has by definition accepted Christ whether they know it or not (sorry, Sme! ). It's not really dealt with clearly in the Bible so I think its one of those areas that each individual Christian comes to their own prayerful conclusion and they could all be considered Biblically valid, depending on how you interpret various verses.
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#209 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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I got sucked back in, too! I've mostly been lurking, but I have been following along! I had said way back when that I would post scriptures that argue for a univeralist view of God. There are several, but here is one, Romans 5:12-21
I'll help you out with a few more, hrsmom.

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God..." 1 Peter 3:18

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentence. 2 Peter 3:9

"...because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10

"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3-4

I know there was also something in one of the Gospels that Jesus said that spoke deeply to me. If I can find it I will come back and post that one too.


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#210 of 279 Old 10-20-2009, 05:06 PM
 
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hrsmom, see I believe God requires a lot of us!


Luke 12:47-48


And this is a very interesting chapter altogether.
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47"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
I guess it might depend on what you define as the master's will. I think it comes down to the heart of Jesus's message. What exactly was he here to teach us/show us? What exactly are we expected to do now that he is gone? How do we carry on what he started?

I believe God requires something very hard from us - not many things, but a few, very hard things: love for all mankind (even those who strike us), compassion for those whose lives may not mirror ours, and forgiveness for all who have ever wronged us (including ourselves). Those three things are extremely hard to live out, though they may be easy to say. Those of us that know that (those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus), more is expected of us because we have no excuse to not live that way. Those who do not know have more of an excuse. But, at the heart of it all, those are basic human ways of treating one another. To live that way is to be fully human and fully present, in the same way Jesus was when he walked the earth.

To those of us who many blessings have been poured out, much is expected from us (charity, time, sacrifice). From those with little, less is expected from them. We are to live a Christ-led life. That is not a life where condemnation reigns. It is a life where love, compassion, and forgiveness reigns. We come to God through him; he said that while he was still alive. We don't come to God through his death, but through his life. We come to God through living a life honoring the life of Jesus. I think often churches focus so much on his death that they completely miss his life. It was extraordinary. We are called to walk in his steps. We are called to live an extraordinary life: welcoming the outcasts, welcoming the unclean - not to convert them to one way of seeing the world. But, simply because they are human and deserve love, compassion and forgiveness.

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