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#121 of 300 Old 12-31-2010, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you resolving on the computer thing?  That's a good idea.  Good luck with it if that is your plan.  I'll not expect to hear back from you on this necessarily, but I'll give a few of my thoughts.

 

The main thing I would say is that this whole discussion for me shows that this issue is not clear and easy.  You are quite convinced you are being perfectly logical and Biblical.  It seems to me not to be the case.  And more than that, this argument has been going on for some time, between holy good people with great minds.    For me looking at how the first Christians understood these questions is important just because this kind of difficulty arises, and I think on issues that are significant.  Of course every individual thinks things like baptism of infants are clear issues in one way or another - but if true, the people who think the other way should be clearly misguided, or dumb, or something.  I don't see that that is the case.

 

What's more, you've said that understanding what Scripture means requires study.  Typically that includes study of what the people who wrote it thought.  Rejecting free will seems pretty far from their minds.

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Isn't this even more damning for free will? It makes free will irrelevant, because if every choice comes to pass no matter what the decision is, what's the point of choosing? It doesn't change the outcome, which will always be multiple outcomes, so the choice is just as illusory as in Calvinism. A person choosing not to kill will still kill in one reality, and not in the other. Anyone's being a saint or a sinner will be simply an accident of which reality they popped into at God's instantiation - not a result of freely choosing good or evil. You could say of Mother Theresa "Well, mathematically speaking she had to do a lot of good in SOME life, but I must have done just as many good works in some other reality, and she must have been a killer".

 

It could be, it would depend.  Are the people who make each decision the same person who was presented with the decision?  Will they all be judged as one individual?  Who knows?  I can't think of any good way to tell.

 

 

It means that in certain limited aspects, God has no sovereignty, and humans have little "pockets" of sovereignty. If any part of the Godhead retained sovereignty over human will it wouldn't be free, so it must disappear entirely from the Godhead insofar as it applies to human will. And I'm not sure that incomplete sovereignty is even a coherent concept.

 

But the human free will would disapear if God didn't will it, which seems to be an expression of his sovereignty rather than something which detracts from it.

 

 

I'm confused again. It sounds like you're saying God has to contort His plans for history to accommodate free will, which is not how He describes His actions in Scripture. The pattern is "I do whatever I want", not "I work my purposes out as long as I can work it around people's choices, and sometimes I have to change things around a bit because nobody's choosing to act as I need for X to happen". What about "A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps"?

 

I think both those things are true.  God's purpose is increase of love, increase of beauty, increase of self-conciousness, increase of awareness.  As such, his plans are whatever optimizes that.

 

I'd say God is "above the way He expects humans to operate justice", and "above the way God expects humans to operate mercy", but not above those qualities per se. I covered this a bit in my last post to Thao.,

 

OK.  THat may be inevitable if you say God properly has attributes - it's something I've been thinking about.  But I don't see it as in line with what the first Christians or even the Jews thought.

 

Yes. Just as He told Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, but then hardened His heart - in that case, for the explicit purpose of making His power known among the Egyptians (some of whom may have joined Israel as a result). Why is it a "problem"?

 

Because what God says and does are not divided. 

 

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Because SS allows for the validity of reasoning as an epistemic tool. Catholicism, at any rate, doesn't. You say it allows it in some circumstances, but it seems that creates more problems than it solves - is there an infallible list of circumstances in which it's OK and in which it isn't - not to mention an explanation for those delineations? I've read blanket statements by Catholics on this subject all over the place - including one of those books that was approved by the Vatican - and never seen exceptions to the rule that reasoning and Scripture are unreliable mentioned. Do you have an "official" source for it?

 

I'll have a look and send you a link.  Dh just got home after 3 months so I don't want to spend to long on internet stuff now.  But I'm quite sure someone has said something a bit confusing/ poorly presented.


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#122 of 300 Old 12-31-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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The main thing I would say is that this whole discussion for me shows that this issue is not clear and easy.  You are quite convinced you are being perfectly logical and Biblical.  It seems to me not to be the case.  And more than that, this argument has been going on for some time, between holy good people with great minds.    For me looking at how the first Christians understood these questions is important just because this kind of difficulty arises, and I think on issues that are significant.  Of course every individual thinks things like baptism of infants are clear issues in one way or another - but if true, the people who think the other way should be clearly misguided, or dumb, or something.  I don't see that that is the case.

We've covered this ground before. I have no problem with looking at what early Christians thought: I simply have a problem with assuming that they must have interpreted it correctly because they were early Christians (or the subset of early Christians whose views became popular and/or encoded in Catholic or EO documents until they marginalised other points of view). Even when the NT was being written, early Christians were getting all sorts of things wrong. That's why it's important to look at the reasoning of the early Christians.

 

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What's more, you've said that understanding what Scripture means requires study.  Typically that includes study of what the people who wrote it thought.  Rejecting free will seems pretty far from their minds.

Again, that's the issue in question, and obviously I completely disagree. Can you tell me a place in Scripture where any of them affirmed free will? I'd say a fair chunk of Romans is about "rejecting" free will rather explicitly.

 

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But the human free will would disapear if God didn't will it, which seems to be an expression of his sovereignty rather than something which detracts from it.

OK... but that brings up another interesting point. If God wills free will in certain instances, knowing (foreknowing) that that will result in evil, doesn't that make Him just as responsible for evil as if He predestined it directly? So how is He still not the author of evil, albeit in a slightly less direct way? (But still fairly direct, as He still has to uphold the physical criteria for the evil to occur, such as synapse function.) If you knew beyond a shadow of doubt that your dog, let loose, would attack a toddler, and still let him loose, you'd be responsible for the attack just as surely as if you controlled the dog with a behavior chip (although, of course, it'd be harder to prove in court!).

 

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It could be, it would depend.  Are the people who make each decision the same person who was presented with the decision?  Will they all be judged as one individual?  Who knows?  I can't think of any good way to tell.

How could they be judged as one individual, when some of them would be saved and some would be damned? It seems viewing possible worlds as a literal possibility (rather than a way of conceptualising decisions, which is how I initially proposed the term) sends you into some very dodgy territory - for one thing, it would include universes in which the Fall didn't happen, so where Jesus was never incarnated. I'd be interested to read some theological opinions on the theory, but I certainly think you have a way to go if you want to use it as an argument for LFW - it seems to me that it would imply a very different model of choice and causality.

 

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OK.  THat may be inevitable if you say God properly has attributes - it's something I've been thinking about.  But I don't see it as in line with what the first Christians or even the Jews thought.

Which isn't terribly compelling to a SS advocate. :p The Jews thought (and think) that God is unary, so I don't see that their perception of God's attributes is necessarily relevant to a Christian, unless you're referring to Jewish thought as written in the Old Testament. But as far as I can see, the Bible is certainly written as if God has definite attributes, which are analogous, although not identical, to those attributes as they appear in creation; and there are clues as to the manner in which His attributes differ from ours, but nothing that implies He is "beyond" them or not bound by them.

 

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Because what God says and does are not divided. 

Why not? As I say, He did it with Pharaoh. So clearly His decretive and preceptive wills are sometimes at odds. Likewise when He caused Saul to fling a spear at David - there are bits of OT law which pretty much say "Don't fling spears at people when you're jealous", but God caused him to do it nevertheless.

 


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#123 of 300 Old 01-01-2011, 10:33 AM
 
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I'd say it's fairness rather than justice. Justice simply means "according to the law" - God makes the laws, so by definition whenever He follows His own rules He is being just. He's hardly bound to obey our legal system.

No, the word "legal" means "according to the law". Justice is a much broader concept that involves moral rightness. Naturally God is not bound by our legal system, but our legal system springs from our conscience and our understanding of what is right and wrong, and in this sense reflects God's attributes.

 

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There's a qualitative difference in how God relates to us and how He expects us to relate to others. God is "allowed" to kill whoever He wants; we're not.

Sure, God is "allowed", but if He is bound by His own nature as you assert, and if God is just as the Bible asserts, then He cannot kill someone unjustly. So we do have to examine what the word means.

 

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humans are fully complicit in any sins they commit. They don't have a split personality - half controlled by God, the other (virtuous, naturally!) half watching impotently screaming "Nooo, I don't want to do this!". Insofar as they exist, they sin; their actions are not separable from their personality (which God also caused) or soul (which God also caused!).

But if humans have no free will, if we the damned are simply doing what God created us to do with no option to do otherwise, then how is it different from the example of the dog attacking the toddler that you gave Bluegoat? In that scenario, it is clear that the dog's owner, who knew his dog would attack the toddler but let him out anyway, is the culpable party, not the dog. I don't agree with you that God can be the author of sin but not be responsible for that sin. And yes, I realize that this is a problem for both Calvinism AND Arianism; it is a problem for any religion that believes in a perfectly good, perfectly omnipotent God. It doesn't solve the problem merely to say that we are the culpable parties because we sin. God created us to sin. God set the whole system up. If God is just, then the system must be just. Ergo it is just to punish people who had no real choice to do otherwise. But that contradicts of what our human conscience tells us. It contradicts our definition of "justice".

 

It's essentially the same argument that we had previously about the definition of "love", where initially you were saying there was no conflict in God loving the people He created for Hell, because God's love for us doesn't have to follow the same rules as human love. But to say this means that God can define words in any way He wants, even in a way that is unrecognizable to humans, which in turn would mean that we cannot possibly know what the words mean and leads to the same descent into absurdity that you decry when Bluegoat and I suggest the possibility of God being beyond logic. I grant you that the way God exercises justice will be different from how humans exercise justice - for example, our right to judge is considerably more limited than God's right to judge - however the concept of justice must be analogous or else words lose their meaning. And as I see it, there is no human definition of the word "just" that would include punishment - much less severe eternal punishment - of someone who had no choice in their actions. This is not a case of crying "it's not fair" because I think God owes me something. It is a logical conflict between the meaning of the word "justice" and the God you describe.

 

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Theologians generally consider holiness, not love, to be God's primary attribute. It isn't all about us.

Huh? It says in the Bible over and over again that God loves the elect. Therefore, by your own logic, God cannot do any unloving act towards the elect. Any expression of holiness that directly impacts one of the elect would have to also be loving act, or the Bible is in error. And I don't get the example you gave regarding you and your daughter - while it's true that you don't cast everything you do in terms of loving your daughter (for example, you don't say to yourself "I am paying this bill because I love my daughter"), I believe that you would never to anything directly to your daughter that you felt was unloving or not in her best interests. Well, within your human limitations of course! But God does not have those limitations, so every act he does towards His elect must be loving - it cannot be unloving.

 

By the way, I understand if you can't respond because of your New Years resolution. I wish you all a wonderful 2011!

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#124 of 300 Old 01-01-2011, 09:57 PM
 
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Still following along and I wanted to chime in again.

 

In order to receive revelation a person must be joined to the Lord who is Spirit, and be in their spirit (their human spirit).

 

Whether you are a SS advocate, a Tradition advocate or some degree of  both, you (general 'you') have to exercise your spirit in order to see spiritual things.  We exercise or mind to gain knowledge, we exercise our body to be healthy/strong, and we can exercise our spirit to receive spiritual knowledge. It may not seem that significant because it didn't make it into the Nicene Creed or any creed that I know of, but both John and Paul spoke of being in spirit.  All the logic in the world can only get you so far.  Paul did say to use our mind with our spirit.  John was in spirit on the Lord's day when he saw what eventually became the book of Revelation.  In John 4 he says that the Father seeks those who worship in spirit and truthfulness.  Our spirit is like a spiritual organ to gain spiritual revelation, in the same way that our stomach is the organ we use to receive food and our mind (brain) is the organ to gain knowledge.  If we are using our mind without using our spirit, we can be misguided, deceived and confused (I'm not saying anyone here is doing that, I'm just sayin').  We have to use the correct organ, our spirit, to obtain spiritual truths in the Bible, and to discern heresies, and such.

 

Revelation 1:10

10 I was in 1aspirit on the 2Lord's Day and heard behind me a loud voice like a btrumpet,

1 Corinthians 14:14

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my 1aspirit prays, but my 1bmind is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:15

15 What then? I will pray with the aspirit, and I will pray 1also 2with the mind; I will bsing with the spirit, and I will csing 1also 2with the mind.

1 Thes.

23 1And the 2God of apeace Himself 3bsanctify you 4wholly, and may your 5cspirit and dsoul and ebody be fpreserved 6complete, gwithout blame, 7at the 8hcoming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Zechariah 12

1 The burden of the word of Jehovah concerning Israel. Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him,

 

Anyone who has been regenerated (born anew) with God's divine life can exercise their spirit to see spiritual truths in the Bible.  (Sidenote: after the fall our spirit was deadened, our soul contaminated and our body became flesh.  All people have a spirit, but until a person receives Christ as Lord and Saviour their spirit is in a deadened state and cannot receive revelation)  Paul said, for me, to you, meaning everything he saw is for us, the church, the entire body of Christ.  I don't believe that Paul meant for only a few designated holy men to see the divine truths, and these men  carry out the Tradition, and only these men could define doctrine.  I do believe that God chooses some to see divine truths and to expound on them for our benefit.  Throughout the centuries God has shown individuals a particular revelation and the entire body benefits from it.  Who God chooses is up to him, and not up to the RCC or any other group to decide.  Each regenerated person has a spirit and a mind to determine what is according to the Truth.  

 

Everything we need to know is contained in our regenerated spirit.  God as the Holy Spirit (capital 'S') dwells in our human spirit (lower case 's') and we are mingled, therefore since God dwells in us, then all of the info we need is in us, but we have to exercise the proper organ to tap into it.  If Christ lives in you then you have the best Teacher.  We have the Scriptures to measure what we hear from other Christians.  We have our spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to determine what is the Truth.  I don't completely trust Tradition when it's not backed up by Scripture because it was established by the early church fathers and we know based on all of the epistles that the church was becoming degraded with things such as philosophy, culture, heresies, sin, worldliness,  money, politics, racism, etc.

 

I believe that when a person is regenerated, they are born anew with God's divine life, God's divine genes are now inside that person.  But where?  In their big toe? No, in their human spirit.  Once the Spirit is mingled with their human spirit then God begins to spread into their soul, which is their mind, emotion, and will.  God begins a transformation work on that person's soul.  God begins to saturate and permeate their mind, their emotion, and their will ,so that, that person will begin to match God in life and nature, in order to express God on this earth.  As He makes His home in their heart he is spreading into their mind, emotion and will and to transform and eventually conform this person into the same image as Him.  Eventually, at His second coming, He will completely saturate our physical bodies and we will have a glorified body.  To me, it's like He is filling us and filling us and filling us until we are so saturated that He comes back on a cloud, but also out of us, the church.  

 

The church is the house, the dwelling place of the living God.  The church is the organism, not an organization, of the Triune God.  The church is the continuation and expression of Christ on this earth.  The church is the corporate Christ, the actual body of Christ, on the earth.  Jesus died and was buried as the one grain of wheat to produce the many grains, the church, in resurrection (John 12).  Christ was the prototype of a God-Man and we, the church, are now the many God-men on the earth for His expression and dominion.   The church is the bride of Christ, who is making herself ready for Him.  Eventually the church will be without spot or wrinkle, but now we are in the midst of this transformation work. 

 

I say all this because we need to see a revelation of the church, the masterpiece of God.  I am afraid too many of us think that the church is all of Christianity.  Christianity is a religion with division upon division.   The church is not Christianity.  The church is not a building or a denomination.  The church is not Catholic, EO, or Protestant.  The church is all of God's called out saints, called out of the world and into Christ.  Who is to say which individuals are a part of the church?  Only God can say this because only God knows for sure who has been regenerated.  Sitting in a pew does not make a person regenerated.  OK off soapbox...sorry.

 

I get a little riled up because I have gotten so much help from two dear brothers, who in some circles of Christians, are not considered as respectable sources. They have both gone to be with the Lord, but all of their spoken messages are being published. Anyway, because they are not part of the C-hurch they are not considered as respectable sources for Christians.  Heck, they are not even considered part of the C-hurch.  This kind of thinking keeps the believers from receiving more light and revelation from other individuals who meet outside of the C-hurch.  This is why I don't completely trust Tradition, but I do completely trust the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit in my spirit guiding me, teaching me, and correcting me.  Here Paul is speaking to all the families named in heaven, that we can apprehend all of the dimensions of God by being strengthened into our inner man and by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

 

16 1That He would grant you, according to the 2ariches of His glory, to be 3bstrengthened with 4cpower through His 5Spirit 6into the dinner man,

17 That Christ may make His ahome in your 1hearts through 2faith, that you, being 3brooted and grounded in 4clove,

18 May be full of strength to 1apprehend with 2aall the saints what the 3breadth and length and height and depth are

19 And to know the 1knowledge-surpassing alove of Christ, that you may be bfilled 2unto all the 3cfullness of 4God.

 

The multifarious wisdom of God would be made known through the church, which is His body, not just a few good and holy men.


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#125 of 300 Old 01-02-2011, 12:14 PM
 
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We have the Scriptures to measure what we hear from other Christians.  We have our spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to determine what is the Truth.  I don't completely trust Tradition when it's not backed up by Scripture because it was established by the early church fathers and we know based on all of the epistles that the church was becoming degraded with things such as philosophy, culture, heresies, sin, worldliness,  money, politics, racism, etc.

 

I don't know how you can separate Scripture from Tradition.  Scripture is part of Holy Tradition.  It was through the Holy Tradition of the Church that the Scriptures were written and then determined to be canonized.  All of the books of the New Testament were written by men in the Church, and the epistles were written to members of the Church.  So how do you trust Scripture without first trusting the Tradition that produced it?

 

I also noticed that the version of the Bible you use only uses the word "tradition" in a negative way - the "traditions of men."  Verses where "tradition" is used positively in other translations (2 Thes. 2:15 and 3:16, for example), in your version the word is changed from "traditions" (or "teachings" in some translations) to "things."  The footnotes are also very anti-Catholic, as I'm sure you've noticed.  Do you think this is a completely unbiased version of the Bible, or could it possibly be passing on a tradition of its own?

 

I'm not saying this to upset you.  I just wanted to point out that there is a Biblical basis for accepting Holy Tradition.

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#126 of 300 Old 01-02-2011, 05:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Purple Sage View Post

 

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We have the Scriptures to measure what we hear from other Christians.  We have our spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to determine what is the Truth.  I don't completely trust Tradition when it's not backed up by Scripture because it was established by the early church fathers and we know based on all of the epistles that the church was becoming degraded with things such as philosophy, culture, heresies, sin, worldliness,  money, politics, racism, etc.

 

I don't know how you can separate Scripture from Tradition.  Scripture is part of Holy Tradition.  It was through the Holy Tradition of the Church that the Scriptures were written and then determined to be canonized.  All of the books of the New Testament were written by men in the Church, and the epistles were written to members of the Church.  So how do you trust Scripture without first trusting the Tradition that produced it?

 

I also noticed that the version of the Bible you use only uses the word "tradition" in a negative way - the "traditions of men."  Verses where "tradition" is used positively in other translations (2 Thes. 2:15 and 3:16, for example), in your version the word is changed from "traditions" (or "teachings" in some translations) to "things."  The footnotes are also very anti-Catholic, as I'm sure you've noticed.  Do you think this is a completely unbiased version of the Bible, or could it possibly be passing on a tradition of its own?

 

I'm not saying this to upset you.  I just wanted to point out that there is a Biblical basis for accepting Holy Tradition.


What I said is that I don't trust Tradition when it's not backed up by scripture.  Maybe I am not using the word 'Tradition' properly.  Maybe I should say that there are so many ( lower case 't') traditions, which I don't see evidence of in the Bible and some even contradict the Bible, that the (capital 'T') Tradition doesn't seem so completely trustworthy.

 

The NT says that we are to hold steadfastly the Apostles' teaching, which is what I look to when I am learning about a particular truth or practice.  It was the church elders or church fathers who canonized the Bible and I trust that they put it together according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I am not saying that the early church got everything wrong because they certainly got a great deal right. 

I have to go put dd to sleep.  I'll be back when I don't have a three year old climbing all over me.


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#127 of 300 Old 01-02-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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Purple Sage,

I looked up the verses to see which footnotes you said are anti Catholic and I didn't see it in the 2 Thes. verses you referenced.  But anyway, I will talk about it in general terms. 

 

The author of the footnotes, Witness Lee,  saw in a very clear way that the early church quickly was becoming degraded by the end of the 1st century.  The spiritual reality is that God sees the church as His masterpiece and the bride of Christ, but the outward appearance on the earth was that of degradation.  It was becoming married to the world with all of the political and monetary motives and during the dark ages truths were lost.  All of the idolotry and fornication was creeping into God's church.  The mixture with the world and all of it's philosophy and culture became very prevalent. 

 

Even though Luther gave us justification by faith that wasn't enough to reform the church to it's early days of simplicity and pure focus on Christ.  All of the state churches were raised up.  After Rome then came the Lutherans and the Anglicans.  Then finally  all of the Protestant divisions were popping up all over it was even more degraded.  Each one claiming to be the body of Christ, but having the same issues of division,  idolatry, mixture, and focusing on things other than Christ (Prosperity Gospel, anyone?)

 

So, this is the system of Christendom, which is every believers' history.  No one is excluded and we all have elements of degradation that we must rise up and reject  with all of our heart.  What are we to do?  How can we have a pure Christ centered local church?  The Lord has to recover some, even if it's just a remnant, back to the pure enjoyment of Christ with all the members functioning in a normal way.   Are we just supposed to stay in our degraded, divided state?  Is this what the Lord wants of His bride?   This is why Witness Lee,  the author of the footnotes in my study Bible, was persecuted because he spoke about rejecting this degradation.  He wanted everyone, every believer, to drop their names (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.) and meet in oneness according to the common faith of the believers, The Faith.  He wanted to include every believer even if there were doctrinal differences, we could all meet together on the ground of oneness.  All of God's regenerated believers could come together to exalt Christ even if there were different practices.  Watchman Nee said in his book, The Orthodoxy of the Church  (you can read it online) that, yes, we should practice baptism by immersion, head covering, presbytery, but it should not be a point of focus so that others cannot come and worship.  If we focus too much on tongue speaking for example, and every new believer is pressured to speak in tongues to the point of they cannot freely worship then that causes a division. 

 

You may say that we can never achieve this, but I am in it.  I believe it can happen because I am experiencing it right now.  I have seen an entire local church stop using the piano because a group of believers came who felt it was too worldly to have any instruments.  So, they dropped the piano for a long time for the sake of the oneness.  It can happen, really.  Eventually those believers had a change of heart and the piano was brought back.

 

Many times in Lee's messages when referring to degradation, he was speaking to himself and to all of us first to reject it.  His speaking was not in a judgmental way toward individual believers.  However, he had strong words regarding the system of Christendom and how it has hurt, damaged, and divided the believers. Please, I beg you, don't read a couple of notes and think that he, or I, are just anti Catholic because there is a lot more to the story than I can even go into. 

 

If you want to know what the Lord wants, prayerfully get into Revelation 2 and 3.  Check out the church in Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love.  Well, you don't have to listen to me, but if you haven't already done it, ask the Lord to show you the church.   If I am not in the the church of brotherly love right now then I'm just gonna throw in the towel and go back to the world, seriously.


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#128 of 300 Old 01-03-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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Shami, sorry I don't have time to respond to your whole post, but here are the anti-Catholic footnotes I was talking about.  There's three pages of them.  I wonder if he felt the same way about Eastern Orthodoxy - he must have, at least before the schism in 1054.  I need to work now, but I'll be back later.

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#129 of 300 Old 01-03-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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Shami, sorry I don't have time to respond to your whole post, but here are the anti-Catholic footnotes I was talking about.  There's three pages of them.  I wonder if he felt the same way about Eastern Orthodoxy - he must have, at least before the schism in 1054.  I need to work now, but I'll be back later.


Oh that's okay.  It didn't occur to me to do a word search to find them. lol   I thought you were referring specifically to 2 Thes verses.  I read through them and skimmed some.  There are 26 verses addressing the situation with the Catholic church and 9 verses addressing the  situation among the Protestants with some overlap between them.  The total number of footnotes for the Recovery Version is 15,000.  While Lee didn't shrink back from speaking what he believed to be the truth about Christianity and her history, it certainly wasn't his focus.  This is the focus of the footnotes as per the website:

"The Recovery Version contains over 15,000 extensive footnotes stressing the revelation of the truth, the spiritual light, and the supply of life."

 

My personal testimony:

I can say that where I meet (I've lived in four cities and met in four different local churches in the past 10 years) and also the local churches I've visited, the people rarely say anything about the RCC or the Protestant denominations.  Occasionally during trainings I might hear a word about it, but it's hardly the focus or the tradition among us to speak about it.  We have a lot of RCC folks meeting with us right now and we want to feed them, not beat them up.  If someone asked, we would not shrink back, but what we do in our gatherings is focus on what we have in common, Christ and the faith which we have believed into.  This is how we maintain the oneness among us.  If someone says, I was was baptized by sprinkling as a baby and I am happy with that, then we don't push them to get immersed.  We just praise the Lord that they were sprinkled.  If someone asks us we tell them that we believe that immersion after you have believed is what we believe to be the truth.  At the same time, we tell them that they have to be led by the Lord to be baptized.  We don't consider ones who have been baptized elsewhere or in a way that is different than us to be any less baptized or any less a 'member' of the body of Christ.  We believe they are a member of the body of Christ.  The local churches do not have any membership requirements, such as tithing, classes, or baptism.

 

The problem with this online thing that I have started participating in, is that you haven't experienced our gatherings to know that we enjoy Christ as our life and our life supply.  That is really our 'hallmark'.  I can see how you would think we are  anti Catholic based on what you've read and I am very sorry about that.  I never want to hurt another believer and I'd rather stop the conversation if it's hurting you.  I think I have found or the Lord led me to these group of people who focus on Christ and are one with all of the believers over the whole earth.  I haven't found this with any other group that I have explored.


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Regarding the free will topic:

If we are made in God's image and God has a will then we also have a will.  However, due to the fall, our will does not match God's will,  therefore we are in need of transformation and conformation.  After we are believers, we are in this process of transformation in which we exercise our will to be one with God's will for His expression on the earth.  My question for the 'no free will' camp is, how does this transformation process happen if we are not actively choosing to be one with God's will?

 

D.L. Moody said that when a person gets to the gates of heaven, they can look up and read a sign that says 'Whosoever will may enter' and after going in...they turn around and look up at the other side of the sign and it says 'Chosen before the foundation of the world'.

 

I asked one of my spiritual fathers about this and he said that God's selection is based upon His foreknowledge.   We know that all things came into being through Christ and everything is unto Christ.  The focus is Christ.  God in His foreknowledge, knew who would receive Christ and who would reject Christ. Some of the vessels He created would choose Christ and some would not.  Based upon this foreknowledge, God selected them to carry out His will on earth, which is to build up the body of Christ (this happens through transformation, my question in the first paragraph), the church, so that He will have His masterpiece on display for eternity.

 

God has a will in the heaven, but He needs a group of people to carry out His will on the earth.  What good is His will in the heaven, if it is not carried out on the earth?  This is how He gets all the glory. When vessels who are fallen sinners and in captivity of Satan choose Christ, get filled with Christ, and change camps.  But just because you change camps doesn't mean you are carrying out God's will.  You have to choose to be in your spirit on a daily basis to be one with God and His purpose.  Actually through the transformation process our will begins to match His will. 

 

Regarding the topic of God as the source:

God created Lucifer, who was the most beautiful angel and led the angels to praise, but Lucifer began to look at himself---that is where the source of evil began.  Lucifer looked at his own beauty and decided he wanted to ascend to be above the Most High (from memory, sorry if i'm not exact)  I do remember that Lucifer said "I will" five times in that passage.  Of course we know about that rebellion and he was cast down with 1/3 of the angels.  Now we know him as Satan, the god of this age,

 

In the garden, Adam and Eve, were presented with a choice of trees which represented two sources, God as life and Satan as death.  God had foreknowledge of all of these things, but that doesn't mean that He is the source of evil.  We know that God cannot go against His nature of being righteous.

 


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Shami, sorry I don't have time to respond to your whole post, but here are the anti-Catholic footnotes I was talking about.  There's three pages of them.  I wonder if he felt the same way about Eastern Orthodoxy - he must have, at least before the schism in 1054.  I need to work now, but I'll be back later.


Oh that's okay.  It didn't occur to me to do a word search to find them. lol   I thought you were referring specifically to 2 Thes verses.  I read through them and skimmed some.  There are 26 verses addressing the situation with the Catholic church and 9 verses addressing the  situation among the Protestants with some overlap between them.  The total number of footnotes for the Recovery Version is 15,000.  While Lee didn't shrink back from speaking what he believed to be the truth about Christianity and her history, it certainly wasn't his focus.  This is the focus of the footnotes as per the website:

"The Recovery Version contains over 15,000 extensive footnotes stressing the revelation of the truth, the spiritual light, and the supply of life."

 

My personal testimony:

I can say that where I meet (I've lived in four cities and met in four different local churches in the past 10 years) and also the local churches I've visited, the people rarely say anything about the RCC or the Protestant denominations.  Occasionally during trainings I might hear a word about it, but it's hardly the focus or the tradition among us to speak about it.  We have a lot of RCC folks meeting with us right now and we want to feed them, not beat them up.  If someone asked, we would not shrink back, but what we do in our gatherings is focus on what we have in common, Christ and the faith which we have believed into.  This is how we maintain the oneness among us.  If someone says, I was was baptized by sprinkling as a baby and I am happy with that, then we don't push them to get immersed.  We just praise the Lord that they were sprinkled.  If someone asks us we tell them that we believe that immersion after you have believed is what we believe to be the truth.  At the same time, we tell them that they have to be led by the Lord to be baptized.  We don't consider ones who have been baptized elsewhere or in a way that is different than us to be any less baptized or any less a 'member' of the body of Christ.  We believe they are a member of the body of Christ.  The local churches do not have any membership requirements, such as tithing, classes, or baptism.

 

The problem with this online thing that I have started participating in, is that you haven't experienced our gatherings to know that we enjoy Christ as our life and our life supply.  That is really our 'hallmark'.  I can see how you would think we are  anti Catholic based on what you've read and I am very sorry about that.  I never want to hurt another believer and I'd rather stop the conversation if it's hurting you.  I think I have found or the Lord led me to these group of people who focus on Christ and are one with all of the believers over the whole earth.  I haven't found this with any other group that I have explored.

 

I'm not hurt by this conversation at all, and I hope you aren't either.  I also don't deny what you feel and the real faith you experience. 

 

What I will say is that Witness Lee is giving his private interpretation of the Bible in the footnotes, and I'm not sure how accurate it is, historically or otherwise.  My personal research into the early Church has not led me to make the same conclusions he makes, especially in the notes for Rev. 2-3.  I did read these chapters today (I recently bought an Orthodox Study Bible with many footnotes) and compared what Witness Lee writes to what the Orthodox say about these verses, and they are naturally quite different.  What makes Witness Lee's interpretation correct?  He claims that he is recovering the true church, but how does he know this?  Many others have made the same claim, so what's different about him?

 

Like I said, I don't deny your faith and experience, and I'm not trying to pick on you.  If you don't want to continue the conversation, I'll be happy to drop it.  I've just been spending a lot of time lately studying the Catholic and EO Churches, and I don't think Witness Lee is correct. 
 

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I'm okay if you're okay with continuing.  What about his claims are not accurate to you?  Do you disagree that the church became degraded?  Or are you disagreeing with the interpretation of the seven churches typifying different types of degradation?'

 

Later tonight when my kiddo is asleep, I can write about what makes the Lord's recovery different from just another protestant denomination.  Just to point out, Lee never claims to be the leader or developer of the Lord's recovery.  He is more of a witness of what the Lord is recovering among all of His people.  There are many points I can touch on, but I  would like to know if you agree that the church even needs to be recovered.  That will help me know where to start as I don't want to bore you with what we already know to be true.

 

eta: I would be interested in what the EO says about Rev 2 and 3 if you have the time to write about it.


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Ug...it's nearly midnight and my child is still awake...that's what i get for letting her take a late nap.  I hope this is coherent.

 

I'm going to focus on the typology in the OT related to the Lord's recovery.  Due to the fall, the Lord has to recover us back to Himself.  In the OT the Lord is continually recovering the children of Israel back to Himself.  Since the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish people have been trying to rebuild or recover the Temple so that they can have a proper worship to God.  They are in the process now of preparing the items that they need for proper worship.  Even if they have all of the items, they still need the proper ground in Jerusalem in order to rebuild the Temple.  The Lord commanded them to worship in a particular place in Jerusalem.  Right now, they don't have the ground.  This is my understanding as a Christian and if I am wrong please correct me.

 

The children of Israel had the Temple as the house of God and the Christians have the church, the body of Christ, as the house of God.  The body is in this process of being built up, knit together in love.  The Lord needs one body with many members functioning to be built up in oneness, together..  The Lord Jesus prayed to the Father before His crucifixion that all of the believers would be one, just as You and I are one that the whole world would know that you sent me (?? from memory, John 17).  Oneness is crucial in the body of Christ.  The Triune God is one.  The Godhead is never separated from eternity past to eternity future.  Satan is the source of division and confusion among the body of Christ.  The church, the bride of Christ, has to be one, otherwise what kind of bride is that?  This is why Christianity as a religious system full of division cannot be the bride of Christ.  It's been cut up into pieces.  What kind of body is that?  It's not a body anymore.  It's a corpse because the Spirit cannot flow properly among the members with such a divided body. 

 

The Lord has to recover a group of people that will pay the price to meet practically in oneness, dropping doctrinal differences and practices to focus on Christ and all of the riches of Christ.  I have heard people say that other groups make the same claim, but where is it being practically carried out?  We cannot take any other name.  The church is Christ's and we cannot denominate ourselves.  To take another name is serious. 

 

The ground of oneness is what I am talking about.  Just as the children of Israel are required to meet on a certain ground and to build their Temple on that ground, and no other ground will do.  Likewise, I believe that Christ is the foundation of the church, but upon what ground will we build?  We should be building on the ground of oneness.  Some groups are building on the ground of baptism, or speaking in tongues, methods, prosperity,  etc. 

 

Here's an analogy:  Say a school principal calls over the intercom and says all teachers meet in the gym at one oclock.  At one oclock only one teacher brings her class to the gym and all the others were distracted, too busy, or didn't care to follow the instruction.   Which teachers are standing on the proper ground?  The one teacher who brought the class is standing on the proper ground.

 

This is what I believe the Lord is doing.  He is recovering the ground of oneness among a small group of people, a remnant.  What's happening is that people accuse us of being exclusive, or a cult, or boastful because we speak the truth about the degradation and division in Christianity.  On the contrary, we include everyone who is a genuine believer into the local church.  So, if you are a believer in the city of New York then you are a part of the church in New York regardless of where you go on Sunday.   Most people can't deny that the degradation and division exists, but they don't want to drop their differences to be one.  If others claim that they are one, but in practice they are divisive this is to be blinded by their religion.

 

Being one with all believers isn't an easy task, but by the Spirit we can be one, if we are willing to deny our self and what we want.  We are endeavoring to take this way, which we believe is the Lord's way, but we are far from perfect. The Lord's recovery is not Witness Lee's, it's the Lord's.  And notice that I don't capitalize 'recovery'.  It's not a movement of man.  It's the Lord's recovery of items that have been damaged or lost.  The Lord's recovery is the recovery  of truths (Luther recovered the truth of justification by faith. Luther is part of the Lord's recovery), of Christ, of the enjoyment of Christ, of the practical oneness in the body, the church, and the functioning of all the members.  The Lord is recovering each of us individually and corporately.

 

Let's just say for the sake of discussion that I am wrong and this is not the Lord's recovery, aren't the principles that I am opening up to you proper in some way?  If so, which denomination is talking about this stuff.  I mean, which denomination is fighting to reject the degradation and division?  What does the RCC or the EO have to say about it?  It seems so crucial, but I don't hear about it online or in real life.  I hope this helps. 

 

A friend of mine came to the US from China.  She was already a Christian.  She said to me, "I don't know where to go on Sunday.  There are four denominations in one city block.  Aren't they all Christian churches?"  I said to her, "yes they are all Christian, and I understand why you are so confused."  I couldn't tell her where to go.  When I think about it, I feel sick and outraged at how much ground the enemy has gained among us.


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Shami, what I would suggest, if you are interested in what the CC (it's not just Roman - the CC has other rites that are in communion with Rome) and the EO have to say, then spend some time reading the material they put out.  Read about their history and doctrines directly from them. 

 

Witness Lee said that the CC was formed in the sixth century.  Where did he get that information?  Also, he said that they mixed "pagan practices" and "evil matters" in with Christ's teachings - what is he talking about specifically? 

 

Here's a Catholic commentary to compare the meanings of parables from what the CC has said about them to what Witness Lee says.  I'd link you to an Orthodox commentary, but I can't find one online.  My Orthodox study Bible's notes are much closer to this Catholic commentary than to WL's footnotes.  What I'm wondering is where is WL getting his interpretations from? 

 

The "types" he talks about it Rev. 2-3...again, I have to wonder where he's getting this interpretation from.  If you check the commentary I linked above for Rev. 3, this same kind of "typing" of the seven churches was done before, only a little differently.  It seems to be a Protestant thing to do?  I don't know. 

 

 

Quote:
This is what I believe the Lord is doing.  He is recovering the ground of oneness among a small group of people, a remnant. 

 

Where does the idea that there is only a remnant of true Christians left in the world come from? 

 

 

Quote:
Most people can't deny that the degradation and division exists, but they don't want to drop their differences to be one.  If others claim that they are one, but in practice they are divisive this is to be blinded by their religion.

 

What exactly do you mean by "drop their differences"?  The CC and the EO both claim to have the fullness of the truth as passed down from the Apostles in an unbroken line of successors who've been taught specifically what the Church is supposed to do and believe.  They both believe in the real presence in the Eucharist - which is pretty darn important to them - so should they drop that because there are some Christians who don't believe this?  This is just being "blinded" (or "drugged" as WL said) by their religion?

 

 

Quote:
The Lord's recovery is not Witness Lee's, it's the Lord's.  And notice that I don't capitalize 'recovery'.  It's not a movement of man.  It's the Lord's recovery of items that have been damaged or lost.  The Lord's recovery is the recovery  of truths (Luther recovered the truth of justification by faith. Luther is part of the Lord's recovery), of Christ, of the enjoyment of Christ, of the practical oneness in the body, the church, and the functioning of all the members.  The Lord is recovering each of us individually and corporately.

 

Again, where does this idea come from?  A vision, a special revelation?  How do you know it's from the Lord and not from man?  What the CC and the EO claim is that Holy Tradition is the Tradition (capitalized because it is not from man) that was passed directly from Christ to the Apostles and then all the way to the present time through their unbroken line of successors, protected by the Holy Spirit. 

 

 

Quote:
Let's just say for the sake of discussion that I am wrong and this is not the Lord's recovery, aren't the principles that I am opening up to you proper in some way?  If so, which denomination is talking about this stuff.  I mean, which denomination is fighting to reject the degradation and division?  What does the RCC or the EO have to say about it?  It seems so crucial, but I don't hear about it online or in real life.

 

 

There is a LOT of information online.  Orthodox   - this site has so many articles, it would take a very long time to read them all.  And it's very easy to find info on the CC online.  The entire Catechism is online just for a start.

 

Since I am neither Catholic nor Orthodox, I don't really feel comfortable speaking for them.  I'd encourage you to read what they have to say for themselves, though, because I think you'd be surprised how much they both speak about the divisions and degradation you're concerned about. 
 

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http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=%23-%203*%0A

 

Here is a quick link to a book called The Testimony and the Ground of the Church, by Witness Lee.

 

The link goes directly to the section on the degradation on the church.  He goes into what he believes as mistakes made my some of the early church fathers, which brought in or contributed to degradation.  The two major things in this section are the heirarchy and being married to the world.

 

I did go to one article on the Orthodox site and read about their claim to unity, but I haven't really processed it, yet. 

 

Need coffee...badly.  Hope that link works.  It's pretty short and easy to read.

 

ETA:

after you click link

go to top right of screen

drop down the box with the chapters (Table of Contents)

go to chapter on the degradation of the church  (Chapter 14)


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The remnant is seen in typology in the Old Testament.  The Moses brought them out of captivity from Egypt (signifying the world and Satan) and their goal was to get to the Canaan the good land (signifies Christ).  Actually only two made it.  There are other places where the Lord commands the children of Israel to do something, but only a remnant respond to the call.

 

I want to be clear about what I believe about the church.

 

I believe that the requirement in the scripture to be a member of the body of Christ is to be born anew (John 3).  This is not something that the CC or EO believe.  I think this is huge truth that they are missing as it is right there in the scriptures.  Instead they have what Lee calls elevator salvation.  I think the Pentecostals have this view.  It's the view that if your doing well with God then you are saved.  If you you are in sin or backsliding then you are going to hell.  A CC can correct me if I am wrong.

 

The scriptures shows that once you are born anew you can enter into the kingdom of God.  I says if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead you will be saved.  I don't believe you can be unsaved once you have had this regeneration (born anew) experience.  Once you have experienced this inititial salvation you are a member of the body regardless of what name you give your self (Baptist, EO, etc.)  I believe their are tons of nominal Christians who have not had this experience and it saddens me.

 

You pointed out that this:

 

"Again, where does this idea come from?  A vision, a special revelation?  How do you know it's from the Lord and not from man?  What the CC and the EO claim is that Holy Tradition is the Tradition (capitalized because it is not from man) that was passed directly from Christ to the Apostles and then all the way to the present time through their unbroken line of successors, protected by the Holy Spirit."

 

If they have all of the truths, then what about justification by faith, and being born anew,  just to name two?  I'm not challenging you to answer this as i know you are in a searching state.  You are trying to figure this out which is why there is need for you to be able to look in the scriptures, exercise your spirit (if God lives in you, then God's knowledge is in you too) touch the Lord in a genuine way, and prayerfully see the truth.  All the members of the body can function this way.  The hierarchy in the CC and EO and Protestants, too, has annulled the practical functioning of all of the members.  Even though they say they are all one, the hierarchical system  is a huge degradation.  Only a certain few can speak and serve.  The Lord wants us all to be priests.  We are a royal priesthood.  Tradition does not make them right about all things.  Holding onto the Tradition keeps their eyes on that and not on any possibility that they have missed a few points of truth.  This is how religion can blind you.  I can be blinded by my religious mind too.  No one is exempt from this happening.  We have to be continually opening to the Lord to show us more of Himself.  Our check system is the scriptures and also other members of the body to fellowship with and explore the truth.

 

 

It also saddens me that genuine born anew believers are not accepted into certain denominations because they haven't taken a certain class or series of classes.  Where is this in the scripture or even Tradition?  Or you haven't tithed enough for your name to appear on the church membership.  Or, you were not baptized in this kind of water so your not baptized properly.

 

In Matthew you can see the universal church in chapter 16 and the local church in 18.  The local churches are one church one city and are an expression of the universal church (all the members of the body).

 


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I've skimmed through the book (I'll read it more carefully later tonight when I have time), and it appears to be his personal interpretation of the Bible.  He doesn't site any sources other than the Bible.  I mean, it's all just private interpretation, and that doesn't really answer my question of why to believe him instead of someone else?  There are so many individuals who have had their own private interpretations and started churches claiming to have the truth - truths which have many times contradicted each other.  How do you know who is right when they all claim to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

 

 

Quote:
I believe that the requirement in the scripture to be a member of the body of Christ is to be born anew (John 3).  This is not something that the CC or EO believe.  I think this is huge truth that they are missing as it is right there in the scriptures.

 

I think you need to look deeper into what the CC and EO teach about this.  Here's one link I found with a quick search.

 

Also the "once saved always saved" issue has been discussed over and over again on the forum on the site linked above.  I lurk there a bit and have learned a lot from the (sometimes very lively) discussions.  Again, it helps to look at these issues (justification by faith, born again, OSAS, etc) from the other perspective.  It's not like they haven't put a lot of thought and study into these things.

 

 

Quote:
The hierarchy in the CC and EO and Protestants, too, has annulled the practical functioning of all of the members.  Even though they say they are all one, the hierarchical system  is a huge degradation. 

 

I don't see it this way at all.  I think it was the way Christ designed His Church.

 

Sorry my posts are choppy, but I'm typing a little here and there as I'm working.  I wish I had more time to devote to this, but I'll just suggest again to study what Catholics and Orthodox people have to say about whatever concerns you.  The information is out there.

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Shami, I'm not really understanding how your group is any different from the multitude of other groups that say "we are closer to the truth than those others are". By focusing on the "degradation" of other churches, are you not being divisive? Well, naturally you have to have standards, you have to believe in something, but just doing so is necessarily excluding other people who interpret the scripture differently. It seems to me the only way to have unity would be to have no standards at all. For example, you say your church accepts any "genuine" christian, and that the sign of a christian is that they have been born anew. So would you accept Fred Phelps and his group into your church? He is a protestant and so I'm sure he believes he has been born anew.

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Thao, if I may I can answer the Fred Phelps question. Christ said you know a tree by its fruit, which *I* interpret to mean that you can tell a believer by the way he/she lives and speaks. This is confirmed by what it says in 1 John. You know a person in a true believer, born again, by the way they treat others. It says that a person who is born again walks as Jesus walks. No one will do this perfectly but 1 John also says that when we fail, even in this area, we can confess it (ie recognise it before God) and God will forgive us and teach us how grow out of behaving that way. So, no Fred Phelps and people who behave like him wouldnt be welcome. He would have to go and find somewhere else to fellowship. In fact, I have a feeling he hasnt been accepted among born again/anew groups and thats why his tiny group is going it alone. Shami said 'genuine believers' and you know a believer by the way they behave, by their 'fruit'.

 

Thats how I see it anyhow.

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#140 of 300 Old 01-04-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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My posts are choppy too, due to the very needy kiddo.  That's why I multipost, too.

 

Thao, many people have pointed out the degradation of the church, not the churches.  I have to make that point because it is a progression of degradation of the one church over the centuries so that what was once the proper expression in the early 1st century became an improper, damaged, divided expression.  Pointing out that the one church that God intended has become degraded is not dividing our self, rather we are endeavoring to participate with the Lord's leading in a recovery work so that God can have a proper expression.  We are not exempt from degradation our self simply because we are endeavoring to be recovered from it.  There are many areas or items of recovery going on individually and corporately.  Let's take idol worship.  I may have idols, meaning anything that I love more than the Lord can become an idol.  Let's say my struggle with wanting to be married and not finding a husband.  Over the years, finding a husband can become first above the Lord and that would be an idol.  Or corporately, say we decide that we want to attract more young people and so we hire a big band to put on a big production.  Maybe this attracts young people to the band, but it is mixing the world with Christ.   Christ is beautiful and pure, not mixed.  If you see the principle in the NT, they went out two by two to preach the gospel.  They did not arrange productions or performances.  We are only endeavoring to take Christ plus nothing.  This is not a judgment on others, but a conviction in us that this is what the Lord needs for the building up of the body, for His expression on earth. 

 

I mean to say that we are not sitting around judging others' and how much degradation they have...it's not like that.  We are focusing on Christ, loving Him first, and endeavoring not to fall into the hierarchial, clergy laity system, worldliness, idol worship, fornication.  We don't talk about it much because we are too busy enjoying Christ and all of the riches in the word.  It's more of an unspoken current than a subject of fellowship.

 

Re: Phelps.

I do not know if he has received the Lord in a genuine way.  Many people who have been born anew, fall away from the enjoyment of Christ and can possibly do evil terrible things.  Just because you are born anew, and you are a member of the body, does not mean that person is exempt from evil.  Only the Lord knows who has received Him.  In principle, we have to receive whomever the Lord has received.  It is not up to our choosing who is received into the universal church.  Now if some come to meet on the ground of oneness, but they are doing evil sinful things, I believe the local church members would try to have fellowship and help them to focus on Christ and provide some kind of support to help them grow in the Lord.  If Phelps family showed up, I don't know what we would do.  I can't really answer that, but I know in principle the believers must receive whomever the Lord receives.  If this principle isn't followed then the problem of preferences, opinions, racism, etc.  We view the church as kind of a hospital...we're are all sick from the fall and doing our best to exercise our spirit to be one with the Lord and His purpose to build the body of Christ so that He can come back.


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#141 of 300 Old 01-04-2011, 12:16 PM
 
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That makes perfect sense, Genifer. But now the standards to be accepted into Shami's "unified" church are more complicated - to be born again, and to show proper "fruit". Then of course one has to define what that fruit should be, and where the threshhold is for people who fall short. For example, does a member with a chronic anger management problem who doesn't accept that he has a problem - let's say he is great in many ways but regularly loses his temper at his kids and thinks his is justified in doing so - qualify? What about a person who is born again, has wonderful "fruits", and is in a gay relationship? Or a person who is born again but interprets Mark 3:29 to mean that there is an unpardonable sin which can cause a person to lose their salvation (in contradiction to what Shami believes)?

 

I don't see how it can ever be as simple as Shami seems to think it is. It is simple when the group is small, as hers is. But when groups grows larger, like the CC or EO churches are, they do need to have standards. They need to define themselves. In arguing for unity Shami argues against differing definitions, but then she has her own definition of what a "genuine" Christian is. So as far as I can see the only difference between her denomination and others is that they define themselves differently, based on different interpretation of the Scripture. I don't see that her church is any more "unifying" than the others.  

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Pointing out that the one church that God intended has become degraded is not dividing our self,

I think it would be considered very divisive to a member of the CC, EO and Anglican churches, who do not consider their faith and rituals to be degraded.

 

Don't get me wrong, your church sounds wonderful orngtongue.gif. I just don't see it as being qualitatively any different from the wonderful Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinist etc etc churches out there.

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Thao, if I may I can answer the Fred Phelps question. Christ said you know a tree by its fruit, which *I* interpret to mean that you can tell a believer by the way he/she lives and speaks. This is confirmed by what it says in 1 John. You know a person in a true believer, born again, by the way they treat others. It says that a person who is born again walks as Jesus walks. No one will do this perfectly but 1 John also says that when we fail, even in this area, we can confess it (ie recognise it before God) and God will forgive us and teach us how grow out of behaving that way. So, no Fred Phelps and people who behave like him wouldnt be welcome. He would have to go and find somewhere else to fellowship. In fact, I have a feeling he hasnt been accepted among born again/anew groups and thats why his tiny group is going it alone. Shami said 'genuine believers' and you know a believer by the way they behave, by their 'fruit'.

 

Thats how I see it anyhow.


This is very true.  We can usually tell another believer in this way.  The two cases that I have experiences with believers who were practicing sin.  One person was open about practicing homosexuality and a few of us met with him regularly, prayed with him, had him into our homes,  and tried to help him to reject this sin by feeding him more Christ.  I don't mean that we hammered him with all of the verses that speak against this particular sin, but I mean shepherding him with the nourishment in the word and fellowship.  I believe the elders asked him to refrain from taking the Lord's supper until he was over this sinful practice, but he continued to sit on the front row and enjoy Christ in the singing, praising, and fellowship.  He eventually broke through and is really growing in the Lord.  Praise the Lord...He can overcome any thing.

 

The other case was a brother who was practicing adultery.  He was also asked to refrain from taking the Lord's supper, but he didnt' want any help from us and so he left and divorced his wife.  She is still with us, but really hurting.   These were situations that were in two separate localities, but handled in the same principle of trying to shepherd them. What I've learned through this is that in the case of sin, we can't just turn away believers who seem problematic to the church.  But in the case of divisiveness, Paul in Romans says that we can and should cut the fellowship with them until they repent of their divisiveness.  Can't remember which chapter it is, but Paul's language is so strong that it's even uncomfortable for me when I read it.


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Right, so you have standards, nothing wrong with that. Your group is allowed to define yourself and say, for example, that based on your interpretation of scripture you will not accept a practicing homosexual into full fellowship. I don't see how that is any different from another church saying that based on their interpretation of scripture they will not accept a person into full fellowship (membership) until they have been baptised. So why is it "divisive" for a church to require baptism for full fellowship but not "divisive" for your church to require heterosexuality? Do you see my confusion?

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Quote from Purple Sage.

"I've skimmed through the book (I'll read it more carefully later tonight when I have time), and it appears to be his personal interpretation of the Bible.  He doesn't site any sources other than the Bible.  I mean, it's all just private interpretation, and that doesn't really answer my question of why to believe him instead of someone else?  There are so many individuals who have had their own private interpretations and started churches claiming to have the truth - truths which have many times contradicted each other.  How do you know who is right when they all claim to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit?"

 

 

You sound like a genuine seeker and you will know in your spirit when you find it.  You'll just know because the Lord is so real and He will guide you into all the reality that you are hungering for... I really believe that.  He is the Spirit of reality.  If you ask Him for it and are willing to follow Him, you know when you see it.  It's like what Genifer said about it... you know by the fruit.  If you find a group of believers who help you grow in the Lord, who nourish you spiritually, who help you to pray and contact the Lord, who know how to enjoy Christ (not just define doctrines) and how to help you enjoy Christ, and of course they must be scriptural.

 

And yes, Witness Lee is commenting on the Bible.  It is his personal interpretation based on his personal study.  You will notice that he backs up what he says with a lot of verse references and cross references.  I believe he has read a lot of what other Christians have interpreted and gleaned what he felt was either a major point or something really worth getting into more.  He always encouraged us to dig for our selves and not to just take what he says.  Maybe the reason that you aren't seeing sources cited it because all of his writings were actually spoken messages that Living Stream Ministry is now in the process of  transcribing and putting into book form.  Now with the internet they have made it available online.  These are messages that he spoke in various conferences and trainings so your are not going to see a reference section in the back.  I think he may have written one book, a biography of Watchman Nee entitled Seer of the Divine Revelation.  Very touching book.


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That makes perfect sense, Genifer. But now the standards to be accepted into Shami's "unified" church are more complicated - to be born again, and to show proper "fruit". Then of course one has to define what that fruit should be, and where the threshhold is for people who fall short. For example, does a member with a chronic anger management problem who doesn't accept that he has a problem - let's say he is great in many ways but regularly loses his temper at his kids and thinks his is justified in doing so - qualify? What about a person who is born again, has wonderful "fruits", and is in a gay relationship? Or a person who is born again but interprets Mark 3:29 to mean that there is an unpardonable sin which can cause a person to lose their salvation (in contradiction to what Shami believes)?

 

I don't see how it can ever be as simple as Shami seems to think it is. It is simple when the group is small, as hers is. But when groups grows larger, like the CC or EO churches are, they do need to have standards. They need to define themselves. In arguing for unity Shami argues against differing definitions, but then she has her own definition of what a "genuine" Christian is. So as far as I can see the only difference between her denomination and others is that they define themselves differently, based on different interpretation of the Scripture. I don't see that her church is any more "unifying" than the others.  


Just for your info, not trying to brag...we are all over the globe with many local churches on each continent.  Not small and it is working where ever we go because we are following the principles laid out in the Bible which Lee and Nee helped us see.  You can go to any local church and get the same flavor of Christ and the oneness.  It's sort of you gotta see it to believe it.  I know I never would have believed it.

 

By knowing the fruit:

Okay let's stick with the Phelps' story.  If he is a genuine born anew believer then the Lord has received him.  However, Phelps' work does not build up the body of Christ.  His work damages the body and that's how you 'know by the fruit'. 

 

Our standards:

we maintain what is as close to scripture as we see it.  When I talk about dropping your differences...an example would be the free will or no free will doctrine.  I can still enjoy Christ with a person who holds the Calvinist view.  I don't have to persuade or prove to a Calvinist to accept the free will doctrine in order to worship together (not trying to poke you Smokering, it just seemed like an example close to us all in this thread)  We have the common items of faith and that is what we focus on.  It's not a crime to see a different interpretation as long as you are not denying the divinity/humanity of Christ, the Trinity, etc. 

 

The scripture lays out what is divisive...i'd have to go and read a bit to say more, but I remember it being very clear and, uh oooh, ouch when I read it.  It also lays out how to deal with a sinful brother, and then there is Corinthians...man they were messed up, sinful saints.  What Paul did to help them is to help them see and appreciate Christ.  When we see Christ and who He is and how pure He is, we get convicted and must confess our sin and darkness.  I am with college students a lot and involved in trying to shepherd them.  I never focus on their short comings or sin.  I always receive them and try to help them enjoy Christ.  Not trying to boast,...it's the principle that Paul laid out in Corinthians.  I don't shrink back and say it's okay to practice____________sin.  But I encourage them to pray with me and eat more of the word, sing more, declare the wonderful facts, praise the Lord.  Most people who want to be freed of their sin can if they practice these things.  Christ is the immense magnet in the universe drawing us to Himself day by day.


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Right, so you have standards, nothing wrong with that. Your group is allowed to define yourself and say, for example, that based on your interpretation of scripture you will not accept a practicing homosexual into full fellowship. I don't see how that is any different from another church saying that based on their interpretation of scripture they will not accept a person into full fellowship (membership) until they have been baptised. So why is it "divisive" for a church to require baptism for full fellowship but not "divisive" for your church to require heterosexuality? Do you see my confusion?


You have to see it in the scripture and no time right now to find verses.  Sin is dealt with in a certain way according to the apostles' teaching.  Even if one is in darkness and sin that doesn't mean they are not part of the universal church or the local church.  If sin was the determining factor, we'd all be out.  There are only few sins that we consider so serious that a person is asked to refrain from the bread and the cup, but they are not out of the church or the fellowship.  Actually, I have seen that the fellowship with that person usually increases as saints rise up to shepherd them.  We want all things to be done for the building up of the body of Christ.

 

One time I was so angry with my husband that I felt I was not one with him or any one and I refrained from taking the bread and the cup because i was not right in my being.  No one asked me to do this.  No body even knew about it.  Anyway, I don't know how that helped the discussion. These things are so hard to put into words for me.  It's like trying to describe Tirimisu dessert to someone.  I can say it's lady fingers dipped in coffee with creme layers and chocolate, but finally i just say go taste it for your self!


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Quote:
Pointing out that the one church that God intended has become degraded is not dividing our self,

I think it would be considered very divisive to a member of the CC, EO and Anglican churches, who do not consider their faith and rituals to be degraded.

 

Don't get me wrong, your church sounds wonderful orngtongue.gif. I just don't see it as being qualitatively any different from the wonderful Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinist etc etc churches out there.


I go back to the Principal calling all teachers to meet in the gym.  If only one teacher brings her class and the rest go their own way, who is following the instruction?  The other teacher may have very good reasons for not bringing their class to the gym, but their reasons shouldn't trump the Principal's call.  And why blame the one teacher for following the instruction?  The Lord said not to take any other name, but this is what the denominations have done.  We do not take any other name.  We meet as the church in _________city.


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So why is it "divisive" for a church to require baptism for full fellowship but not "divisive" for your church to require heterosexuality? Do you see my confusion?

 

I think it might be down to how one interprets scripture Thao. Ive seen how Shami's tried to explain herself and I understand what she's saying, personally and I dont really understand your confusion. I think I see it this way. There are some churches who seem to complicate scripture, imho. This is how I understand it. I personally like to take scripture at face value, I have a brain, Im intellegent and whats more I believe I have the Holy Spirit, so really I dont feel I need the church hierarchy like the Catholic church has to teach me scripture. I have the bible, I can read it and learn from it. Its what works for me. I like to not add anything to it when I read scripture. I think some here might accuse me of having my own tradition and that would be the tradition that reads scripture, prays about it for understanding and go with what I learn thru the teaching of the Holy Spirit, then yeah, I have fellowship with other believers... and yeah!! It gets sticky there sometimes, thats nothing new. There are some believers I personally couldnt continue fellowshipping with. Ive read thru these threads and have tried to find a way of describing how I 'Do This' Christianity thing and the conclusion Ive come to is that I just do what works for me. Ive described it just now and it works, it does what it says on the tin. Its great for me. I must admit that its rare to find christians like me tho, but they are out there.

 

As far as my reading and understanding of scripture, as Ive described my 'methods' above, to specifically answer the question of yours which I quoted, to not be baptised isnt sin, whereas homosexuality is, again I must stress, as per my understanding of the scripture dealing with that particular topic. That might be why a practicing homosexual would be asked to abstain from partaking of communion (the Lord's supper). Im trying to clarify what I understand Shami to be saying but I dont want to put words into her mouth. Im not sure how I would handle a situation like that tho and I am currently not involved with any church, but I do meet with two other believers to study the bible once a week and fellowship with my family.

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Quote from Thao

"Or a person who is born again but interprets Mark 3:29 to mean that there is an unpardonable sin which can cause a person to lose their salvation (in contradiction to what Shami believes)?"

 

I'm not trying to be nit picky, but this is a good example I can use to illustrate a point.  First of all, someone can still come and enjoy the Lord with us even if they do think they can lose their salvation.  However, this verse is to unbelievers.  It says, 'sons of men'.   It's a gospel, which is written for unbelievers to believe so their is no losing your salvation possibility if your audience is unbelievers.   Not sure but this might be what Genifer means by taking the verses at face value.

 

I'm not even clear of what the difference is to blaspheme and blaspheme the Holy Spirit.  That's confusing to me.  The verse 28 before makes that distinction, but I'm not clear why.  But I am clear about the audience being unbelievers.  Does anybody else understand these verses or have footnotes to help.  My footnotes didn't help much.

 

28 Truly I say to you that all sins will be aforgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they bblaspheme,

29 But whoever blasphemes against the 1Holy aSpirit has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of an 2everlasting sin.

30 He said this because they said, He has an unclean spirit.


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