Senate Understanding Christianity... (now: Favorite Bible Verses

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. Ghost Chosen One

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    Time for a new discussion?


    In my first post here, I typed this:


    Does anyone, Christian or Non-Christian, want to learn any more about anything just mentioned? Or anything else you have a question about? Or something about Christianity that doesn't seem to make sense to you? Or maybe you want to have a more in-depth theological discussion on something?

    Each could make a good topic, as long as we're all here to better understand Christianity.

    As a friendly reminder:
    Please be respectful to everyone. Everyone is welcome: Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, those unsure... everyone. Please be respectful of Christian beliefs, and other people's beliefs.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 13, 2013
  2. Saintheart Chosen One

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    For one, and it's just for interest's sake: how do Christian churches other than Catholics view Mary, Our Lady? What beliefs are out there about her?

    For full disclosure, in the Catholic Church she holds a fairly important position. We've got three key theological principles as apply to her:

    (1) This one's probably the most obvious one. Catholics believe Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, i.e. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and not by ordinary biological interaction. This is what the event of the Annunciation is held by Catholics to be about (and I only realised the other day on a literal reading that the conception does not happen without Mary's consent -- Gabriel speaks in the future tense throughout Mark I think it is about what will happen, and only when Mary says "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it happen to me as you have said" does the angel depart.

    (2) Less obviously, Catholics also believe in what's called the Immaculate Conception. I understand this was the subject of fairly recent (for the Church) pronouncement of orthodoxy, i.e. one of the solemn declarations made under the "blessing?" of Papal Infallibility. Catholics hold that Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross was to remit the condemnation of Man for Original Sin, i.e. Adam and Eve's disobedience to God in Eden. That being so, before Christ died on the Cross, all people were born and conceived with the taint of Original Sin. It therefore became a point of theology that Mary could not have borne God in that flawed state, so Catholicism holds that Mary's conception was without the taint of Original Sin, unique in all history, so she therefore did not pass that sin onto her son Jesus.

    (3) And finally, there's the Doctrine of the Assumption, again the subject of Papal pronouncement as infallible. In essence, it holds that pursuant to the traditions of the Church rather than anything in the Bible as such, when Mary died her body did not remain here on Earth. Rather, she was "assumed" body and soul directly to Heaven. This seemed to flow out of the Immaculate Conception, in that since Mary never had the taint of Original Sin, she was never subject to the passage of death that is the scar of Adam and Eve's Original Sin and through which every human must go.

    For Catholics she's seen as a fairly potent mediator with Jesus; sometimes she seems to be projected as a more "approachable" face to people in the church, that if Jesus seems a little intimidating, that you should direct a prayer to Mary who then intercedes on your behalf with Jesus - because what son could say no to his mother? Catholics don't believe that Mary herself has any power to grant prayers -- that power is reserved to God alone. But Mary's intercession with Jesus is believed by Catholics to be very potent. There's a fair number of Marian shrines around or miracles (Lourdes, Fatima) attributed to her status.

    This is partially what the Catholic prayer beads, the Rosary, is all about. It's said to have been given to St. Dominic if I remember right, and aside from being a meditative tool, it's also a series of fifty chants of the Hail Mary. When you see them being used, it's either as a contemplative tool or as a direct request to Mary for intercession with Jesus on the supplicant's behalf.

    Anyway, that long aside, how do the other branches see her? It's more for interest than anything else...
  3. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

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    Well, I'm a Catholic and she's my patron saint, so obviously I have a close personal connection to the Marian cult. I visited Lourdes once and it was a pretty deep spiritual experience.
  4. Eryndil Jedi Grand Master

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    Well, I'm no expert on doctrine but, from what I know of the Anglican Church (my own faith), we would agree with the first of your theological principles but not the other two. Mary is greatly respected as the mother of Christ but not considered as mediator. Prayer is direct to the Father, Son and/or Holy Spirit.
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  5. Ghost Chosen One

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    Yeah, that's how my Congregationalist church was... great respect to Mary, but not treated as a mediator.

    A common misunderstanding of Catholicism from Protestants is that Catholics actually worship Mary and the Saints, when Catholics just see Mary and the Saints as mediators.

    I learned about the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption in my Catholic high school, but those doctrines never really made sense to me. But I guess that's probably because I don't believe in Original Sin either, at least not in the way that most do.
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  6. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Yup. It's even right there in the Hail Mary:

    Hail Mary, full of Grace
    The Lord is with Thee
    Blessed art thou among women,
    and Blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
    Holy Mary, Mother of God
    Pray for us sinners
    Now and at the hour of our death.

    Note the bolded part. Mary prays, she doesn't grant prayers.
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  7. Eryndil Jedi Grand Master

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    I have a vague knowledge of some Catholic doctrine, so I knew that they didn't worship Mary. However, I have seen her referred to as the co-redemptrix which is an interesting (and complex) concept which, as far as I know, is not part of any Protestant beliefs.

    One misunderstanding that I have found to be very common, particularly with non-Christians, is the meaning of 'Immaculate Conception'. Many people seem to think it is the same as 'Virgin Birth'.
  8. Pearlsaber Jedi Grand Master

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    From a Classical Pentecostal perspective, Mary is held in high regard as the Mother of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word. However, the thought of Mary not having Original Sin or of her being translated to Heaven, without dying, is not widely accepted.

    Simply, she was an obedient, Godly woman who accepted the call of God to bear the Savior of the World. As might be obvious, Pentecostals do not hold Tradition on equal ground with Scripture, as the RCC does. This is probably the reason for the disconnect.
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  9. Saintheart Chosen One

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    I don't know if Catholics hold Tradition on equal ground with Scripture as such -- I'd have to go and research it, but I seem to remember that Tradition doesn't override Scripture to the extent of an inconsistency. I think Tradition is just ... sort of the way we fill in the blank bits ;)
    Last edited by Saintheart, Feb 14, 2013
  10. Pearlsaber Jedi Grand Master

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    The RCC states that tradition and scripture together create the Word of God. I believe this is actually in the catechism, but I could be mistaken.
  11. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

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    You'd be surprised how many "casual Catholics" confuse the two, too. :p

    EDIT: Also, shouldn't someone change the title to reflect the current topic?
    Last edited by Mar17swgirl, Feb 15, 2013
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  12. Darth_Maestro Force Ghost

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    The Catholic/Orthodox understanding is that the three pillars of the Church are: Tradition, Holy Scripture, and the Magisterium(teachings). The Word of God, in the Gospels, if you recall from the opening of John, refer to the person of Christ Himself (Logos = Word), the Second Person of the Trinity. In the Epistles it may sometime refer to Scripture or to the Logos, depending on the context.

    On the topic of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, I like to explain Veneration, with the analogy(It's not perfect but gets the point across) of "guitar gods". You got people like Van Halen, Page, Jimi Hendrix, Clapton etc. that people, sadly, worship, idolize, and love so much that even their instruments gain a bit of prestige. People will pay and come to just gaze and touch their instruments even if the famous musician isn't there. The instruments are elevated just by association. But does this take away from the rockstar? No, of course not. I can't imagine any fan if given the choice of meeting Eric Clapton or seeing his guitar, would go with the latter. The same with God and his Saints. They are the "instruments" of God here on Earth, through which he has done visible and great works.
  13. Darth_Maestro Force Ghost

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    My understanding, is that Tradition does kinda trump Scripture, Scripture is interpreted in light of Tradition. It makes sense, since we got Holy Scripture through Holy Tradition, guided by the Holy Spirit.
    Last edited by Darth_Maestro, Feb 15, 2013
  14. Pearlsaber Jedi Grand Master

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    It is difficult for my Protestant Pentecostal mind to understand how tradition could trump scripture, especially since there would be no tradition without scripture.

    Of course, tradition is the lens by which we may interpret scripture, but the lens is not greater than the physical document, in my mind.

    Were the scriptures written only with their tradition or were the Holy Scriptures some kind of a "New Thing" to the world? Of course, we know that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, was most definitely a New Thing. Why can't the scriptures be the same?
  15. Darth_Maestro Force Ghost

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    Well consider that the earliest written Epistle was Thessalonians 1( Or, Colossians, not sure.) that was written in the mid 40's. Christ dies in 33 AD, so consider that for a good decade, none of the New Testament was around, what were the Apostles and Disciples doing for that length of time? You can bet that a good amount of teaching was passed on verbally and by example. When St. Paul and the others write to the churches across the Mediterrenean, they're writing to churches that have already been established and have been practicing the faith for a while.

    And it's true that the lens isn't greater than the physical document, but then, I wouldn't say that Tradition is a merely a "lens", it's a form of Divine Revelation on it's own.

    Could you please clarify the last question? I don't think I understood what you meant.


    p.s. I'm about to head out, so I might not be able to address the question until later. Maybe one of our other Catholic posters could :)
    Last edited by Darth_Maestro, Feb 15, 2013
  16. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    I'm really not entirely sure if I'm agnostic or not. I believe in a divine presence that sees the good in every single being. I don't believe in a Hell or a being of pure evil. I dunno. I've never been altogether that concerned with my beliefs to tell you the truth.
  17. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    Also, this is a tradition which came into practice while formative Christianity was still held to be a branch of nominal Judaism. There is the Torah and there is the "Oral Torah", or as Jesus referred to it in the NT, "the traditions of the elders", which was later scripted into Talmud. The 2 are on equal footing within organizational Judaism to this day. The midrashic interpretation of the scripture is the practical application of the scripture in question. A standard example of this would be the mitzvot/commandment to not work on the Shabbot. That's all it is says. How does one understand the limitations of activity on this day without a description of what qualifies as work? One refers to the "Oral Torah" of the Talmud. Every denomination of a western faith has their own "Talmud"... insofar as their doctrinal views are the guidelines of their interpretations of the source book of their practice.
    Last edited by A Chorus of Disapproval, Feb 15, 2013
  18. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Yes, but this was one of the major criticisms of Judaism by early Christianity. It is not for nothing that Jesus quotes Isaiah to condemn the Pharisees for "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." I don't see how one could be any more forceful about making the point that tradition and scripture should not be on an equal footing.
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  19. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    Precisely. I was trying to shine a light on "where" a dependence on tradition considered on equal footing with scripture sprang from in western belief systems. You are absolutely correct that reliance on "Oral Torah" was THE dividing line between Jews who followed Jesus and Jews who did not. While many later scholars (as well as apologetical Jews) had attempted to claim the "newness" of some of the things attributed to the Jesus movement, even the Talmud, itself, has Rabbis professing a belief that the suffering servant of Isaiah would describe the expected Moshiach. Honestly, if one takes a very critical, deep look at the landscape of the various beliefs within Judaism starting around the time of the Maccabeean Revolt, it is easy to see that Jews who believed in very Jewish thought could look at this man Jesus and have little trouble attributing the signs associated with the Messiah to him. Even in reading the epistle attributed to James, the sole dividing line between Pharisaic Judaism... which became Orthodox as well as mainstream Judaism... was that the Jerusalem branch gained religious authority by being the keepers and promoters of Oral Torah and its many, many interpetations of the written Torah... while Jesus rejected the manmade "burden of the traditions of the elders" and the Jewish followers whom he attracted did so, also; making an atmosphere where the written tradition was not locked up by any specific hierarchy. Of course, that lovely sentiment went to hell a few decades later, but, not my point...

    In theory, at least until far into the 400's CE, Oral Torah/Talmud would have been the single most derisive point of conflict between Jews who followed Jesus and those who did not. Far more so than a suffering Messiah or a resurrection or any of the more obvious and later topical points which the average Jew had varying POVs on even before Jesus walked the earth. That same application can be used to demonstrate why Luther nailed his protestations to the door of a Catholic church, why Methodists hold beliefs that Episcopalians may not, and certainly why Mary is who she is within Catholicism and is merely a Christmas decoration accessory within Protestant churches. When everybody from the time Ezra & Nehemiah onward have been reading basically the same exact source book, with only minor alterations in content for the few centuries following. Good times.
    Last edited by A Chorus of Disapproval, Feb 16, 2013
  20. Eryndil Jedi Grand Master

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    In regard to Christian Tradition, is there a cut off point for where it is considered to be 'official'? In other words, does it have to come from the very early church, or are later additions accepted (and up to what point)? How is it decided what counts as Tradition and what is simply interpretation?
  21. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

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    @Eryndil: The final bulk of accepted 'writings' are generally considered to be the apologies & epistles of the Apostolic Fathers (Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Origen, Cyprian, et al) circa 100-300 CE. Then, there were the Councils on orthodoxy, theology, and canonization of accepted writings shortly thereafter, which set another precedent. The struggle to pinpoint a cutoff date is that each denomination holds specific things to be true that other denominations do not, so the birth of each individual denom would also be a timeframe... with their founder's teachings/writings and later elders' decrees, etc. being added into the mix along the way. Luther, John Wesley, and other such founders of a specific church laid groundrules for practice and belief that are unique to their organization. The point where anything universally held to under the umbrella of "Christianity" to the level of (as an example) the Apostolic Creed was entered into the overall "Christian" equation would be in that earliest period of Apostolic Fathers and councils with only minor redactions and retractions implemented thereafter.
  22. Darth_Maestro Force Ghost

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    And then there is also Restorationism from the 19th Century which essentially chucks all that, save for the Bible, and starts from scratch.:p
  23. Ghost Chosen One

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    Does anyone have any questions concerning the events of Holy Week?
  24. Sarge Chosen One

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    Saintheart, I'm happy to tell how I see her, from my point of view. FYI, I'm a protestant Christian who believes that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. I've belonged to many churches, including Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Lutheran. I was exposed to many other denominations in military chapels. Spent a year at Lutheran Seminary, learned Biblical Greek (I'm not an expert!), currently I'm a deacon in a Congregational church that many would probably classify as "conservative" (a word that carries huge amounts of baggage!). So, on to your points:

    (1) Agreed absolutely.

    (2) I don't believe that Mary was conceived without Original Sin; I disagree with the statement "Mary could not have borne God in that flawed state." Jesus had to be the perfect Man living in a sinful world. He was surrounded and pressed by sin His whole life, but it never really touched Him. I can see how some would believe a perfect mother would be necessary to birth a perfect son, but remember Jesus' words: "With man, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." To summarize, I believe God made it possible for a normal but faithful imperfect woman born with the taint of Original Sin to give birth to the only perfect sinless Son of Man.

    (3) As I'm sure you've already surmised, I believe Mary's body returned to dust as all others do, excepting Jesus of course!

    Concerning prayers to Mary, I've heard many times that she is considered more approachable than God the Father, especially if He is presented as wrathful fire and brimstone, and I can understand that many who have issues with their own fathers and male authority figures would much rather talk to a mother figure than a father. To me, that's like a child who wants something that only his father can give him, so he goes to his mother and asks her to ask dad. That's not good for the relationship between the child and the father. God wants us to know Him personally, and that's harder to do if we're always talking to Him through an intermediary. So that's why most protestants pray to God, not Mary. I'm certain God hears prayers to Mary and responds as though they're directed to Him, but I suspect He'd like to hear from us directly, just as any loving father wants to hear from his kids.

    If I haven't made myself as clear as I ought to, ask away! I will be following this thread with great interest. Also, thanks to everyone who posted here; it's been lots of good reading and some excellent theology.
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  25. Sarge Chosen One

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