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What is Christianity? How can we understand it better? What don't we understand?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by ObiWan506, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. saber_death

    saber_death Jedi Padawan star 4

    Feb 2, 2005
    ScaPaCamem: when i was referring to some French Catholics not being Christians, i meant the 30% that flat out deny God exists according to the survey i posted a link to... if they are Christians when they don't admit to there being ANY God (much less the Christian one), then everyone is a Christian regardless of beliefs or actions, which is completely pointless. i also specifically stated that i know Catholics who are solid Christians. nowhere did i state Catholicism isn't Christianity. i know a whole lot of Protestants who deny Christ as well, and i doubt their faith just as much as any Catholic who deny God exists. i just used that link since it is one i had easy access to... i'm sure i can find similar information about American Baptists if i look for it.

    and my God is not hateful and vengeful... He is love. i may not show His love all the time, but then that's the whole point: i'm not perfect (and neither is anyone else), but He is. i'm sorry if you were offended by what i said... though we obviously have some differences in opinion on faith and salvation i certainly did not mean to imply "all who disagree with me will burn". i simply believe God wants us to know and love Him, and that no man is righteous in the eyes of God save by Christ?s love and grace.

    MASTERPRENN: good points... and no we can not surrender perfectly due to both our limited knowledge and sin, but surrender is the goal. and yeah, by faith i meant Christian faith/faith in the God i worship, even if the details are different. and very good explanation of sin... my statement was indeed more for "play on words" than strict definition. as for why we were created, that's really a big question and one i'm still not too sure on the answer to honestly... i think at least part of is was He wanted more beings to share His love with. my point was more He didn't have to/need to in any way for His own comfort... but He wanted to in order to show His love. and yes, Christ loved and died for us all, regardless of how we do/will react to Him... just as we should love everyone in or out of the Church, even/especially those who reject our message of Christ.

    as for who is a Christian/saved: where God draws the line between the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-41) is up to Him, and i certainly wouldn't want such a responsibility. i think one must acknowledge Christ as Lord of Heaven and Earth and your personal Savior from our sinful nature, and live for Him to the best of your knowledge and abilities. perhaps acknowledging Christ by name isn't needed, just living as He'd want you to live. maybe adding stuff that isn't true is fine so long as what is true is kept. maybe all you have to do is not be an unrepentant rapist and murderer... hey, maybe even they get in too. but i'd rather be safe (personally and when it comes to others) than sorry... if all it takes is being a decent, loving person, then as best i can tell being a strict 'through Christ only? person who is still decent and loving is still acceptable, but the opposite is sadly not true.

    i want as many people as possible to know Christ in this life and the next... even if my standards may seem a little higher than they need to be. but if i see Gandhi or Joesph Smith or whomever doesn't fit "my" definition of Christian in heaven, i certainly won't say "they don't deserve to be here!!!" (since i myself don't deserve to go there except by God's grace)... i'll say "awesome, nice to see ya'll... wait... this means that guy i knew in high school who was a better person than i could ever hope to be, but never openly accepted Christ, is around here somewhere... i'm gonna go find him!!".
  2. Mcily_Nochi

    Mcily_Nochi Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 23, 2001
    I agree with many of the sentiments being expressed here, and I respect still more. I hope everyone gets something out of this. I'm not sure, however, if this is the kind of discussion that will ever work on such a large scale. I have responses to nearly everything that has been written here, but not nearly enough time to address them all. To those who are seeking answers, I hope you will find them. To those who are giving answers, I hope that your own questions will be answered as well. But I must say, the answer to this question will be found in the Bible alone, and there will be as many interpretations as there are readers. I am content to wait and ask God the answer when I die.
  3. ObiWan506

    ObiWan506 Former Head Admin star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 5, 2003
    I know there's not a global definition or one all-knowing answer to the question(s) presented. Hence the entire purpose of a discussion thread. I specified the topic to Christianity, but didn't want to specify it any more for concerns that it might limit the discussion.


    Which is what I think perhaps needs to happen. There is a big, big difference between knowing the path and walking the path. ;)

    Seriously, there are several examples where Christianity has turned into a hypocritical belief. Some might say they are Christians, but do they really act and speak like Christians? Why is that? Is this where the progression of religion through society is currently at? Is it cultural? Does a person in the Middle East follow the same way as someone in America?
  4. cyris8400

    cyris8400 Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jan 15, 2006
    In lieu of literal vs. personal interpretation of the Bible, what exactly is there without the scripture? You have prayer and church and sunday school and all that, but that's all from the Bible and some of that is about studying the Bible.

    Although what Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon said struck a chord with me, I don't think anyone who does not identify him/herself as a Christian can be called one, regardless of how they act in the world. For objective definitions I go to the dictionary, and I seriously doubt that any reputable dictionary includes people who didn't identify themselves as Christians and didn't accept Jesus as a savior. As I see it, the problem people have with this stems from whether or not they believe that non-Christians (like Ghandi) are allowed into heaven.

    There's a lot of picking and choosing going on which makes me question validity and meaning; a lot of picking out what you like from the Bible and omitting the questionable stuff. The Bible itself speaks against personal interpretation and not enforcing any of its laws (even the odd and obscure ones).

    2 Peter 20-21 NAB
    Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.

    Luke 16:17 NAB
    It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.

    Matthew 5:18-19 RSV
    For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    I fail to understand how someone can quote Bible verses as justification for things or to get a point across then turn around and say that some parts are metaphorical (especially in the face of these clearly non-metaphorical and explicit verses) and it's up to personal interpretation.
  5. Rayson

    Rayson Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 10, 2002
    Ah, you must forgive me. You're correct, salvation should not be anywhere near the top of our list. God created us to worship Him and sing his praises. I intend to do just that. I apologize for any misconceptions I may have caused through my comments.
  6. The_Fireman

    The_Fireman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 8, 2001
    Amen. Those verses mean exactly what they say. Ultimately, if we are going to say our beliefs come from the Bible, then we must interpret the Bible correctly. The only logical way in which to do this is to keep everything within its context; to interpret literally what is commanded, to interpret figuratively what is said by the text itself to be symbolic, to translate words from one language into another literally and not with some kind of biased interpretation of the words in question, to discern the intent of the writing, the audiance to whom it is written, and the mindset of the person who wrote it.

    The problem is what the translators of the Bible have failed to translate the words literally. True, sentence structure is sometimes obscured by a literal translation, and that isn't what I refer to. Rather, I refer to the translation of descriptions and commandments; how they are worded to form sentences must be compensated for in the translation, which can result in a biased translation to be sure. Over all, however, the closer we are to the original writings and what they literally said, the closer to an actual belief in the Bible we are.

    Not to mention the fact that most subsequent translations are based off of the biased translations of the Protestant Reformation. And because of that, the masses are forced to believe in the establishment's ideas and postulations, and not the ideas of the original authors, who are assumed to have gotten their messages directly from God. Because most people are not willing to look into the original languages, they simply accept what their local Mardel or Christian Book Store offers them.

    Sure, this doesn't account for faulty copies of the Scriptures, but that is something we simply do not have any control over, until such time as earlier manuscripts are found. But we do have the earliest copies available in their original languages, and that is a
  7. dizfactor

    dizfactor Jedi Knight star 5

    Aug 12, 2002
    Two millenia of the writings of Christian theologians and other works, cultural traditions and practices, and the life experiences of living communities and literally billions of individuals.

    For many - actually, most, if you go by the numbers - Christians, the Bible is the starting point, but not the be-all end-all.

    PRENNTACULAR VIP star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Dec 21, 2005
    I agree with Diz on that the Bible is just one thing to help us build community and interpret how best to live our lives with God, but I think he meant to express that if you take the Bible out of Christianity, you are taking out the thing from which all Christians get their information. It is the only account we have of Jesus and his teachings. If the Bible didn't exist, how would anybody know about Jesus?
  9. Rayson

    Rayson Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 10, 2002
    Ah, but it isn't, is it?

    There are ancient Roman documents about Christ, as well as ancient Greek documents written about Paul's travels through Greece, preaching about Christ.

    Somehow, God finds a way to teach us. :)
  10. cyris8400

    cyris8400 Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jan 15, 2006
    Exactly. Without the Bible Christianity would just be a sect of vague spiritualists like those tangled in a Twister game of esoteric mysticism and pseudoscience, with one hand on the Bible and other limbs on horoscopes, chakra, psychics and all that malarkey.

    On that subject:

    Leviticus 19:3 1 RSV
    Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

    And back on track:
    All those centuries of culture are derived from the Bible's teachings. Is the Bible at fault for not keeping with the times, or are Christians at fault for not keeping with the Bible? Hell, might as well write a "Third Testament" to coincide the drastic changes in moral perspective that have gone on in Christian society since the Middle Ages, because I 'sure as shoot' know that the vast majority of Christians today would find some of the laws and ways to go about enforcing those laws the Bible mentions to run the spectrum from questionable to immoral.

    Exodus 31:15
    Whosoever shall work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death

    Matthew 5:32, 19:9 & Luke 16:18
    Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery

    1 Corinthians 14:34
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak
  11. Kimball_Kinnison

    Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 28, 2001
    Except that isn't true.

    If you look in the Bible, there are several cases where someone gained their knowledge of God's will and teachings without the use of scripture. The first example of this is Adam, who walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden before being cast out. Another example is Noah, who conversed directly with the Lord. Another example is Abraham, who similarly talked directly with God.

    Another, clearer example, would be Moses. He spoke directly with God "face to face" (see Exodus 33:11), and God revealed His word directly to him.

    Remember that the Bible is not one, single book. It is a collection of 66 different books by many different authors. They weren't all written at the same time (and some books or writings have been lost, including some referenced in the ones that we do have), and not everyone in history, not even just in the Christian era, has had all that we call "the Bible" today.

    For example, the Gospel of Matthew was written (according to most scholars) in about AD 60-65, and yet, Christ was crucified in about AD 30. Does that mean that the Christians who lived in those 30-35 years before Matthew was written were simply "vague spiritualists", or even not Christians at all (after all, they didn't have the Bible!)? Of course not.

    The fact is that even without the Bible, God can still teach His children. He did it in ancient times through prophets. What possible reason is there why He couldn't do it again, if needed?

    Kimball Kinnison
  12. DarthDogbert

    DarthDogbert Jedi Master star 2

    Sep 2, 2004
    1 Cor. 13:8-10
    8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

    The word "fail" (Gr, katargeo) means "to cease, to put an end to". So God was clear that there would come a time when prophecies would cease. He then says that they would cease when "that which is perfect has come". Many believe this to be referring to Christ, but that is not upheld by the context. The word "perfect" (Gr, teleios) does not have to mean "sinless", but rather more often refers to "complete, or of full age". So what would become complete that would render prophecies, miraculous knowledge, and tongues void? It would be the counterpart to incomplete prophecy/revelation - the complete revelation of God's word.

    Has God's word been completely revealed? I'll leave that up to you to take out your Bible and see.

    Jude 3
    3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

    Gal. 1:8
    8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.


    Eph. 3:3-4
    3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
  13. The_Fireman

    The_Fireman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 8, 2001
    Clearly your interpretation of that passage, Dogbert, is somewhat faulty. Prophecy is very much a gift of the Spirit, and it will continue to be "poured out" on all mankind, more and more increasingly until the end.

    This prophecy was given after another stating that Israel would be delivered and they would never be shamed again. As far as I can tell, the only time in history between then and now that could be said to have happened was after their rebirth in 1948, making prophecy a rather current gift, wouldn't you say?

    I agree with the rest though.
  14. ObiWan506

    ObiWan506 Former Head Admin star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 5, 2003
    Personally (and we all know what's already been said about personal interpretation, ;)) I think the perfect that has come was Christ. Perhaps meaning that after Christ, we didn't need miracles or other prophetic materials to enhance our beliefs. We have Christ and that should be more then enough to sustain yourself. That's what I can take from that.

    Two great statements. God does find a way to teach us. Now, as I said above, after Christ, ("that which is perfect has come") perhaps our miracles and/or prophetic events are over. But does that mean we can't look at other historical documents? Other archaeological finds?
  15. The_Fireman

    The_Fireman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 8, 2001
    Then perhaps you might explain why it is Paul says the gift of prophecy is for the edification of believers?

    All of Scripture teaches us three things: 1.) we've fallen, 2.) only God can provide atonement, and 3.) when God has accomplished His atoning work in us, we will be transformed into eternal spirit beings, being of the same will that God is, morally perfect and complete.

    Not only does Scripture teach this about human beings, but it seems our universe is going along for the ride.

    In short, I believe what was being said here was that when we have been resurrected and completed, prophecy will cease. After all, what need is there of prophets when we have the Messiah and all His risen holy ones enforcing the will of God over all the earth? The vail will be lifted at that point, and so prophecy will cease. But until then, Joel 2 stands. The same Spirit that spoke through Paul spoke through Joel, and the Word tells us that in the last days God will pour His Spirit out on ALL mankind (not just that small group of apostles 2000 years ago), and that they shall prophecy, see visions, dream dreams.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison

    Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 28, 2001
    Not only that, but Amos 3:7 states that God won't do anything without revealing it to His servants, the prophets.

    Last I checked, God is still doing stuff...

    Kimball Kinnison
  17. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Oct 13, 2003
    Didn't Jesus command the apostles to continue to do miracles, after the ressurection?
  18. saber_death

    saber_death Jedi Padawan star 4

    Feb 2, 2005
    i'm definately in agreement about prophecy and miracles being around today. not as big or noticable as they once were perhaps (i haven't heard of any seas being parted or such of late) but on at least a small, personal level they are very much still part of God's workings on this earth. i've heard of plenty of "impossible" stuff happening due to the faith of God's followers, and i've definately seen the gift of discernment (which is practically prophecy, just more about current events than future ones) in use if not true prophecy. but at the same time, we should not assume any voices we hear, messages we get, etc... is on par with ancient Scripture that has been accepted and practiced by God's people for thousands of years.

    as for the need for the Bible/Sola Scriptura... God gave us a whole big book about those who followed Him (and some who didn't), with both declared statements of what we should/shouldn't do and examples as well... so i'm gonna say it's a pretty important book. i think one can live a full Christian life just following on the Bible alone (which thereby includes prayer and community with other believers if possible). but that doesn't mean reading other people's commentaries can't be helpful as well, nor listening to those who have studied God's Word longer/more thouroughly than you have (specfically clergy).

    to use one example, you can have plenty of great worship songs just by using the Bible (especially Psalms) and just taking verses and putting them to music. and some of the greatest hymns/praise songs ever come from this method. but that doesn't mean great songs can't be made seperate from just copying Bible verses... as most any Christian who has heard "Amazing Grace" will agree.

    likewise with all of Scripture... Sola Scriptura is great, but having more beyond it is ok too, so long as it follows/bases itself upon Scripture and recognizes that it (the additional stuff) is not the same as Scripture. the Word of God is the foundation of our faith... the walls within the building (specific doctrines/concepts/views that aren't explicitly affirmed or denied in the Bible) may shift over time or across different cultures, but the foundation will stay the same everywhere and forever.

    and KK, your very right that God will reveal His truth with or without written Words, but for our sakes i'm glad we can read about what the people of ancient times did without each of us having to make all the same mistakes to learn the same lessons... nor do we all have to be blinded while taking a trip just to see Christ and hear His words, we can read them anytime we want to (or God leads us to). even Christ, who obviously didn't need written words to tell Him God's will, used a scroll of Isaiah in His first recorded sermon (Luke 4:16-20). having the words written down allows anyone, from the newest convert to the wisest cleric, to have a common standard, a recording of truths and events that they can look to and learn from, and use to back up their views.
  19. ScaPaCamem

    ScaPaCamem Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 10, 2003
    MasterPrenn, I am sorry but you could not be more wrong about the Council of Nicea. Perhaps before you state that I am wrong you should venture beyong what your Preacher/Priest is telling you and do a little research.

    See, you are being told that and intpreting that as ok well that means it is all true. No, what that means is that it fits the historical events of it's time. The census given in the gospel is very very accurate. All of the people that are named are real people, who were actual followers of Jesus Christ. That does not mean that things were not left out. You see while I am a Catholic, I have the ability to see from everyone else's perspective.

    HUH!?!?! Are you insane???? Do you really think none of the other apostles had gospels? Where did you learn this because whomever taught you this could not be more historically wrong. Let me tell you some gospels that were thrown out:

    The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Greek Text A]

    The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Greek Text B]

    The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Latin Text]

    A 5th Century Compilation of the Thomas Texts

    An Arabic Infancy Gospel

    The Gospel of James

    The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary

    The Gospel of Mary [Magdalene]

    The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

    The Gospel of Nicodemus [Acts of Pilate]

    The Gospel of Bartholomew

    The Gospel of Peter

    The Gospel of Thomas

    The Gospel of Philip

    The Gospel of the Lord [by Marcion]

    The Secret Gospel of Mark
    The Gospel of Judas

    And now, what Christians say is that these gospels are false. And do you know what they contain? They contain passages that made Christ seem to "Human-Like" these is directly quoted from the Council. The scribes present wrote that that is why several of these gospels were thrown out. And if you notice several of those were "supposedly" written by Apostles.

    You are quoting Christian Historians. Why don't you see what other historian's believe.

    At first I thought you just made a FEW historical inaccurate statements, but now it is obvious you just don't know what you are talking about. The first time it was officialy decided what the four canon-gospels would be was in the Council of Rome. In 385. They did no community research.

    Ireneaus made his claim in 185. And there is no way that any of the apostles were still alive then.

    Now the Council of Jerusalem was in 50 A.D. but it had nothing to do with what would be the Canon Scripture. One of the main topics was Circumscion and another was the Golden Rule, but it did not have anything to do with the Gospels. It would be over The first time that it was stated that Matt, Mark, Luke, and John would be the four canon gospels was when Ireneaus said that it would be that way in 185. He did no research other than just reading all the gospels that were being passed around during that time.

    Ok, first, now I understand you were not referring to the Council when you were talking about the "research" done. Well then you are COMPLETELY wrong. There was no "bible" until the Council. They decided what would and would not be in it. Until then there were dozens of Gospels that everyone was reading. So once again, you are just completely historically wrong.

    Second, that is another untrue statement. First off, the CoN's purpose
  20. cyris8400

    cyris8400 Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jan 15, 2006
    To add onto what was said by ScaPaCamem, I'd like to point out that there is no historical evidence for Jesus' existence. Besides Christian text, there isn't any piece of writing from that time that clearly refers to him.
  21. Jawa-in-Hiding

    Jawa-in-Hiding Jedi Youngling

    Jul 12, 2006
    Christianity is a way to socially belong and feel secure. The best ways to remain a Christian are to be raised that way from birth, and to recognize that the world is a complicated mess and confine your life to that one simple comfort zone.

    I was raised by an athiest father and a mother who left the Jehovah's witnesses because she did not like their oppression of women. They are, and will always be, staunch liberals and athiests. I consider myself agnostic, not athiest. If there is a higher power, I hope he, she,or it is not one of the big three religions. My father thinks all religion is evil, and I am hard-pressed to disagree with him. I am 36 and have yet to meet a truly good Christian.
    You should meet my cousin Nathan on my mother's side, a hard-core Jahovah's witness. More likely than not, he'll turn his nose up at you.

    In actual day-to-day life, Christianity is not much of a problem for me. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. On the rare occasion when I complain bitterly about life to someone with a sympathetic ear, they reveal their faith. I then avoid any further personal involvement with them.
  22. The_Fireman

    The_Fireman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 8, 2001
    So first you say...:
    And then you say...:
    You sure it's the Christians who aren't truly good?

    Those are some rather baseless accusations. The reason you have not met a truly good Christian is because you don't allow yourself to get to know any. And then you go and say that the only way to stay one is to stay inside their little comfort zones? You sure you're not the one doing that?

    Anyway, on the matter of canonization, I'll be one of the first to say the Roman Catholic Church and her daughters are a bit misled at best, and just plain deceptive at worst. That said, the canon we use was in use well before the CoN. The fact is the gospels we read in our Bibles were written long before the pseudogospels, and because of a conflict in theology, I think the logical position is that the others were simply false doctrines riding on the coat tails of the synoptic Gospel accounts.
  23. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Oct 13, 2003
    I wonder why Jesus never wrote a book. Or maybe he did, and we just haven't found it yet, but then it would be hard to explain why no one ever heard of it, and hard to prove unless it went back to that time period.
  24. ScaPaCamem

    ScaPaCamem Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 10, 2003
    One thing I forgot to add, I actually just noticed it.

    On my second to last post I meant to put the Council of Rome, not CoN.
  25. Jabba-wocky

    Jabba-wocky Chosen One star 9

    May 4, 2003
    I would like to back up a bit and discuss this whole notion of sola scriptura.

    The common theme of the rebuttals I've seen running through this thread is "God could instruct his people if the Bible did not exist" and noting the continuing place of prophets, et cetera. However, I find this all rather irrelevant to the discussion. Because, in fact, the Bible does exist. It's asking the wrong question, in short. I've never understood sola scriptura to be so much about saying that there are no other possible sources of edification than the Bible. After all, by the strictest application of that principle, even preaching a sermon from a Biblical text would represent adding on additional, inappropriate material, in that the speakre is rephrasing the content of the text in his presentation. Rather, this is a question of whether there are other things whose authority in guiding Christians is on par with the Bible.

    To consider this question, I would refer back to the fact that, as previously noted, the Bible was not created as one book, but as 66 separate ones. This is an important point because of what it implies about authoritativeness. For the sake of dsicussion, I'll refer only to the Old Testaent, since I'm fairly certain we can all agree that it's books are all appropriately cannonical, and that nothing has been left out of them. What does this imply, though? I would note, first, that there were different rates of composure. Nehemiah and Ezra were contemporaries, for instance, while other Biblical authors were the only ones working at their time. And, at some points, there was no one working on anything that would come to be included in the Bible at all. Further, I would point that throughout this time, we know that prophecy was still very common, and that God was speaking to his people. What conclusions can we draw from all this?

    I would say that it indicates there is, apparently, a sharp difference between the authority of the canonical books of the Old Testament and the various other words of prophets, and other men of God who were operating at that time. I think this forms a reasonable basis to say that this could continue to be the case throughout history. In other words, while not denying the gift, usefulness, and need of prophecy, nor failing to recognize that God can and does edify us in still other ways, we can nonetheless acknowledge that the canonical Word of God is fundamentally more authoritative and central to living as a Christian than any other possible source.