Blog Entry

Religion

Posted on: December 10, 2008 2:46 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2008 2:56 am
 
This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about my life that created my political identity. This part talks specifically about religion and my view on it as I grew up. Please share your thoughts!

Religion’s a very interesting subject in my life. It’s always a very touchy subject around my house because of my differing views from my parents. They raised me in a Lutheran Church and expected me to grow up to be a “good Christian” like they are. As I grew up, I went to church, never really enjoying it but not questioning it. Finally, it was time for me to be confirmed. In order to do this, you have to go through Catechism class. I took the class, got through it, and was finally confirmed. I haven’t been to church since that day. The funny thing about taking Catechism is what happens to you as you take it. For most people, it gives them a better understanding of the Bible and brings them closer to their faith. For me, however, it made me question the things I was being taught. While questioning the beliefs, I started to realize that I didn’t agree with what they believed in. I started to ask myself questions such as, “Is there a God?” I decided that there’s no way that I can be sure that there is one. That led to another question: “If there is a God, why should I worship him?” There are the obvious answers that involve going to heaven, thanking him for creating me, and being grateful for Jesus dying on the cross for me. It was at this point that I realized that it didn’t make any logical sense to me how Jesus could be considered the son of God. We’ve all seen the crazed people in this world that will blindly follow someone because they say something charismatic or act differently. How does someone know that Jesus wasn’t just another fraud trying to make a name for himself? The only answer I ever get when I ask that question is, “That’s why they call it a faith.” As a math major, that answer wasn’t good enough for me. I need proof, and there’s no way you can prove that there is a God. So, I decided that I didn’t want to spend my time worshipping a God that I wasn’t sure I believed in. Also, if I were to believe in a God, is that a good enough reason to think that I’m going to heaven? Lutherans believe that faith is enough to get you into heaven, and I think that’s ridiculous. So, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a “good Christian”, but rather a good person. If there is a heaven, I think that should be enough.

Category: General
Comments

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2008 10:08 pm
 

Religion

4. You say that if I believe what Jesus did was enough, then I will know that I will go to heaven. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a religion though? Shouldn't a religion teach people morals and guide them to making the right decisions in life? If you tell people that what Jesus did was enough for you to get to heaven, then aren't you allowing people to feel that they can do immoral things without having to pay an eternal consequence? Also, if you don't believe what Jesus did, then how can you believe that it is enough?

Ok, a couple of definitions: religion is man attempting to reach god or paradise or nirvana or some other ideal end by man's own efforts.  Christianity is not a religion, not at it's purest.  It is a relationship with the God who created us all.

In the book of Ephesians, New Testament, there is this statement: "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves; it is God's gift - not from works, so that no one can boast."  God has taken full responsibility for the salvation of the Christian so that it is secure and so that no one has any cause to point to themselves as having accomplished his own righteousness.  So a person decides to trust Jesus Christ with his/her eternal existence.  The only thing that person can do to spoil that is to change his mind and call it a lie.  Does that give the person freedom to sin?  As far as occasional sin, yes.  But if you read the rest of the New Testament, you will find that God is holding Christians to a much higher standard for a higher purpose.

Christians are told to love their fellow-Christians, which is relatively easy.  After all, for the most part, they agree.  But Christians are also told to love their enemies and basically every one else.  Now there are different greek words used for love in the New Testament.  This love is called agape.  It is loving someone with absolutely no regard for what I can get out of it.  It is a self-sacrificial love.  This is not the only new commandment in the New Testament.  The Law says to not kill someone.  Jesus says you're guilty if you hate someone.  The Law says to not commit adultery.  Jesus says you're guilty if you look upon someone of the opposite sex and desire them outside of marriage.

Christians are to shun immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing.  They are to embrace and practice love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

The purpose is the testimony.  Just like you say, why would someone choose to follow someone who doesn't challenge them to change and be different and better than they are.  Christians are to be different in these ways in order to help others find salvation.  The reason for goodness is for the benefit of those outside of Christianity.

BTW, let me restate myself.  It is not believing that Jesus did what He did and is who He says He is.  The demons know this and tremble.  It is trusting that His dying on the cross pays for your sins and choosing to make Him Lord of your life.




Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2008 12:51 pm
 

Religion

I still have one of Criss's questions to try to answer and I am enjoying the opportunity to do this.  It gives me a chance to kinda flesh out what I believe and what I know.

I have to say that I am impressed by the other responses.  A lot of respect for others positions with none of the bitterness I've seen in other posts.  I'll get back to the fourth question probably over the weekend.




Since: Sep 8, 2008
Posted on: December 16, 2008 7:49 pm
 

Religion

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  You all are right when you say that you shouldn't talk politics, religion and expect to agree.  But I will share this with you.......

When I got married and had my first two children (they are 14 months apart) my spouse wanted them to go to Catholic school and be raised Catholic.  As I was a nothing, never having been baptized or anything, I was a little reluctant, but I decided that they needed some kind of formal religious experience so we would raise them Catholic, baptize them and see how things were going.  So. they started Catholic kindergarten and I was the pick up Mom.  I saw how all the other women, Catholics, related to each other and talked, and I really didn't find that I belonged - I felt like an outsider.  As my children went on to first grade, I questioned why I was on the outside and what was I missing.  So, to make a really long story shorter, I went into the RCIA program - which is where you go to become a Catholic - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  It seemed like the moment I accepted that becoming Catholic was for me, my experience in the parking lot changed.  I felt like I belonged there. I felt warmer.  I didn't feel estranged.  I had to learn to have Faith, and to accept what I couldn't prove.  But I know that I made the right decision for me, and for my family.
I know that thing that they call FAITH is hard for many people to understand or to accept.  If it isn't concrete or mathematically predictable, it can't be real.  And that is how I felt for many years.  What I found was, you have to be open to faith or it won't let you find it.  Symbolism means nothing without the faith behind it.  But it takes a real thinker outside of the box to accept what is unexplainable. 

I know, Criss, that you are a good person.  I have read many of your posts and know that you made a good decision.  And I am sure it is enough.  But also being well educated, please don't close your mind to what may hit you one day like a ton of bricks.  Be open.

Thanks for letting me share.



Signalcaller12
Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: December 16, 2008 7:29 pm
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Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: December 16, 2008 6:48 pm
 

Religion

 I agree with that completely as I was not trying to denounce Christianity, but rather just expressing my opinion.

I know, there's nothing wrong with that.

Besides, I'm Jewish anyway




Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: December 15, 2008 11:19 pm
 

Religion

3. With so many religions in the world today, how can anybody say that one religion is more correct than another religion?

Let me start with a basic misconception, "what's true for you is not necessarily true for me."  This assumption is at the root of the possibility of every religion being true, leaving us mere humans trying to figure out which is best for me.  But truth is not subject to the viewpoint of the observer or the actions or beliefs of any one person.  There's an old question, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  The true answer is that yes, it makes a sound, whether there is someone there to perceive it or not.  Similarly, when a person anywhere in the world sits on a chair, they expect it to hold them.  When a person anywhere in the world does not clean their teeth, they get cavities.  The laws of physics and the principles of health are always true everywhere.  At the same time, other things are always false, ie what goes up does not fall, eat anything you want and gain no weight.  It is the same way in the spiritual world.  There has to be one set of spiritual laws that are true all of the time, thereby making others false all of the time.  Otherwise you have spiritual anarchy, which I think, is where you find yourself.  You don't know what to believe so you choose not to believe anything, which, frankly, is an awful place to be, because it leaves you with no hope.

Another idea, consider a rock slide.  Something started it.  Maybe just one small stone kicked by a squirrel.  Okay so where did the squirrel come from, a long line of rodents evolving from something millions of years ago that evolved from some amoeba that found a place to grow on this Earth that itself was formed from swirling gases that were generated by a big bang.  A big bang that happened because ...

Something made that big bang happen.  And even if one comes up with yet another physical event, sooner or later we end up admitting that there had to have been an intelligent rational being that began everything.  Even if we assume that the many gods of all the world religions really exist or existed, there still has to be one original source from where they came from.  One religion must be more true than the others, or true alone at the expense of the others.  The religions that say all religions are true or all roads lead to paradise ... are cop outs.

This suggests that the only religions that can be true are monotheistic, one god.  I know many religions have a creator god but he/she is only one of many and none are designated as the first.

 




Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2008 1:35 am
 

Religion

question 2

Yes.  God has the power to communicate as you said, kind of directly into our thoughts, controlling what we do and what we choose.  But that would not have been consistent with God's character.  I mentioned before that God is perfectly just and perfectly good.  He defines goodness and justice.  He also defines love and is perfectly loving.  A question for you, would you want a girlfriend/wife who loved you because you made her by controlling her will and emotions, or would you rather that she loved you by her own choice?  I know that's a little deep for CBSSports but, oh well.

God's desire is similar.  He chose to create mankind.  Why?  He either wanted toys to play with or he wanted people to have a relationship with.  If he wants relationship, he does not want to control us like he is able.  Then we would be toys.  Instead, He chose to let us choose.  He gave us our own will to choose to know him or to ignore him and make our own way.

Based on the biblical stories where God interacts with men and women, I think he kind of enjoys the communicating part.

 




Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: December 12, 2008 1:00 am
 

Religion

Crissfan172,

I will try to answer your questions.  Just so you know, I'm not a pastor or a theologian, just a Christian who wanted to know more about what I believe.

Question 1: Flavius Josephus was born around AD 37 and was a Jewish historian.  He wrote: At this time, there was a wise man who was called Jesus.  And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous.  And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.

He may have also written (some scholars have doubts): He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.

Usually when there is a difference like this, someone has sought change to favor their position.  But even with that, assuming that the first is the more likely writing, Josephus does not doubt or try to discredit the report but seems to leave the matter for the reader to decide.  Unusual for a historian.

Josephus is not the only historian that mentions Jesus.  According to the book by Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, there were also Tacitus, Lucian, Suetonius, Pliny, Tertullian, Thallus, Phlegon.  They each report different facts.

One fact that is reported is about the religious rulers in Jerusalem trying the half-brother of Jesus, James, and others and "having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned."  I don't know about you but, if I were about to be killed because I was teaching something that I knew was a lie, I'd fess up and save my life.  James and many others died horrible deaths holding to their belief that Jesus had been resurrected, not recanting because they had indisputable eyewitness testimony or were eyewitnesses themselves.

It's late so I'll have to get to your other questions a bit later.




Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 10, 2008 11:23 pm
 

Religion

Fair enough le baton de poisson. I agree with that completely as I was not trying to denounce Christianity, but rather just expressing my opinion. I do, however, enjoy talking about the subject because I enjoy learning the way other people think and why they view things the other way, which is why I'm engaging the poster before you. Anyways, thank you for reading and commenting. I always appreciate it.



fishsticks72
Since: Oct 27, 2008
Posted on: December 10, 2008 10:03 pm
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