A Question for Christians

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Macaddicttt, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. Macaddicttt macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #1
    Why do you subscribe to your particular flavor of Christianity? I've always wondered this, but I've never been really in a position to ask people in real life, so I figured I'd ask on here and maybe I'd get a sampling of answers. I ask because I have a hard time figuring out how people justify that their beliefs are the correct ones, because personally, I've only been able to see/understand the arguments for being Catholic or Orthodox. I have some more specific questions about things that have bothered me, too.

    I don't want this to turn into a debate about which type of Christianity is correct, I was just interested in hearing people's answers. If you could just point me to websites that are apologetic for your faith, that'd be fine, too. I'm just curious. But now for some more specific questions:

    To Protestants in general, how do you justify Protestantism not existing for at least 1,500 years after Jesus' death? Do you think that true Christianity didn't exist for all those years?

    To fundamentalists, on what grounds do you think the Bible is literal and inerrant? From what I've understood, the Bible (well, the New Testament) was pieced together from many different writings about Jesus in the fourth century by Catholic/Orthodox clergy. Why do you accept their choices and don't go looking for the other, "lost" Gospels or other writings about Jesus?

    And to Anglicans, and members of other state churches, I don't understand how anyone can believe in a state church.
     
  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #2
    That question, quite frankly, doesn't make any sense. I don't think you completely understand why the Reformation took place, or the differences between the two religions.
     
  3. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #3
    I'm pretty sure I understand both quite well. :confused: I have studied both pretty well (I thought). Could you explain what you mean?
     
  4. Bobdude161 macrumors 65816

    Bobdude161

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    #4
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation
     
  5. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #5
    I still haven't really picked an official religion. Pretty open to pieces of some and pieces of others. It would be nice to have a name for what I am for when people ask, but I usually just say I'm agnostic or an existentialist. Or Taoist.

    And when someone asks me if it's any good, usually I say it's alright. Not bad but not great. ;) (sorry, bad Taoist/existentialist joke)
     
  6. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Hey, I'm 72 and i still haven't really figured out this religious thing. I've been over a pretty good bit of the world and back again. Seen and talked to all manner of folks of different religions.

    I guess it's not religion as such that's any problem for me so much as people's interpretations of Bible or Koran or whatever.

    I was raised Presbyterian. New Testament stuff. I don't think it really took.

    I did the usual guard duty thing while in the Army. That's a lot of time to think about The Meaning Of It All.

    I've always been a night owl, and have always loved meddling around outdoors at night. Varmint hunting or just watching/listening. Or, just sitting on the porch, looking at stars. More of that thinking. :)

    So I sorta figure that what people do insofar as naming a God, or interpreting the notions of alleged Wise Men is just what people do. "If God did not exist, man would invent Him in his own image."

    I figure that there's something more than just Homo Sap running the show. I don't worry about it a lot. "Big Hodad in the Sky" will do.

    Religious rules? Those which facilitate people getting along in peace and harmony--insofar as any contentious predators can--strike me as good rules. The Golden Rule. "Thou shalt not covet..." What's wrong with that? Who cares about the source?

    I guess any religion is a way to get outside of yourself and look at the bigger picture of life itsownself. Problems arise when people abuse and misuse religion for their own personal ends...

    'Rat
     
  7. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #7
    My family is primarily Catholic. They just seem to unquestioningly follow the beliefs of their parents and generation by generation it just passes down.

    I, of course, had to be the black sheep. I can't wrap my mind around any religion, let alone all the "I'm right and you're wrong" bits. None of it makes sense to me and I can't blindly follow. Just me and I've paid the price of alienation for it.

    Suppose I appreciate the question so even though I can't answer as a person of faith, thought I could add on behalf of my family (weird though I find them to be) :p
     
  8. bartelby macrumors Core

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    #8
    My grandmother is Catholic, my mum attended a Catholic school.

    They let me develope on my own in terms of belief. I do not believe in any religion. I see that over the centuries they have caused more problems than they claim to solve, and at the same time preach forgiveness and tolerance.

    Christianity, in all it's forms, seems to be the most hypocritical and easiest to distort into whatever you want.

    I believe that the existence of life on this planet is more of an accident than anything else but lifeforms evolved rather than being created by a god.
     
  9. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #9
    I think people are misunderstanding this thread. I'm not asking for people's individual beliefs, however interesting that may be. I was interesting in a discussion within Christianity. I'm more interested in the choice of the sect of Christianity than the choice between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, atheism, etc.
     
  10. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    #10
    To tell you the truth, my parents and well my family for generations are Catholics. So that is what I have grown up into :eek:

    Another interesting idea is that it might be in part to cultures, for instance I'm Portuguese and in Portugal 97% are Catholics.
     
  11. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #11
    Yeah, I know all that stuff. I know quite a bit more than that, too...

    What I don't understand is how a new church can be the right one if it was created 1,500 years after its principle figure. Originally it was a move to reform the Catholic Church, its hierarchy, and its abuses, but ended up creating tons of new churches with different, new doctrines, not just reformed clergy. My question is how does a protestant justify his belief that the True Church didn't exist until over 1,500 after Christ. I'm very interested in learning this since I've never been in a situation where asking such a question was appropriate before.
     
  12. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #12
    It's not quite as simple as the "true" church vs. "false" churches.

    It took 1500 years for the level of corruption in the original Catholic church to reach a level where people saw that the church was not adhering to the teachings of Christ. Until that point the Catholic Church was the "true" church. Once some reached the conclusion that the Church had strayed from the path they decided to strike out and try to find the right path. People's opinions differed at this point and thus the Protestant churches were created.

    Massive organizations (governments) are not corrupted overnight, and usually when they are overthrown there are periods of uncertainty and multiple possibilities on the structure to fill the void. The difference with religion is that having a single religion in a geographic region is not as important as having a unified state government. This allowed for all of the parallel Protestant sects to strike off on their own perceived path without turning into a massive battle to find the one "true" path.

    To be honest almost all of the Protestant religions have some good ideas, as does Catholicism. If you get down to it, if there is just one "true" path then it's probably to be found somewhere in the middle of all of the Christian religions not in a single particular sect.

    One offshoot that had/has me interested at the moment is the Liberal Catholic Church. I used to hear commercials for it on the local Air America affiliate (yes I listened to them, but I needed some balance living in TX) and the commercials seemed to show them addressing some of the issues I currently have with standard Roman Catholocism.
     
  13. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #13
    I believe you are talking about the movement away from the "corrupt" church to a more pure one.

    People saw the rampant politics going on within Christianity and said, "well, religion was built on keeping those in power, in power, lets just make another religion and we will call that one right".

    a little cynical version, but basically, thats what happened.

    instead of realizing religion is basically smoke and mirrors, they made their own sideshow, oh well.
     
  14. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #14
    See, there's a difference between corruption and corruption of doctrine. Just because the people running a church becomes corrupt doesn't mean that the doctrines of the church become corrupted, too. If you look at the Reformation, you won't find any "corruptions" or changes in doctrine, just abuses of power.

    Churches are not like governments that fail overtime and need to be replaced by new ones. That doesn't make any sense. A government is there to perform a function, and when it can no longer fulfill that function, it must be changed. Religion is supposed to tell you about God, who does not change. A religion should not change it's doctrines (but can change it's practices according to the society in which it finds itself) unless some new prophet is involved.

    It seems to me that most Christians believe in Absolute Truth (i.e. Fundies claiming that evolution is false and do not tolerate other interpretations of Creation), yet I rarely see anyone legitimize their beliefs.

    And if you are a Christian and you don't believe in Absolute Truth, I'm curious as to why. To me that makes little sense. How can one thing be true for me but not for you? To me that's like saying something along the lines of, "Gravity exists for me, but not for you." I'm not saying it's necessarily possible to know the Absolute Truth, I'm just saying that I don't see how Christianity can work without it.
     
  15. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #15
    That's basically how I see it, apart from the fact that I do believe that there is a True Religion. I'm trying to understand how someone justifies saying, "Well, religion was built on keeping those in power in power; let's just make another religion and we will call that one right." If you can shrug off one version as being wrong, how can you think that your own version would be any better. Catholics at least have the claim (whether it's true or not) of being around since Jesus and founded by Jesus Himself. To me it seems like Protestants just came up with their own version and claimed succession to the Truth, despite a complete lack of continuous succession.

    I guess what I'm asking is from where do Protestants claim to derive their authority to decide what is right an what is wrong?
     
  16. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #16
    With that argument, Jews were right all along.
     
  17. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #17
    To me, churches like that one make absolutely no sense. They claim to have complete, apostolic succession derived from a church that still exists. They just reject the things that they disagree with, yet claim authority from the same church they reject. How can you say, "The Catholic Church had apostolic succession until I disagreed with them"? If apostolic succession can be claimed just as a whim, why does it matter at all? How is their claim to apostolic succession any more valid than the Catholic Churches?

    To me, Churches like that are for weak people. They want to think that what they believe is the Absolute Truth, yet create a religion that fulfills their own personal desires. There are so many contradiction in thought and doctrine in that Church, yet they still hold onto some semblance of "legitimacy."
     
  18. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #18
    How? Religion's allowed to change if the Son of God comes down and says so...

    My problem with Protestant churches is that they claim to be right without also claiming any divine inspiration. Judaism was added to over time with prophets as they await/awaited the coming of the Messiah. Jesus claimed that there would be no prophets after him. In that way, people like Martin Luther can't claim to be prophets, yet some how claim authority to change doctrine. I want to hear from Protestants as to how they legitimize their beliefs.
     
  19. pdham macrumors member

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    #19
    That is actually a really good question/point. I am currently a member of the Christian Reformed Church (http://www.crcna.org/pages/index.cfm), although I certainly don't think that is the one true form of Christianity.

    I think how Protestants liegitimize their beliefs is quite simple. The arguement is that the traditional Catholic Church had added too many extraneous, and political (sound familiar), things to the Gospe; so people like Martin Luther, Calvin, etc attemped to strip those elements and return to a faith based more completely on the Word of God. Therefore I would say they legitimize their beleif because they feel it is what the Bible teaches...

    I think it is also important to note that most falvors of Christianity, including Catholic/Orthodox and Protestants, really don't disagree over any of the "essential" teachings of Christianity. It is unfortunate they squabble over the details.

    By the way, I am not trying to criticize the Catholic or Orthodox church. I may not be Catholc but I think some of their ceremonies that are based in thousands of years of tradition are quite beautiful and powerful.
     
  20. pdham macrumors member

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    #20
    Sorry, I just saw this.
    I think you may be mistaking that the Protestant church REALLY thinks they are the ONLY right religion. I certainly do not know any Protestant ministers, seminary students, or people who really know thier faith that would say only protestants and no Catholics are going to heaven. They may think they are more right then Catholics, but in the end those educated in their faith (protestant of Catholic) seem to accept that ar the core, both are Christians.
    Maybe I am being naive, but I know my Church would never say that Catholics are wrong, and they are going to Hell; and I would never a attend a Church that did.

    I know there are churches out their that do say only evangelical Churches are right, I have hear it, but those are the same Churches that are in Jesus Camp... not representary of main stream Protestantism.
     
  21. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #21
    Well there are at least some of the Protestant churches who had a major issue with the idea that the Pope was supposedly infallible, and they believed that the Bible should be the higher authority. This leaves the options of overthrowing the Pope or to deny the Pope's authority. It's awfully hard to deny the Pope's authority and remain Catholic, and to overthrowing the Pope would be a bit tough. So they decided to strike off on their own to get out from under the Pope. It's not like they radically changed their views. When you get down to it most Christian religions are almost completely identical. The major differences, as I've seen them, are the structure of the church, views on the sacraments (some believe in an actual miraculous transformation of the wine/water and bread into Jesus' body and blood some see it as a more symbolic gesture), and whether or not saints exist and hold higher positions in the afterlife. The basic underlying teachings are the same, they all differ slightly on how man has decided to interpret those teachings.

    I guess my meaning didn't quite come off as clearly as I intended on this point. A central government over a geographic region is somewhat essential in this day and age to cover basic defense and welfare needs of the people living there. When a government is overthrown there will always be those around that are still loyal to the old government, but 2 governments cannot easily cover the same geographic regions. Since the church is a more global organization and does not provide for the defense and welfare of it's members, a church that separates from the main body can leave the old believers as they are and only take those open to their ideas with them. You don't have the same problem with 2 religions co-existing in the same place as you do with 2 governments.

    And how do you know that God does not change? If you read the Bible God changes quite a bit. From the old testament fire and brimstone God who destroyed the planet and turned people into pillars of salt to the new testament loving/forgiving/merciful God. People change every day, why can't God change? God may be perfect but His attitudes towards His peoples may very well adapt as mankind advances and changes.

    Religion is concerned with Absolute Truths, but very few religion's claim to have actually found the Truth. Religion is about the search for the truth and some throughout the past have decided that they might not be on the right track so they have opted to find another path to the truth. If one Absolute Truth does exist will there not be countless paths to this truth? Can't people find their own path to it seems silly to shut down possible paths to the truth just because you think that there should be a consensus on how to find it across all Bible based reiligons.

    Unfortunately like anything, food, drugs, alcohal, video games, TV, etc... there will be many people who take religion to the extreme and convince themselves that there is only one path, and this is where the militant fundamentalists show up, and like any other addiction/obsession logic does not win arguments with them.

    Guess I should have read my own link a bit better. I only know a bit about the church from it's commercials but they seemed to address my biggest issue with the Roman Catholic Church in claiming they were all about the love and not the guilt. The first prayer said in most Roman Catholic masses is:

    "I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God."

    Never was all that comfortable with any service that started out with "I've been bad, please forgive me."
     
  22. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #22
    I find it interesting to me to hear your point of view. I disagree with your assessments of Luther and Calvin, though, especially Calvin. He got quite violent and equated crimes like theft and murder with blasphemy, killing and expelling people he thought as heretics from Geneva.

    I'm curious to hear, though, why you don't believe there is a "True" from of Christianity and how you base your faith on just the books about Jesus in the Bible, since they were chosen by people (who were Catholic/Orthodox) and not specifically revealed by God, like the Koran is thought of in the Islamic tradition.
     
  23. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #23
    To atszyman:

    That was a very interesting read. I think we have different definitions of "Absolute Truth" though. Let's take something like the Eucharist. For Catholics, it is essential that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ (in the form of bread and wine) and partaking in that Eucharist in order to be a part of the Body of the Church. To me, that's something that is subject to Absolute Truth. Either it's necessary or it isn't. To me, that's not taking the same path to the same truth. To me, if you don't partake of the Catholic/Orthodox Eucharist, you aren't in communion with the Church or Christ. The Catholic Church doesn't claim to know everything about the Absolute Truth, but that they are know part of it and are the one entrusted to interpret what we can here on earth. They don't claim to know who is saved and who isn't (although they do proclaim with certainty that some people are saved: saints), but they claim to be privy to certain things that are Absolutely True, i.e. Mary has always been and will always be virgin.

    As for God changing, I don't think He changes, but rather man. And here's where that Catholic Church gains even more importance. Before Jesus, there were prophets sent by God to keep the Jews on track. But there will be no more prophets after Jesus (something that all Christians believe), so He left an institution on earth to guide His people. So the Church is supposed to keep the doctrines "pure" as times change and help people apply them to their changing lives.

    And for you being put off by the Act of Contrition, I don't think you quite understand what is meant by it. The whole Christian worldview is that man is tainted by Original Sin and predisposed to sin, requiring Jesus to come to Earth and atone for that sin. Just because we can now be saved by the Grace of God, that doesn't mean that our tendency to sin went away. Catholics begin Mass with an Act of Contrition for two main reasons.

    1) To recognize that we still have the tendency to sin and need to always work to be good people; 2) And more importantly to purify themselves before receiving the Eucharist, the actually Body and Blood of Christ. In that way, you gain true communion with the Church with Christ.

    And I think starting out with "I've been bad, please forgive me" adds a bit of much needed humility that prevents people from going around thinking that they are definitely saved and acting like certain terrible evangelicals.
     
  24. pdham macrumors member

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    #24
    Both good points....

    I guess I do think there is one "True" form of Christianity, but that form would be the one that Christ Himself lived out, or would want us to live out. I do not think that any iteration of Christianity on this earth would satisfy all Christ would want from us. Therefore, as we have it, I don't see one True form of Christianity. Instead, if there are multiple sects with differing details, but the same essential message of salvation, I see no need to qualify one as right and the others wrong. Because like I said, none of them are living up to the perfect example of Christ's Church. If there were a sect that claims a different salvation message, apart from the Gospel, then I would question their legitimacy.

    This leads into the answer of how I justify my faith on a book that was picked by orthodox/Catholics. (by the way when I said "they were adding things to the Gospel" in the previous post I didn’tmean I only base my faith on the Gospel, I should have used the word Bible) Like I said, I do not think Catholics are wrong, and I feel that the leaders of the Catholic Church are incredibly holy men and truly seek after God's heart. Therefore, I must trust the work of the Holy Spirit, through those men in the canonization process. Plus, with all of the extraneous books available on the Internet, if I have a question I can just read about it. (I don't really want to get into a debate with anyone about book dating or validity because I know how they end up.)

    Lastly, to your point about Luther and Calvin, you are right. But, these are just men and ultimately their actions do not affect the message. If their message were obviously contrary to the Word then I wouldn't follow it. I cannot put faith in men, no matter how influential or holy... look at us.

    This is really hard to explain in written word, so I apologize if I am unclear.
     
  25. Macaddicttt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #25
    It may not be the case now, but when people like Luther and Calvin were preaching, they thought theirs was the True Church. People were forced to convert to Lutheranism or be killed, and Calvin sealed off Geneva and threw out all those who disagreed with him. Even today, you find splits between Protestant sects. If they all believed that there were many different paths to the Absolute Truth, why do they have disagreements and falling outs with each other within the same structure?

    And if they do believe that there are many paths to the same thing, I still don't quite understand that reasoning. See my other posts on Absolute Truth if you want to see my confusion.
     

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