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Agnostic is basically a person who doesn't have a definite stance in regards to whether god(s) exist - the undecided/don't know/might or might not be/not enough proof to sway either way camp. Atheist believes that god(s) don't exist.

smile.gif Oh, okay.

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Agnostic is basically a person who doesn't have a definite stance in regards to whether god(s) exist - the undecided/don't know/might or might not be/not enough proof to sway either way camp. Atheist believes that god(s) don't exist.

Not exactly.

 

Gnosticism is different from theism. Theism deals with belief; gnosticism deals with knowledge. Strictly speaking, all atheists are also agnostics because no one can know that god does or does not exist. A person who claims to know would be a gnostic atheist or a gnostic theist.

 

One can also be an agnostic theist. This would be a person who believes in a certain god, but also admits that they may be wrong. They would say something like, "I have faith in X, but X may not be the right answer for everyone."

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There are also agnostic atheists and agnostic theists. An agnostic is just someone that thinks that we can't (or haven't) prove or disprove the existence of a god.

That's because believing that you don't know doesn't also contradict that you can believe there is or isn't.

 

You can believe that there IS one or more god(s)/goddess(es), but also believe that you will never be able to prove that.

 

You can also believe there are no gods/goddesses but also believe that you'll never be able to prove or know that.

 

 

Believing isn't always the same as knowing. I consider something I "believe" to be something I cannot prove with verifiable facts. I "believe" that there is some sort of life essence like a soul or something, and that as a result it can linger after death which causes ghosts and spiritual activity. I don't "know" this, though, because I cannot prove it.

 

I know that the world is round, because I can prove it with facts.

 

 

 

The reason there can be atheists who DON'T consider themselves agnostic is because, as far as they're concerned, the facts they can point to and things they can observe DO disprove the existence of any sort of god(s)/goddess(es). Where religion and faith are concerned, absolute knowledge that is 100% provable is often not a possibility, so you have to be willing to bend a little on the idea of what "knowing" something means.

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ohmy.gif Now your debating about the real definition of agnostics? blink.gif This is a bit confusing.

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Definitely not going to bash any religion or lack thereof, but will tell my own. I left the Roman Catholic faith about 10 years ago to become Eastern Orthodox Christian. Granted, both are Christian, but their beliefs do vary here and there. While I'm no master on the subject, there are things that my Eastern Orthodox faith believes the Roman Catholics do wrong - and some things about the Vatican I'm finding pretty scary these days.

 

Ok, so most of those fears relate to things others would call "conspiracy theories" like aliens being our gods and such, which I actually have something of a belief in. I don't believe aliens put us here, but I do believe they were the old gods of ancient legends, like the Egyptian and Greek gods, or Sumerian gods. I've recently taken a serious interest in the ancient Egyptian gods and actually feel a loss since Egypt has turned away from that belief system, though I won't condemn anyone for their choices.

 

I'm also extremely in love with the Hindu religion. I've been trying to study up on Krishna in particular. I've found out that Buddha was really a Hindu prophet, but that was just one person telling me this, so I don't know if it's true. Anyway, I think the most peaceful religions I've learned of so far are Buddhism and Hinduism. I can't recall any bloody crusades they've been on, but would be happy to learn otherwise if I can. Not that I'm happy to know that there are bloody crusades or anything, just that I find knowledge a good thing.

 

One religion in particular that interests me now - Zoroastrianism. The Middle East practiced it in parts before Islam entered the scene. I can't find much about it though, so it's still a mystery to me, though I've read that they had a belief in one supreme being too.

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I believe in aliens, but as far as them being involved in Egypt, no. First of all, why would they? Then why did they leave? Not to mention the overall lack of any evidence to that effect, which is the same thing I have against religion.

 

As far as Buddha being a Hindu prophet, no as well. Some Hindus consider him to be one of Vishnu's incarnations, but that's about it.

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tongue.gif So many questions swarming in my head!

 

So what are the different branches of Christianity? I know Catholic (Roman Catholic), Protestant (which is further divided to Baptist, Evangelist, etc.), Born Again, and Iglesia ni Cristo. I know there's more to that.

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tongue.gif So many questions swarming in my head!

 

So what are the different branches of Christianity? I know Catholic (Roman Catholic), Protestant (which is further divided to Baptist, Evangelist, etc.), Born Again, and Iglesia ni Cristo. I know there's more to that.

Well Protestant is pretty much any denomination not considered Catholic. So, basically, everyone but the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox etc (pretty much anything with 'Orthodox' in it's name). There are also the 'bridge' groups that are not in full communion with Rome, but which maintain full Apostolic sucession - including Anglicanism and the Old Catholic churches, as well as certain Lutheran branches. And then you get into Protestant churches... and there are many, meany denominations of those.

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tongue.gif So many questions swarming in my head!

 

So what are the different branches of Christianity? I know Catholic (Roman Catholic), Protestant (which is further divided to Baptist, Evangelist, etc.), Born Again, and Iglesia ni Cristo. I know there's more to that.

I'm no scholar on it, but I do like the graphs found in the Wikipedia article on branches of Christianity.

 

Please note that "Born Again" is a term typically used for Christians who come to accept Jesus as adults, not really associated with any one branch.

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Please note that "Born Again" is a term typically used for Christians who come to accept Jesus as adults, not really associated with any one branch.

Ah right, my mistake to consider it as a branch.

 

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I know that every Sunday, the Holy Mass for the Roman Catholic Church is the same through all the churches. It was said that the archbishop decides on this Gospels/readings. How exactly is it chosen. tongue.gif Sorry I'm Protestant and we don't have those stuff.

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I know that every Sunday, the Holy Mass for the Roman Catholic Church is the same through all the churches. It was said that the archbishop decides on this Gospels/readings. How exactly is it chosen. tongue.gif Sorry I'm Protestant and we don't have those stuff.

I think there are a couple of variations on the Mass depending on the 'Rite' being used. The Roman Catholic Church (like several others, including the Anglican Communion) issues a Lectionary which cycles through the Bible in it's reading over the course of 3 years. Daily Lectionaries cycle through faster. The Eastern Churches use a Lectionary with a 1 year cycle.

 

Incidently there *are* Lectionaries in use by some Protestant denominations - it's not a practise restricted to the Roman Catholic Church.

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Well Protestant is pretty much any denomination not considered Catholic. So, basically, everyone but the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox etc (pretty much anything with 'Orthodox' in it's name). There are also the 'bridge' groups that are not in full communion with Rome, but which maintain full Apostolic sucession - including Anglicanism and the Old Catholic churches, as well as certain Lutheran branches. And then you get into Protestant churches... and there are many, meany denominations of those.

There are lots and lots of individual denominations that have divided on small issues, but when you break it down to individual Protestant traditions, consolidating offshoots, and counting Lutheranism and Anglicanism as "Protestant" by definition, there's seven at most.

Edited by philpot123

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Agnostic is basically a person who doesn't have a definite stance in regards to whether god(s) exist - the undecided/don't know/might or might not be/not enough proof to sway either way camp. Atheist believes that god(s) don't exist.

Sorry to butt in, but this may be a point of confusion. Athesism in the strictest sense is holding the value "there exists no deities" as true. In practice however, atheists generally hold that "there exists at least one deity" is not necessarily true. In other words, if there is no empirical evidence to believe in a deity, we will assume that there is no deity. Being an atheist (I would hope) does not necessarily involve belief, such that if sufficient evidence were to turn up any atheist would not continue to hold a misguided belief.

 

Just think about it as this: I hold to be true that faeries do not exist. Even though we can't prove that they don't exist, I generally assume they don't because there is no empirical evidence for faeries. I would be faerie athiest.

 

Faerie agnostics would be people who choose to assume that faeries may exist because we can't prove they don't.

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Sorry to butt in, but this may be a point of confusion. Athesism in the strictest sense is holding the value "there exists no deities" as true. In practice however, atheists generally hold that "there exists at least one deity" is not necessarily true. In other words, if there is no empirical evidence to believe in a deity, we will assume that there is no deity. Being an atheist (I would hope) does not necessarily involve belief, such that if sufficient evidence were to turn up any atheist would not continue to hold a misguided belief. 

 

Just think about it as this: I hold to be true that faeries do not exist. Even though we can't prove that they don't exist, I generally assume they don't because there is no empirical evidence for faeries. I would be faerie athiest.

 

Faerie agnostics would be people who choose to assume that faeries may exist because we can't prove they don't.

Expanding on this (Being an atheist myself).

 

I usually choose to follow what can give me the most evidence for its existence. I accept evolution, the big bang theory and the fact dinosaurs most likely had feathers because significant evidence has been provided for me. However, I usually do not accept evidence from things that, by nature, are impossible to disprove or prove. The biggest example of this is god which, by the very nature of the scriptures that describe it, cannot be disproven. However, you cannot prove its existence either so I choose not to accept such things as truths and base my life choices off of them.

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...I don't understand where is the confusion? Some of your statements don't make too much sense to me.

 

Beliefs can change in time. There is no evidence of god(s) existence, therefore an atheist (at the time of speaking) might believe that no such entity exists. If proof were to be found, the belief might change accordingly and the atheist might stop being an atheist.

 

Also, what is currently being described is more specifically agnostic atheism, not atheism in general. Agnosticism is the part that deals with the "there is not enough proof to say for certain" and atheism is the part that adds "but I personally do (currently!) not believe in the existence of god(s)" - be it because the lack of gods makes more sense or simply "feels" more likely.

Edited by Shienvien

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Being an atheist (I would hope) does not necessarily involve belief, such that if sufficient evidence were to turn up any atheist would not continue to hold a misguided belief.

The existence or non-existence of deities is by definition belief (since there is not empirical evidence to prove either way), so to have a stance on the existence of gods requires belief. After all, belief refers to your world view, and your world view is that there is no god(s).

Edited by Kestra15

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I disagree there. So many, many extremely traditional Christmas songs *are* religious in nature, and banning them massively limits the repetoir. Added to which a lot of classical choral music is religiously inspired (as well as a lot of the non-choral pieces) and, again, banning that would be a loss to any choir or orchestra. A better idea would be to extend the range to include songs from other religious traditions, rather than banning the lot in their entirety.

 

You don't need to utterly ban any and all mention of God from public life to have separation of Church and State. England is a prime example of it. We're broadly secular over here, yet school choirs will happily sing traditional Christmas carols. My partner is atheist (as are many others) and it bothers them not one iota. His school sang traditional Christmas carols, and until he met me he *still* didn't have much of an idea about Christianity, let alone feel like he'd been preached it at school.

 

So, yeah, I personally think it would be a great shame to ban people from singing joyful songs simply because they mention God.

 

Edit to add: It's not 100% true to say my other half isn't bothered by Christmas songs. He actually *is*, but not because of any religious aspect. The store he works in starts playing them on repeat in late-Novemebr, and by Christmas he's ready to kill the next person that plays him one. Funnily enough it's actually the secular ones that annoy him more than the traditional ones - I've got a lovely CD of Christmas Carols done in gregorian chant and he really likes that one, despite his being atheist and *all* of the songs being religious ones.

 

You don't have the believe to enjoy the music. And I don't see enjoying sharing good music as being 'pushing' religion on anyone.

I know this is an old post, but I just read it and have to say how much I absolutely agree. I have this debate all the time. I'd really like to be a school music teacher, and I very firmly believe in keeping sacred music--not to say Christian, but sacred music of various cultures and religion--in school music classes. You really can't get a good handle on music history if you chop it all out. A huge amount of early music is sacred, and ignoring the vast majority of the music produced in any given period because it mentions religion isn't at all conducive to a well-rounded musical education.

 

Besides, as a singer many of the most beautiful pieces of music I've sung have been sacred. I sang a Mass before I started going back to church. It didn't offend me to sing a religious work when I wasn't actively attending services. I still remember the Kyrie being just the most beautiful thing. Now I do attend church and sing in a church choir, but in other choirs I'm in we've done Hebrew pieces, and one of them was so moving singing it the first time almost made me cry. Even though I'm not Jewish, I can appreciate not only the music and it's historical significance, but also the special meaning the text has to people of that faith. I've learned about musical ceremonies of Native American tribes, African cultures, Hindu sacred music, etc. Granted, I've never sung any of it, not for a lack of interest but because different vocal techniques are used in these cultures and having spent so many years being trained to sing western classical music, my throat just can't comprehend it. But, anyway, even if I don't believe in it, the music's still very interesting and I'm a more well-rounded musician for having studied it. And so will high school choir students be more well-rounded for being exposed to sacred music.

 

In literature classes, no one's crying out to ban literary works that have allusions to the Bible. At least, not that I'm aware of. If we can set aside our egos long enough to appreciate literature as a great masterpiece despite the presence of conflicting philosophies and religious beliefs expressed in it, why can't we do the same for music? It's the same basic idea. Students will get more out of reading Moby Dick or the Canterbury Tales than out of reading Twilight. In the same way, students will learn more by studying a Bach chorale or works by Handel than they would if they sang whatever new pop song is on the radio. The key part is that no one's asking these students to believe the words they're singing. All that's being asked of them is to learn the music to develop an understanding of the stylistic elements of the time period and the correct vocal techniques to sing these pieces.

 

/end rant

 

Anyway, I just poked my head in to give my own two cents and share my own experience with religion. My dad took me to church all the time when I was a kid. I always hated it. I thought it was boring and would have much rather spent that hour playing. When we moved, the parish in our new town was really unwelcoming, so we stopped going, except for holidays. It suited me fine, and I never really thought much of it until a bit over a year ago.

 

I was going through a really, really difficult time. Finally, I was at such a loss that even though I'd never really gone to church I started to pray because I just didn't know what else to do. I asked my dad if we could go to church that Sunday, and there was just something really moving about being there. I found out that a different church, that wasn't Catholic, but still Christian, was in desperate need of a soprano to fill in that week in their choir. So, because I'd planned on going back to church anyway, I contacted the music director and ended up filling in and singing with the choir. Now, I've been going just about every week since and I've become a member of the church.

 

It's really been a good thing. It kind of filled a hole in my life at the time. Not completely, but it was as close as I could have come at the time. The people there really helped me recover my self-esteem, probably more than they even realize. And, it's a community that's my own little niche, removed from my family. My mom and sister don't go to church period. My dad goes to Catholic services sometimes, but doesn't much like coming to my church. It's really, really nice to be able to be part of a warm community that likes me very much where there are no preconceived notions. No one there had met my family first, so they couldn't have formed ideas about who I was based on what my family said or did. I'm just me.

 

Just with the way things worked out, I have to believe that I was led there. I mean, I just happened to have casually mentioned wanting to get back to church to someone who knew the music director of that church the exact week a soprano who'd come to help them out with an anthem that was a bit higher than usual bailed. I just happened to say the right thing to the right person and the exact right time. The music director still tells people that I was really an answer to a prayer when I started going there. And I was expecting to show up for one week, help them out with the anthem, and not go back, so I was really afraid of being treated like an outsider. Instead, they welcomed me with open arms and really encouraged me to stick around. That feeling of being wanted and appreciated was really what I needed at the time.

 

A performance at this church was the first time since high school that my parents gave me flowers after a performance. It was also the first time in a long time that they told me I performed well and I was able to believe they meant it. When I got my associates this past December, my mom got me a set of pearls to wear for a recital that I was giving at this church, which was really special. I couldn't stop crying after she gave them to me. The recital in and of itself gave me was very, very special. Not only did it give me a sense of real accomplishment and pride in myself, but it gave me a sort of closure I didn't think I would ever have. It wasn't exactly what I'd expected, but it was as close as I could get to an experience that I didn't think I'd ever be able to have, and the idea of not having it broke my heart so much that I'd break down crying whenever I thought about it.

 

Anyway, the point of my whole long spiel is that going back to church is something that was really, really positive for me. It was just an incredible coincidence of saying the right thing to the right person at the right time that brought me there, and that one casual remark has been an incredible blessing. There have been factors aside from church, but I don't think I would've had the courage to take the steps I needed to for those other factors to come into my life had I not found my way there first. Just my own experience.

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My grandmother is a religious catholic who goes every Sunday to church and who hates homosexuals. My mother is also a registered catholic but is not religious at all. My father is an atheist who makes fun of my grandmother who lives with my parents everytime he sees her going out to church.

 

I was raised - or shall I say "treated"? - as an catholic by my family and had to take the lesson "Religion" at school. I had communion but no confirmation because I had no motivation. My family celebrates christmas every year but nobody but my grandmother goes to church.

The older I got the more distance I took towards christianity. I read some books regarding buddhism but it got too confusing and I lost interest. I read the "satanic bible" and found some good advice in terms of dealing with people etc. and I live by it, but I am not a Satanist. I read the bible and all I think now is "oh look at the ancient fairytales!".

After moving to Japan 6 years ago I was able to "cut the connection" to anything christianity-related completely and don't have to take part in Christmas family meetings and do not "celebrate" Christmas anymore.

 

I do not believe in gods but other people are free to believe what they want to believe. But if you try to push your beliefs on me and stand in front of my house door with "God loves you!"-pamphlets, disturbing me in my free time, I am going to shut the door right in front of your face.

Edited by Mondat

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I am a Christian. I believe the whole Bible was written by God. I don't mean that God "wrote it" with His own hand, but I believe that he inspired man to write out His Word. If any of you have any questions about the Bible I'd love to tell you about it. @Mondat, I will respect your beliefs and I will not push my beliefs on to you (I don't like making people mad). smile.gif

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Definitely not going to bash any religion or lack thereof, but will tell my own. I left the Roman Catholic faith about 10 years ago to become Eastern Orthodox Christian. Granted, both are Christian, but their beliefs do vary here and there. While I'm no master on the subject, there are things that my Eastern Orthodox faith believes the Roman Catholics do wrong - and some things about the Vatican I'm finding pretty scary these days.

 

Ok, so most of those fears relate to things others would call "conspiracy theories" like aliens being our gods and such, which I actually have something of a belief in. I don't believe aliens put us here, but I do believe they were the old gods of ancient legends, like the Egyptian and Greek gods, or Sumerian gods.

An Orthodox Christian believes in the god Yawhe. (I refuse to call him/her/it "God", since there are too many of these.) Thus your lack of full belief in that specific God and your skepticism doesn't make you a believer, does it?

 

I've always found this interesting. I have plenty of friends who identify as Christian yet believe in reincarnation, the Zodiac, chakra etc. Then what makes you (you as in general believers) Christian? The belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God? But how can you be a true Hindu/Christian/Muslim if you don't follow the sayings of your religion? Excluding the religious scriptures argument because those have been accepted by the general public as man made. You can't just taylor a religion based on your needs.

 

I tried to do that before I ended up in the conclusion that there probably isn't a God. And if I have to think back I can't call it anything other than stupid. You can't be an Atheist and believe in ghosts and angels the same way you can't be a Christian and not consider the Zodiac a work of the "devil".

Edited by flitzthesoulreaper

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In some situations people might have had a certain faith as part of their lives and moved away from it but still call themselves a certain thing. But also I think there's sometimes the perception that Christianity is the "default" religion in America and possibly other places, and that you can be a Christian if you think the idea of a God's okay and you're not any other religion. Which isn't the case. Being a Christian is more than just calling yourself by a certain name. It also isn't equal to believing that Christ was God's son, although it requires it as a component. A good way of wording what it is is number four on this page - the "sinner's prayer" involves accepting Jesus as "Savior and Lord".

 

The question of what "born again" means was talked about recently - I think that's why a lot of people use the phrase, as a way of trying to be clear.

 

The things you do or don't do in your life, how good or bad you are by the world's standards, aren't going to make you a Christian and won't keep you from being a Christian. But, yes, most Christian denominations and churches consider regarding the Bible as God's word as infallible important enough to, for example, put in their statements of belief. I would imagine that someone who says they are a Christian and believes in things that are specifically and obviously* contradicted by the Bible could be using the improper definition of Christian, or is learning, like a new Christian - or maybe they're just okay with a level of cognitive dissonance that doesn't make sense to me.

 

* There are things in the Bible that different Christians will disagree on when there's question of textual interpretation, of course, which is different from what I mean by "obviously" in this case.

Edited by diaveborn

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In some situations people might have had a certain faith as part of their lives and moved away from it but still call themselves a certain thing. But also I think there's sometimes the perception that Christianity is the "default" religion in America and possibly other places, and that you can be a Christian if you think the idea of a God's okay and you're not any other religion. Which isn't the case. Being a Christian is more than just calling yourself by a certain name. It also isn't equal to believing that Christ was God's son, although it requires it as a component. A good way of wording what it is is number four on this page - the "sinner's prayer" involves accepting Jesus as "Savior and Lord".

 

The question of what "born again" means was talked about recently - I think that's why a lot of people use the phrase, as a way of trying to be clear.

 

The things you do or don't do in your life, how good or bad you are by the world's standards, aren't going to make you a Christian and won't keep you from being a Christian. But, yes, most Christian denominations and churches consider regarding the Bible as God's word as infallible important enough to, for example, put in their statements of belief. I would imagine that someone who says they are a Christian and believes in things that are specifically and obviously* contradicted by the Bible could be using the improper definition of Christian, or is learning, like a new Christian - or maybe they're just okay with a level of cognitive dissonance that doesn't make sense to me.

 

* There are things in the Bible that different Christians will disagree on when there's question of textual interpretation, of course, which is different from what I mean by "obviously" in this case.

Just out of curiosity, what sort of things do you think are obvious? I certainly believe in things that some people would say contradict the Bible, but I still identify as Christian and attend a Christian church each week. I have an aunt who thinks evolution is a "far-fetched", based on the Bible, and there are people out there who would take it to the extreme of saying you can't be a Christian and believe in evolution. In that, I have to strongly disagree. There's too much evidence of evolution to disregard it, and I don't think acknowledging that makes me any less of a Christian.

 

There's also the issues of gay rights and women's health. Some people will say it's "not Christian" to support gay marriage or be pro-choice, and I'm sure they'll have lots of Bible verses to back it up. Again, I disagree. I very much support gay marriage and I'm firmly pro-choice. But, I don't think that makes me any less of a Christian than that very conservative member of our congregation who believes the opposite.

 

As far as a lot of the social issues people use the Bible to argue over, I think it's really important to look at it in the context of the time it was written and understand that because presently we have new scientific knowledge and different understandings of morality and human rights. The Bible may be the word of God, but it's the word of God as written by men who did have their own opinions and agendas based on the standards and issues of their time. I, personally, don't think you can completely disregard the notion that their own agendas colored what was written, or perhaps worked their way into whatever translations were being written, and I also don't think you can ignore the fact that today people generally have a very different world view, and that's going to be reflected in some discrepancies between what people actually believe today and what scripture says.

 

And one of the reasons I really like my church is because I think our pastor believes that, too. One week before Communion, his sermon was on the subject of what it really means when we say everyone is welcome to the table, and he said that it literally means everyone. Not just the people like us who share our own specific beliefs, but everyone across the world regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. And, since he knows it's a point of contention among Christians, he made a point of adding, "Yes, that does include gays, too". Again, there will be people who cry that that's obviously not a good, Christian sentiment because the Bible says that being gay is bad. The staunch conservative in our congregation just about had a conniption.

 

I don't know. I just think saying that certain things are "obvious" in the Bible and you can't be Christian unless you believe those specific things is heading into dangerous waters, because in the end who is it that really decides what's obvious? Unless, of course, you mean the most basic elements of the faith, like Jesus Christ having come to die for our sins.

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I don't know. I just think saying that certain things are "obvious" in the Bible and you can't be Christian unless you believe those specific things is heading into dangerous waters, because in the end who is it that really decides what's obvious? Unless, of course, you mean the most basic elements of the faith, like Jesus Christ having come to die for our sins.

Yes, I mean the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and not the other things you mentioned.

 

I agree with you that it's important to look at the Bible in the context of when it was written. For example, there can be so much benefit from looking at the societal context, or at certain words in the original language because their connotations can tell us so much. I do also feel like "divinely inspired" means that any agendas or opinions of the authors wouldn't keep the text from saying exactly what God wanted it to say both then and now.

 

And I feel like both of those ideas aren't contradictions of each other, though there are probably a ton of people who would disagree with me.

Edited by diaveborn

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I do also feel like "divinely inspired" means that any agendas or opinions of the authors wouldn't keep the text from saying exactly what God wanted it to say both then and now.

I have to disagree on that.

 

Man is a flawed entity--and in the hands of Man the Bible has been translated and re-translated time and time again. This naturally allows for errors and for those who willfully alter the text because they don't find that it suits their views.

 

It's happening even in this day and age--there's people who want to re-write it because they feel the Bible is "too liberal".

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