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  1. #21
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    yet it is not seeking the truth, if there is a personal God or not but choosing a pantheistic idea of "god" for the sole reason of it being a "better" religion. It is just made-up.
    Thanks for your response...
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  2. #22
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    You may be right about saying Jesus would have concurred. Jesus had encountered Pharisees who had made the laws central to their life over against having God as central. As such, the disputes were focused on doctrines of the law and of the law itself. This ultimately made true concerns for one's neighbor into a neglected goal of religion.

    Then, in revealing Himself as Trinity, God, as this mystery of Trinity, was leading us to focus the doctrine more on the effort to understand Himself. The doctrine in this area is critical because our gift of justification is intimately tied up with the nature of our Messiah and God.

    What has now become more interesting is your background as a Jesuit. i am now curious about that background ... or, more generally, your religious background and how you got interested in the Jesuits and why you left ... and what you left. Many people that have come to theologyweb have come because they were uncertain of their faith and were looking to ask questions to figure out whether the gospel is true;similarly there are people that are uncertain of faith and go into higher learning to seek the 'answers.'

    A discussion about this doesn't have to be part of this thread though.
    Well - my thread - so my rules

    I came to TW years ago, largely out of curiosity. My memory is that it was about 15 years ago, but some here have told me it was as recently as 10 years ago. The records are lost, so I'm not sure who is right. I was curious because part of my youth had been spent in the company of very fundamentalist Christians. I engaged in discussion/debate, and eventually decided it was not adding much that was positive to my life, and I stopped visiting. The almost incessant rancor (which I participated in ) began to seem to me more life-draining than life-giving.

    I came back to TWeb late last year in response to the U.S. political situation. I was findding myself feeling I was in my own little bubble, surrounded by friends who thought and spoke as I did, and more than a few friends who are way out to the left (living in Vermont they are plentiful), but I had really lost touch with the right and far right. I remembered TWeb and thought this might be a place to hear what another side had to say. And I was frankly curious about the relationship between Trump and the Christian right - and not willing to have that relationship explained to me by anyone but the people who held those views.

    As for my background, it's pretty mixed. I grew up Roman Catholic. My mother became a member of a pentecostal community when I was in elementary school. I had a powerful "conversion experience" when I was very young (11) and became active in that same community. Eventually I broke away and became active in my local church youth programs and music ministry. I broke away from all of it in my late teens and spent three years "being young," but then returned from that, rejoined the church, re-engaged with music, and then decided to enter formation for the Catholic priesthood. In my senior year, I decided I was "called" to teach - not to be a rural country priest, so I investigated the religious orders with a teaching charism. The top three on my list were the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Jesuits. I chose the latter, and entered the novitiate. After almost two years, I left before I was to take first vows. That was early 1986. By the end of 1987 I had met and married my wife, and by the end of that decade I had left the church, then left Christianity, and then left theism completely. I cannot say that I ever consciously said, "I'm leaving X." It was more realizing that my beliefs had changed and I simply did not have those beliefs anymore.

    I've been atheist for almost 30 years, which means I've moved well past the "rebellious" stage so many atheists seem to go through (and some never escape), and here I sit. I am happy to discuss matters of faith with people - I still enjoy the back and forth - but I am not actively exploring theisms any more. These days my efforts are shifting into the political sphere, where I thin there is much to be done.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Well - my thread - so my rules

    I came to TW years ago, largely out of curiosity. My memory is that it was about 15 years ago, but some here have told me it was as recently as 10 years ago. The records are lost, so I'm not sure who is right. I was curious because part of my youth had been spent in the company of very fundamentalist Christians. I engaged in discussion/debate, and eventually decided it was not adding much that was positive to my life, and I stopped visiting. The almost incessant rancor (which I participated in ) began to seem to me more life-draining than life-giving. . . .
    I am happy to discuss matters of faith with people - I still enjoy the back and forth - but I am not actively exploring theisms any more. These days my efforts are shifting into the political sphere, where I thin there is much to be done.
    Thanks for the short biography.

    Tweb has been rather polarized and polemical in many situations.


    Your past experience is more complex and mixed than expected. I'm just gathering ideas. On a separate trail, I was thinking how much the Lutheran education leads to true followers of Christ. My sense of 'true following of Christ' is where a person recognizes the reality of Christ in his or her life. Just to be sure... I don't mean to say that I think Lutherans are any less likely to follow Christ than other groups -- but they have a system to bring up people in a de facto sense as Christians.

  4. #24
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    Thanks for the short biography.

    Tweb has been rather polarized and polemical in many situations.


    Your past experience is more complex and mixed than expected. I'm just gathering ideas. On a separate trail, I was thinking how much the Lutheran education leads to true followers of Christ. My sense of 'true following of Christ' is where a person recognizes the reality of Christ in his or her life. Just to be sure... I don't mean to say that I think Lutherans are any less likely to follow Christ than other groups -- but they have a system to bring up people in a de facto sense as Christians.
    I cannot say I am all that familiar with the Lutheran sect, and I certainly in no position to differentiate between "followers of Christ" in such a way as to identify the "true" ones from the "untrue" ones. My experience is that each group/individual believes itself to be "true followers," just as each group believes it has the correct interpretation of god's moral precepts, and so forth. Basically, each religion believes it has "the truth," whatever that religion might be, and generally believes everyone else is wrong at least to some degree. That is one of the many dynamics that eventually led me away from theism.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I cannot say I am all that familiar with the Lutheran sect, and I certainly in no position to differentiate between "followers of Christ" in such a way as to identify the "true" ones from the "untrue" ones. My experience is that each group/individual believes itself to be "true followers," just as each group believes it has the correct interpretation of god's moral precepts, and so forth. Basically, each religion believes it has "the truth," whatever that religion might be, and generally believes everyone else is wrong at least to some degree. That is one of the many dynamics that eventually led me away from theism.
    My understanding is that true followers come to a place of trust in God and his provisions. The framework of knowledge of his provisions has come through in full brilliance under the New Testament (but many saints of old had faith which would 'qualify' them in Christ when Christ was manifested to the world).

    I'm more of a Baptist but the Lutheran church, in its better instances, has a confession and holds to the creeds. In a sense, if someone claims to be a Lutheran but rejects the confession and creeds wholesale, they surely wouldn't qualify as being a Lutheran and probably also wouldn't qualify as being a Christian either. I don't think someone has to actually be accurate on their doctrines to be a true follower -- but he or she should be inclined toward Christ such that he or she would accept the truest doctrines upon further study, for example.
    I don't see a certain group as being the only right Christian group... and sometimes it is a matter of percentages within any organization who will get past the religious instruction into the true relationship with Christ. (I have in mind "my sheep hear my voice" concept here.) There are certainly wrong groups who, like Jehovah's Witnesses, who will hold to heresy without even debating it to 'fix' the decision from the church fathers.

    Just an additional thought ... your departure from theism seems to just put you into the debate by taking the side opposing theism. This is sort of to say that you use the excuse of man's inability to concur on theism as an excuse not to acknowledge the true God. But maybe you are a sheep who just hasn't yet been in range to hear the voice of the Shepherd yet.

  6. #26
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    My understanding is that true followers come to a place of trust in God and his provisions. The framework of knowledge of his provisions has come through in full brilliance under the New Testament (but many saints of old had faith which would 'qualify' them in Christ when Christ was manifested to the world).

    I'm more of a Baptist but the Lutheran church, in its better instances, has a confession and holds to the creeds. In a sense, if someone claims to be a Lutheran but rejects the confession and creeds wholesale, they surely wouldn't qualify as being a Lutheran and probably also wouldn't qualify as being a Christian either. I don't think someone has to actually be accurate on their doctrines to be a true follower -- but he or she should be inclined toward Christ such that he or she would accept the truest doctrines upon further study, for example.
    I don't see a certain group as being the only right Christian group... and sometimes it is a matter of percentages within any organization who will get past the religious instruction into the true relationship with Christ. (I have in mind "my sheep hear my voice" concept here.) There are certainly wrong groups who, like Jehovah's Witnesses, who will hold to heresy without even debating it to 'fix' the decision from the church fathers.

    Just an additional thought ... your departure from theism seems to just put you into the debate by taking the side opposing theism. This is sort of to say that you use the excuse of man's inability to concur on theism as an excuse not to acknowledge the true God. But maybe you are a sheep who just hasn't yet been in range to hear the voice of the Shepherd yet.
    Not exactly. My move to atheism actually began, ironically, as an exercise in identifying error in my beliefs and ridding myself of them as much as was humanly possible. It began after an experience in which I learned how easily the human person can be deceived, even by their own senses. That set me down a path of taking nothing at face value, and looking to ground my beliefs and challenge anything I had accepted without really looking into it. My thought, at the time, is that self-deceit is yet another way we keep ourselves separated from truth and so separated from god. My intent was to be more open to god. No one was more surprised than I, four years later, to find that I was an atheist as a result of my explorations.

    The point I was refering to above was an observation I made about religion and science. Science has a well-defined methodology for arriving at "truth," testing it, and eliminating error. As a result, scientific principles tend towards unity. When a new principle in introduced, at first there is significant confusion and debate and disagreement. But as more and more scientists replicate the original work, they either confirm or refute the proposition. Over some period of time, the principle is either widely adopted, or widely rejected. While there are always outliers, there is a general tendency to unity.

    Religion shows no such property. Religion tends to division. Rather than unifying around discerned and revealed truths, religions fragment. This happens more or less, depending on the religion - but one of the MOST fragmented is Christianity. Last I saw there were over 2500 distinct Christian sects, each claiming to have "the truth of Christ" and asserting that other sects had, to some degree, error. When I ask myself why this might be, I come to the following observation: science explores the real. It is grounded in objective reality, and seeks to discern the truth about that reality. When there is disagreement - there is always an "authority" to consult - the real, physical universe. I think religions fragment because they lack such a central unifier. When there is a disagreement - there is no "reality" to measure the proposition against. All there is are the fragmented copies of written works of men long since dead that was written in another tongue (for Christianity). In other words, I think religions fragment because they are not bound to something that is real. In the absence of that, there is nothing to unify.

    I think, if the notion of a god were real, we would see significantly more alignment among religions, and there would be less of a tendency for religions to fragment.

    I realize this is not a "proof" of any sorts. It is merely one small data point in a lifetime of accumulation. But, combined with the rest of what I have learned, it paints a picture I cannot ignore.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Not exactly. My move to atheism actually began, ironically, as an exercise in identifying error in my beliefs and ridding myself of them as much as was humanly possible. It began after an experience in which I learned how easily the human person can be deceived, even by their own senses.
    ...

    I think, if the notion of a god were real, we would see significantly more alignment among religions, and there would be less of a tendency for religions to fragment.

    I realize this is not a "proof" of any sorts. It is merely one small data point in a lifetime of accumulation. But, combined with the rest of what I have learned, it paints a picture I cannot ignore.
    It does seem a bit funny to recognize how people can even be self-deceived but then willing to come to such strong conclusions against the ability to know God.

    But one thing I like that seems inherent to Christianity is the sense that people aren't to be forced into 'believing' in the gospel. There is no logic in feigning belief in God if such recognition of God isn't something that is consistent with your understanding or state of mind.

  8. Amen Jedidiah amen'd this post.
  9. #28
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    It does seem a bit funny to recognize how people can even be self-deceived but then willing to come to such strong conclusions against the ability to know God.
    I would imagine, from the perspective of someone who believes god is real, that it does seem an odd thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    But one thing I like that seems inherent to Christianity is the sense that people aren't to be forced into 'believing' in the gospel. There is no logic in feigning belief in God if such recognition of God isn't something that is consistent with your understanding or state of mind.
    Indeed. For me, you are the first person, here or anywhere, to offer that response.

    I have come to conclusion that the notion of gods are man-made notions. Since that is where my journey has taken me, I cannot claim to believe something else. I would be lying, which I won't do. Note - that does not mean I think theists are conscously "making up" their religion and faking it. As was my faith years ago, I am sure the beliefs are honestly held and truly believed. Unlike many of my atheist "colleagues," I do not think theists are "stupid" or "naive." I simply think they are wrong. Why they believe as they do is unique to each of them.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  10. #29
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I'm not sure where this belongs, so I'm using the lobby. I'm curious what people think of this:

    The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.
    I do not consider this an accurate unbiased view of Buddhism. I was close to Buddhism, but not Buddhist, because of the prevalence of dogmas and doctrines of Buddhism, and yes in the many various versions of Buddhism their beliefs do not necessarily transcend God(s). At one time I considered my self a non-temple disciple of Buddhism.

    My assessment of the different religions and belief systems I found the closest to the above description is the Unitarian Universalist church from a more humanist perspective, and the Baha'i Faith, which is God centered religion, but God is more universal undefined apophatic God than other religions. The Baha'i Faith transcends a 'personal God' in the manner that we cannot 'personally know God' nor define God in terms of the doctrines and dogmas of any one religions nor personal view. We only know of God through Revelation of the attributes and spiritual laws of God through the evolving progressive Revelation.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 04-04-2018 at 04:59 AM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

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    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  11. #30
    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I think, if the notion of a god were real, we would see significantly more alignment among religions, and there would be less of a tendency for religions to fragment.
    I'm recalling now C.S. Lewis' comment in the preface to Mere Christianity:

    Source: Mere Christianity

    It is at her center, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Lewis found that the ones who were most in agreement with his writing were the ones who were devoted members to their communion.

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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