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Old 06-28-2010, 08:21 AM
Location: Maryland
3,540 posts, read 6,082,978 times
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Originally Posted by shyspider View Post
LOL! I guess so. Hoops....seems to me. Man-made hoops?? But then what did you mean when you said I don't have to "do, accept, or understand anything"?
Try the unitarians
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:27 AM
621 posts, read 1,053,413 times
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Originally Posted by ScarletWren View Post
I changed from belonging to a church of Christ/Christian church to trying many denominations to now just being comfortable to talking to God when ever and where ever I feel like it, where ever that may be (we are the church, after all, not some building)
I totally connect with you on that. It's pretty much how my Christian walk is currently. But I also wonder about belonging to a particular congregation...or at the very least a group of other Christians who all share the same beliefs and desire to have a relationship with God that is based on truth.

Originally Posted by ScarletWren View Post
I, too, became convinced that the idea that God would consign milllions or even billions of His creation to hell to be false.
Well, I don't know about that. Seems to me if hell doesn't exist, then we have to dismiss some parts of the Bible. It also seems to make the matter of accepting Jesus, and repentance, rather irrelevant. If you don't mind me asking, how did you come to your belief that God doesn't consign anyone to hell? (I presume you mean that you don't believe in hell...?)
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:38 AM
Location: Pawnee Nation
7,525 posts, read 14,912,405 times
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It is so uplifting to see people from all denominations begin to understand that a relationship with God is personal and cannot be institutionalized, regardless of how sincere the institutions intent. For 400+ years there was no bible, people read the letters from various apostles, and they listened to God speak to them. We finally seem to be coming back to the true "old time religion."
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:48 AM
12 posts, read 12,530 times
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Default way too long sorry

Shyspider: Almost I am afraid to speak to you, afraid to influence anyone else in any way - but you asked a very specific question that relates to my own experience - it will help me to try to answer you - whether it will help you or not, I don't know. I just hope it won't hurt you.

I was never a Catholic. But I was a very fundamental Christian, participated in bible studies in and out of church, sang in choirs, taught Sunday School and bible classes, played the organ - I never worked out side the home after my children were born - but I was nearly "full time" in church related activies - for over 25 years in my adult life. I have not attended a "worship service" of any kind now in at least five years - I can't remember when exactly - it happened in stages.

I am lucky in that I was never drawn into church by any kind of fear - I grew up in a Methodist church, left it as a young adult after a secular college education, but came back when I fell in love with a very spiritual young man - on our first date I asked him "the meaning of life" half flippant - he said "Jesus Christ" - I had read a little C. S. Lewis - and I guess I was very ready for someone stable - we married, and I became more and more deeply involved in "church" over the years - we'll be married 34 years this August - he just got back from a medical mission trip to Ethiopia - he hasn't changed - but I have - or maybe not.

Even in my deep commitments (although I'd been "sprinkled" as an infant in the Methodist church, and again as a teenager because I insisted, I got "dunked" in my fundie church as an adult, just to show you) - I always held back something that perhaps is not normal in participating in religion - the right to ask questions, and expect things to be consistent. Now, I think EVERY PERSON retains this right - but I never had any better sense than to be open about it. And to be aware inside my own mind too. Being a church member is kind of like getting married, "keep your eyes wide open before, half shut after". But I always kept mine wide open.

Mercifully, the "cares of this life" kept me too occupied to obsess too much about glaring inconsistencies - sovereignty of God in the face of all the sh*t in the world being the worst of it - if all the problems are the fault of "man" then "god" needs to get himself a new name - because God OUGHT to mean "the buck stops here". But I digress.

I adored my old pastor - he was a man of great integrity. And he had a college degree in mathematics from a good university. And played professional baseball with Ted Williams. He was a very careful and thorough bible expositor. But - and this was the beginning of the end, for me - one day, he said, from the pulpit, the verse "he that believeth on me out of his belly will flow rivers of living water" is a Command to Witness. (He was always and ever hammering on his congregation to be "soul winners". I was always first of all aware of HOW MUCH I HATE BEING HAMMERED ON MYSELF -and therefore reluctant to do it to anyone else - golden rule you know - my thought is, if something is wonderful, shine a light on it, you won't have to hammer. I was never ever willing to be a telemarkerter for Jesus - I wanted to be a better mousetrap for Jesus - and I have wrestled and wrestled - and found my own best mousetrap, but it's not easy to explain it to someone else.)

Well I thought, grammatically that is not a command, it's a Statement of Fact. It tells what happens, as a result of Faith - in a dry and thirsty land where no water is - suddenly WATER - FLOWING FREELY - from the GUT of people who have somehow found their Faith.

To be a member of any group, you must at least outwardly subscribe to the group dogma. All my young life, it never occurred to me that people would say they believed things - IN THE NAME OF GOD - and not really mean it -but I think this is the case - I think the vast majority of people in "groups" - (Gentile, btw, actually means "group") have agreed to the consensus because they need the help of others - a consensus - what everyone consents to, but no one believes - i.e. 99% of the human race who does not "believe like we believe" is burning in hell for all eternity - and assorted other jolly doctrines. I guess I gave lip service to something like that when I joined the church - BUT I SURE AS HELL NEVER BELIEVED IT, never taught it to any child - and I taught a lot of children. (Except - sob - my own dearly beloved - one day he said to me, "but Mom they're just like us" - referring to "the lost" - and I said something like, "they have a choice, if they don't like God let 'em burn" - I probably killed him - but I didn't do it by myself - I tried so hard, so very hard - my oldest son went out of his mind over this sh*t, committed suicide at 26. Four years ago.

I wasn't going to tell that - but I did. My pastor did some other stuff that shook my faith in HIM - that pushed me to think honestly for myself - our church was very insistent that the bible was the final authority - well then I looked carefully into the bible - and my church went bye bye - but - I am lonely - it is hard to live without a social group for support - be sure you have something else before you cut those ties - my old friends, most of them still love me - I simply cannot sit under the stuff that is proclaimed in the name of Christ in a church service - it's lonely - but I think if at all possible, it's better to have your private faith, and then do the outward performance so you can have people to fellowship with, who in their own little lame human way, have promised before God to be your friends in hard times - and to share your joys too. Which is what a church body is for, imo. And leave the dogma to the crazy people who go into "full time Christian work" - where my son probably should have gone - he did attend bible college - but the inconsistencies and his own quirks were just too much for him.

I will point out just a few thoughts from scripture that are pointedly ignored in "church" - a person is "saved" by receiving the Holy Spirit. If you have the Holy Spirit you do not need any human teacher, the Spirit guides to all truth. Rom 8:1,9; I John 2:20,27. The Holy Spirit, called the Comforter, guides to ALL TRUTH, Jn 16:13. In the OT, the worst thing was being "cut off" from the people. But in the NT, Jesus went outside the camp - and we are instructed to do likewise, Heb 13:13. But I think that is something done in your mind - it doesn't mean you have to go be a hermit somewhere - God knows we need one another - the Body of Christ edifies itself in Love, as we learn to sincerely bond with each other, Eph 4:16 - but until the real comes, we have to fake it.

Another passage that shocked me - when I caught on to it - Heb 8 - the Old Covenant is contrasted with the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant people sit under instruction. In the New Covenant, it's a whole new ball game - you respect one another, you don't assume you know the score and the other guy is an idiot. Heb 8:11 - And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. <---that's the New Covenant.

If you come from a Catholic background, all these bible verses aren't going to mean much. For me it was a gradual accumulation of DISGUST with the official dogma of things I was invovled with - till one day the dam broke. One group said "the ordinary suffering of people doesn't matter to god, it's just when you take a bold stand for jesus and suffer, that' counts" - so people dying of cancer and in nursing homes, doesn't matter to him? I was SO OUT OF THERE. LIARS LIARS LIARS - but father forgive them they don't know they are idiots - if they had known they would not have crucified the lord of glory - I digress again sorry. Another time, our pastor came back from a trip with a tape he was all excited about, how all the countries in the world were about to wipe out the US and there's no US in the "end times" prophesy (he was big on end times too) and so the return of jesus must be REALLY close - and suddenly I realized he was at least partly insane - I left that church for good that night - but tried to carry on for my husband's saike at a wishy washy Methodist one he hated - and then another fundie one I hated - finally I gave up. Just me myself and I in my own little lonely star.

And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
Andd no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!

~~Rudyard Kipling

The God of Things as They Are - sounds like I Am that I Am. And, as He Is, We Are, in this world - I John 4:17. Before God and your own Heart, beware the leaven of the pharisees, hypocrisy. But take a little of that stuff with you, into any group that can help you out without destroying your soul. The trouble is, the praise of God is not enough for most of us, most of the time. We want recognition from our fellows as well. Usually they won't give it to you until you are dead though.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:04 PM
Location: New England
32,238 posts, read 21,123,632 times
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Shunammite awesome post and thanks for sharing .
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:58 PM
Location: Pikeville, Ky.
13,574 posts, read 21,726,369 times
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Shunamite, just three words about your awesome testimony.

I can relate

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Dayton, Akron-Canton in Ohio
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:42 PM
12 posts, read 12,530 times
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I never thought I'd be "witnessing for hypocrisy" but here goes - and I think NORMAL PEOPLE (they don't post on religious message boards for one thing) know this without thinking about it - the weird ones (me included) must learn - or die - NOT EVERYONE DESERVES THE TRUTH - to the pure he shows himself pure, to the fake not so much, Ps 18:26. We must do the same. I think this idea is also addressed with "when you do alms, don't let your left hand know what the right hand is doing" - Matt 6:3. I'm pretty sure that happens automatically - we don't usually understand our own real motives for what we do - notice it says "do" alms. God gives us life, we give it back as we live, our "alms" imo. In the law office where I work, we have Murphy's Laws on Justice in the bathroom - one of my faves is "sincerity is the secret of succes. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. Sad but true. Some of us are handicapped in that regard.

I used to feel GUILTY if the cashier asked "how are you" and I didn't really tell!!!! However, in my defense, the real children of Israel - "will not lie". Is 63:8.
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:29 PM
40,098 posts, read 26,761,498 times
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Originally Posted by Goodpasture View Post
It is so uplifting to see people from all denominations begin to understand that a relationship with God is personal and cannot be institutionalized, regardless of how sincere the institutions intent. For 400+ years there was no bible, people read the letters from various apostles, and they listened to God speak to them. We finally seem to be coming back to the true "old time religion."
From your lips to God's ears . . .
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:15 PM
Location: Tucson, Arizona
987 posts, read 909,033 times
Reputation: 295
Well, Shunnamite hit the nail on the head, it was very LONELY after I left my church. Sometimes I whined to God that it would have been easier to continue in my OLD beliefs. But, I had pleaded with Him to let me know HIM and WHO HE WAS, in spite of any doctrines that would have to go by the wayside. And so he showed me a side that they rarely touch on in church. After that, I could not stay and listen to the sermons. Few actually centered on the hell doctrine, but there were many hidden inuendos and references to what awaits those who don't 'believe, repent, etc" and I found I could not sit and listen any more. And I guess I'm not one who can be friends with someone and pretend to agree with the doctrines of any organized religion. Those who I shared with, slowly pulled away with just a few exceptions, and they thought I was crazy, lol, and steered very clear thereafter, of any hint of a discussion of God.

There are no churches for Christian universalists per se. I found one less than 200 miles away that believe in UR, but that's a long way to drive when I am on a very limited budget. And if you read many of the threads on here, you will see that just because there's a group of us who believe in universal reconciliation, it doesn't mean we agree on the other doctrinal issues, such as the trinity, and many other issues.

I didn't set out looking specifically for answers about hell. That actually wasn't what I questioned, at least not consciously. It always made me uneasy and wondering why God couldn't come up with a better plan, but, shades of blasphemy....dare I question something I was taught by those who went to Seminary? gasp. Anyway, my initial quest involved baptism and the issue of whether you could lose salvation. I read tons of articles pro and con and just couldn't come to a decision. Then, reading one article, I had MY answer. I re-read the article several times wondering what was in it that gave me assurance, but couldn't find it again. I think it was just God's timing to give me His answer/assurance. Of course, tons more questions popped up and eventually I found myself looking into the possibility that all men were saved which is so ironic, because I vehemently opposed anyone who ever tried to get me to consider such a proposition at one time. In a Bible study with some friends I declared I would NEVER believe such a thing, the Bible seemed to be so cut and dried on that issue. But little by little, God stripped away all my objections, even BEFORE I stumbled across the treachery of Bible translators who translated aion and its derivatives with MANY DIFFERENT English words and so much started falling into place for me. There are MANY instances where they couldn't translate it as eternal/eternity so they made it 'world', age, never, not and I believe it was even NOT translated at all in at least one passage. Also BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN. How could one word mean all these things? I think not. But that is a continuing bone of contention on this forum, so I will not push that issue. But it was a shaft of sunlight piercing the darkness and shadow in my soul when I first believed and I can't see how I could EVER go back to believing in that terrible, awful doctrine.

More than you asked for. I would encourage anyone to become a member of a church, if that's what your heart prompts, I merely encourage you at the same time to study for yourself and not be afraid to read articles that differ from what you have always been taught.

Blessings to you and yours.

Last edited by ScarletWren; 06-28-2010 at 08:36 PM..
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:47 PM
621 posts, read 1,053,413 times
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shunammite -

You thought your post was way too long, but I actually appreciate that you shared all that with me. It's really hard to know what to say in response, except that when someone takes the time to post so much about themselves, it really shows they care. And I thank you for that. I think it was sweet that you were concerned about possibly influencing me in a wrong way, but I assure you that wasn't the case at all.

I'm very sorry to hear about your son. I can't imagine how hard that must have been on you. I pray God blesses you tremendously.
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