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Ecumenism and the frustrating division of the Christian Faith

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by FinNasty, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. FinNasty

    FinNasty Alabama don’t want this... Club Member

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    Ecumenism: The principle or aim of promoting unity among the world's Christian churches.


    I’ll start this off first by saying that I do not wish to offend anyone with this thread. It is more meant to express a personal belief of mine and hopefully cause some thoughtful discussion. I’ll also start by saying I have had a somewhat diverse Christian upbringing. As a kid, I always believed in God, and reached out to him occasionally, but I was far from being strong in my faith until about a year or 2 ago. I was baptized as a baby in a LCMS Lutheran church, received my first communion in an ELCA Lutheran church, was confirmed in a PCUSA Presbyterian church, and have been attending a Catholic church for the last 5 years since I’ve been married (my wife was raised Catholic) in order to share my Christian faith and experience with her.

    So, I’ve seen a variety of different types of Christian faith. And frankly, I don’t see the point in any of them in regards to the distinctions they’ve made from one another. I will FREELY admit that, while I’ve been passionate about the topic I’m going to discuss in this thread for a while and have done a fair amount of research b/c of it, I’m sure I’m still woefully ignorant on some of the finer details than someone who has been heavily involved with the Christian faith for a long period of time (priest/pastor/chaplain, deacon, etc).

    However, I am not a fan of the denominationization (is that a word? lol) of the Christian faith, whether that be types of Catholic or Protestant faiths… and have even at times found the concept of the division frustrating (although I’m past that now). I mean, Lutheranism has SIX major denominations alone… and the total number of denominations of Christianity is enormous. And they’ve all derived and divided from the same bible (ignoring for the moment the slight variances from the Catholic and King James bibles). IMO, man has screwed up the Christian religion so much. IMO, Jesus created Christianity, and man created denominations. Some denominations were created in with good intentions, and some for self-serving reasons. I mean Martin Luther, who is generally looked upon as starting the Protestant movement, I believe still considered himself Catholic when on his deathbed. I don’t think he had any intention of starting a new branch of the religion, but what rightfully trying to reform the Catholic church from some of the nonsense and corruption they were up to at the time. Other movements, such as the English Reformation… King Henry VIII broke England off from the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself head of the church in England all so he could get a divorce. I don’t personally believe God had any intention or desire for his religion to be broken up and divided as it has been (and then you have people even fighting and killing for centuries b/c they believe their denomination is the correct version over another which is absolutely insane… but that is a whole different discussion). IMO, people that are super focused on a singular denomination to the point of not being accepting or open to others, condemning others, or looking down on others… are focusing on the words and not the message. The message is the same across all of Christianity. So why divide it up… which has only fueled non-Christian actions and feelings such as anger and hate?

    I mean, just in the faiths I’ve been involved in… communion or the Eucharist has such silly differences that MAN has created. Some denominations believe that it is simply symbolic in nature. Others, like Presbyterian, believe that it isn’t the body and blood of Christ, but that Christ is present in the bread and wine in spirit. Lutherans believe that it is the body and blood of Christ, but only during communion and that afterwards what remains returns back to being bread and wine. And Catholics also believe that it is the body and blood of Christ, but that afterwards what is unconsumed remains the body and blood of Christ. I mean, Lutherans and Catholics have decided to disagree on the LEFTOVERS. Really? That’s what’s important? Jesus instructed us to “take this, do this in memory of me”. All of the above are doing just that. So why quarrel and fight over the details? Again, it’s focusing on the words and not the message IMO. There are some chapters in the bible that I’ve come across that have really strengthened my belief in this concept.

    In Galatians chapter 3, it says:
    In 1st Corinthians chapter 12, it says:
    And in John chapter 17, Jesus in prayer before his death says:

    IMO, to me anyway, those all speak out that God intended us and wanted us to be one in his faith. Not broken up a hundred different ways, and CERTAINLY not fighting amongst ourselves “in his name”.

    So, is it ever possible that we may all be united as one again under Christ? Faith IMO is a very personal thing, and God talks to all of us differently for different reasons and purposes. Is it possible that personal beliefs of individualized faith could be embraced with the focus turned towards the message itself and not the words? Ex. - being able to worship together while it being ok if one person believes they’re taking actually consuming the body and blood of Christ while the next believing it is simply a symbolic gesture to do in memory of Jesus? To where no one cares who is “right” or who was “first” regarding the fine details but only cares that we each are striving to have a better relationship with God?


    Again, I hope this topic does not offend anyone, and I apologize if I've mis-spoken on any of my understandings of particular beliefs among certain denominations. My entire belief isn’t to condemn anyone who has an attachment to a particular denomination. I’m happy for anyone who has found God and that has found a faith that speaks to them that they can embrace to develop a strong relationship with God. I just don’t seen the point in why our religion has repeatedly divided itself and seemingly strayed away to focus on details that are unimportant to the overall message?
     
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  2. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Those same questions (and others) lead me to atheism.

    Its crazy how 2 people can decide to go in two completely different directions based off the same starting point.

    Maybe that can be a microcosm example of why there are different denominations.
     
  3. FinNasty

    FinNasty Alabama don’t want this... Club Member

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    Well, I personally can't stand mans involvement with the Christian faith. And therefore by association a lot of the time... the church. B/c the church is made of man, often has man made motives, and is succeptable to the flaws of man (corruption, deceit, greed, etc).

    I personally have been turned off by the church, but haven't let the church turn me off from God. If the church turned you off from God (I don't know what those other reasons are that you mentioned), I'm sorry to hear that... but like I said in the other thread, I understand how it could do so. Man is faith's worst enemy...
     
  4. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    I've tried very hard to not discount other's faith, so I won't expound on something you touched on. However, don't feel sorry for me. I am happy with my faith choices, so be happy for me because being atheist brings me the same comfort and joy that your faith brings you.
     
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  5. FinNasty

    FinNasty Alabama don’t want this... Club Member

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    I'm sorry, I didn't mean I "felt sorry FOR you" in some sort of pity manner or what not. More meant "I'm sorry" as an apology on behalf of the religion (as if I'm a person in position to do that? lol) for its internal issues and any problems it may have caused you.

    And you don't have to feel bad about discounting my faith or anything, lol. If you don't believe in it, thats all you my man. People disagreeing with my views and beliefs doesn't offend me. That's why their MY views and beliefs, lol. Hell, my view on Christianity is clearly different than the mainstream versions who all believe their certain denomination is the one true right one. Everyone has their own beliefs, as they should.
     
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  6. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    It might surprise you folks that I am even more frustrated by the questions you raise than you are! As a working parish pastor I need to face many of these "distinctions" day in and day out. It is not fun.

    Putting the best construction on the historical people's actions, those folks were trying to be faithful to God and followed what they believed was right. We might be angry at the divisive results but it is hard to be angry when folks wanted to follow Jesus more closely. For those of you who argued against "church", keep in mind many of the new movements came about when individuals stepped away from the "Body of Christ" and went their own way.

    But you folks have highlighted something we all need to keep in front of us; getting doctrine or practice "right" is not a priority today nor perhaps should it ever have been a priority. Yet it has been in the center of too much.

    Now I have seen congregations embody the incarnate Christ when they are at their best. We have a catch phrase we use: "God's work, Our hands". Faith in God lives itself out best when we live it out together.

    As a Lutheran I stick to a precept, we are always saint and sinner. Too often we assume because someone who is Christian is therefore always on point or a perfect witness to the faith. Yet we are all sinners and thus our instincts are to pick self instead of God. It shows up more than it should.

    Thanks for this thread. It should make for an interesting discussion.
     
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  7. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    I'm non religious, but grew up in a Catholic home, in a primarily Catholic area. There wasn't ever any strife in my hometown about it that I knew about, but we learned about the wars between the sects in history class in school, and in the 80s, the fighting in Ireland was on the news all of the time. It always confused me to no end. Why people with minor, procedural differences, but the same basic faith would fight, and even hate and kill one another en mass. My parents basically shrugged their shoulders when I asked them and said that they didnt know. I was always taught that all Christians, Catholic and otherwise, were basically the same and just did things slightly differently at church.

    To me, its all just about power and control. You always have people who want to be in charge and do things their own way. When you can't take over the group that you're in, you go off and create your own, and say its different, even if it really isn't. If it gets big enough, your followers carry it on after you're not around any more. Over time, the slight differences between the groups seem larger to the people within them, and everyone wants to be part of the group who's "right", and they fight about it. And on and on.
     
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  8. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Its all good. I also didn't mean to imply that religion and its issues made me an atheist, its just that some issues made me question the fundamental concept of God, the Bible, etc. and when those questions were answered, it made me realize i'm not a believer and being a person of faith doesn't really suit me.

    I appreciate and respect the fact that you can have a real discussion about things that differ from your faith. I won't get into it in this thread however, because not all people are that secure in their beliefs.
     
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  9. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    It's all arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, really, and that comes about when men over-analyze and render complex a very simple message. But where we find ourselves today is a function of history and the nature of the societies it all came up through.
    None of what Jesus taught was complicated or hard to understand. I play out in my mind the scene that culminated in : "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," and the moral authority of it is so plain that a child could grasp it; you don't need to write books and books about books about it. But Jesus went to the Jews, and the Jews were the most convoluted religious philosophizers on the planet at that time, without saying "argumentative;" then Paul took it to the Greeks, who have never been accused of being plain and simple thinkers or being too bashful to analyze things and express their opinions about the analysis,; then analyze the analysis. Peter took it to the Romans, who did with it what Romans did best: they built a hierarchical organizational structure to govern it and fund it, and made it an Institution.
    Before you knew it, there were Doctors of the Church and councils and conclaves and bishops and hierarchies and Curiae, and different pontificators, some even calling themselves Pontifex Maximus, pontificating different ideas, disagreeing among themselves, and you had the first heretics. Great word, heretic. Then the feces hit the ventilator and civilization collapsed, and the only light left in the darkness for centuries was the Church. It owned learning as well as faith, and gained tremendous temporal power during Feudalism and the early kingdoms, became corrupt because power corrupts. Then along came the Protestants objecting to the corruption and inventing different brands of asceticism, and you know the rest.
    The good news is that I think that modern Western man is really good at making things work. I have hope that a group of ecumenicals is going to really fasten on the idea that we have to consolidate it all into simplicity and take the hypocrisy out of it, which is exactly what Jesus was doing that day when they were going to stone that poor whore in religious outrage.
    Relax, Reverend. God is in charge. It may have become somewhat convoluted, and take a while to simplify again, but it's written.
     
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  10. CashInFist

    CashInFist Well-Known Member

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    I grew up Catholic, went to CCD my entire childhood. The MAIN reason I still lean Catholic is because they believe some sins are worse than others. (Mortal vs Venial sins). And I believe that, too. Nobody will ever convince me that raping, torturing, and murdering a family is the same as stealing a deck of cards from Walmart. I'll never believe that. I think the Catholic religion is the only Christian denomination that believes all sins are not equal. (Could be wrong there though)

    On the flip side, I do not agree with the Catholics stance regarding Priests/Bishops etc. I think they all should be allowed to get married and raise a family. It is unnatural to force them into a life of celibacy.

    Therefore, I've kind of formed my own religion based on the many different denominations I have attended over many years. From Catholic, to Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal (went once, that was just too weird for me...LOL) to the recent non-denominational Christian Church I recently attended with my mother (I kinda liked that one and may go again). I believe a have a very good relationship with God and I pray to him every single day. I'm not a big fan of all the different secs of Christianity there are now either.
     
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  11. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    As I have reflected on this thread, it has occurred to me that we could be writing this about most if not all faiths. Islam has Shia and Sunni adherents with occasional forays into Alwhite (sic) and Sufi sects. Judaism has Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed followers. Buddhism and Hinduism also have a wide variety of expressions both in theology and in practice.

    What is the common denominator? We are...humans. I return to my comment about how we are all sinners and thus befoul God's good creation. While we may seek God, we still want to disagree and pick and choose our way attempting, in my way of thinking, to emulate our metaphorical ancestors Adam and Eve so we may "be like God".

    For some the answer is to opt out entirely. Others pick and choose or move from one to another attempting to find a path. Still others embrace a trail however narrow it might be and try to follow it, pitfalls and all. We all believe our paths are correct and I pray we all have the humility to admit, "Hey, I might be wrong!".

    I would hope and pray that whatever path you are on that you walk it with dignity. Try and remember that it is not all about ourselves. I embrace Christianity (in a Lutheran key) not as some kind of eternal "fire insurance" but in an effort to serve others. Our slogan is "God's Work, Our Hands". I will continue to witness to others the answers I have found in a hope that they too may find the embrace of God, I have felt. I will try and do that with a sense of humility and that I am offering a gift not beating someone over the head. I would hope I could convince folks by the message I share and not by threats or fear or force.

    Best wishes to you all and thanks again for starting this thread.
     
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  12. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Why is it that organized churches try to place limitations on our free will? Is it possible that we have an innate tropism toward God, and choosing good over bad time after time after time, and loving out neighbor as ourselves, is all it takes?
     
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  13. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    That's how I try to live my life.
     
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  14. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I think religion generally not just Christianity tries to say, "some questions are settled, let's move on". It is a precedent based way of dealing with life, belief, and practice. In Christianity for example you can disagree with a major tenant of the faith but then the weight of the argument falls entirely on you to make your point and prove why a certain track of thought is wrong. That is why the Protestant Reformation was such a big deal historically.

    Also either by writ, doctrine, or experience religion understands people will act in their own interest and not in what is best for "neighbor" Christianity calls this "Original Sin", what I described earlier as the desire "to be like God". From my discussions with Rabbis, Imams, etc. other faith systems have a similar understanding. It is why the so called "Golden Rule", "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" has such a universal footprint. It is religion's general understanding of the inherent selfishness of humanity.

    Am I answering your question?
     
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  15. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    No, but because it's a badly phrased question, not because of any shortcoming in your answer.
    To use your tems, suppose that one renounces "original sin" (pride and selfishness) and opts, where possible, to be useful and helpful to others, and to choose good over bad, without the intervention of any religious organization. Is that enough?
     
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  16. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Basically, since people as a whole are inherently selfish, religion gives them a reason to be less selfish.....is that a fairly accurate summation?
     
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  17. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Short answer: Enough for what? Remember, I said faith, any faith, should not be about eternal fire insurance. In my terms that would be the ultimate selfishness, "I'm saved y'all can go to hell!" literally.

    Now should a person live generally in a moral way? Yes, very much. You may not believe in original sin but for the religious person it remains as obvious in the world as the wind or the air. Even by acknowledging as an individual that it requires effort to sacrifice on another's behalf gives a tacit agreement to the concept whether or not it becomes part of your life system.

    I'm not entirely sure of how you mean your question so my answer is, "Probably?" I'm not sure I would use your language of "gives them a reason..." I think I would word it as religion or faith at its best holds a mirror up to a person's behavior, suggests that it could improve, and finally gives them models for that improvement.


    To you both, keep in mind, atheism as a wide spread practice is fairly new. Up until quite recently nearly everyone believed in some sort of divine being. Learning how to live in a relationship with that being therefor was a high priority. If one does not believe in a divine being and thus does not care about a relationship then the whole matter changes.

    In the context of the original post, how do the wide variety of practices impact a basic Christian faith? Is it simply enough to proclaim as did the earliest expressions of the Church, "Jesus is LORD"? If so, what do those three words then mean, imply, and compel us to believe and practice? Since we will all process those questions through the mind God gives us, we will have divergent answers.

    A major Ecumenical document of recent time, "The Princeton Declaration" asked the question, "What things are you willing to see 'die'" in terms of practices, beliefs, and doctrines? I think FinNasty was asking that question and we are all struggling with it as well. Even Atheism as a creed wants people to live a moral life and thus develops a sort of creed on their own.

    It is an age old question.
     
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  18. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Enough to be a Christian, which is what this thread is about. Forgetting the eternal life insurance coverage, if I read the red text in the KJV, the words of Jesus, and I take them as my lifelong guide and do the absolute best that is in me to live according to them, is that enough to be a Christian, without adhering to the doctrine of any religious organization?

    And understanding that religious organizations have included, and presently include, people who are infinitely smarter and more discerning than I am, should religious organizations be communities whose purpose is to educate and pool resources to do good works?
     
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  19. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Aaah, OK, now I am beginning to get it. Can you be a "lone ranger" Christian? Yes and no. First off, Christianity is about Grace so what we do is always because God loves us already never in order to make God love us. Since we will always be sinners (a condition more than a series of actions) then if one understands what Jesus has done on your behalf and is willing to submit to God, then yes, one would by most standards be considered a Christian.

    The "no" part of my answer goes back to my comment earlier about "Jesus is LORD" as the basic profession of the Christian faith. To believe that one then has to say God's will is more important than one's own will. How does one find God's will? Scripture is where that starts. In scripture there is no witness to a person being a YAHWEH follower in the Old or New Testaments who is not a member of the community. Either a Jew or convert in the OT or a member of the "Church" (the called out/called together people of God) in the NT.

    While I would not say one is required to be a member of a congregation in order to be a disciple, I would have to ask, if you are willing to have Jesus as LORD why would you not be active within a faith community? That is the way scripture portrays it working out. To be a Christian, one strives to be a disciple, that is, a follower of Jesus. Jesus portrays that as happening in a community where we bear one another's burdens and strive together to discern what God's will is in the situations we find ourselves.

    I am sorry if my answers seem wishy-washy. Lutherans are often described as paradox mongers. There are very few arguments we can't find more than two sides in. It is our nature.

    But it highlights a core understanding for me; to strive to love God and neighbor in all situations is tough. We have to figure out what the loving act is and that is often not at all clear or at least open to honest, thoughtful multiple interpretations. Martin Luther talked about "sinning boldly". By that he meant that you study, you pray, you struggle, and finally when you are convinced you have the right course, you do it boldly in God's name and pray you are correct.

    Am I getting closer to an answer to your question?
     
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  20. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    You are there exactly with your "lone ranger Christian" phrase.

    The problem I have is that faith communities err, and it's hard for me to accept the errors as connected to Jesus. Jesus is free of error. If a faith based community errs, it is because a group of men, not Jesus, either got the message wrong or failed to apply it altogether.
    To me, a faith based community should have three primary functions: First, to educate its members, and those who want to become members, about the Good News and where the moral pitfalls are. Second, to worship together, which is rendering praise and thanks to God for His grace and His mercy. Third, to do good works which a single individual is incapable of doing.
    Where I object is where the community makes rules that permeate your private, temporal life to a level I consider both silly and overly intrusive, in areas that I believe are matters of conscience and subject to reasonable minds differing. One is then threatened with eternal torment if one does not follow these man-made rules, many of which have historically been in error, because the community claims to have direct rulemaking authority delegated by the Lord.
    Personally, I'd rather read the words of Jesus, take them straight, think on them, and be personally responsible by doing my best to live by them. I recognize that I am giving up a lot of excellent guidance, comfort and opportunity to do some big, coordinated good works by not going to church, but I also skip the authoritarian part and the disagreements between sects and individuals, many of which I consider silly,, that got you guys started on this ecumenism thread. I can't help but think that it Christianity were reduced to the lowest common denominator, which is the words of Jesus, and we got rid of as much of the authoritarian elements and matters of opinion presented as dogma, we'd all be better off.
    I guess that, to an extent, you have to have grown up a Catholic to understand what I'm saying, and I don't really know what it is to be a Lutheran. That's why I'm really liking learning from this discussion.
     
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  21. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    You grew up as a pre Vatican II Catholic. That has been a burden to many especially if you grew up in an ethnically Catholic community where the rules of the society were painted with a religious flavor and thus got completely confused. An example would be the meatless Fridays. They were established as a way of showing devotion to Jesus on the day of the week of his crucifixion. It was intended to be a tool. After some time it became a rule and thus a sin to break the rule.

    Yet, I highlighted a line in your response with which I would like to take exception. You said you should be simply able to take the words and messages of Jesus straight! Straight according to whom? Is your conscience (or anybody else's for that matter) a completely free agent? What stops you from being self indulgent or at worst self delusional?

    In the temptation story of Jesus in the wilderness the "straight" reading of the text would seem to have Satan trying to figure out who this Jesus is when he asks, "If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into loaves of bread?" I have heard preachers present it this way. Yet a close study of the original Greek text, which has the capacity to write a rhetorical question (something which can only be done orally in English) has its meaning as not a test but as a true temptation. That is learned best in community.

    This is not an attack on you as a person but on the precept you were espousing. I hear it often from many circles yet I have not heard a good answer. I have known lots of scholars who spend their entire lives studying, praying, and living into the texts who will still disagree as to their "simple" meanings.

    You have identified the worst parts of a faith community as well as identifying some of their most positive roles which you freely acknowledge. But one of the areas you have not covered is the sense and need for mutual consolation and study. It is more difficult though certainly not impossible for a group of people to off the tracks together than it is for a single person. When I read a text and in a sermon present its meaning and implications for today I do so in a community of peers who also have studied and at the feet of scholarly works which guide all of us.
     
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  22. FinNasty

    FinNasty Alabama don’t want this... Club Member

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    First, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contribute to this thread! I’m always very interested in others perspectives and points of view, and definitely appreciate the input from all of you who are from varying types of faith. Especially those within the church like Ohio.

    I’ve done a lot more reflecting/praying/thinking/internal debating on this topic… and I’ve come around to a little different of a conclusion on this. I am still absolutely all about ecumenism… and IMO is very important to Christianity and the fate of the religion as a whole. We ARE all brothers and sisters of Christ. We need to embrace each other as such, instead of bickering, hating each other, etc. Even Pope Francis is a believer in ecumenism. He’s recently talked about it, warning that unity “will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions”. He added: “When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing! We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities, overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences...... (Jesus’s) example encourages us to seek a serene encounter with others. To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another.” And it is true. If nothing changes… we’ll be arguing and bickering all the way until the end of time. We need to be accepting and embracing each other, all growing together instead of worrying about who is right, who is wrong, etc on all the little details.

    But, I don’t think in order to be united that everyone needs to believe in the exact same thing to the tiniest details. Faith is a very personal thing, and its ok if one has a slightly different belief that the other, as long as they believe in God and are trying to strive to be like Him and close with Him. The concept of the division of the religion really did bother me. I believed, and still do believe, that those verses in the bible desire us all to be one. However, I think we can be one without being 1 singular denomination. The bible verse I posted from 1st Corinthians… talks about how we are 1 body. However, it also says “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” I’ve come to the conclusion that its ok if not all “parts of the body” are the same. The body isn’t made up of a bunch of feet. It’s made up of feet, hands, eyes, ears, mouths, legs, etc. And just like a body, the Christian faith is made up of Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, non-denominational, etc. Through reflection on this… it hit me that since not everyone is built or wired the same way… that some people need the message of God communicated a little bit differently to them than others. I originally said, that I believed Jesus created Christianity and man created denominations... and that I didn't believe God had any intention of his religion being divided into multiple versions. But... maybe God really did intend for his religion to be broken up into different "translations" of the same message... to be able to best communicate it with everyone?

    The best analogy that hit me during reflection, was that of a fleet of boats. That all that really matters is the end destination… not the vessel that gets you there. The end destination being a close personal relationship with God. And that all the boats are headed to the same place. It doesn’t matter which boat you’re on… just that you find the right boat for you, that you grab an oar… and row with all your heart.

    That’s what’s important. That revelation has really changed my outlook on my current conversion to Catholicism. I’ve really dragged my feet in Catholic church even though I’ve been attending one for 5 years… and have been reluctantly considering going through the RCIA process to officially convert. I was still saying the Lutheran responses to the priest instead of the Catholic versions (they used to be the same, but the Catholics changed the responses a few years ago for whatever reason), I didn’t do the holy water when entering/leaving the church, etc. But why? Why wasn’t I rowing? Why was I almost rowing against the rest of the boat I had chosen? I was reluctant to probably b/c I am a very stubborn person, lol. But since this recent reflection I’ve let go of that. I’ve chosen my boat for a good reason (to be on the same boat as my family)… so now I need to pick up an oar and row my heart out… and get to that final destination.
     
  23. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I applaud your spirit FN. Let me share a quick story on a personal insight I had.

    I was on a Lutheran-Roman Catholic joint pilgrimage to Germany and Rome. We Lutherans "hosted" the Catholics in Germany and the "Catholics" hosted the Lutherans in Rome. 58 people and each group had their own bishop with us, who by the way were very close friends.

    We had made one side trip from Rome out to Assisi since all western Christians claim St. Francis in that he was pre-reformation. While there our guide, a lapsed Catholic, was chiding the RC bishop talking about the brown friars and the black friars and the gray friars, all disciples of Francis but all of slightly different orders. While we smiled politely but uncomfortably at her remarks the chapel bell rang and OI noted all three groups as well as other Catholics from around the world went into Mass together. That is not something we Protestants are always good at and of course we would not have been "welcome". Yet despite their clear differences (at least to each other) all the Catholics were free to participate in Mass together. That was striking. They were doing "big tent" stuff way better than we Protestants. It was very moving.

    We need to figure out what to die to in order that Christ's body be one even in its varied parts.
     
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  24. FinNasty

    FinNasty Alabama don’t want this... Club Member

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    CDZ... I totally get you man. I for a long time was a "lone ranger" type. And even though I am now going to church, bible study, etc... I still understand the lone ranger feeling. Not so much from the intrusive POV... but strictly from man's involvement in religion in general. Its more of a trust thing for me. Since man is susceptible to evil/corruption... so are the men of the church. And history has proven that they can be. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely... and at times is has in the church. So, who are they to decide and rule over God's religion? To me... the most important part of faith is to develop a close and personal relationship with God... and that isn't directly related to the church. That's between you and Him.


    However indirectly, what I've found is that through church and bible study... that excellent guidance as you refer to has played a big role in me being able to develop and expand on my personal relationship with God. I still have trust issues with the church as a whole. And therefore, I'm quick to question man's authority in religion (ah hell... I'm quick to question authority in general in my life, lol). B/c of that, I still have some serious things I need to work out personally regarding the catechism in my conversion to Catholicism... which appears to be mans word that is held in the same regard as God's word within the catholic faith. That I'm going to have trouble with, lol. But, if I go to church and bible study with the focus not on man, but on God... it has helped me develop that personal 1 on 1 relationship that is so important. If you can get past the authoritarian part, looking past it and keeping your eyes on the real reason you're there... there is a huge benefit that is absolutely worth it IMO.
     
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