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Differing definitions of "Christian"

Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 16 May 2009, 22:06

postodave wrote:I always wonder about you John whether moderating this forum makes you feel that Lewis's claims about Mere Christianity - that even though Christians differ they have a lot in common - seem not to be very valid after all. Do you not sometimes feel like chief warder of an asylum?


When reading through posts, there is absolutely more focus on differences than commonalities, but I also understand that it's human nature, when in a group of supposedly like-minded people, to point out the differences. It's what helps us set ourselves apart. What I often don't understand are the needs of some to tear others down in the process of distinguishing themselves. So much bickering and discourtesy over what comes down to an opinion based on faith. Your God can beat up my God? What do you want? A cookie?
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby deadwhitemale » 16 May 2009, 22:44

postodave wrote:Your Mum sounds to me like a very troubled woman DWM. I was into rock music before I became a Christian and after. I did throw out some punk and hippy records in my early Christian years but these days I listen to that stuff again and find for the most part I still like it. I can see now that some of my early heroes like Jim Morrison were not the wonderful people I once thought they were. As for Jesus Rock well a lot of those Jesus Rockers were pretty fallible as well. It's interesting to look at the spiritual journeys some of the sixties rock stars made though.



Well, she had an unhappy life. He father disappeared when she was an infant. She never knew him. She named me after him. Her step-father got TB, and they moved out to the high desert of New Mexico for the supposedly healthful climate. There she experienced giant dust storms, got enough UV ray exposure to ensure plenty of skin cancer later in life, and played with a naturally mummified prairie dog, dressing it in doll clothes. She had polio as an adolescent. The other kids ridiculed her condition, called her "crip." She was left with a permanent limp.

I regret to say I mostly made her life unhappier. I was a great disappointment to her in almost every way. One of the last fairly coherent things she said while she still recognized me was "I failed you ... [and, or but] ... you failed me." I had just been delighted by how much better she seemed that day (July 8?), and by the interest she'd been showing in what was on TV, first her one-time favorite soap opera, and then some show on Animal Planet about elephants.

"I, uh, thought we were talking about the elephants on TV," I said.

Back in about May of 1979, she was having her second or third bout with cancer of her female organs (uterus or cervix, I forget which, though I know she'd lost her ovaries around ten or eleven years earlier), and was about to have a pretty big surgical operation, she told me (from what, for all I knew, might have been her death bed then), that I had given her cancer. By causing her stress, presumably. She told a lot of things like that about me to other people as well.

She didn't actually give birth to me. I was adopted in infancy. She had conceived once, some time before I was born, but had a miscarriage, and had then been told she could no longer bear. She was, let's see, 33 when she and Dad adopted me. Dad was 36. They were older than the parents of most of my playmates and classmates.

Now Dad seems to be dying, but far more slowly and cruelly than Mom. I'm not too sure I'm not going first, though, judging from how I felt yesterday, the weird, irregular way my heart was beating, and the unsettling dream I awoke from today.

Not so very long before Mom died (a year, or maybe a bit less than two), she remarked how nice it would be if we could all go together. I did not think that would be nice at all, and grew strangely warier of eating anything she cooked. I think some vegetable soup was the last thing. I had two plastic containers of it I never ate, there in my freezer, until I had to throw it out in January, after it was spoiled by the week-long power outage caused by the big ice storm.

I still have a lot to do in this life, and I would like to get busy doing it. I figure I've got thirty-plus (maybe closer to forty) years' worth of catching up to do. That's how long everything has been dead in the water.

DWM
Last edited by deadwhitemale on 17 May 2009, 03:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby postodave » 16 May 2009, 23:14

DWM - Did you ever read John Bradshaw? http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VGCn ... m=6&pgis=1 You might find him interesting - a lot of his stuff is about what parents do to their children.

John - I've been wondering about this myself - what the compulsion behind some of these arguments is and by that I mean primarily what drives me in that kind of discussion - is it insecurity or a desire to win or convert or what - I much prefer the kinds of discussion where people can explore ideas together and get insights from different individuals or traditions as I think is happening in the Lewis/Anscombe thread at the moment.

I used to go on a site where the guy who ran it was a Christian and had this vision to change the world through what he was doing. As you might guess he got very frustrated at all the bickering and ended up closing down all the forums. I don't think it's only Christians though - there was a question in New Scientist a few months ago about why these arguments break out on forums and I suppose it could be the lack of face to face contact. Perhaps we'd all get on fine if we just met in a pub somewhere. Then again we'd probably all get really sheepish and mumble at each other.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 16 May 2009, 23:16

deadwhitemale wrote:I regret to say I mostly made her life unhappier.


You were not responsible for making your mother unhappy. Your mother was responsible for making your mother unhappy. Don't let anybody ever tell you that it's your fault for causing another person's emotions or actions. That falls squarely on the shoulders of the accuser.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby deadwhitemale » 17 May 2009, 03:30

postodave wrote:DWM - Did you ever read John Bradshaw? http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VGCn ... m=6&pgis=1 You might find him interesting - a lot of his stuff is about what parents do to their children.

John - I've been wondering about this myself - what the compulsion behind some of these arguments is and by that I mean primarily what drives me in that kind of discussion - is it insecurity or a desire to win or convert or what - I much prefer the kinds of discussion where people can explore ideas together and get insights from different individuals or traditions as I think is happening in the Lewis/Anscombe thread at the moment.

I used to go on a site where the guy who ran it was a Christian and had this vision to change the world through what he was doing. As you might guess he got very frustrated at all the bickering and ended up closing down all the forums. I don't think it's only Christians though - there was a question in New Scientist a few months ago about why these arguments break out on forums and I suppose it could be the lack of face to face contact. Perhaps we'd all get on fine if we just met in a pub somewhere. Then again we'd probably all get really sheepish and mumble at each other.



Thanks, I'll look that up in a little while. I don't think I'm really arguing or quarreling with anyone now. More like just thinking out loud or comparing notes or something. I always have this feeling that there's a lot I need to say and not much time to say it in.

DWM
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby postodave » 17 May 2009, 16:39

Hi DWM
Just to make it clear - I know you are not arguing or quarrelling - those comments were a response to something John was saying which in turn was a response to someone else. But there is a lot of arguing on this site and most internet forums and I can be as dogmatic as anyone, and although there are times when it's right to stick to your guns I think we lose our perspective sometimes.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 17 May 2009, 17:55

postodave wrote:But there is a lot of arguing on this site and most internet forums and I can be as dogmatic as anyone, and although there are times when it's right to stick to your guns I think we lose our perspective sometimes.


I wouldn't say that there is a lot of arguing in the Wardrobe. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty good, I'd say. Perhaps that's why it catches people off-guard when it happens, considering the "community" feel that I try to cultivate here.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby rusmeister » 17 May 2009, 18:34

john wrote: What I often don't understand are the needs of some to tear others down in the process of distinguishing themselves. So much bickering and discourtesy over what comes down to an opinion based on faith. Your God can beat up my God? What do you want? A cookie?

I think this reveals a lack of understanding of how "absolutists" see things in general (those who believe there IS absolute truth and that we DO have some revelation about it). To us 'absolutists (as opposed to 'relativists' I suppose), some things are NOT opinions based on faith. They are revealed truth (do I need to capitalize that?), and the thing that mind-boggles them is how much in which Christendom was in agreement on about so many things for so many centuries until VERY recently is n ow denied.

Thus, it is not about tearing down others' opinions, much less other people on a personal level - which often translates into the sin of pride - but IS about establishing that Truth. It is precisely that there is only one God, and that He has revealed certain things about Himself, to which claims to the contrary are actual falsehood, rather than opinion.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby Leslie » 17 May 2009, 19:02

john wrote: Surely, if God exists, then God is one type of being, requires one form of worship, and expects one set of rules to be followed.


Hmmm - I don't think God is as strict as that in terms of worship. God may be one, but God loves diversity. God doesn't require that all creatures walk the same way, nor that all flowers bloom in uniform timing, size, and colour. I can't see why God isn't equally delighted with genuine worship offered with folk music and spontaneous prayer as with that in a formal liturgical service with high church music. The key, as Jesus tells us when he speaks to the Samaritan woman by the well, is whether the worship is of the Spirit, and not where and how it is offered.

And Jesus only laid down one rule, really: the command to love, which is not a tidy rule at all.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby Tuke » 17 May 2009, 19:06

john wrote:
Tuke wrote:These evolutions or denominations may even have been anticipated and sanctioned by the Lord.
But the bible says God isn't the author of confusion, doesn't it? Surely, if God exists, then God is one type of being, requires one form of worship, and expects one set of rules to be followed.
He is not the author of sin, yet it exists. I do not view a plethora of denominations as confusion, though there is sometimes confusion regarding issues not specified in the Bible and even less frequently regarding some that are. I have visited many if not most denominations, including Catholic and Jewish temples, and felt each to be God's house.
Many parts of the bible were written down many years after the fact, translated countless times, compiled and recompiled, and now is being interpreted however the reader wishes to interpret it.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy III.16
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter I.20-21
The darn thing even contradicts itself!
I'm not aware of those verses. Would you care to site any?
It's no wonder there are so many churches calling themselves Christian. Seems like they're all just fumbling around in the dark, doing their best to figure out what God wants of them until (presumably) Jesus comes down and sets them all straight.
That's good preaching, John, thank you.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby Leslie » 17 May 2009, 19:12

deadwhitemale wrote: I think I have mentioned before that, while I am nominally a Baptist, I don't find it very fulfilling or satisfying. I have toyed or flirted withe idea of converting to Roman Catholicism, but I just couldn't go through with it. I'm still not sure what I ought to be. :undecided: :sad: I think it would be true to say that I agree with or sympathize with some Roman Catholic beliefs, practices, and attitudes, but not others.

DWM

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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby Leslie » 17 May 2009, 19:23

john wrote:
postodave wrote:I always wonder about you John whether moderating this forum makes you feel that Lewis's claims about Mere Christianity - that even though Christians differ they have a lot in common - seem not to be very valid after all. Do you not sometimes feel like chief warder of an asylum?


When reading through posts, there is absolutely more focus on differences than commonalities ...

But if we spent a lot of forum time and space talking about commonalities, then after the OP there would pretty much be just a Dufflepuddlian chorus of agreement, which would get dull pretty quickly.

While the arguments may seem intense at times, they're not usually about core doctrine or practice.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 17 May 2009, 21:31

Leslie wrote:But if we spent a lot of forum time and space talking about commonalities, then after the OP there would pretty much be just a Dufflepuddlian chorus of agreement, which would get dull pretty quickly.


Please don't think I was saying that discussing differences is wrong. I believe that discussing different opinions about anything is part of what makes all conversation interesting, and it helps us learn (and possibly change our opinions). I was merely making an observation in response to postodave's comment.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 17 May 2009, 21:52

rusmeister wrote:I think this reveals a lack of understanding of how "absolutists" see things in general (those who believe there IS absolute truth and that we DO have some revelation about it). To us 'absolutists (as opposed to 'relativists' I suppose), some things are NOT opinions based on faith. They are revealed truth (do I need to capitalize that?), and the thing that mind-boggles them is how much in which Christendom was in agreement on about so many things for so many centuries until VERY recently is n ow denied.

Thus, it is not about tearing down others' opinions, much less other people on a personal level - which often translates into the sin of pride - but IS about establishing that Truth. It is precisely that there is only one God, and that He has revealed certain things about Himself, to which claims to the contrary are actual falsehood, rather than opinion.


I know far more about "absolutists" than you may realize. Don't forget my religious background. I was taught that you're all wrong and that my understanding of God and our path to heaven is the only right one. I know about "revealed Truth" as well, and yet, when all is said an done, Russ, it's still just an opinion based on faith. There is no proof other than what you may feel you know to be truth.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not knocking faith. I have faith in a lot of things that I either don't have proof of or don't understand. But I, too, believe in Truth. Just as I said...I believe that, that if God exists, God is a specific something (whatever that something might be) that has a plan for us. I don't believe that God is whatever you may want it to be. No matter how one may wish to live their life, or however they be believe about something...there's a church with their name it.

So, I do believe in discovering what the Truth is. However...the Truth that once I wholeheartedly believed in turned out to be a load of rubbish. Naturally, that makes one question just about everything. It doesn't mean, in my mind, that God doesn't exist -- but it does mean that I truly believe that nobody can really know what God is and what is expected of us. You can believe it...but you absolutely cannot know it.
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Re: Differing definitions of "Christian"

Postby john » 17 May 2009, 22:06

Tuke, I truly mean no offense whatsoever in any of my comments. I was trying to describe how things appear to me. With multiple Christian churches, all teaching different things (some of them contradictory)...they simply can't all be right. Even those who just say they follow the Bible don't agree with each other on (for instance) how somebody should be baptized, or even if it's necessary at all.

I just simply don't understand, that's all.
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