30 October 2005
____________________From Ben, 28th October 2005 at 22.12
Hey Steve, I shall just continue from when you left.......
You: "but every church claims to be pure?"
Yes every church does. But all these churches are based around christianity, so ultimatly the bible. And if you fundementally take the bible, and form a chrurch on those foundations, your end result will be a pure christian chruch, (for example, my church). The corruption and false beliefs kick in when the message of the bible is changed (for example Jevohiah Witnesses), rules are ignored (Catholics), new ones are created (mormons), or even possibly some things are over emphasised (Pentacostal). All of these branches of 'christianity' have their own reasons or excuses for their different direction, yet all follow the same 'rule book' (the bible). So the final analysis is that is you play by the rules, you will get the righteous result, and if not, you wont, and that will lead to corruption. This history of 'christianity' is that of these branches that have lost sight of the truth of the bible, and so should not be associated with the true christian church.
In answer to your general focus in your article, Christians believe that their is 2 ways for everyone, whether one believes it, or not; heaven & hell. So the fact of not belonging if you believe makes no sense. Belief is THE thing that makes christianity what it is, it is the belief that saves you from Hell! So on that thought you wouldnt believe and not belong to a church, because you would acknowledge that you were being saved through your faith, and would take God seriously in his request for aligence to the true church. Basically what your saying doesnt make sense, as you donnot fully understand the faith.
Argh i have to go now, but i really want to write more! We shall speak soon!
Take it easy.
____________________From Steve Clarkson, 29th October 2005 at 00.10
I'll take your points one at a time..
I'm guessing you must be C of E, as you've judged many other branches of Christianity (Catholics, Mormons etc etc) but let me ask you about your statement of Jehovah's Witnesses: in their faith, is "the message of the bible changed?" I have a relative who is a Jehovah's Witness, and he claims that there is a verse that, in other words, means 'you shouldn't build statues of God' - so they don't have life sized models of the virgin Mary, nor do they hang the cross of Christ in their Kingdom Halls. So how are they changing the meaning?
Also, you claim that the rules are "ignored" by Catholics - but why are they seen as the more extreme of the main two branches of Christianity? Also, it's worth bearing that the global number of Catholics outnumber Protestants by more than 2:1 - so yours is a minority view.
I think this raises bigger questions. If you think that religious belief is crucial and each church must have a consensus, then where do you stand on abortion? gays? even blacks? the Bible takes a very right-wing stance on all these issues - and I've actually read these, most of them are in the Old Testament. The Bible is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-black - and it told in the Catholic support for the Nazis in WW2. Remember, the Catholics are a majority in the Christian religion.
If you are anti-abortion, anti-gay etc then fair enough - that's what puts people off religion. But if you are not, then why is your church (as you say, "built upon the foundations" of the Bible) any more true than the other Christian churches?
In your last paragraph you said, "Christians believe that their is 2 ways for everyone, whether one believes it, or not; heaven & hell. So the fact of not belonging if you believe makes no sense." - I actually wrote in my article: "But it is surprising quite how many people still believe in an omniscient presence. They don’t call themselves Christians, or Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jews, or Hindus or Buddhists, but they do believe that something is out there. By not belonging to any organised establishment, they are exempt from the rules of religion and can live like ordinary people without feeling the urge to confess." - meaning, a lot of people who don't go to church still believe in A God, or someone pulling our strings, but don't see why he would make rules for us to live.
I know this is a sensitive topic, particularly for believers in the cold, secular environment we live in today. But reply if you want to say more..
____________________From Ben, 29th October 2005 at 11.03
Apologies for my spelling and grammar etc, its not a strength of mine, but I really want to share some stuff.
Firstly I am not C of E, I am a regular 'born again' Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ and all of his teachings.
Regarding Jehovah witnesses: Your relatives would be correct, in accordance to their translation (new world trans). But my debate is not with their actions through the bible, but their bible itself. The original bible has remained in existence for thousands of years and has remained unchanged in content. Literally thousands of Hebrew scholars work constantly to translate the bible into many languages and styles of read, yet the foundations of its truth remain. This was the case until a man by the name Charles Taze Russell took it upon himself to re-write the bible, and to create his own religion: JWs. Russell argued the Hebrew scholars had mistranslated the bible, and he could reveal the true meaning. Basically Russell hated the idea of Hell, so he created his own religion, by twisting the bible to suit him. In the late 19th century, over 500 impartial Hebrew scholars retranslated the bible from scratch in Hebrew. Not a single one found a flaw with the original previous translation, and were shocked at the extent Russell had changed the scripture anyway, never mind the fact he wasn’t even a qualified Hebrew scholar. That is the way in which they have changed the bible. JWs claim to be Christian’s, which basically means 'believers in Jesus', which they do, but not to any significance. The whole point of JW is to 'witness' for God, and to work your way in 'heaven'. But my faith is based around Christ himself, by his death I have been saved from hell. In my bible it doesn’t say anything about statues of God, it comments of statues of 'Gods', but not of the Lord himself. This obviously sparks the (Christian vs. JW) 'Jesus- a son, or God too?' debate, which I can follow up on, if you wish. I also think statues if Mary, and saint etc is wrong, because they are not worthy of such praise. But Jesus is my Lord and savior, and deserved all the praise possible, so it is a privilege to be able to wear a cross around my neck, to outwardly symbolize my salvation through him. Besides the fact of the translation of the bible, JWs are very much focused on 'the watchtower', the organization that basically 'runs' the religion. These people decide on all the literature that all the JWs read, and tell them what to do, as they claim to be ordained. But isn’t making these ordinary people into these holy leaders just as bad, or even worse than making statues of God?
Regarding Catholics, firstly I would like to comment on your last sentence. "So yours is a minority view" is what you said, and yes it is. It is a majority in the world that is against Christianity, but look back in history at 'the majority', as the majority is not always correct. The majority thought the world was flat, and the majority believed in the geocentric cosmic theory, but both are obviously wrong. My point here is that when regarding religion you cannot rely on the majority. For example imagine there is one truth, and only one true religion that is right, and is the best for the human race. From that, Islam would take that place, due to them being the majority. But do you honestly see them as being the right religion, when it is seen as acceptable to fly planes into buildings? The Muslim faith is all based around taking things by force, and by using human power to do so. They are the majority, so therefore, by your analysis that would be the true religion. But do you honestly see their methods as being right? And as acts for their god?
Back to the main point in the Catholic section. Catholics like many religions follow the bible, but yet still ignore common rules of what it teaches. They give much undue attention and praise to Mary, when she is little to do with the actual spiritual side of the faith. They are very into large statues, decoration, and ordained members of the church, telling ‘lesser’ people what to do. The bible clearly teaches about such things, and gives warning about what it can do to you, but the followers seem to put more faith in its ‘ordained’ members than that of the actual bible itself. That is the way in which the rules have been ignored to some extent.
Next, “The Bible is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-black”. Firstly and most importantly the bible is most certainly not ‘anti-black’ in the slightest. If you can find any reference that implies this, I should be glad to hear it. In no way is the Christian faith, or the bible racist at all, that is an absurd accusation. And if it was, do you seriously think that bible teaching ‘all black’ Pentecostal churches would exist? But in answer to the rest of the sentence, yes, I am anti-gay and I am anti-abortion, as this is written about in the bible. But when saying statements like these you must remember that when being ‘anti’ isn’t an attack on the people, but on the issue itself. For example I personally believe a minority of people are genetically gay, but I think the larger part of the gay community are psychological issues, by which they may think they are, or tell themselves they are gay. To me, this is wrong, as God commands against it. Regarding abortion, to me, it is murder, nothing more nothing less; I don’t think I need to say much about that.
"But it is surprising quite how many people still believe in an omniscient presence. They don’t call themselves Christians, or Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jews, or Hindus or Buddhists, but they do believe that something is out there. By not belonging to any organised establishment, they are exempt from the rules of religion and can live like ordinary people without feeling the urge to confess."
Basically I think you greatly miss the point in all this, and if you could clarify a bit more, it would be grand. It doesn’t matter if you believe in “a omniscient presence” or if you don’t label yourself associated with a religion. You seem to view the rules do not apply to those who do not believe, but the fact is that rules apply to everyone, not just the followers of Christ. Those who do not believe or who think there is a different god, break the rules constantly. God doesn’t just give rules to Christians, or not include other religions in his judgment. The fact is, if these people don’t confess and choose not to follow Jesus Christ, they will go to hell, disregarding their personal beliefs on God or other religions.
Any other questions or requests fro further expansion on these topics would be welcome.
____________________From Steve Clarkson, 30th October 2005 at 18.29
“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are Good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” -- 1 Peter 2: 18-20
The above is one of the Biblical verses that was used by Christians to justify slavery in the 18th century. So it seems as though the Bible is pro-slavery, thus pro the slave trade of recent times (the slavery of blacks) – and is thus, however indirectly, racist and anti-black. You ask “do you seriously think that bible teaching ‘all black’ Pentecostal churches would exist?” – yes I do. It can only be a good thing that churches are now inclusive, which is why we now have gay Bishops (despite their obvious discrimination in the Bible, which you recognised).
Regarding Catholics being the majority denomination in Christianity, you said: “The majority thought the world was flat, and the majority believed in the geocentric cosmic theory, but both are obviously wrong.” I agree. I guess the thrust of your statement implied that Catholics are “wrong” – again I agree; I am an atheist. But then again atheists are a minority in the world, so perhaps I was wrong to say that.
Seeing that Muslims were the largest group in the religious world, you went on to say: “do you honestly see [Islam] as being the right religion, when it is seen as acceptable to fly planes into buildings?” I thought it was a bit ignorant, and ironic, that you seem to use fundamentalists to represent the entire Muslim faith. It’s a horrible stereotype, but I guess it’s partisan loyalty on your part. It also seemed to discredit your argument – you don’t want to be compared with how the Catholic church is run, or Christianity’s history, but you are quick to associate ordinary Muslims and followers of Allah with the atrocities committed by a tiny minority of the same faith. The sexual abuse of youngsters by church leaders seems pretty abundant in your faith, so can I call you a rapist? Again, I don’t see “flying planes into buildings” as being right – I don’t think many people do.
I will try to clarify the paragraph you quoted. You say: “The fact is, the rules apply to everyone, not just followers of Christ” – I understand this, but only the followers of Christ believe this. In the context of my article, I was referring to a girl who was a young Christian like yourself. She said “the only good thing about the Bible is God” – and my point in that article was that the girl was either unaware of, resentful of or didn’t believe in “the rules”. If she didn’t believe in the rules, my point was, she could believe in a God and feel content. She doesn’t have to be a Christian to believe in “an omniscient presence” (a God). What I am really saying is, everyone is content that what they do in their lives will get them to where they think they are going. You are going to heaven. I am going nowhere. Buddhists move up a level to Nirvana. Basically, each person has a right to think they know where they are going. So this girl can believe she is going nowhere, but she still believes in ‘a God’ – like so many others do.
This debate is continuing - if you want to add your own view, either email email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben's email)