Nightcrawler/Religious & Spiritual Discussion

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Nightcrawler/Religious & Spiritual Discussion

Postby TelegramSam » Fri Jan 16, 2004 8:43 pm

Note: the Greek texts are not actually "original", the old testament was written originally in Hebrew and the new testament was written in Aramaic. Unfortunatly, the few Aramaic texts that have been found cannot be feasibly authenticated, so pretty much all modern bibles have been translated from the later Greek texts.

:)
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Postby Maelstrom » Fri Jan 16, 2004 9:51 pm

Originally posted by thylacine
John Smith was mentioned... ? What is the real history of this dude that is so interesting? Tell us, do! :D


John Smith, by all accounts, was a failure most of his life who tended to tell "tall tales". One of the best books to look up his history (and that of Mormonism in general) is The Mormon Mirage. It's written by an ex-Mormon, who went out and looked all the stuff up on her own, from other, impartial sources, when she started having doubts. Not sure if it's still in print, but you may be able to find it iin your library. His history is too convoluted for me to remember right now.....
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Postby Wolvertique » Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:12 pm

"They actually "edited" things to make them "consistent"?"
Yep, that's one of the reasons the evangelical Christians who sponsored it gave. :) They also may have done it in response to the RSV, which as I recall translated a word in a verse in Isaiah usually translated as "born of a virgin" as "born of a young woman." Young woman, ironically, is a more accurate translation of the original Hebrew word "bethulah" used in this passage.

See what fun you can have with this stuff? :D
Mystique: "How would you like to come see some really awful black velvet paintings of bullfighters?"
Wolverine: "What, no etchings?"
Mystique: "Just bullfighters...that's all they have on my motel room wall."
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Postby bamfchickie » Sat Jan 17, 2004 12:13 am

Maelstrom, Mormons are not Christian, their doctrine is too far removed from Christianity to be considered such (regardless of what they claim).


Out of curiosity, what do you consider the requirements for being considered Christian? I thought "Christian" as a catchall term meant any religion that believes Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

If that's the case, the Mormons are definitely Christian. Maybe not "proper" Christians in the generally accepted sense of the term, but they do indeed believe that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was the Messiah.

(Sorry. I try to avoid religious topics like the plague, but my parents are Mormon. I think the whole religion is a load of hogwash, but I still learned their principles of belief while growing up). ;)
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 3:16 am

They reject the doctrine of the Trinity which most consider to be central to Christianity, and there are about a million other discrepencies. It's just too much difference. I mean if you want to argue that way, you could argue that Christians are Jews because they believe in the God described in the old testament. Most people, however, would not consider Christians to be Jewish because there is too much difference in doctrine. I make the same argument about Mormons being a different religion.
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Postby Lauren » Sat Jan 17, 2004 4:09 am

The whole what makes a Christian a Christian brings to mind something else that's been confusing me...

Have you ever heard of this group that says Jews for Jesus? Now, if you think Jesus is the Messiah...doesn't that make you Christian and NOT Jewish?
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Postby taekwondodo » Sat Jan 17, 2004 5:33 am

Jews for Jesus consider their Judaism to be a cultural, not a religious, situation, at least that's how I understand it. Judaism is passed down matrilineally (I don't know if this is the case w/all Jewish sects or denominations or whatever they are). I had a friend in hs who was adopted into an orthodox Jewish family, her 'grandparents' didn't accept her as Jewish b/c she wasn't born of a Jewish mother. Her dad was basically ostracized from the family and the faith - though he was still very strict.
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Postby bamfchickie » Sat Jan 17, 2004 8:21 am

I mean if you want to argue that way, you could argue that Christians are Jews because they believe in the God described in the old testament.


Oh, I'm not arguing anything, actually. I simply asked a question: how does anyone determine who is Christian and who is not? Is there a set list of criteria? ;)

For that matter, how is arguing that the Mormons (or any other "sect" of Christianity) are unChristian any different from the fundamentalist zealots who accuse the Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians of being non-Christian? :)
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:32 pm

Because Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians all share the same basic doctrine, save a few details. Truly, the only difference between Catholics and the Protestant churches is the prominence given to Mary and emphasis on doing good works (though even most protestant churches emphasize outreach and community service) and the manner of confession.

Mormons, however, have little in common with other Christian sects save the fact that a man named Jesus and called "the son of God" is involved. The way they see the fundamental nature of God, the Trinity, and Jesus are all very different from anyone else. If you don't believe me, look up, for example, Catholic or Methodist doctrine or something and do a comparison.

ps. keep in mind that I'm discussing religious organizations here, not individuals.
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Postby Wolvertique » Sat Jan 17, 2004 3:51 pm

Being that I am a member of a "minority" faith myself, neo-Paganism, I am willing to acknowledge that anyone calling her or himself a Christian who is not, say, practicing Islam and saying that Christ was stupid, is a Christian.

Besides, I've been told by many "loving" Christians before that if I'm not a Christian, I can't say anything about what Christianity is or who Christians are, so I have to take y'all's words for it anyway. ;)

I would not call most members of minority faiths, Christian or not, members of cults. It's a word too often used to mean "a religion I don't like, therefore I'm going to put it down." I'm sure no one here is trying to use it that way, but that's how I see it used most often. It's even used of my religion, and I can assure you that no real Pagan could be part of a cult because we're generally anti-authority and pro-individual rights. How could we all just be following a "charismatic leader"?

Ergh. Anyway. Enough. I could talk about this stuff for hours, but I won't.
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 5:41 pm

Just so we all understand what we're talking about here (from dictionary.com)

cult ( n. )

1.
a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
5.
a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
b. The object of such devotion.
6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

The first one seems to be what most people here have in mind when they use the term "cult" but I could be wrong.
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Postby Wolvertique » Sat Jan 17, 2004 5:56 pm

Then 1. doesn't apply to Mormons or the others they've been saying it does, though, TS. Mormons live pretty much like everyone else. Sure, you can pick at a few of their religion-specific practices and say "See, this isn't like everyone else," but you can do this with devout Catholics, Buddhists, and so on.
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Postby Warbird » Sat Jan 17, 2004 6:11 pm

THough I personaly don't think that Mormonism is very legitamit as a christian religion, I wouldn't call it a cult. They don't perpously brainwash. If you say that they do, then enyone teaching religion as fact is practicing cult like activities. I'm a pretty Hardcore Catholic and I belive my faith as fact, and I intend on teaching my kids exactly what I belive. To someone who isn't Catholic, am I brianwashing them into my "cult"? I would say that Mormons are very very missguided Christians (becase even if they do deny the trinity they still belive in Christ the savior), but not cult members.
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Postby Maelstrom » Sat Jan 17, 2004 6:20 pm

Originally posted by Wolvertique

Besides, I've been told by many "loving" Christians before that if I'm not a Christian, I can't say anything about what Christianity is or who Christians are, so I have to take y'all's words for it anyway. ;)


:LOL The way you put "loving Christian" in quotes speaks volumes!

For the longest time, I was really down on Christianity in general because it seemed unreasonable. As a kid, of course, you might go to Sunday School and learn about all the "Jesus Loves Me" stories. All the warm, fuzzy, touchy-feely stuff that tells you Jesus is your friend. And then you look at the "real" Bible as an adolescent, it's filled with contradictions and rules that make no sense, and people are now telling you to fear someone (who supposedly loves you??) or you'll go straight to Hell with everyone else because as a baby first out of your mother's womb, you're a sinful creature.

I don't even know enough to recognize my own toes, and I've already sinned my way into hell? Can someone please explain to me the difference between Christianity and a brainwashed Cult of Personality?

What was missing for me was the "why". A LOT of the Bible makes no sense on the surface. I mean, there are two sections in the Old Testament where a guy adopts his wife as his sister! Some things (like how Cain, one of the first four people on earth, could go and settle with the people in Canaan) make it look like you missed a chapter somewhere. And yet, this thing is supposed to be 100% TRUE? What the HELL? :huh

I started "studying" Christianity in earnest when I met a priest who was actually able to explain things to me in a sensible manner:

"Sin" doesn't automatically mean evil or wrong, and it doesn't mean you're going straight to Hell. It means imperfect. As a baby, you're born of a human, imperfect mother and father. You'll make mistakes, as have every single human before you, and will every human since.

The bit where the husband adopts his wife as his sister? That's based off of an old Babylonian custom. Wives couldn't inherit property, but family could, so if you truly loved and respected your wife, you would adopt her as a sister so she would have something left to support her when you died. (I'm not going into all the icky social "incest" consequences of this: I'm just relating a historical fact... ;) )

Cain marrying into Canaan is still a bit of a mystery to me, and to a lot of others. But, according to the Orthodox and Roman Catholic doctrines... it doesn't matter. Yes, it's a discrepency. It's a Mystery. The Bible is full of them, and they do not detract from the Truth.

And THIS is the #1, most important, imperative thing: there are two kinds of "truth". There is Big T Truth, and little t truth. The Bible is 100% Truth, not 100% truth. The difference? Big Truth consists of universal Truths. Of allegorical, metaphysical, universal Truths. Little truth is literal, historical, factual truth. Is the story of Adam and Eve the little truth? Of course not. It's taken from an even older Sumerian myth. There's no pottery shards, no preserved fig leaf aprons. Snakes never really spoke, and lions and lambs have always been predator and prey. But is it the big Truth? Yes, because it tells an allegorical story of how mankind grew in knowledge and self awareness, in the ability to know right from wrong, but did not grow in spiritual wisdom and occasionally makes choices to do wrong, and how the uneven nature of this development has placed us in the less-than-perfect world we are on today.

I would not call most members of minority faiths, Christian or not, members of cults. It's a word too often used to mean "a religion I don't like, therefore I'm going to put it down." I'm sure no one here is trying to use it that way, but that's how I see it used most often. It's even used of my religion, and I can assure you that no real Pagan could be part of a cult because we're generally anti-authority and pro-individual rights. How could we all just be following a "charismatic leader"?


In a strict, clinical sense, many Pagan branches (I have no idea which one you belong to) can be considered cults because they've had to make up their rituals and traditions to approximate those of old. The 18th century Druids had very little historically in common with their 1st century progenitors, because there were few records (if any) of what the rituals were. When there's no clear-cut, historical lineage of traditions (whether they're written down or orally transmitted), and someone has recreated them in the recent past, that can fit the literal, dry, academic definition of a cult. It's not the same connection that dangerous, mind-controlling, violent cults have (the Moonies, the Scientologists, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Phineas Priests), nor is it the "outcast and heretical" label of the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses, but rather it fits the definition placed on any belief system/religion that is less than a couple hundred years old.

That said, I personally would be loathe to place anyone in that camp if I didn't know the first thing about their belief set. And, honestly, I don't know the first thing about yours. ;)

Ergh. Anyway. Enough. I could talk about this stuff for hours, but I won't.


:D Actually, I kind of like talking about this stuff. Please feel free to go on talking about it for hours. :D
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 7:20 pm

nit-picky thing about usage of terms: The term "cult of personality" refers to the sort of hype that a goverment (especially a fascist or dictatorial government) creates about a particular leader to encourage loyalty of the masses. It has nothing to do with religious cults.

On another note: Yes, Mormonism is a cult. And in many ways, so are many facets of Christianity. I have encountered many Christian churches that are indeed very cult-like. Some are, some aren't. I have yet to encounter a single mormon group, however, that is not. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I can assure you it's not in any large number.
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Postby Wolvertique » Sat Jan 17, 2004 8:54 pm

To my knowledge, Mormons are not asked to have no belongings and move in with whoever the leader of their faith is, which is basically the primary dictionary definition of cult...following a charismatic leader and living in a communal setting. Which Mormons do that? I've never heard of any.

Pagans, too, aren't "cult" members because we don't follow a charismatic leader. Most of us, too, don't really live all that unconventionally. Of the Pagan group I know locally, most of its members are married working heterosexuals.

Having beliefs outside the Christian mainstream, or beliefs which must be revealed by God and not derived from history, does not make one a cult member. I've always used the word "cult" for religions which do follow a charismatic leader, require cutting oneself off from everything but the religion, and are objectively harmful (e.g. Heaven's Gate or Jim Jones).
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:16 pm

well wolvertique, you have a much more extreme definition of "cult" than I do, and that's about all I can tell you.

The fact that apostates are ostricised, the fact that they brook no questioning or deviation from members, the fact that they are secretive about certain doctrines and activities high in the church, and the fact that they often demand very specific financial information and a tithe from their members spells c-u-l-t to me.

They're also quite misogynist, but that's more a personal criticism of mine...

This essay shows pretty well the way the Mormons go about their work: http://2thinkforums.org/anyboard/archive/13173.html
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Postby Wolvertique » Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:25 pm

Well, TS, I can say I've seen all the above in "mainstream" churches, too. Especially the misogyny...remember the flak the Episcopalians caught for having female bishops?

I guess being in a religion which is frequently insulted and dismissed with the word "cult" gives me a different perspective than yours. So be it.
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Postby TelegramSam » Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:52 pm

Like I stated before, wolvertique:
On another note: Yes, Mormonism is a cult. And in many ways, so are many facets of Christianity. I have encountered many Christian churches that are indeed very cult-like. Some are, some aren't. I have yet to encounter a single mormon group, however, that is not. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I can assure you it's not in any large number.


And just for the record, I don't consider most pagan religions to be cults. They're generally not coercive and controlling, at least not those I've encountered. I had several wiccan friends in high school, in fact, and they never tried to force their beliefs on me. Yes, they criticized Christianity and one went so far as to call me a brainwashed moron (he apologized later though) but they rarely exhibit the kind of threatening behavior that the mormon church promotes.
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Postby Shadow_Dancer » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:01 am

Originally posted by bamfchickie
Oh, Im not arguing anything, actually. I simply asked a question: how does anyone determine who is Christian and who is not? Is there a set list of criteria? ;)

For that matter, how is arguing that the Mormons (or any other "sect" of Christianity) are unChristian any different from the fundamentalist zealots who accuse the Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians of being non-Christian? :)


* Heavy sigh *

I always find it sad when people see all the arguments that take place between people of different denominations claiming the name of Christian, especially when they deny the same name to another group. I belong to an interdenominational Christian organization that works with youth. We realize that we do not always agree on all doctrinal points. It is not surprising. This may sound very superstitious to you, but there is a spiritual enemy, one that we cannot see with our eyes, but he is ever present.

Go ahead and laugh if you want, but I don’t believe this blindly. I am a well-educated professional that does not follow the Christian faith just because I grew up going to Sunday school. I have tested and searched and I believe because I have seen miraculous changes in people’s lives through faith in Christ. I have also come up against very real, palpable evil. This spiritual enemy is very good at the “divide and conquer” method. As long as Christian’s fight amongst themselves, our message is lost, and we are left impotent. And all the world sees is a lot of people without real love and a lot of contradictions. No wonder so many people have problems with organized religion.

What I believe, and we teach the kids is this:

What truly qualifies one as a Christian is motivation more than anything else. I had to come to a realization that I am a sinner, and because of that I cannot approach my perfect and sovereign Creator. But He could have tossed us all out and just started again, but He didn’t. He made a way for us to come back to Him. I think that much of the Old Testament was to show us that no matter how hard we try, we can never be good enough on our own. There is not anything we can do in and of ourselves.

So then He came himself, in the form of a man who was both God and man. Who had the same weaknesses, faced the same trials and temptations but lived a pure life. In His death Christ took our punishment, and then rose again, conquering death so that we might also live forever. He bridged the gap between God and us.

To me, a Christian is quite simply someone who takes this to heart, that realizes that there is nothing they can do to bridge that gap themselves, and trusts in the sacrifice that Christ made and my wongs are forgiven. The debt I owe God is paid in full. I also believe that there is nothing you can do to “work” your way into heaven. I can never be “good enough”, or do “enough” on my own. But it was already done for me. All I have to do is confess that I am imperfect and trust that God only sees the perfection of Christ. And when I do the good things that the Blble asks me to do, it is not out of trying to work my way to God, but out of love and obedience for the one who sacrificed His life for me.



The outcome is the same, yes, but the motivation is different. And when I attempt to share my faith, it is not for “brownie points” from God, for I try (and yes, I sometimes do fail) never to see myself as better than anyone on this board. It is out of love for my Lord, and for you, my friends, that you could know the peace that I do.

Ultimately who is a Christian is not for anyone of us to say when you really get down to it. It is between God and that person. Only God can judge a person’s heart. IMHO, the rest is all semantics.
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Postby Wolvertique » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:31 am

::shrugs:: I find it weird that you're singling out Mormons. Why not just say you don't like any spiritualities who force their faiths on others? It seems to be a better representation of your beliefs so far.

Love your sig, BTW. I've been entertaining my husband with it for several days now.
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Postby TelegramSam » Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:37 am

Wolvertique - Because we were discussing the mormons in specific? True, though, I feel the same about all religions of similar nature. The Mormons just seem to be the most prominent in this country, and thus tend to bug me more than the others. *shrugs*

Shadow_dancer - I get what you're saying, but I wasn't talking about individuals here, but rather institutions. There's a very big difference.
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Postby thylacine » Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:00 pm

Hi. Most Mormons I have met were really nice people. The ones I knew where not like "brainwashed" and they definitely had minds of their own & their own ideas & etc. Let's not categorize people, because when you do categorize people, they might feel picked on & stuff. I think it's important to look at what you write in this space and think, 'how would I feel if they said that about my beliefs?' I just don't want anyone reading our stuff to feel hurt or singled out...

... Anyway... speaking of religious prejudice... today in the newspaper's advice column, this guy's girlfriend dumped him because he was a Catholic. She said, "I don't want my kids being raised by a Catholic." Like, that is so awful! That sounds like, 'I don't want my kids raised by a crackhead' to me. What was she thinking? That he would glue rosaries to their little heads???
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Postby TelegramSam » Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:45 pm

Does anybody actually read what I write here? I said (for the 500th time) that I am discussing institutions, not people.

My beef isn't with individual mormons, as you said, most of them are decent people. It's the church itself, the people at the top who run the show and control the reigns that I have a problem with.
I am Dyslexic of Borg. Your ass will be laminated.
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Nightcrawler/Religious & Spiritual Discussion

Postby Warbird » Mon Jan 19, 2004 12:38 am

I think what every one is trying to get out though, is that Moromonism might be a strict religion, but is far from a true cult. THese people aren't being forces into anything or being brainwashed. They just have a different belife system that many people think is misguided. I don't know any Mormons who have been lead astray in a way that was trulely detrimental to their well being.

"this guy's girlfriend dumped him because he was a Catholic."
I was also dumped for being Catholic. It really really hurt. Honestly it was worse than any other break up because I was being cast aside for my faith. I was seen as a lesser person because of my belifes. He actually told me that I was a wonderful girl and that he'd stay with me if I would convert and turn my back on the "wretched" Catholic Church. His family looked down on Catholics because their church did. I obviosely declined.

That was the Baptist guy I mentioned before. I've never known any Mormons (and I do know many) that have broken up with anyone because of their faith... Most cults wouldn't tolerate that behavior in its members, do as you're told or you're out. None of them were treated differently by their church for dating outsiders. Cults usually have a problem with that. I'm not attacking Baptist, I'm just trying to demonstrate that there are other religiouse groups that pressure their members just as much as Mormons and no one refers to them as cults.
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