Sunday, April 29, 2007

What do you believe?

This is an open thread for discussing differences and similarities in various faiths and worldviews. If you'd like to share what you believe here, feel free.

What do you feel are the basic truths you live by, religious or not? How do they compare with other worldviews? These are some of the questions that may be discussed in this thread, along with others.

79 comments:

purple_kangaroo said...

I am going to copy over some of the posts from the thread discussing marriage, so that we can have a conversation about religion without derailing the marriage discussion.

moderator said...

Kevin said...
Purple_Kangaroo,

While the US was not founded upon the Bible, it is not entirely unrelated, since the US was founded on the morals of specific group of Christians. But I agree that I would not want the acts you link to be capital crimes, which makes me wonder, how do you reconcile that with your subscribing to a religion and God that ostensibly calls or called for those crimes to be punished by death?

Kevin

purple_kangaroo said...

purple_kangaroo said...
Hmmm, I was thinking that "scripture" passage that Katia posted wasn't anything I'd seen before. It's not in my Bible. :)

For anyone who was wondering, it's from Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, not from the Christian Scriptures.

That helps me to understand better your input to the discussions, Katia. I'm not very familiar with the Book of Mormon. Our faiths, though they have some similarities, are also completely different.

It's interesting to get a Mormon perspective on this issue, as I've never had opportunity to discuss it with someone from that faith before. It's a perspective we haven't had represented on this blog before, as far as I know.

I'm glad to have both Liz and Katia joining in and adding new perspectives to our discussions. And I'm glad so many of the regulars are taking part, too.

4/29/2007 12:59 AM

moderator said...

katia said...

Well PK you you caught me. I was wondering if someone would recognize that scripture or recognize it wasn't in the bible.

I was going to put the reference but wanted for people to read it first before they disclamed it since not many are keen on the Book of Mormon. I do enjoy the bible as well though.

I wondered when you would guess my faith. I thought you might have when I left you a post in you personal page about how I never desired alcohol, drugs, smoking and such as you never not only cause I don't want to but because of my faith.

Anyways now that you know my faith can you tell me yours. We seem to have a lot of similar views. . .

4/29/2007 1:41 PM

moderator said...

katia said...

I just want to clarify I am from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter days saints and have not affiliation or simaliarities to that of any of the reoragized secs or cults as I like to call them. I do not endorse polygamy. I believe in following the laws of the land.

The religion I belong to is world wide and not in just a few isolated secs. I just had to clarify that. I hate being mistaking for the reorganize churches out their who give my religion a bad name espcially those involving child abusive polygamy. . . .

4/29/2007 2:09 PM

purple_kangaroo said...

purple_kangaroo said...

Katia, I had been wondering for quite a while (because of the post on my blog and some other things) if you were of Mormon faith, but when you said "I know many people who are mormon and I know that they would hate for others to lump them with such cults" the way you were careful not to say you were Mormon made me wonder if you weren't.

Bible-believing Christians don't consider Mormonism a "Christian" religion, because the Mormon church does not hold the same view of Christ, God, man, salvation or the Bible as what the Christian church has historically believed and the Bible teaches, among other reasons. That's why it threw me for a loop when you said you were a Christian, but said so many things that seemed to fit more with Mormonism than with Christianity. :)

I'm just a protestant, evangelical, Bible-believing Christian. I'm not of any particular denomination; we attend a Bible-based non-denominational community church.

By Christian, I mean someone who believes in salvation given by the One true God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

There's more to it than that, but to put it into one sentence that's the best I can do. Maybe I'll write out my "statement of faith" in a blog post on my personal blog sometime soon, going into more detail.

I consider myself a fundamentalist in the sense that I hold the handful of fundamentals (basic underlying truths) of the Christian faith (such as the person of Christ, the nature of man, who God is, the way to attain salvation, etc.) to be absolute truths, and everything else (most of the things people argue over) to be peripheral and of lesser importance.

4/29/2007 2:25 PM

moderator said...

katia said...
PK wrote
"I consider myself a fundamentalist in the sense that I hold the handful of fundamentals (basic underlying truths) of the Christian faith (such as the person of Christ, the nature of man, who God is, the way to attain salvation, etc.) to be absolute truths, and everything else (most of the things people argue over) to be peripheral and of lesser importance."

PK you have more in common with me than you may realize. It is an terrible misconcetion that LDS mormons are not Christians. I consider myself very Christian. In fact our church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Latter day to show that this is the same church of Christ from ancient times restored in latter days) specifically to show who we try to follow to return to our father in heaven. I do not know your belief about the trinity but We do believe the father son and holy ghost are three separate beings that are perfect and therefore one in perpose. So if you see one say or do something it would be as if you saw all each one of them doing it because they all work towards the same means and for the same purposes.

Our religion is based on many of the ancient jewish beliefs accept the Jews were waiting for their deliverer and did not believe Christ was that deliverer whereas we do. We believe the religion we follow was that of the ancient twelve apostles that was lost with the death of the apostles and withdrawn from the earth for many years because no one saught to take council or was worthy to take council from God directly for the church anymore On a personal level there have been many in history that I believe have been inspired personally and helped prepare the earth for the Church of God to be restored. I don't know if you know the Joseph Smith story but in essence we believe a boy did call upon God directly cause he was confused with the many different religions. We believe God helped that boy restore to earth a church that was in likeness and purpose of that which existed in Christ time with Christ and his appostles. (of course the actual restoring of the church took place when the boy was grown) We have appostles and latter day prophet who we do not worship but revere as the Lords mouthpeice. He is not paid and neither are the apostles just as they weren't in Christ time.

To summerize our beliefs I give this link of the thirteen articles of faith.


scriptures

Pay close attention to 11 and 12 they show my love and acceptance for all regarless of their faith and my convictions in being a law abiding citizen. I do not pic and choose between these principles. I believe and have a testemony in all of them. I do believe people have a right to their believes I however don't agree with endorsing or encourageing harmful behavior.

I write all this not to be preachy but to share that we are indead Christian and I have a hard time when people say we are not so this is why the lengthy post on it. Trying to clear up confusion if you will. I too believe these principles you listed above are the most important. I can tell you are one who follows you heart and sticks to your convictions PK. I admire that and that is part of the reason I am attracted to your post.

Please let me know if I still don't sound like I am qualified as Christian. I am interested to know what leaves me out of this definition.

4/29/2007 3:22 PM

purple_kangaroo said...

MarkC said...

Katia,

You wrote: "We believe the religion we follow was that of the ancient twelve apostles that was lost with the death of the apostles"

That pretty much sums up what makes you unlike all the rest of us who, despite our disagreements with each other, call ourselves Christians.

You're welcome to call yourself a "Christian" if you want, I guess. It's just a word, and its meaning (as is the meaning of all words) tends to be relative to context.

But, the general definition of "Christian" is one who holds to the basic creeds of the Christian faith as they were defined by the early universal councils held by followers of Christ. That's the simplest and cleanest definition, though imperfect.

Someone who specifically believes that the faith was lost with the death of the apostles obviously doesn't hold to those creeds. Someone who believes that the true faith was restored only after 1800 years (give or take a few) obviously holds to a quite different "true faith" and a quite different set of core beliefs than all those who find continuity of belief through the intervening 1800 years.

I think you will find a great many things in those creeds that you disagree with. You will also find that your belief system holds a great deal to be true and central that is not included in those creeds (because, as you say, the true faith was lost and not recovered until over 1000 years later). This means that you do not fit the general definition of the word "Christian" as it is commonly used in the world today.

Again, the word "Christian" is just a title. It doesn't carry any intrinsic value. "Christian" doesn't mean "good", or "godly", or "right-thinking". By saying that you do not fit the generally-understood meaning of the word "Christian", I am not trying to denigrate your beliefs in any way. I'm just differentiating them.

Mark

4/29/2007 7:32 PM

purple_kangaroo said...

katia said...

Ok thank you for clearing up why others don't see us as christian. Although the definition you gave does fit us we do believe in the original apostilic creed and not the changed version. The apostilic creed in your reference is very close to our beliefs with the excetion of decending Christ decending into hell. But other than that I can't see too much difference. The second creed listed is a little different and I have not seen that creed in the bible. We believe some truths were maintained but that some were lost. So we believe in most core Christian principles like the ten commandments and most of the basic apostilic cread but also believe some other things in more deapth to this. I still fail to see where we are not considered Christians.

The definition that you define fits our faith and I have always considered myself Christian in that since. I believe the most faiths have truth in them and do good but the difference is we believe we have more truth and less confussion because our source is not just from scripture but from God himself. This is the difference. Otherwise we really do fit the definition of Christian as you have defined it.

You stated that the general definition of "Christian" is one who holds to the basic creeds of the Christian faith as they were defined by the early universal councils held by followers of Christ.

Since we believe our church to be a restoration of these original and unchanged creeds I feel more like a Christian from reading this not less. Some of the creeds I read from you source did not sound like they were from Christ original words or the apostles original words. This is what we believe. Even though many Christian faiths have retained many truths, some things have been changed. These changes made by man and not God are what I do not agree with. So my beliefs really are not as different as you might think. I do consider myself Christian and most mormons I know do as well. We along with other Christians are fighting for the conservitive values of a demoralized society. Not all Christians are conservative so I could say I am a conservative Christian. Old fashion if you will.

4/29/2007 7:55 PM

moderator said...

katia said...

I find I fit under this definition of Christian and the biblical

christian

4/29/2007 8:15 PM

purple_kangaroo said...

katia said...

I believe in Christ original teachings but not all the interpretations of those teachings by different churches. Jesus taught of non paid clergery we have non paid clergery. Jesus called twelve apostles we have twelve appostles. God called prophets we have a prophet. Jesus taught baptism by immursion we have baptism by immurtion. Jesus taught forgivness we believe in forgiveness. P

lease take a look at the articles of faith I mentioned earlier and see how much we do indead believe and follow Christ thus is our name of the Church and why we call our Church by his name.

To say my beliefs about Christ constitute me as a non Christian is to say all my beliefs are wrong and this is personal opioinion and does not fit the definition of Christian.

Sorry to go on about this but I am sensitive to the issue of not being considered Christian when those in the early church when Christ came were called that. I relate to that early definion in the King James version not the modern day I don't read that one.

Mormons are Christian why else would are name be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints.

4/29/2007 8:36 PM

MarkC said...

Katia,

You wrote: "The second creed listed is a little different and I have not seen that creed in the bible. We believe some truths were maintained but that some were lost. So we believe in most core Christian principles like the ten commandments and most of the basic apostilic cread but also believe some other things in more deapth to this. I still fail to see where we are not considered Christians."

Let me see if I can say this a different way.

* You strongly disagree with Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants (the three main branches of what is generally called the "Christian" religion) on basic tenets of the faith that all three branches generally share.

* You add other core tenets of faith that are completely foreign to the belief systems of those three branches.

* You believe that Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants have a belief system which are a defilement of the true faith, which was lost for 1800 years or so.

Do you disagree with any of those three paragraphs?

I really don't care a whole lot whether you use the word "Christian" to define yourself or not. Feel free. I was simply trying to point out the differences above.

If you disagree about any of those three points, we can discuss them. If you don't disagree with any of those three points, then I think we're on the same page.

I mean no offense. I'm just a stickler for accurate terminology. Sorry! :)

Mark

katia said...

I disagree with some of these churches beliefs as much as they disagree with each other. They are are differnt yet consider themselves Christian as I do for the reasons I gave most specifically the biblical definition. I see myself as a follower of the original Christ given church from his time on earth. So in that since I consider myself a Christain biblically speaking which yes might be different from your defition. Just so everyone knows I do believe and Christ and promote his teachings.

katia said...

I meant to type in Christ not and Christ sorry for the type o

katia said...

One more note Catholic and the others are break offs from the original religion in my belief so I do believe my religion is the original Christian religion. Therefore I consider myself Christian in the biblical sence.

MarkC said...

Katia,

Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like we're on the same page. You and I are significantly different in our core beliefs, but you would like to use the word Christian to describe yourself. I have no problem with that.

Mark

MarkC said...

[a response to a comment left on the Defining Marriage thread]

chessman,

I would like to be very clear about something.

You said that there was "an attack on the religion" of katia. I never attacked her religion. I did not denigrate it. I did not even question its validity or truth. I simply said that it was different than my own.

You said I was trying to "smear them by suggesting the one lady is not christian". You are wrong. I said at the time, and have said again since, that I am content with Katia using the term "Christian" to describe herself. I simply wanted to be clear that there are significant differences between what Mormons believe and what the majority of people who are generally thought of as "Christians" believe.

Differences. Not superiority.

I did not say that Katia's beliefs were bad.

I did not say that Katia was to be disregarded because she had incorrect beliefs.

Allow me to quote myself.

"Christian" doesn't mean "good", or "godly", or "right-thinking". By saying that you do not fit the generally-understood meaning of the word "Christian", I am not trying to denigrate your beliefs in any way. I'm just differentiating them.

When you say that I was attacking Katia or trying to "smear" her or her religion, that is a serious charge. It is one that I take seriously and personally. Since it is not true, I will defend myself vigorously against it.

Mark

purple_kangaroo said...

Katia, the LDS church differs drastically from the traditional Christian church on a number of things we consider to be fundamental to the Christian faith.

The LDS (Mormon) and historical Christian faiths use a lot of the same terminology, but we mean completely different things by them.

Earlier in the marriage thread, we were discussing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and how they consider themselves to be the "true" Mormon chuch while the official Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not consider them part of the Mormon church at all.

LDS teachings differ more from the teachings of mainstream Christianity than FLDS teachings differ from the rest of the LDS church, I think.

LDS and Christian doctrines differ regarding the nature of man, the nature of God, the method and meaning of salvation, the way God communicates with man (including the inspiration and authority of the Bible), and the person and work of Jesus Christ, among other things.

LDS teachers speak of God, Jesus Christ and the Bible, but they are a completely different God, Jesus Christ and Bible than what Christians like me follow. I'll post some quotes from some LDS leaders regarding Christianity below.

Some of the basic differences between Christianity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are summarized here. Please don't be thrown off by some of the terminology; I link to this site for the chart comparing quotes from the Bible with quotes from Mormon teachers and holy books, and not the comments before and after it.

Here's another site with a lot of in-depth information, written by someone who converted from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity.

The LDS founders and teachers have historically considered mainstream Christians to be apostates and heretics, and had no desire to align themselves with non-Mormons who call themselves Christians.

Since the LDS church teaches that salvation can be found only within the Mormon church, I'm not sure why so many Mormons wish to identify themselves as the same thing as Christians who do not believe in the basic tenets of LDS faith.

As LDS President Gordon Hinckley said, "The traditional Christ of whom they [non-Mormons] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak" (LDS Church News Week 6/20/98, p.7).

There are many more similar quotes from Mormon teachers if you follow the link above.

Essentially, the LDS church teaches that people like me are not true Christians, and does not consider the LDS the same thing as historical Christianity. The rest of Christendom likewise feels that Mormons are not Christians.

That doesn't mean that we think each other are bad people, or that we can't be friends. It just means that the two religions are not different variations on the same thing. They are intrinsically and vastly different.

The two religions are mutually exclusive and neither holds the other to be truth. That is the nature of any religion that teaches there is only one truth.

purple_kangaroo said...

Chessman said,

"Either the catholic church's claims are correct that an unbroken line of authority has continued from christ to the present day in an unbroken line of authority, Or, none of the churches of our day are correct, seeing as how none of them make any claim to revelation."

Actually, we do believe in revelation, and that God has spoken to man. That is the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

We don't make any claim to NEW revelation that disagrees with the Bible. The Bible is quite clear in its claims that it is the complete and accurate Word of God, and contains everything necessary for our salvation and instruction. The Bible says that anyone who adds other doctrines to or teaches something that disagrees with what is taught in Scripture is a false teacher.

We believe the Bible is the ultimate authority and the primary way which God speaks to man in this day and age. We base our lives on what God reveals of Himself and teaches us through the Scripture.

Therefore we do not believe that anything which contradicts the Bible can be true. Some Christians do believe that God still speaks directly to men through the leading of the Holy Spirit, but do not put that at a level of revelation equal with or superior to the Bible.

We do not put any teaching of man equal with or superior to the Bible. Whenever there is a teaching, we believe that we should "search the Scriptures to see if these things are so," as Paul commended the Bereans for doing (Acts 17:11).

We don't believe that we need one person to lead the church and to speak for God in this day and age, because God has already spoken everything necessary in His Word as revealed in the Bible. The only ultimate authority is God Himself--not a human pope, prophet or leader.

I just wanted to clarify that, since apparently Chessman has an inaccurate view of what Protestants believe.

katia said...

Wow Chessman you have some pretty hefty comments. thank you for backing me up. Although I do not feel like I was attacked per say but it is nice to know I am not alone here.

To resond to PK and Chessman I would say that yes there are some differences on these doctrine but I find it interesting that you seem to think Mormons don't believe the bible. Everything we believe is supported by the bible. In fact it is easy to support a number of views by the bible. We do believe in the ten commandmets and the golden rule and other specific teachings of Christ. In this we way follow Christ as other Christians do and I don't see much difference in that plane but when you go deeper then yes their are differences but this is not because we don't believe in the bible it's more because we understand the same words in the bible differently which shows that to really understand the bible there needs to be help from above so this is the reason we believe we need revelation from God to help clear up misinterpretations amoung other religious disagreements. Therefore we are not as different as you think. I think we follow the same God Just believe different things about him. I still think it is the same God that listens to my prays as listens to any that seek him. I don't think that mormons are the only ones who will make it to heaven. This is narrow interpretation of what mormons believe. We believe we have the whole truth about God and the way back to him but we do not believe that noone else will ever find it in this life or the next we believe in a just God who if this is the way will help show everyone this way wether in this life or the next. We believe this life is a journey away from sin back to God and this journy is different for all people and many are on different levels but if we are trying to do the best we can with what we personally feel is right then God will lead us back to him and we will not be lost. So to say we as individuals who right now are mormons are the only ones who will be saved is not true for the reasons I just gave.

We do believe we have more truth and help people come closer to the Goodness of heaven and happiness but we do not believe no one else will ever make it. God is the judge of all we do no profess to judge where others will end up. We only try to worship God according to the dictates of our own concious.

I think PK that an exmormon would be a poor choice of where to find your information on mormons. Those who leave the church often try to paint a bad picture distorted and bias. So please look to the source not someone who is an enemy. Enemy in the since the are trying to disclaim it and will twist any truth with just a little lie to do so. wow I don't know how we got on this subject but it has been fasinating.

MarkC said...

katia,

I am very glad to hear that you did not feel attacked by me.

Thanks,
Mark

chessman said...

To say that the bible is the only revelation god has ever given, and to further state that it is the complete word of god and that it is perfect is a close minded statement. First, that is a myth perpetuated by those who stand to gain the most from spreading that lie.
A historical look at the facts show quite a different picture.
it's what protestant ministers dont want you to know.
In reality, the bible is terribly incomplete, and full of mistakes that have been perpetuated over the years. In fact, it's nothing short of a miricle that we have what we have of it. It has endured not just a few translations, but hundreds. and each time stuff changes. The bible it's self is full of refferences to books that are not even included in it.
The same guyz who under the direction of the emporer constentien who gave us the nicien creede, also decided and voted on what books would make it into the bible and which ones would not.

Also the position by modern christianity that they refuse to accept anything else other than the bible is not holding steady in some of the sects. With the introduction of the dead sea scrols, some of modern christianity has actually adjusted their beliefs, with the new information which is comming forth in these new scrools that have been found.
As documented in a report done about the dead sea scrolls by a historian and biblical scollar named hue nibley.

So to say the bible is complete, and the only word of god, is so untrue.

Modern revelation from god, does exisist. the bible is not complete. nor has it been perfectly translated.
The evidence that this is the case is all around us in the christian world. In palmyra new york, there is an intersection where 4 different churches stand, each a different sect, each teaching slightly different interpertations of the bible.
And as the bible states itself, there is but 1 faith and 1 baptism.

The whole question of which church is right is based on a question of authority. Every church is different, every church cant be right all at the same time.
so the only question is one of which one truly has the real god given authority to teach and preach and baptise. Either they are all wrong together, or only 1 is right.
and it is the 1 that is patterned after christ's original church.
And there is only 1 of those.

P.S,
I noticed my only other comment has been deleted. That's to bad.
it was an incredible history lesson. one that the catholic church and protestant ministers dont want you to know.
but it is all true.

katia said...

Chessman did you forget your previous comment was posted under ebrasing the risk and has not been posted on this blog yet. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Just click on the tag for embrasing the risk at the top of this comment and you should still see it there.

Thanks for coming back. I'm learning something. Some of this I didn't know and would be interested to research it further. Please do be careful to realize others believe differently and respect for those beliefs will help this blog go more smoothly. But I do agree with you and thank you for the history lesson.

MarkC said...

Chessman,

I find your comment highly ironic coming from one who recently wrongly accused me of "attacking" and "smearing" someone else's beliefs.

Please read the "About Us" section at the top right corner of the blog page. The three statements in bold letters are the purpose of this blog community. We're not here to defend our belief systems or to engage in heated debate. We're here to respectfully learn more about each other and gain new perspectives. Please try to keep that in mind as you continue commenting.

Thanks,
Mark

purple_kangaroo said...

Chessman, your earlier post is still over here on the "defining marriage" thread where you posted it.

I did not move it here to the "what do you believe" thread because half of it was about homosexual marriage, so I left it there.

Feel free to copy and paste the part you wrote about religion over there and post it here in this thread also, if you'd like.

No posts have been deleted; I just moved the ones about religion that were not relevant to the marriage discussion over to this thread. I'm sorry if that caused confusion.

katia said...

PK I have taken a closer look at your references and boy I can see why you think we are different but if the definition of Christian is simply that we follow Christ I do consider myself Christian in that sence and sence the bible was the first to use this term I hold this term dear to my heart not to put me with other churches but with Jesus Christ himself. I can see why so many people think we are wrong and bad and stuff. The way you paint it is with only part of what we believe presented in a way to prove a point. If the rest was there it might make more sence. I still see the differences in the bible of our beliefs to be differences in interpretation of the bible. We believe God says he is one in the bible to show that he the father and holy ghost are completly united in purpose and what one says the other would say. To say we believe in multiple Gods like the Greeks or something is not true. We simply believe that the trinity is a threesome that are one in purpose and perfection. Yes we believe we are litteral children of God and that we have potential to be like him as a child has potential to be like their parents. I do not deny we believe that but I do not agree that the bible discounts these beliefs. In fact I can back up my beliefs with the bible almost as well as you backed up yours. Which is why personal revelation that is so you can know what is true for youself doesn't come from reason alone but by the holy spirit and prayer. My convictions are born with the testmony of the spirit. I feel in my heart and it is something I would die for.

These references include many scriptures from the bible that support our beliefs. This is to show that saying we do not believe in the bible is a point of view and not a fact since the bible can be translated many ways. We encourage people to go to source and find out for themselves and live according to the dictates of their own concious as we do and by the spirit of what they feel is right not what makes the most sence in this world.

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purple_kangaroo said...

Katia, I want to clarify that I don't think you are bad or wrong in the way you seem to think. Just that our religions are different.

I believe that most Mormons are very good, moral people who sincerely believe they are following God and Christ. Muslims also revere and follow Christ, but they do not believe the same things about him that we do.

Basically, Historic Christianity holds certain things to be absolute truth, that we believe one must hold true in order to be saved. The LDS church and the historic Christian church differ on some of those fundamental doctrines.

That's why we consider LDS to be a different religion and not the same--not because you don't believe in or revere your perception of Christ or the Bible, but because you have different beliefs regarding certain things about the Bible, God, man and Christ that we believe are necessary for salvation.

Those differences are significant enough that both the historic Christian church and the LDS church say that the God, Christ and salvation the LDS teaches are substantially different from the ones the historic church believes in.

We can discuss that further if you'd like, but I suspect you may see them as minor differences whereas historic Christianity sees them as huge, major differences because of the greater importance we place on these points of doctrine.

katia said...

To clarify by the source I mean God himself through the Holy Ghost which is his mouth peice as we believe. That really good feeling you get when you know what you are doing is right after you have prayed and asked if what you are doing is right. This is what I follow and also I look for the fruits. By your friuts you shall know them. Well I have never seen any bad fruits from the doctrine of this church. Perhaps people make mistakes but I have not seen any bad fruits from the actual following of the doctrine. So from the evedence of what I see around me and the feelings of my heart I follow what I believe is true.

Also I would once again like to say I find more in common with Jews and other Christians as different as they may be then with the FLDS church because I see some FLDS churches as cults and they bear little good fruit. Child abuse is endorsed by this religion so I hold no closness to it what so ever. Any truth they may have had they have perverted so that truth is blind. The leader who was resently arrested even said "I do not believe I was called of God" I beg of you all please do not say we are in anyway like this church. I am as much like this church as like you are to Koresh and other cults. I'm sure there are good people to be found in the faith but the faith itself is not of God I believe their beliefs are contrary to the nature of truth at least the perverted polygamy they practice as did David Koresh is. I feel strongly about this and do not ever wish to be associated with these break offs. Please do not compare us as we are nothing alike. They go after their own lust we do not. We believe in doing what is right and what will bring goodness to this world not sadness and abuse. Please please do not relate us with that church. I think our faith is misunderstood and those who join usually do not because it makes since its because we ask them to ask God for themslelf and if they feel an answer from him in their heart to follow that answer. Also we ask them to look at the fruits.

There are many different ways to interpret the bible and if you look at the ancient hebrew definitions they shed even more light on some of the passages like the word baptism itself actually means immusion. anyways I say again one could translate however they felt but the way to know what God really means would be to go to him and ask and he will answer and if this is not an option then we are hopelessly at an impass. This is why I base my testimony on personal spiritual witness and not my own knowledge. This is how I believe.

I believe the bible is saying that people who add to the word of God are wrong but we believe our scripture is the word of God. The bible is made of not just one book but many books compiled over the years as revelations from God. Can their not also be other books that are revelations from God. It does not say I have no more revelation out there accept for this book else the bible would have been limited to just the one book that this verse was found. So to say this is talking about whole book is hard for me to follow since the whole book in that since would only be the book that passage was in and wouldn't include all the others the bible contains. Therefore it makes more since to me that what it is talking about is the word of God in general and we believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God spoken to Prophets on the American contenent and it doesn't disagree with the bible but endorses and clarfies it these are our beliefs. I have heard many of your arguements before and they do not make sence to me unless I was to interpret the bible as you do I guess which brings me back to the many different ways there is to interpret the bible. I also believe God has called a prophet today and he is God's mouth peice as in days of old. This is what I believe so I do believe that we have not added to or changed the core religious beliefs of Christ I believe this church has restored them and cleared up much of the confusision and debate. This is my Testimony.

katia said...

It's funny that you should say ancient Christianity is what most Christians because we believe the Christianity we follow is the original from Christ himself when he was on earth and so this is where we are at an impass. Who is right. How will we know this is for us to decide for ourselves I guess but to say we don't follow the ancient Christianty is not true in my definition. This is not a new church in our belief it is the old one established by Christ with prophets, apostles and such as his was. This is what we believe.

purple_kangaroo said...

Katia, it looks like we were posting at the same time. :) Please don't miss my comment just above your last comment.

I'm sorry that you were offended by my saying there might be fewer differences in doctrine between FLDS and LDS as there are between LDS and historic Christianity. I do understand that you do not wish to be in any way associated with the FLDS, and I was not saying that you and they are the same.

It is just interesting to me that FLDS considers themselves Mormon while LDS does not consider them to be. One says they are the same while the other says there is almost no similarity.

It's interesting to me how powerful words, names and definitions are. It relates at least slightly to the debate over what we call marriage and how we define it or not. People feel so strongly about words and hold such differing beliefs about what they mean.

purple_kangaroo said...

Katia, by using the term historic Christianity I was trying to find some way to differentiate the Mormon church from the Christian church I am a part of.

I believe that the core of God's church has remained faithful in a constant thread directly from the beginning, while Mormons believe essentially that the real Christian church ceased to exist for a very long time and had to be started over again in the 1800s, right?

What would you call my version of Christianity to differentiate it from yours? I know some LDS teachers call my church the apostate church or Babel, but since I do not believe that is true it is not a term I would use.

katia said...

One more point. Chessman said the Christian credes were voted on and not scriptual but voted on scriptual interpretations. we believe our doctrine was not voted on or changed from the original but is pure and from God himself.

The similaries I talk of are the desire to do what is right and love for others and the following of the golden rule and the ten commandments and such which helps a moral society grow. This is the similarities I am refering to. I do believe that those who seek God regardless of their faith will be answered and blessed. I do not doubt you all have felt and been blessed by God. I can see with your convictions and values that you probably have. This is the similarities to which I refer.

If anything by this blog I hope to clarify some misconcetions of our beliefs.

MarkC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katia said...

I suppose in my own beliefs I would call it Christian as far as one has been given truth which I believe it does have some and it's members are blessed by it. I do not believe it has all the truth theirfore maybe incomplete Christianty that is trying it's best or perhaps true lovers of Christ and goodness but not as a whole more as individually. The core beliefs I know are debated between other Christian secs and from parish to parish but one thing in common Christians do have is the love of Christ and goodness for what they think that goodness is. I would say a Christian is one who trys to follow after Christ so I just would say you I consider a Christian. Each of the individual parishes however especially the ones who endorse homosexuality I don't know. But I think Chritianity is individual. Even not all mormons follow or endevor to follow Christ, deviants are found in all faiths, but none of those opposing beliefs are taught or are allowed to be taught in our secs. So I would consider our core principles Christian. So YOu personally I consider a fellow Christian despite our differences we believe in Christ and that he loves us and in the golden rule and in endorsing goodness and the increase of truth and knowledge in this world. This is my personal view. It all depends how you define Christianity I guess.

katia said...

I know we are posting at the same time and this is getting interesting but I must get back to my family and responsibilies =)

One last comment. Yes you are right we do believe differently. We do believe just as you said
PK wrote
"I believe that the core of God's church has remained faithful in a constant thread directly from the beginning, while Mormons believe essentially that the real Christian church ceased to exist for a very long time and had to be started over again in the 1800s, right?"


Yes you got it that is what I believe. But we believe it is not our job to condem the world but to spread truth and knowledge to help enrich it. I personally believe the world is setting itself for condemnation or damnation which means not progressing to something better because of wickedness. This is natrual consequences and I see it all around me. I do not endevor to judge. We try to spread truth as we feel it to enrich and better the world not judge it. Thank you for your understanding and such a non confrentational blog on religion. I do love hearing from people who endorse goodness as I do.

Yes the FLDS is hard for me to mention because of all the stuff in the news latly and I don't want others to think we believe in any of that evil. which is why my feelings are strong on this.

MarkC said...

Katia,

It sounds like you define a Christian as someone who: "believes in Christ and that he loves us and in the golden rule and in endorsing goodness and the increase of truth and knowledge in this world".

If so... I can see why you were offended when I suggested that the word "Christian" didn't apply to you.

Of course, most Muslims and New Age spiritualists would claim that definition as applying to them as well, so that ends up being a pretty broad and diverse set of beliefs! :)

For carrying this discussion further, if we're going to continue to discuss differences between your beliefs and ours, we need to have useful labels for each that are not offensive to anyone involved.

I suggest that we refer to your faith as LDS Christianity, and our faith as PCO Christianity (PCO standing for Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox, in no particular order). Would that be acceptable to everyone involved?

Mark

katia said...

Yes this is good. I'm not so much offended as I am concerned that others have the wrong idea of LDS Christianity. I am interested to see what others have to say about chessman's comments besides the offensive parts but the historic I have not heard some of that and am interested in more research and comments on this. I am also interested in comments about chessman's comments on the embrasing the risk post about gays and the roman empire. I do hope he is no longer offencive because I think he would make an excellent addition to the views on this post. I for one am interested in where he got that history.

MarkC said...

Katia,

I'm curious. Has anyone in this discussion expressed views about LDS Christianity that you felt were wrong? If so, what were they? I'd be very interested to hear.

Thanks,
Mark

purple_kangaroo said...

That's interesting, Katia. Thanks for clarifying, and for sharing your thoughts.

Chessman said something about the different churches and denominations in Protestant non-Mormon Christianity, and how he believes they differ from each other as significantly as the LDS church differs from them. I would like to respectfully point out that I don't think that is the case.

Every Christian church other than the Mormon church agrees nearly completely with each other on the basic fundamental doctrines regarding the nature of man and God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and salvation.

Any theological differences are in relation to other doctrines, which we do not hold to be as important. Most of us believe that we can differ on those less important doctrines, and still be just different branches or communities that are all part of one overarching Church.

That is why the Lutheran church and the Baptist church up the street will both consider each other to be brothers in the faith. We have many churches in different parts of the world and with slightly different styles and teachings about peripheral things, but they all adhere to the most fundamental basic beliefs we see as core to Christianity.

The LDS differs on those core beliefs, which is what sets it apart from all other Christian faiths, and why we see it as more different than the differences between other Christian denominations.

So in discussing the similarities and differences between the two sets of beliefs, it would be helpful to have some terms we can agree on to differentiate the LDS church from all other Christian churches.

I think Mark's idea of using the terms PCO Christianity and LDS Christianity to differentiate between them might work for purposes of this discussion, if that's not offensive to anyone here.

Now I need to get back to my family and real life, too. :)

purple_kangaroo said...

Mark, she did say earlier that she felt it was inaccurate to say that LDS Christians believe in multiple gods.

I'm curious, for any LDS people still here--what do you believe about God, and about gods?

For instance, do you believe that God is or was once a man?

Do you believe that men are or will become gods?

That might be a good start to a better understanding of LDS beliefs for those of us not as familiar with them.

katia said...

I just thought I would leave a note that today on nearly every PBS channel at least the ones here in Utah there is going to be a documentary on the LDS religion and not by LDS followers but strickly from a observers and historian point of view. I don't know if you all will have this aired where you are but if you do it might clear up some of these questions. I don't know. I don't know what will be said. I am planning on watching it. It starts on PBS at 7pm Utah time.

I am in Utah but I was born in Alaska and raised in Washington State mostly. I married a man Born and raised in Utah while attending BYU thus this is now my home. I have most of my childhood grown up as the minority faith and can see why my religion may seem so strange and different to some. Anyways its at 7pm my time tonight. That is Mountain time. Although some consider Arizona to be mountain time when they do not observe daylight savings therefore their time is not always utah time. Just to clarify that. I will try to answer your questions later PK. They are good ones.

katia said...

Ok after some research, I have discovered this documentary is on PBS nationwide in Pacific and Eastern time zones at 9pm sounds like on PBS. So if your interested hopefully it will answer a lot of questions. I do hope it reports acurately

purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks, Katia. I just saw something about it in the newspaper and will try to watch it.

katia said...

I am watching it now and it is good because it presents both sides the outside view and the inside. I support the inside but am impressed with some of the outside. This is the best documentary I've ever seen.

purple_kangaroo said...

I'm not going to stay up and watch the whole thing tonight, but I'll tape it to watch the rest later.

katyah said...

Well it is indead interesting. I am sorry for the masacure and believe that it was not ordered by the church but the result of men who had too much anger or fear of those who might still want to destroy them. I do not say it is good point in our history anymore than I would say the extention order was a good point in Missouri history. It was a lawless time and I am glad things like that massacure were not common and not endorsed by the church.

Some of the churches worst enemies were those who joined and then turned against it.

It will be interested to see what they say tomorrow. I see where the FLDS church seems more like us then others but the difference is the FLDS church doesn't believe in continuing revelation. They believe in mostly only the revelation given to Joseph Smith. They do not believe God stated it was time to discontinue polygamy. They did not believe that God would call them to do one thing and then retract it. Although we do not believe he will retract the fundamental principles of truth. But certain practices are right for some times and wrong for others. Perhaps polygamy was right for the time because God wanted to build up the church and take care of the widows and husbandless who could not take care of themselves or provide for themselves.

We believe in continuing revelation and if we wonder if the command comes from God we can ask God himself and receive a spiritual witness we don't have to take it on hear say. We do not follow blindly but we follow vonlentearly. If one disagrees or says I will not obey those fundamental beliefs the worst is they are no longer part of the church because they no longer believe what the church is teaching. This makes sense to me. How can you be part of something you disagree with. After tomorrow and after you have watched this then I think it will be easier to answer questions. Good night.

katia said...

Alright I am going to go try to answer the question about Gods asked by PK.

Um first off this doctrine is considered sacred and not discussed a lot for one reason it is often misunderstood if you don't believe in the basic priciples of our gospel. The second reason is that not a lot is known in this realm of the gospel even to members. Not all about God has been revealed is what we believe. God gives man what they are ready to understand. sometimes people are give revelations about these things but it is their charge, if they are not commisioned by the church, to not preach or anouce these things but keep them to yourself this way they stay sacred and those who don't have a testemony won't have a chance to make light of sacred things. When these things are shared or and then questioned and the member no longer looks to God for understanding but to themself and their own understanding this is where apostates are born. It is tough to be cut off for this but they are not cut off for disagree or thinking I do that all the time. when I am really stumpted I go to Prayer and wait for the spirit to enlighten me or comfort me that it is right even if I don't understand it now. When people stop going to God for the answers and they encourage others with their own interpretations this is where so many others have found confusion so to keep the doctrine of the Gospel pure the leaders must cut these people off from the faith.

But to me this is fair because if they don't believe in the doctrine then how can they be offened about their eternal salvation if they don't believe being a member has anything to do with that and If they don't believe it how can they believe the church cut off their salvation when they don't believe that the church is in the right. Only God can cut someone off and we believe the general authorities have been commissioned to speak for God but if they don't believe this and doubt them then why should they worry.

I am confused by this. This religion is one where basically you have to believe God is the author of this doctrine and he guides this church day by day and what comes from the prophet comes from him. So to openly rebel against this is to tare at the foundation of which this church survives. But no one is forced to. it is a choice and they tell us all the time if you doubt what is said go to the Lord in prayer and ask God and then you will know. So there is considerable freedom here freedom to believe or not to believe. And if one has doubts they keep it to themself until they can work it out or do their own soul searching. This is not wrong what is wrong is trying to sow seeds of doubt in believing members. Sorry to get off on that subject but I wanted to put that in as a responce to the apostates featured on PBS.

Anyways as I was saying about the Godhood doctrine. There are some things God reserves to teach his children directly through the spirit because they can only be understood by the spirit. They are not so much secret as they are sacred. But there is the doctrine that has been shared in church endorsed books and speakers and revlations.

This is what I will say about it using those refferences as my guide. We believe that This life is a time to prepare to meet God and learn to live as he does. We do believe he had to go through a journey to become God as we do but we do not see us above him anymore than a child is above their father. The father will always be the father just like God will always be our God. But a son has a opportunity to learn from his father and become like him in goodness and this is how we see this doctrine. “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17) So we believe we are the litteral children of our Father in Heaven and this earth live is our spiritual growing up if you will and we can mature to be like him and have the opportunity to have our own increase in the eaternal realm if we live according to the principles of what the Lord lives by himself which is why he is God.

As far as the trinity we don't believe in multiple Gods like greeks but we believe in One God but three separate beings that are part of this Godhead. It's like a president and two councelors accept their is no difference in what one says to what the other says they are completley one in purpose, and words which is why they say I am one with the father and I want you all to be one with us that we all may be of one mind. This is what we believe by one so in the sence that God is all good their is only one way to be all good theirfore there is only one God but three of the Godhead which guide and lead us. We believe God is the litteral Father of our spirits and that our spirits were born in heaven then took on a body when we came to earth to learn to be like our father in heaven. We also believe that rightousness is happiness and wickedness is not and that our father in heaven has mastered how to be happy and is trying to teach us these principles so we may also enjoy eternal happiness. That is why things like gay acts and permiscousness is perverting something sacred and that is the family and procreation and that is not right and theirfore brings unhappiness and therefore has no place in the kingdom of God. This kingdom must be surrounded by those willing to live a heavenly law or heaven would not be heaven. That is why their is a place prepared for those who want to live lesser laws so they can live as they want to forever but they cannot progress because they choose not to live a higher law.

Well anyways back to the Godhead. We then believe Jesus is the litteral son of God in the spirit and the flesh and that because he never sinned he was willing to litterally pay for our sins as a sinless sacrifice to satify the demands of justice and intercede on our behalf to enable us to return to God if we forsake our sins which cause so much unhappiness and became as he gave an example to become. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48.) We believe he litterally rose from the Dead conquering death because he inhearited the ability to do so being the son of God. So we believe both he and His father are flesh. Not blood persay sence we believe what flows through them is eternal not mortal. The Holy Ghost we believe is still a spirit but a perfect one that will some day gain a body after his work for this earth is done. We believe he remains a spirit so his voice can reach the hearts of all those on earth to help them connect with the devine. So God is our father who we long to return to and become as Christ is our brother but becomes our father as he interceeds in ourbehalf to return to God and The Holy Spirit spreads these truths in the hearts of man. So they all work together in one purpose therefore they are one God but three separate beings. So I hope this helps. This kind of goes a little deeper but not knowing some of this would make what I am trying to explain more confusing. If you have further questions please refer to the LDS.org webside. If you have any questions for me personally about how my faith effect me I will be happy to answer.

katia said...

Well it looks like I am the last to post on this blog. Thanks for the conversation and the chance we had to share our beliefs.

MarkC said...

Katia,

Around here, conversations never completely die. If, any time in the future, someone decides to pick this up again, then as soon as they post, this whole thread will pop right back up to the top of the "Active Discussions" section on the right side of the homepage.

Thanks for sharing so openly. I learned a great deal about Mormonism through this discussion, even though I didn't directly participate in it much.

Hopefully you will stick around and join in some of our other conversations, too. :)

Mark

MamasBoy said...

"That's why we consider LDS to be a different religion and not the same--not because you don't believe in or revere your perception of Christ or the Bible, but because you have different beliefs regarding certain things about the Bible, God, man and Christ that we believe are necessary for salvation."

While the above is true regarding the PCO view of Mormonism, it is also true that there are deep disagreements among the PCOs regarding basic topics like salvation and the Bible. In the case of the Bible, PCOs all have different Scriptural canons. How many books are in the Bible you read? I guarantee that there are at least 3 viewpoints represented by people participating in this discussion, not just two. PCOs may not have books written in 1800, but we have different books. Regarding salvation, Catholics (and I am one) believe that somebody who comes to an understanding of the truth of Catholocism and remains a Protestant will not be saved. I have been told by people PK and Mark know very, very well that I am only saved "in spite of" the teachings of the Catholic Church. I think that means those people believe that if I actually believed what the RCC teaches I would not be saved, but unfortunately distance and time are conducive to neither continuing discussions nor remembering well old ones, so my interpretation of that statement could be off. Either way, the interpretation is not an uncommon one. I myself was told many times growing up Protestant that Catholics don't teach the true gospel regarding salvation, and have heard it said many times since by people both inside and outside my family. These views are actually commonly held. As recently as last week the President of the Evangelical Theological Society swam the Tiber and was denounced by some as "abandoning the gospel for the false pretenses of Rome"
http://www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=1961

"We don't believe that we need one person to lead the church and to speak for God in this day and age, because God has already spoken everything necessary in His Word as revealed in the Bible. The only ultimate authority is God Himself--not a human pope, prophet or leader."

This is what I don't get. How can somebody say the Mormon's aren't Christian because they don't follow the Nicene Creed interpretation of the Trinity (for instance) or have the same books in their Bible when the canon was defined by Church councils generations after Christ walked the earth and nowhere did Scripture say that the canon is closed. Sure, God is the ultimate authority. Everybody (and I mean everybody) in this thread believe that. It is our definition of God and how he delegates authority that really separates Ps, Cs, Os and Mormons. In that regard, we all have fundamentally differt views.

The link to the CARM website I found useful, if only in demonstrating the futility of relying on the Scriptures alone to decide doctrine. It references Luke 24:39 and John 4:24 in declaring that God is a spirit without flesh and bones.
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth"
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
So, I guess that means Jesus is not God then, since Jesus had flesh and bones. Perhaps he is a lesser god? Psalm 8:2-6 and John 10:34-36 both indicate that men can be called gods without indicating that they are God the Head Honcho, so many verses I take as implying the deity of Christ could be interpreted that way.

Hebrews 1:5 and Colossions 1:15 also could both easily be interpreted as saying that the Son did not exist eternally but was a created being.

The Mormon concept of Jesus is essentially Arian.

Arius formulated the following doctrines about Jesus:
1. That the Logos and the Father were not of the same essence (ousia);
2. That the Son was a created being (ktisma or poiema); and
3. That though He was the creator of the worlds, and must therefore have existed before them and before all time, there was (Arius refused to use such terms as cronos or aion) a time when Christ did not exist.
http://www.arian-catholic.org/arian/arius.html

The doctrines of Arius were rejected by the early Church based on Scripture and apostolic Tradition. In my view, throwing out apostolic Tradition as a form of Divine Revelation and then excluding Arians/Mormons from the definition of Christian is riddled with problems of consistency.

Personally, I too would distinguish Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox from Mormons based on much the same criteria as Mark has listed above (if not the exact same criteria). However, I believe that much of the that criteria concretely originates from a post-apostolic church that determined what were critical ideas on God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit and what weren't critical ideas and then passed that down through the centuries. Similarly, it was the post-apostolic Church that decided what books belonged in the Bible, partly using agreement with recently settled doctrine as a standard of merit. If exclusion of Mormons from the PCO group is not based on a historically grounded view of both Scripture and apostolic Tradition, then it seems to me to be based on an arbitrary selection of Scriptures/ideas that are not themselves set apart as 'the truly important ideas" in Scripture.

Many of these ideas have been discussed in other threads, but I think the topic of Mormonism highlights some of the essential differences between the various "Christian" groups and the difficulty in drawing clear lines between them.

MB

MamasBoy said...

BTW:

http://www.carm.org/lds/compare.htm lists the following difference between "Christianity" and Mormonism on the topic of the Bible.

Christian view
The inspired inerrant word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

Mormon view
"We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . ." 8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church.

Am I the only one that sees these views as essentially the same as currently stated? If this was all I was going on, I would say that there is no difference between Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture.

MB

katia said...

Thanks for reawakening this Mark.

Wow you really disected this MB. I would say though that ours is not so like the Arius. We do believe that Christ created the earth under the direction of God or our heavenly father as we like to call him. We believe he was spirit then like us begotten of God in the pre-existenc. The essence of your intellegence that is the core of our spirit we believe was never created but has always existed and that with those intellegences God bore our spirits as his spirit children and now has given us a chance to be like him by sending us down to an earth he created through his most chosen son because this son Even Jesus Christ was perfect from the begining and we were not. Jesus became are brigde to return home to the father and Satan our other brother became our opossition so we could learn good from evil and how to choose the good when we saw all the consequences evil could result in. Well we believe that Christ was also born litterally physically of God. This is when he gained a body as we have but his body was half mortal and half immortal therefore he could fast forty days and forty nights without diing and also give up his life. No one could take it from him. This is why he could take it up again and thus make a bridge for us to overcome death and also take up our bodies again as he did. Because he is our bridge he also becomes our father as we are begotton of him when we are baptized in a way therefore he is the father of our salvation. This is why he is sometimes refered to as the father. And I would say we don't believe he is lesser God persay more like a extention of God and one with the Father to help us reach our potential. What he does the father would do in ever paticular. This is how he is one and he is perfect.

Well anyways I could go on but I'll stop there. I have done a lot of pondering about doctrine and have come to deep understandings of what I am trying to explain here but I will stop here before I go to far for this post and too off the subject =). Anyways what I'm getting at is that we believe Christ was spirit as we were before he came to earth and that when he took on a body through God and Mary he became flesh and then he gave his life and took it up again overcomeing death for all and now he is not mortal but immortal physical being that will never give up his body again because him and his body are one now forever as ours will be in the reserection. So your understanding is somewhat right of our belief but not the whole picture. I hope this clears that up a little.

Also we go by the King James version of the Bible and I have found many many verses that back up our beliefs in these books of the bible. We believe that God will never close up the heavens unless we turn our backs and stop seeking him. So yes we are very different because we believe out doctrine to be pure from
God himself and not a creed religious officials have voted on. We believe if you go by mans interpretation then it is hard to come to what really is the truth which is why we believe we need God's help to understand and properly follow the scriptures and his doctrine.

Thank you for taking time to understand this futher and expressing more on your beliefs.

MarkC said...

MB,

How can somebody say the Mormon's aren't Christian...

exclusion of Mormons from the PCO group...

I am deeply weary of discussing terminology. If the use or application of the word "Christian" continues to be a problem here, I will happily jettison the word altogether.

Leaving that word completely behind, then, are you saying that the differences between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox are similar in nature and extent to the differences between those groups and Mormons? Or do you see any qualitative/quantitative distinctions in those comparisons?

Do you really see Mormonism as just a slightly-modified version of Arianism with an essentially Protestant view of Scripture?

I would say that there is no difference between Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture.

With the obvious exception of the other books of Scripture that are held with equal authority by Mormons. I realize that the specific number of books in the various versions of the canon differ slightly, and there are some secondary beliefs that are affected by whether one includes certain books. But the differences between any two versions of the canon used by anyone in the PCO group are trivial compared to the differences between those versions of the canon and the Mormon canon of holy books. I think we would all here agree on that, wouldn't we? I'm not making any statement about what is right or wrong... but can't we at least acknowledge the vast differences?

It is our definition of God and how he delegates authority that really separates Ps, Cs, Os and Mormons. In that regard, we all have fundamentally different views.

That is a vastly over-simplified description of the differences between P/C/O and Mormonism. PKanga did a pretty good job earlier in this thread going into more detail about a wider variety of differences between the two highly-generalized categories on basically all the core issues of religious belief.

You are accurate that Protestants and Catholics (and to some degree Orthodox and Catholics) are primarily divided by differing beliefs about how God delegates authority. Apart from that, though, we have very similar or even identical "definitions of God".

The distinctions between any of the three groups (P, C, or O) and Mormonism are vastly more significant than that, as I think has been well established in this conversation.

Are you disputing that?

This is what I don't get....

If exclusion of Mormons from the PCO group is not based on a historically grounded view of both Scripture and apostolic Tradition, then it seems to me to be based on an arbitrary selection of Scriptures/ideas...

There are rational reasons why one would trust the reliability of the Scriptural canon, while not also trusting the infallibility of those that put the canon together. You may not understand those reasons, but they do exist.

I don't think it is fair to say that the distinctions set out by Angela (the nature of God, the nature of humanity, the nature of salvation, etc.) are "arbitrary" if one does not hold to an infallible interpretive authority. The Bible does, on its own, without any infallible interpretation required, at least set out that God is a centrally important figure in history, that humans are centrally important in God's plans through history, and that salvation through Jesus is central to God's plan for humanity. Can't we at least agree that the Bible, at the very least, is able to speak for itself that those are three centrally-important categories? That those topics are important? Even if you don't believe the Bible, on its own apart from an infallible interpretive authority, can give us reliable conclusions on those topics, can't we at least agree that it can define the questions in a non-"arbitrary" sense?

That just seems self-evident to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

last week the President of the Evangelical Theological Society swam the Tiber and was denounced by some...

Great example. See, even though he moved from Protestant understanding of delegation of authority to Catholic understanding, he intends to retain his membership in the Evangelical Theological Society. He won't remain President, because there is undeniably hostility between Protestants and Catholics. But his belief system is sufficiently similar to his previous belief system that he is able to remain in the society as an active member.

If he had decided to become a Mormon, the shift would have been much more significant. Do you agree with that?

Mark

katia said...

Mark you stated

The Bible does, on its own, without any infallible interpretation required, at least set out that God is a centrally important figure in history, that humans are centrally important in God's plans through history, and that salvation through Jesus is central to God's plan for
humanity.

Yes I agree with this. I do not mind being separate from the PCO definition. For me the definition of Christian I go by is that of the bibles being literally those who follow after Christ. I also can see how it is that it would be easier to change between the PCO sects then from those to momonism. If one was to descent from momonism to PCO then they would be considered an apostate. It's all or nothing with our faith because we believe our doctrine comes directly from God and rebel against it and give it up for another would be to rebel against God and that is why they would be considered an apostate wherein in the PCO going from one to another would not be considered apostate and that brings back to fundemental LDS they instead of just break offs would be considered apostates it's all or nothing so I guess there is a big difference there. and I don't mind pointing that out. I don't mind being called LDS Christians so long as we are called Christians.

PK did I answer your question you asked previously of me.

MamasBoy said...

"I would say that there is no difference between Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture."

That statement was way too ambiguous and I apologize for that.

Mark, I do agree with you that in practice the PCO Scriptures are all vastly different than the Mormon Scripture. I agree that the doctrinal differences that arise from the differences in canon are thus vastly greater between Mormon and PCO doctrine. However, I view that as a matter of degree. Ps differ from OCs on doctrine that has its most direct backing in the books that have been removed from P Bibles.

Where I think the Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture are in many ways more similar to each other than to the CO view of Scripture is in how Scripture was formed and whether a decision on the canon is binding. COs believe that the canon is binding because the God inspired the men selecting the books way back in the 300s, and it was approved Tradition. For differing reasons Protestants and Mormons don't believe that the decisions of anybody in the post apostolic period are binding and therefore rely on their own judgement over a millenia after the fact to decide the canon. To give an example, if another epistle of Paul (say the third one to the Corinthians) were discovered, many Protestants would consider adding it to the NT because there is no Biblical basis (or only a very weak one) for closing the canon and setting the contents in stone. OCs wouldn't because their view of canonicity is dependent on liturgy and tradition, so they wouldn't allow it even if it were authentic. So when the Mormons add a book to Scripture, they are in many ways coopting a Protestant view that the NT canon wasn't closed by some OC bishops and Pope Damasus back in the 300s.

Katia,

What I've never understood and have never been able to get a good asnwer on is where the Mormons get their NT/OT canon and why they believe the KJ version is the best/only approved Mormon version of the scriptures. At least that's my understanding, so correct me if I'm wrong.

For the NT canon, the Mormon's rely on some OC bishops that lived over 200 years after the "apostosy." For an OT canon and a translation of Scripture, Mormons seem to rely on some Protestants who lived over some 1500 years after the apostosy.

If those people were truly apostates, then why coopt their books?

MB

katia said...

MB
That is why the article of faith states as far as it is translated correctly. We believe that to be the most correct translation in English but we don't believe it has not been corrupted. We believe Joseph Smith was inspired by God and made many corrections to some of the verses that God especially didn't want us to misunderstand. for example the KJ says God hardened pharohs hart in the story of moses but in the JST which is the Joseph smith correction if you will (T stands for translation) it says in the crossnotes Pharoh hardened his own heart which makes more sence. So in a sence you are right we don't believe the bible to be commplete cannon but with the help of the JST (which is added in appendeges and not to the bible itself (more of a reference guide like hebrew translation guides and things like that) it becomes closer to being cannon. And the Book of Mormon which we believe to be untampered and strait from the prophets of God without changes, helps us understand some of the confustion the bible causes. Hope this answers your questions.

katia said...

MB

I was taking a closer look at your responce. You asked why we use the King James version. We believe it was the least tampered with and that King James was inspired to a certain extent but not fully since there are some mistakes but this is the version that is the closest in English. Joseph Smith actually said once that the German translation is closer than the King James but since we can't speak German the King James is what we have to work with. We still teach from the bible and I grew up as a kid learning the bible stories along with the book of mormon stories. I understood it as the bible to be records of God's people in the old world and the Book of Mormon a record of God's people who were lead away during the distruction of jeruselem to a land of promise. Well anyways this is to clarify some more if you will.

MarkC said...

MB,

I understand where you're coming from now. Thanks,

Mark

purple_kangaroo said...

Wow, there's been a lot of discussion here since I last looked at this thread. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and explaining more about your beliefs, Katia. It's going to take me a little while to read it all. Baby E hasn't been feeling well lately and that limits my computer time somewhat.

I do still plan to attempt to answer Kevin's question, too.

MamasBoy said...

It was written,
"Last week the President of the Evangelical Theological Society swam the Tiber and was denounced by some...

Great example. See, even though he moved from Protestant understanding of delegation of authority to Catholic understanding, he intends to retain his membership in the Evangelical Theological Society. He won't remain President, because there is undeniably hostility between Protestants and Catholics. But his belief system is sufficiently similar to his previous belief system that he is able to remain in the society as an active member."

Actually, Beckwith also surrendered his membership. That action was considered "appropriate" by the Evangelical Theological Society board and the "acting president Hassell Bullock of Wheaton College, said in a May 8 statement that ETS membership is not compatible with 'wholehearted confessional agreement with the Roman Catholic Church.'"
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/mayweb-only/119-32.0.html

The ETS statement of faith is very, very short (only about 2 sentences) and thus not terribly specific. Dr. Beckwith had thought that he could maintain his membership. However, the board thought otherwise.
http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/2007/05/statement_of_th.html#more

This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to clear up misinformation, since there have been a couple developments recently.

Commenting on the ETS decision...
I found it really interesting that the ETS board on one hand excludes Beckwith for holding to a larger canon, while in the very next sentence excluding him for holding to the means of fixing a canon, namely a belief in some sort of Magisterium/binding tradition. These are really smart guys. Am I missing something?

"Specifically, it posits a larger canon of Scripture than that recognized by evangelical Protestants, including in its canon several writings from the Apocrypha. It also extends the quality of infallibility to certain expressions of church dogma issued by the Magisterium (the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church)..."
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2007/05/ets_on_beckwith.html

MarkC said...

MB,

Thanks for the clarification. I hadn't heard of that development. It's a shame, considering the doctrinal statement of the ETS, which I imagine nearly all American Catholics could agree to without reservation.

It sounds like they need to add some items to their doctrinal statement in order to be honest.

Mark

MamasBoy said...

"I would say that there is no difference between Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture."

I earlier apologized for a making an ambiguous statement, without going back and checking what I originally wrote. Actually, after looking at it again, it is clear that I was quoted out of context and I retract my apology. I had been referring to the CARM statement on the differences between mormonism and protestantism. The full sentence read "*IF* this was all I was going on, I would say that there is no difference between Protestant and Mormon views of Scripture." (emphasis on IF added).

I wasn't stating that there is no difference, but that the CARM statement doesn't make a case for one.

Combining the Mormon and "Christian" views of scripture from the CARM website, one can come up with a statement that both groups would affirm faith in.

Modified CARM statement on the Christian/Mormon view of the Bible.
- The Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God as far as it is translated correctly. When translated correctly, it is authoritative in all subjects it addresses.

Does anybody know of a Protestant, Catholic, Mormon or Orthodox that would not hold to the above statement?

Like most things, the devil is in the details. For one thing, who is going to make the case that their Bible translation is completely, 100% error free and stays true to the original text 100% of the time? Virtually no-one. Where PCOs and Mormons differ is in the amount of textual corruption and whether the Bible in its current P, C or O forms is always reliable for forming doctrine. To that end, Ps and OCs have their own sharp disagreements. It is not that we stand unified together and the Mormons stand apart, but that we stand apart in varying degrees.

These degrees of difference cannot be reconciled by solely appealing to Scripture because they deal with our foundational assumptions when reading Scripture.

Perhaps someone would like to prove me wrong by producing a sola scriptura argument for why the Mormon view of textual corruption is wrong. Personally, I don't think it can be done effectively, because at a fundamental level people rely on scholarship, history and/or tradition in forming their opinions about textual corruption.

MB

MamasBoy said...

Katia,

Your examples all deal with potential mistranslations. None of them deal with what books actually belong in the Bible. What I don't get is this. Why, if the people of the 3rd/15th centuries were truly apostate, did they so fortuitously pick the right books that belong in the Bible in the first place. I would have thought that Joseph Smith would have gone ahead and completely thrown some out or added some early writings like the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the Protoevangelium of James, etc.

In other words, if the exact words of the translations are so far off, then why are the book selections so dead spot on? The Bible, after all, is more like a library than a single book. It is a compilation of literary works written in several countries over several centuries in several languages.

Doug

MamasBoy said...

"Even if you don't believe the Bible, on its own apart from an infallible interpretive authority, can give us reliable conclusions on those topics, can't we at least agree that it can define the questions in a non-"arbitrary" sense?"

Mark,

Though I agree that the Bible can propose questions and even answers in a non-arbitrary sense, the selection of which questions are *most important* is not something that I believe can be answered based on Scripture alone. Questions of importance are not just based on Scripture, but also on the theological and philosophical framework within which one reads the Bible.

MB

katia said...

MB

You have some excellent observations. We do not believe all the essential books were kept and even in the bible there is reference to other books that have been taken out. This is sad but we work with what we have. There is the Scrolls of papyrus that Joseph Smith translated when they were found, you can prabably look up the history of this for more detail. Anyways we have added that to our cannon and it is called the book of Abraham about Abrahams converstions with God in more detail. So This is a book that was lost but recovered in purity because it was not tampered with.

So to answer your question no we do not believe those who put the books together were that inspired infact it was done by a vote if I recall the history correct. Joseph Smith was also inspired with the lost words of Moses of his more detailed conversations with God and this was so detailed that it wasn't put in the bible as a appendage but sits along side the translated book of Abraham in what we Mormons call the pearl of Great Price. This is separate from the Bible and Book of Mormon as a set of Cannon for us. I don't know if you've heard of the Mormon Quad. It includes all our books of scripture. Bible, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenates(which is the revelations that were given to Joseph Smith while he was restoring the Church) and the Book of Mormon. We even still have continued revelations from time to time like the recent one called the "Proclamation on the Family." So It's a little more that just sticking with the cannon we already have. One of our articles of Faith says We believe in all that God has revealed all that he does now reveal and all we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. I hope I quoted that right=).

Anyways we do not believe that what is in the bible now was inspired to be added persay. We believe many books were lost and a lot that was meant to be plain was corrupted to cause confusion. We believe that the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great price and JST and continuing revelation both for the church and personal help clear up that confustion. So even though I believe King James might have been inspired to a certain extent I do not believe he was fully inspired and also I realize that by the time he got a hold of the bible a lot had already been removed.

I see the apostate thing as being the people as a whole but individually I do not say either way. That is not my place to judge. Some do seek God and he does help them so we don't believe that those who are not of the church recieve no help from God. We just believe that we have the whole truth of the Plan of salvation in completness and that this is the Church that God himself governs. So following his commandments and admonitions brings the most blessings and most growth in preparation to return to him. But we do not think we are the only ones who are blessed by God I believe those who seek him will find him.

MarkC said...

MB,

You wrote: "I agree that the Bible can propose questions and even answers in a non-arbitrary sense, the selection of which questions are *most important* is not something that I believe can be answered based on Scripture alone."

I guess at some point I'd be interested to hear what you feel the Bible can say in a non-arbitrary sense, if it can't tell us what issues are central. I'm befuddled.

Perhaps someone would like to prove me wrong by producing a sola scriptura argument for why the Mormon view of textual corruption is wrong.

We're not trying to prove any view right or wrong in this discussion. I'm simply trying to point out that the differences between Protestants and Catholics and Orthodox are all vastly less significant than the differences between any of those groups and Mormons.

It's possible, as you say, that the difference is quantitative and not qualitative. I don't care to debate that point. Can we at least agree that the quantitative difference is large enough that the two comparisons are not similar?

Does anybody know of a Protestant, Catholic, Mormon or Orthodox that would not hold to the above statement?

Of course not. Does anybody know of a Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, or Orthodox who would say that that statement was a full and sufficient description of how God has revealed His truth to us? I doubt it.

The devil isn't just "in the details". It's in the fact that your proposed statement is a lowest-common-denominator statement that most people would find grossly insufficient to explain their beliefs--even just their beliefs about written revelation, not to mention all the other differing aspects of our comparative religions.

Mark

katia said...

Stevie

you asked about my beliefs of evalution and the origin of man. Well I did say something about that in a previous post but I will try to summerize hear.

Together with my religion and my only personal soul searching this is what I believe and know for myself.

I lived before I came to earth as a spirit child born in Heaven to Heavenly parents. Before I was born as a spirit I existed as an intellegence that was never created nor can ever be destroyed. This intellegence is the essence of who I am and the spirit and body which I gained when I was born on earth are helping my intellegence grow and develope to be like my Father in Heaven.

This life is a probationary state a time to prepare to meet God. Man originated on earth when in Heaven there was a war between those who wanted to follow God's plan to help us become like him through earth life and agency and Santan's who wanted to make all of us be good so all will be saved and there was no choice for us in the matter. Satan had followers and he was cast out with them and these dwell on earth to tempt and try those who did choose God's plan. When the war was over Jesus through God's instruction created the earth and placed Adam and Eve there to begin the decent of man into their probationary state. From the begining man sined and each will be judged for their own sins not Adams mistake. Adam was the first to transgress but each of us also transgress and like Adam need someone to atone for our sins so Christ came down and paid that price so we could overcome the consequences of sin (which is separation from the devine) and then learn how to stop sinning and eventually become like God with no desire for sin. This is the devine understanding I have of Man and his origin and his destiny.

As far as evalution I do believe natural selection and survival of the fitest might have some influence in how animals change with time but I do not believe they changed from one species to another. And I do not believe natural selection relates to man like it does to animals. I believe mans origin is sacred and special and animals were created from spirits as well to be part of an earth that man is to take care of and love and cherish and use for the betterment of man. Some animals are for eating some for controling the overpopulation of other animals and some for the beauty of the earth. They are special and their purpose is also devine in it's own way.

Well so much for brief. I could go on but I hope this answers your question.

MamasBoy said...

Mark,

You said, "It's in the fact that your proposed statement is a lowest-common-denominator statement that most people would find grossly insufficient to explain their beliefs--even just their beliefs about written revelation, not to mention all the other differing aspects of our comparative religions."

That was my point. I thought the CARM website did a poor job describing mormon beliefs and offering distinctions from orthodox Christianity. Whether you want to say that it is a grossly insufficient statement or say that the devil is in the details, the end conclusion is the same, they didn't have enough detail in the description of differences between mormonism and orthodox Christianity to do the subject justice. I originally commented on it because I didn't think it was a good reference point for describing usch differences. I have obviously done a poor job communicating that.

"Can we at least agree that the quantitative difference is large enough that the two comparisons are not similar?"

Without reading everything posted in the past in detail, I can't recall saying that Mormonism is not uniquely different from Protestantism and Catholicism. On very foundational issues, Mormonism is very different from Christianity. However, I do think that in even in agreement over foundational issues (e.g., continuing canonical revelation and the Trinity), Protestants and Catholics still approach the topics using substatively different interpretive/philosophical lenses and cannot be describes as being in in unity regarding approach, though the end result is almost identical relative to Mormonism.

I recently read an article (can't remember where) about how Mormonism is an amazing blend of Catholic ideas like apostolic succession with Protestant ideas about the corruption of the Christianity and the need for dramatic reform. It is this blend of beliefs that makes it attractive, effective and difficult to distinguish from orthodox Christianity in several areas (though not all).

-----------
trying to keep things clear, this series of quotes is long.

I wrote: "I agree that the Bible can propose questions and even answers in a non-arbitrary sense, the selection of which questions are *most important* is not something that I believe can be answered based on Scripture alone."

Mark wrote: "I guess at some point I'd be interested to hear what you feel the Bible can say in a non-arbitrary sense, if it can't tell us what issues are central. I'm befuddled."

Like I said, the Bible can answer questions in a non-arbitrary sense. The Bible can answer questions like whether mankind needs redemption and that Jesus died and rose for our redemption. Picking out which questions are *most* important, though, is a task that people disagree on, since the Bible itself doesn't explicitly say, "these ideas are the most important." Basically, that is what creeds and statements of faith do. Very few Christian groups have exactly the same creeds/statements of faith. Even if they are exactly the same in their content for individual ideas, most add or subtract ideas from the creeds of others. In other words, some will say in their statements of faith that "Scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. This church recognizes that it cannot bind the conscience of individual members in areas where Scripture is silent. Rather, each believer is to be led in those areas by the Lord, to whom he or she alone is ultimately responsible." and others will leave such a statement out or explicitly disagree.
BTW: that was taken from this church, whose statement of faith is fairly representative of the Protestantism I grew up in.
http://www.gccwired.com/attachments/Mission_Vision_Values_Statement_updated.pdf

So, I guess I approach the what is important question by looking at creeds and seeing all the differences in creeds/statements of faith across denominational lines from people who are using the same Bible, I conclude that the Bible alone isn't what people use in coming up with those statements. They also fundamentally rely on philosophical/theological frameworks to rank ideas. That is partly why there are numerous Protestant groups that think Catholics can't be saved or that they can only be saved "in spite of" what their Church leadership teaches.

I suppose one could say that the same is true of Biblical interpretation in general, so perhaps I don't think that the Bible answers those questions in a completely non-arbitrary sense. However, I think that people's philosophical/theological frameworks are working overtime when ranking ideas and coming up with creeds/statements of faith.

Lastly, perhaps arbitrary was too nebulous a word, since its definition ranges from "based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something" to "existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will" to "depending on individual discretion (as of a judge) and not fixed by law" www.m-w.com That's quite a range of definitions and some of them are not what I meant. When I say the Bible doesn't answer that question in a non-arbitrary sense, I mean that it doesn't answer the question outright, but leaves it to people to put the pieces together and depending on how one puts the pieces of theology together, one comes up with different answers (e.g., differences in creeds).

I hope that is more clear. I haven't been doing a good job expressing my ideas recently and apologize for that. This was especially true in the back and forth over the carm website where it seems to me we were basically in agreement.

MB

MarkC said...

MB,

Thanks for your clarifications. I think it was the use of the word "arbitrary" that was primarily confusing me. If we replace that with, say, "non-deterministic", then I'm in full agreement.

As an example, a jury decision in a complicated trial is never certain or deterministic. But I certainly wouldn't call it "arbitrary" either. I'm not sure what word to use in that situation, but that's roughly how I view interpretation of a book such as the Bible.

Mark

MamasBoy said...

Mark,

That's a much better way of putting it. Thanks for being patient with me.

MB

purple_kangaroo said...

Well, I was finally able to find this thread again and finish reading it. Let's see if I can resurrect it. :)

Katia, if you are still around, I'm curious about this: You said that you think the spirits (or was it souls) of people have always existed, and that we can become like God. So, I'm trying to understand--basically, in essence, you do not believe that humans (at least the non-physical part of us) are created beings? God did not create us, because we have always existed?

I would be very curious to know how you view God, Jesus, and humans as different from each other.

Do you see the only real difference as that people have sinned and God and Jesus have not? Am I understanding correctly that you believe that basically people can recover their first state and become essentially the same as God again, as we once were?

MB, I think many people would say that the Catholic church does not teach salvation through faith alone, solely by the work of Jesus Christ and not by anything we can do. Therefore many protestants do not consider Catholics to be "Christians" although they do believe that we worship the same God and believe many of the same things.

I'm guessing that this is probably what our mutual friends meant when they said you were saved "in spite of" the Catholic Church--they don't feel that the Catholic Church's teachings are clear enough on this point to bring most hearers to the conviction that they must be saved by faith alone, solely by the work of Jesus Christ. I understand that you disagree with this, but that is the view of many protestants.

Kevin, you asked about how I reconcile belief in the Bible with the harshness of the Old Testament law (i.e. capital crimes, etc.). I think that the Bible was written (as well as to all people) to a certain time and place and a certain culture, and that to some extent God chose to interact with and stay within the constraints of that culture. Basically he was speaking to the people of the day in terms and pictures that would be familiar to them, and that they could understand.

Jesus fulfilled the law and brought us a fuller understanding of God's character and grace. The law existed to show us that we could not measure up to God's standards or save ourselves, and Jesus provided a way for salvation that was based on Grace, not law-following.

I do not think we are today required to follow the Old Testament Law, and I don't think the culture of Bible times was itself inspired.

As for the Scripture, I do not think the translations we have today are infallible in the DETAILS. But in ESSENCE they are infallible. There is no error in any of the major translations that changes the basic message being conveyed, or changes any important doctrine of the Bible.

Just as a misspelled word is indeed a mistake, but generally doesn't change or obscure the meaning of the sentence, I think the basic meaning and character of God and the message He wanted to convey to us is unspoilt by any of the tiny errors (like words in a different tense and that sort of thing) that are considered translation errors.

MamasBoy said...

PK,

You wrote, "they don't feel that the Catholic Church's teachings are clear enough on this point to bring most hearers to the conviction that they must be saved by faith alone, solely by the work of Jesus Christ."

While I understand that many Protestants would hold up sola fide as the rule of faith, I certainly don't hold to the faith alone idea myself, and have only very, very rarely had my own salvation questioned by people who say that Catholics can be saved "in spite of" the what their Church teaches.

Are you saying that one can disregard the idea of salvation by faith alone (believing in salvation by grace alone, through both faith and works), and yet still be saved by faith alone? What must this faith entail? How then is Catholic teaching an impediment to this necessary and sufficient salvific faith in the minds of those who believe in faith alone? My own understanding of the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone historically was that a person must believe that he/she is saved solely by faith in Jesus apart from anything they do.

MB

purple_kangaroo said...

MB said: Are you saying that one can disregard the idea of salvation by faith alone (believing in salvation by grace alone, through both faith and works), and yet still be saved by faith alone?

Let me see if I can explain this clearly.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

Imagine that my 6-year-old comes to me and tells me that she knows she is a sinner and needs to be saved.

She understands that Jesus died for her sins and that the only way to Heaven is through the work He did on the cross. But she wants to know how she goes about accepting that work and following Him--essentially the age-old question, "What must I do to be saved?"

Now, I could tell her that she needs to pray a prayer, or be baptized, or confess to a priest, or jump up and down three times. But none of that would save her.

Essentially, as soon as she turned her heart toward God in faith and determined to accept, love and follow Him, she was saved. Nothing else was necessary.

Saying a prayer or being baptized might be a good outward expression of that heart attitude and might help cement it in her mind. But it's the heart turning toward God in faith that brings about salvation, not the action. So by the time she actually prays the prayer or whatever, she's already been saved.

If someone told her that she needed to jump up and down as part of the process, and she did so as an expression of her faith in Christ, I don't think jumping up and down would "un-save" her.

But if she jumped up and down instead of looking toward Christ for her salvation, or depended on the jumping up and down to save her, then she wouldn't have a saving faith in Christ. She'd have faith in jumping, and that wouldn't be enough to save her.

Whether she was saved or not would depend on whether she was depending on the jumping up and down to save her, or depending on Christ to save her. And only she and God would know that for sure.

I don't think it's impossible for a person to be saved if they think they need to jump up and down in the process.

I do, however, think that for any spiritual leader to teach that jumping up and down was necessary for salvation would be heresy.

Does that help you to understand the Protestant view that some Catholics can be saved "in spite of" the church's teachings on works AND faith being necessary for salvation?

If they're depending on the work of Christ to save them, then they are probably saved. But if they're depending on their own works to earn grace in order to be saved by Christ, then they're probably not. But that is something that really only they and God can know for sure.

MamasBoy said...

PK:

Thanks for the explanation. Let me repeat back what I hear you saying and make sure I got it right. Essentially, the only thing necessary for salvation is faith in Christ. You can believe that Christ died for your sins, and also believe that He requires works to get to heaven, and you will still get there. It is only if you think you can get to heaven by works alone, and not by faith and works that you will be excluded from heaven.

If it is put that way, then the saved "in spite of" the Catholic Church's teaching comment is even more puzzling to me, since the Catholic Church has never taught that one could be saved by works alone apart from faith in Christ. Nor has she ever taught that one can earn grace by works: merit yes, grace no. The only exception to the faith in Jesus requirement would be the ignorant native example: someone who has never heard of Jesus or who has what has been termed invincible ignorance. Even then, the Catholic Church teaches that such a path is a very unreliable one to heaven and it is still entirely dependent on the grace of God and Jesus' merit.

There is one question that I have for you. You said, "Essentially, as soon as she turned her heart toward God in faith and determined to accept, love and follow Him, she was saved. Nothing else was necessary."

This strikes me as one description of faith AND works, not faith alone. One must not only believe, but determine to accept, love and follow Him. Is the difference that one can have faith in Jesus and determine to do those things one day and wake up the next saying, "What was I smoking? Give up my whores?!? Bad decision!" and move on with their life and still be saved? In other words, must determination be followed by action or can a person change their mind, abandoning the work of following Jesus and still be saved?

MB

purple_kangaroo said...

MB, the Catholic people I am closest to (family members who converted) do not believe they are saved by faith AND works. They see the works as an outworking of their faith--making their faith active, if you will. They don't think their works save them, but they do think that the works are a necessary expression of their faith.

I have met a number of other Catholics or ex-catholics who believed that they were saved by works (keeping the sacraments, obeying and staying in favor with the priest, praying to Mary and the saints, etc) and had little or no concept of salvation through grace at all, and no idea that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was either possible or necessary. In their minds, their works saved them.

So there's the whole range of perspectives within the Catholic church, as within any church.

If a person truly believes that they are saved by faith AND works, then they most likely aren't really trusting in Christ's work on the cross to save them. A person who doesn't believe Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to save them isn't really having a saving faith--they don't believe Christ can save them, really. It's like the person who says they have faith it won't rain, but brings along an umbrella anyway--they don't REALLY believe it's not going to rain.

If a person believes that specific works are the way they show their faith, then I can't judge--maybe they do have a saving faith. As I said before, only the person and God know for sure.

This is a poor comparison, but I see it sort of like trying to use two keys at once to open a door that only has one lock. One is faith and one is works.

Using both the keys at the same time is ineffective, because both can't go into the lock at the same time. So in reality one will win out--either you're ultimately trusting in Christ's work on the cross apart from anything you can do to save yourself, or you're ultimately trusting in your own works to save you.

The faith key will open the door and the works key won't.

It's simple in theory, but not necessarily simple in practice.

I believe that Christ's work alone is sufficient for salvation. He paid the price in full, and there was nothing I could do to contribute to that.

All He asks is that I turn my heart toward Him in faith and accept what He did for me, and basically stop trying to make myself God (save myself, be in charge of myself, live as though I'm in charge of the world, etc.). If I'm trying to save myself (or even contribute to my salvation) by my own works, then I'm basically still trying to make myself God.

At the same time, I do believe that true faith will result in visible actions. If one truly loves and trusts God and has faith in Christ, this will show in their lives.

Here's a fairly representative article laying out the Protestant view of works as a necessarily-present expression of faith as opposed to works to earn grace.

Belief alone (believing intellectually that God exists, Jesus died on the cross, etc.) is not enough to save a person. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” –James 2:19

A person must have an active faith--the kind of faith that doesn't just say they trust the tightrope walker to make it across without falling, but the kind that trusts so fully they'd be willing to let the tightrope walker carry them across. That's a whole different level of belief.

Again, it's like the umbrella and rain thing. Saying I believe in God but not having any life change is like saying I believe it's not going to rain but bringing along the umbrella just in case. The action (or lack of action) shows that my faith isn't real or complete. If a person truly loves and believes in God and trusts Christ for salvation, their life will show it.

I know that's a bit long-winded (as my posts usually are), but I hope it helps to clarify the answers to your questions.

MamasBoy said...

PK,

When I read your description of your relatives who converted to Catholicism, I had to ask myself if you really understood them. Your phraseology is distinctly Protestant, and I can't imagine an informed Catholic using the same wording, nor for that matter a way to reconcile your view of what your relatives believe with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a2.htm#1987
Note especially paragraphs 2006-2011 on merit. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that our works have a role in getting us to heaven. It teaches that we are not saved by faith or by works, but by grace through both faith and works.

"So there's the whole range of perspectives within the Catholic church, as within any church."
I most respectfully disagree.

MB

purple_kangaroo said...

MB, are you saying that all Catholics have exactly the same full and complete understanding and interpretation of what the church thinks? Or would you say that a Catholic who has a different perspective on something that the church teaches isn't a "true" Catholic? Because I've sure seen a wide range of views on various issues (not all of which line up perfectly with official church teachings) from people who at least consider themselves to be Catholic.

MamasBoy said...

PK asked, "are you saying that all Catholics have exactly the same full and complete understanding and interpretation of what the church thinks? Or would you say that a Catholic who has a different perspective on something that the church teaches isn't a "true" Catholic?"

No, I am not suggesting that all Catholics have the same "full" and "complete" understanding and interpretation of what the Church thinks. What I'm saying is that for Catholics there are actual standards of interpretation that they all have at some point in their life at least said verbally that they agree with, like the Catechism. You can read a book having never met them and (assuming you understand the book) know what they believe. Also, unlike the Bible, the catechism has been written with the modern person in mind to clarify controversies that have arisen regarding Scriptural interpretation over the last 2000 years. If you read the catechism, you know what the Catholic Church teaches and what her people profess to believe. There is nothing like this in the Protestant world. There is a unity of belief among Catholics that the Protestant world can hardly fathom, because the real doctrinal unity in the midst of diversity is so outside their experience. This was something that I thought I understood when was still Protestant but had decided to become Catholic, and have found over the years that the doctrinal unity of the Catholic Church contained a richness and nuance that had gone right over my head. In fact, I'm still learning about it today.

If a Catholic disagrees with the magisterium, then they are either A) ignorant and uncatechized (quite common, actually) or B) living a life of contradiction. For B, their's is a precarious situation. I wouldn't presume to judge whether they are Catholic or not. It can certainly be questioned, though. For A, there is much hope because they can be taught. If they were to read the catechism and find it disagrees with their previous thinking, they would likely undertake study to understand the situation and then make a decision as to whether to go into the B camp or review/modify what they previously thought.

For instance, if your relatives whom you claim hold the Protestant sounding belief on faith and works were to read the sections of the Catechism that I suggested, then I would expect one of two reactions from them. Either they would say that they didn't fully agree with the way you interpreted their beliefs, or they would explain why what you wrote is fully consistent with the catechism and why I'm wrong in saying it appears to be contradictory. I've never met them, but from previous descriptions of them that I have heard, I doubt that B would be an option. Do you really think they would choose what you wrote over the catechism as a good description of their beliefs?

MB

purple_kangaroo said...

Thanks, MB, that helps me understand your thoughts better.