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Old 04-23-2019, 07:53 AM
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Christianity 101 Questions from an Ex-Mormon


Sunday was Easter so I gave some lessons about Easter and Christianity to some of my English students.

Mostly, they had absolutely no idea what Christianity believes. However, I quickly realized that I am mostly familiar with the Mormon views, which are definitely not mainstream, and don’t know that much about other Christian beliefs.

I grew up Mormon in Salt Lake City in the 60s and 70s, and I only knew a few non-Mormons until high school. The high school non-Mormon friends were not religious or didn’t discuss their religion. I’ve lived in East Asia for 30 years so I haven’t been exposed to many active Christians here, either.

OK, enough background. Some (stupid) questions

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?

The Mormon belief is that there are things called “intelligences” which have existed from the beginning of time. God and a Heavenly Mother make spirits from that. All of us existed as spirits in the pre-existence and we needed to come down to Earth for receive our bodies.

What is the mainstream Christian beliefs on where people's spirits comes from. Does God create them? If so, when?

2. Where does Satan come from?

The Mormon belief is that Satan is one of the children of God, e.g., one of our spirit brothers, just as Jesus is also a spiritual brother. Satan went bad and took one third of the spirits with him. Those of us who have come to the Earth as humans are among those who either fought on God’s side or were neutral.

3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?

The Mormon belief is that there is are two places for the spirits to go while waiting for the resurrection. Paradise where the baptized members in good standing go and spirit prison for everyone else.

Does a person’s soul wait with the body? Go someplace? Sleep? Be conscious?

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?

The Mormon belief is that the good Mormons do, and then temple work (where dead people can become Mormons) is required for other people to be resurrected.

The Second Coming ushers in a Millennium and by the end of the 1,000 years all people will have been resurrected.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever?

We were taught that other churches believe that people who were not baptized Christian can’t go to Heaven.

How universal is (or was) that belief? Once in hell, are you there forever?

The Mormon belief is that there are four places you can wind up. The celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom and the telestial kingdom, ranked from best to worst. Those within the highest degree in the celestial kingdom go on the become gods and goddesses themselves, which is definitely not mainstream.
Then there is “outer darkness” where Satan, his followers from the preexistence and a certain number of people will go.

Other questions may follow.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:54 AM
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Sorry! The title field should have said "Christianity 101 Questions from an Ex-Mormon" but got eaten as I was submitting it.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:08 AM
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Sorry! The title field should have said "Christianity 101 Questions from an Ex-Mormon" but got eaten as I was submitting it.
Fixed.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:19 AM
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1.) There is no accepted doctrine on this. No Christians except Mormons believe in pre-creation though. The most common stance is that the soul is created at the moment of conception by God. The other is transducianism where the soul is a naturally created entity that arises from its two parents.

2.) Again, no accepted answer. Many Progressive Protestants would simply say that Satan is a metaphor for our own desire to prioritize our wants above others and is not a 'being' at all. A more traditional stance is that he was an angel that rebelled against God.

3.) No single answer. Three main beliefs. Purgatory, directly to Heaven/Hell and soul-sleep.

4.) Just and unjust resurrection is the traditional view held by all major denominations.

5.) There is a huge range of belief on this one. Typically, Protestants do not require baptism, though it is strongly suggested especially once one has the ability to choose to express their faith. Catholics mostly do think that baptism is required. Many Protestants, particularly mainlines are universalists that believe in an ultimate universal reconciliation where everyone joins with God. Among universalists, some believe in a temporary Hell for the worst people to become contrite, others do not. Fundamentalists tend to believe in an eternal Hell from where there is no return. Mormonism was largely created during the 2nd Great Awakening, so it might be helpful to view it as a tangent of fundamentalist rural Methodist and Baptist beliefs of that era with strong emphasis on judgement, the spirit world and the imminent return of God.

Last edited by senoy; 04-23-2019 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:36 AM
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Lutheran here.

None of these are dogma in my tradition - that is, it is possible to disagree without affecting any important part of the faith.
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Originally Posted by TokyoBayer View Post
1. Where do souls/spirits come from?

The Mormon belief is that there are things called “intelligences” which have existed from the beginning of time. God and a Heavenly Mother make spirits from that. All of us existed as spirits in the pre-existence and we needed to come down to Earth for receive our bodies.

What is the mainstream Christian beliefs on where people's spirits comes from. Does God create them? If so, when?
God creates people. People are souls that have bodies, temporarily. He creates them when He creates people. If you mean when does a fetus become a person, that is not defined.
Quote:
2. Where does Satan come from?

The Mormon belief is that Satan is one of the children of God, e.g., one of our spirit brothers, just as Jesus is also a spiritual brother. Satan went bad and took one third of the spirits with him. Those of us who have come to the Earth as humans are among those who either fought on God’s side or were neutral.
Christian teaching is that Satan is a fallen angel. Satan is not the equivalent of Jesus - Jesus has no equivalent. But yes, Satan rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven along with some other angels (the idea that it was a third of all angels comes from the book of Revelation).
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3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?

The Mormon belief is that there is are two places for the spirits to go while waiting for the resurrection. Paradise where the baptized members in good standing go and spirit prison for everyone else.

Does a person’s soul wait with the body? Go someplace? Sleep? Be conscious?
There are at least two schools of thought. One is that when you die, your soul/you go to heaven, are judged, and then are either admitted to heaven or cast into hell. Another is that you die, then at the Second Coming, you are resurrected, judged, and then either enter heaven or are cast into hell.
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4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?
See above.
Quote:
The Mormon belief is that the good Mormons do, and then temple work (where dead people can become Mormons) is required for other people to be resurrected.
Mainstream Christian belief is that nothing apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus is necessary for anyone's salvation.
Quote:
5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever?
Anyone who rejects the Holy Spirit, and it is forever. Lutherans don't do purgatory, if that is what you are talking about.

If you mean the question of the virtuous pagan, who never heard the Gospel, that is not a settled question. Lutherans, at least IME, don't spend a lot of time deciding who is going to heaven and who is not. Spread the Gospel as much as we can, and leave the un-baptized babies to the infinite mercy of God.

Again, I am Lutheran. We believe in Christ alone, grace alone, and a good hot dish recipe.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:46 AM
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Answering without actually searching for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Take into account that several of these questions are stuff that I don't think I've ever met anybody who even thought about them in those specific terms before.

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1. Where do souls/spirits come from?
God makes them. Official theology, "when" is not relevant for a Being to Whom everything is "now". Unofficial theology includes tales and jokes about what souls do before being assigned, but it's completely unofficial and while there may be people who take it literally, well... it's definitely not something you'll find in any book that carries a "nihil obstat."

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2. Where does Satan come from?
God made him. But that's the answer you get for any "where does XYZ come from"

General Christian answer (variations by denomination), he is an angel who rebelled against God, in fact the leader of the rebellion. He is no equal to God, but as subordinate as all of His creatures... just not particularly good at the "subordinate" bit.

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3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?
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4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?
The post-end-of-the-world world is not something to which Catholicism dedicates a lot of time. The idea of Purgatory (a sort of temporary Hell where you pay for minor sins, where your sentence can be reduced thanks to the love of people praying for you) is linked to a notion of having personal judgement when you die, a sort of "continuous parole board" and the Final Judgement. But it's a matter of piety, not dogma: popular belief, not official belief. And even that focuses on what happens between death and getting into Heaven: "what happens after the end of all time" is again one of those questions which don't really make much sense. How can you say "after" in a time-based way of thinking, when the "after" is outside time?

Quote:
5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever?
Those who reject the Divine Mercy, and it is forever if they insist in forever rejecting the Divine Mercy. We are all sinners, it is only through His Mercy that we are accepted/accept ourselves into Heaven.

The RCC does have procedures for saying "we figure this person is in Heaven", but doesn't have them for saying "we figure this person is in Hell". The second is between God and that person.

Last edited by Nava; 04-23-2019 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:11 AM
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Disclaimer: I am not a Jehovah's Witness, but I've studied their beliefs in order to debate them.

1. The soul is created, and dies with the body.
2. Satan was created by God as an angel, and is currently running this world until Jesus gets back.
3. Everybody stays in the grave until Jesus comes back. "Hell" is not a special place, but only the grave.
4. True believers will live on an earthly paradise. 144,000 will rule in heave.
5. Everyone not included in the answer to #4 will stay in the grave, which is hell.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:12 AM
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As for baptism, the Catholic position is that it is a sacrament, and that the sacraments are channels for God's grace, but God is God, and does not need to restrict Himself to the usual channels if He doesn't want to. All people are born with the stain of Original Sin. Baptism completely erases all sin from a soul, including Original Sin. It's possible to gain more stains after baptism, from ordinary sins that people commit, and that's why we also have the Sacrament of Reconciliation ("going to confession"), but the Original Sin, at least, won't come back after baptism. It's possible to go to Heaven without baptism (because God), but we don't know any details of that, and so it's best to play it safe and baptize anyway.

Also by Catholic belief, baptism is really, really easy. While it properly should be done by a priest, it can be validly done by literally anyone, even an atheist: All that is needed is water and a sincere intent to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As such, Catholics recognize the baptisms of most other Christian sects as valid (though this is often not reciprocal, and Mormon baptisms are usually not recognized, because the Mormon understanding of the Trinity is so different).

There are also some extraordinary circumstances that count as baptism, even though it might not appear that baptism ever occurs. If someone sincerely intends to be baptized, but for some reason dies before they get a chance, that's called "baptism of desire", and if someone dies for the faith before they're baptized, that's "baptism of blood".
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:22 AM
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As mentioned, every answer depends on the sect/denomination. For instance, for the Southern Baptists (the one I was raised in) I would say:



1.) Created at the moment of conception.



2.) Angel who rebelled against God. Angels being beings created by God before Genesis 1:1.


3.) Straight to Hell/Heaven.


4.) I don't think Southern Baptists were fully agreed on pre-/mid-/-post Tribulations Rapture. IIRC the Judgement takes place after the Millennial Reign.



5.) Everyone who is above an "age of accountability" (not officially defined but often concidered to be 12) who has not been Born Again. (For details of being "Born Again", consult the back pages of any Chick Tract.)
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:00 AM
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My background is United Methodist, but I'm not sure how much of my Sunday school education (both as a child and adult) was rooted in the official theology. Methodists are not dogmatic about these things.

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?
Souls and spirits are simply the part of you that remains of you once your body has died. They come from the same place as your body: an outgrown of your parents. God creates your soul in the same sense that he creates you.

2. Where does Satan come from?
Satan does not play much of a role in Methodism. I'd say he's a spiritual representative of the rejection of God.

3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?
There's no waiting--time is an earthly concern. Either you accept God or you reject God. Choose wisely.

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?
The Second Coming also does not a play a big role in Methodism. God is waiting now, either accept or reject him.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever? How universal is (or was) that belief? Once in hell, are you there forever?
Hell is not really important either, it's simply a rejection of God. Heaven is the presence of God. We may choose to face God at any time (or turn away, as well).

Judgement exclusively belongs to the Father. It is impossible for us to judge others or even ourselves. That said, the path to salvation is clear but difficult. We must love ourselves and one another. Those who do so know the Son and act in his name.
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:15 PM
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I thought that the whole concept of heaven and hell is no longer supported by the modern church, at least the Anglican part of it. Priests don't stand in pulpits telling the congregation that they are all sinners and destined for the fiery pit.

The early leaders invented Satan as the opposite of God; once again he/she is no longer a feature of modern theology.
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:28 PM
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The early leaders invented Satan as the opposite of God; once again he/she is no longer a feature of modern theology.
What "early leaders"? Satan is mentioned in various places throughout the Bible (though never with a clear explanation of where Satan "comes from") and is depicted as being opposed to God, but certainly not as "the opposite of God" in an equal-but-opposite sort of way. That sort of thinking was a feature of dualism/Manichaeism but certainly not Christianity (nor Judaism nor Islam).
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:48 PM
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My background is United Methodist, but I'm not sure how much of my Sunday school education (both as a child and adult) was rooted in the official theology. Methodists are not dogmatic about these things.

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?
Souls and spirits are simply the part of you that remains of you once your body has died. They come from the same place as your body: an outgrown of your parents. God creates your soul in the same sense that he creates you.

2. Where does Satan come from?
Satan does not play much of a role in Methodism. I'd say he's a spiritual representative of the rejection of God.


3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?
There's no waiting--time is an earthly concern. Either you accept God or you reject God. Choose wisely.

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?
The Second Coming also does not a play a big role in Methodism. God is waiting now, either accept or reject him.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever? How universal is (or was) that belief? Once in hell, are you there forever?
Hell is not really important either, it's simply a rejection of God. Heaven is the presence of God. We may choose to face God at any time (or turn away, as well).

Judgement exclusively belongs to the Father. It is impossible for us to judge others or even ourselves. That said, the path to salvation is clear but difficult. We must love ourselves and one another. Those who do so know the Son and act in his name.
Re: the bolded. What about Ray Walston's line in Damn Yankees where he said wives gave him more trouble than the Methodist Church (meaning, of course, that the Methodist Church gave him plenty of trouble)?
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:12 PM
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The much older versions of Christianity (my experience is with Roman Catholicism, but I assume Eastern Orthodox etc. are similar) -

they have concocted assorted doctrines "bolted on" to the original teachings of the gospels and St. Paul. Numbers like 3 and 7 seem to be special. There's the Trinity (allegedly made up by St. Paul as an attractor to the gentile crowd, to counter similar mysticism from competing cults - "God is one but God is three. How is that possible? It's a mystery." They've added the 14 stations of the cross, the 7 sacraments and 7 deadly sins, the whole process of canonizing saints (i.e. certifying that the person is a saint) not to mention all the apocryphal saints that may or may not have existed, like St. Christopher. The center of the whole religion is summed up in that "God sent his son who suffered and died for our sins so that we can be saved and join him in heaven..."

The embellishment of Satan aka. Lucifer, the fallen angel who opposed God and was banished, which has lead to a whole folklore of extended angels and demons fighting over the kingdom of God and the souls of men. it's as if every monk who got bored added a new piece to whatever part of the religion struck their fancy.

As I understand, the whole "souls" thing and where they go after death is a Greek concept - the original Hebrew testament had people who died basically "sleeping" until the final judgement. Since St. Paul was living mainly in the Greek world, he seems to have adopted this concept and run with it. Later doctrinal embellishments added details to heaven, hell, purgatory - and conveniently, the church's selling of indulgences or "get out of Purgatory (not free)" cards, which was the annoyance that triggered Martin Luther and the reformation. But generally, bad folks either go to Hell, or there's a chance they will be saved, so they do less than eternity in Purgatory, to eventually earn a spot in Heaven. Saints in heaven have the ear of Jesus/Godd (the same only different) so you pray to saints to intercede for you... then someone once devised the concept of Limbo where the souls of innocents who never got baptized go. Baptism washes away original sin which … heck, you could write books and books about this stuff, none of it base on determinable facts.

Once you decide souls exist, of course you have to explain where they come form and where they go and when and how. The concept was formed that the soul was created at the moment of conception, thus explaining why the Catholics and fundamentalist religions are so opposed to any form of abortion.

Much of this is lost on my wife who was raised Baptist - they seem to rely more on reading the gospel to draw their own conclusions and reject the extra 2000 years of doctrinal embellishments. When we visit cathedrals in Europe, I have to explain all the whatnots and bits regarding the contents and artwork. She'd never heard of the stations of the cross.

As mentioned, the Catholics don't dwell much on the second coming except to say it will happen one day. Protestant fundamentalists seem to be the ones obsessed about that. IIRC the idea is that on the day of judgement, when Gabriel blows his horn (more embellishment - angel, musical instrument) all souls wake up to be judged. Which, I think, is the subject of the end wall painting in the Sistine Chapel.

Nobody at Catholic Sunday School ever explained to me details like why some people would go straight to hell but then there's a future judgement day... do they get an appeal, or is it simply to reaffirm their sentence? When the Judgment happens, does everyone in Purgatory go to Heaven, or do some still have to serve out sentences? and so on...

When we visited Lhasa one of the fun spectacles was watching Buddhist monks having noisy debates about doctrinal points. I imagine there was the same sort of lively debates in Europe during the early church and middle ages, except with the added bonus that one ones arguing on the wrong side were thus Heretics and could be burned at the stake...
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:22 PM
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Re: the bolded. What about Ray Walston's line in Damn Yankees where he said wives gave him more trouble than the Methodist Church (meaning, of course, that the Methodist Church gave him plenty of trouble)?
Written in 1955 and of course, a work of fiction. The Methodist Church (although such an entity doesn't exist anymore. In 1968, it became the United Methodist Church) like most mainline denominations leans modernist theologically. Modernist theology typically takes a historic-critical view of Biblical interpretation that says that the Bible was written not as a timeless piece of truth, but rather a particular viewpoint from a particular time. This means it is largely a non-literal work, that contains truth, but doesn't necessarily represent a literal history of the world. As such, Biblical references to Satan could be understood to be a real being, but there is no obligation for United Methodists to think so. United Methodists as a general rule are what might be called 'live and let live' Christians. There are some fairly rigid guidelines, but they are few and far between. Most theological statements are accepted as differing interpretations that are good for discussion and hopefully help us on our journey. Any claim on Satan's existence or his attributes is really up to the individual to figure out and decide what they think is true. The church would likely clap you on the back regardless of where you stood on the position and say, "Is that stance helping you love God and serve others? If so, then I'm glad that it has helped you on your faith journey."

I would say that the standard view of Satan among United Methodists is largely to not think about him/it at all. Maybe you could corner them on a statement, but it would probably be something like the term Satan is simply a useful term to personify the evil that exists in the world. Like I said though, there are UMs that certainly see Satan as a fallen angel going about looking to devour souls. I would assume that UMs from the global south would probably be more likely to hold the latter view, while American and European UMs probably the former.

Last edited by senoy; 04-23-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:31 PM
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2.) Again, no accepted answer. Many Progressive Protestants would simply say that Satan is a metaphor for our own desire to prioritize our wants above others and is not a 'being' at all. A more traditional stance is that he was an angel that rebelled against God.
Are there Protestants who would similarly say that God is a metaphor for our desire/ability to prioritize the wants of others above our own and is not a "being" at all?

While it's not what you said, some progressive Christians will similarly describe Hell as a metaphor for a state of mind. The question that kinda suggests itself after that is: "What about about Heaven then? Is it also a state of mind?" Are there Christians denominations or movements that believe that?
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:46 PM
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Conservative Catholic answering:

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?

God's creates them at conception.

2. Where does Satan come from?

He is Lucifer, the angel that rebelled against God.

3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?

Yo go to Heaven, Prugatory,or Hell, immediately.

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?

Everyoone is judged publicly, pnly the rigtheous live on the New World.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever?

¨People who die in a state of mortal sin. For non-Catholics too, but God decided on your specific circumstances.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:48 PM
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My background is United Methodist, but I'm not sure how much of my Sunday school education (both as a child and adult) was rooted in the official theology. Methodists are not dogmatic about these things.

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?
Souls and spirits are simply the part of you that remains of you once your body has died. They come from the same place as your body: an outgrown of your parents. God creates your soul in the same sense that he creates you.

2. Where does Satan come from?
Satan does not play much of a role in Methodism. I'd say he's a spiritual representative of the rejection of God.

3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?
There's no waiting--time is an earthly concern. Either you accept God or you reject God. Choose wisely.

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?
The Second Coming also does not a play a big role in Methodism. God is waiting now, either accept or reject him.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever? How universal is (or was) that belief? Once in hell, are you there forever?
Hell is not really important either, it's simply a rejection of God. Heaven is the presence of God. We may choose to face God at any time (or turn away, as well).

Judgement exclusively belongs to the Father. It is impossible for us to judge others or even ourselves. That said, the path to salvation is clear but difficult. We must love ourselves and one another. Those who do so know the Son and act in his name.
Just as an aside, Pleonast largely gets United Methodist doctrine correct.
There is no official teaching on either of the first two points.

The third point there is official teaching - it is "We have no idea, but we have faith that Christ will take care of us."

The fourth point is that we do have an official teaching that Christ will return to judge everyone. We also immediately follow that with saying that we should not focus on the second coming and that we should instead care about living out the results of the first coming. Our concern should be on the practical aspect of getting closer to God and loving our neighbors rather than speculating about the future. There is an assurance that Christ cares for us and the world and that should be enough for us. Our job is to be practical people dedicated to improving our lives and the lives of people around us in accordance with Christ's will. The world will end when it ends and what happens will happen and writing fiction stories in our heads about it doesn't benefit anyone.

The fifth point is a tough one. The EUB (one of the two denominations that formed the United Methodist Church) did have in its by-laws a belief in eternal condemnation, so as part of the merger, it is technically in our by-laws. I think that there is probably a wide-spread belief that Heaven is a place where people want to do God's will and live in harmony with God. A place of selflessness. The corollary is that there will be people that choose not to exist in that state and there must be a place where they can exist since we typically believe in an eternal soul. That place would be Hell. Adam Hamilton (a major UM moderate) pictures it as a place where basically humans can behave how they want without any grace in the world. Basically a place ruled by selfishness and the desire to succeed at the expense of others. As Sartre might put it, he views "Hell as Other People." He also believes that Hell is not a permanent place and that as CSLewis puts it, "The doors are locked from the inside." He also believes that there are people who will never choose to open that door. Of course, Adam Hamilton doesn't speak for the church as a whole and there are plenty of UMs that don't believe in Hell at all and the church by and large doesn't care.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:55 PM
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Are there Protestants who would similarly say that God is a metaphor for our desire/ability to prioritize the wants of others above our own and is not a "being" at all?
I'm sure there are. This is an atypical view though. When you look at the liberal side of the church, there becomes a point where you start to definitionally move to something other than Christian. There are very few 'atheist' Christians, but I'm sure that there are some that exist.

Quote:
While it's not what you said, some progressive Christians will similarly describe Hell as a metaphor for a state of mind. The question that kinda suggests itself after that is: "What about about Heaven then? Is it also a state of mind?" Are there Christians denominations or movements that believe that?
I think that you would find it difficult to find a Christian denomination that would say that (I know of none), though you might find quite a few Christians themselves. The denominations that would lean toward that way of thinking would likely be the kinds of denominations that wouldn't insist that you believe a particular way about such things. Catholics are actually pretty close to that teaching. When you're dealing with transcendence, describing what are inherently non-physical things with imagery like locations and times is problematic.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:05 PM
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There are very few 'atheist' Christians, but I'm sure that there are some that exist.
John Shelby Spong might be an example of an "atheist Christian"—I'm not sure.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:14 PM
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What "early leaders"? Satan is mentioned in various places throughout the Bible (though never with a clear explanation of where Satan "comes from") and is depicted as being opposed to God, but certainly not as "the opposite of God" in an equal-but-opposite sort of way. That sort of thinking was a feature of dualism/Manichaeism but certainly not Christianity (nor Judaism nor Islam).
This is presumably the English translation of the Bible - yes?
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:21 PM
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I'm sure there are. This is an atypical view though. When you look at the liberal side of the church, there becomes a point where you start to definitionally move to something other than Christian. There are very few 'atheist' Christians, but I'm sure that there are some that exist.


I think that you would find it difficult to find a Christian denomination that would say that (I know of none), though you might find quite a few Christians themselves. The denominations that would lean toward that way of thinking would likely be the kinds of denominations that wouldn't insist that you believe a particular way about such things. Catholics are actually pretty close to that teaching. When you're dealing with transcendence, describing what are inherently non-physical things with imagery like locations and times is problematic.
In debates between progressive and conservative Christians, surely the conservatives must sometimes say something along the lines of: "If you start saying that Satan and Hell are metaphors, people are gonna start saying the same thing about God and Heaven and what are we gonna say to that?" What do the progressives propose the answer should be? Why is the goose metaphorical but the gander literal?
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:22 PM
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John Shelby Spong might be an example of an "atheist Christian"—I'm not sure.
I would say that Spong's views on the divine are largely those of someone who has read Paul Tillich and really, really likes him, but doesn't quite get him. He also has a deconstructionist tendency that leads to so much ambiguity as to not be particularly useful. Regardless though, I don't think that he is an atheist in the sense that he would assert 'There is no God.' He might be an atheist in the sense that he would assert 'There is no God as we conceive of Him, nor is there a God in any possible way that we could conceive of Him.' While this might seem to imply atheism and he might even want to encourage that idea, I think it's really just a cagey way of saying, 'God is ineffable.'
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:36 PM
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In debates between progressive and conservative Christians, surely the conservatives must sometimes say something along the lines of: "If you start saying that Satan and Hell are metaphors, people are gonna start saying the same thing about God and Heaven and what are we gonna say to that?" What do the progressives propose the answer should be? Why is the goose metaphorical but the gander literal?
I would say progressive Christians as a general rule aren't particularly interested in apologetics. They let atheists and fundamentalists worry about such things. Why is it necessary to come up with responses to hypothetical objections? The purpose of living in Christ is not to browbeat others via debate, what kind of faith can possibly come from being beaten in debate? As said before, we are a practical people. God gives meaning to life and provides a template to live a life outside of ourselves. If Heaven is a metaphor, then what of it? Our concern is how to better serve God in the here and now. If someone wants to conceive of God as a metaphor, does that bring them closer to God and make them a better servant of others and therefore God Himself? If so, then why would I be on their case? Again, it's atheists and fundamentalists that are tied up in strict beliefs, why would progressives care? This isn't to say that all beliefs are equal. If your beliefs are leading you to walk farther from the path that Christ has set for you, they need to be reevaluated. If you believe firmly in God, but that belief is causing you to hurt others and hurt God, then what good is your belief? "The devil believes and trembles," no? If you struggle with believing in God, but attempt to draw closer to Him and serve humanity, then your struggle is valuable and I would say God is pleased with the effort.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:40 PM
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TokyoBayer, now you know why I found Christianity the hardest religion to teach in high school world religions units*. About 20% of my students were LDS, and the rest were mostly split up between various Christian denominationsTrying to find common ground without offending or contradicting any of the denominations was tougher than you might think--until reading this thread, that is. For instance, Shodan mentioned disbelief in the Holy Spirit as grounds for damnation, but neither the LDS nor Jehovah's Witnesses are trinitarians.

And in fact, not all Christian denominations consider all other Christian denominations to be Christian, which can make discussions even trickier.





*Note this was a unit, not a course, so only about 6 weeks to cover five major religions, which meant no time for delving into the beliefs of each denomination.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:43 PM
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In debates between progressive and conservative Christians, surely the conservatives must sometimes say something along the lines of: "If you start saying that Satan and Hell are metaphors, people are gonna start saying the same thing about God and Heaven and what are we gonna say to that?" What do the progressives propose the answer should be? Why is the goose metaphorical but the gander literal?
To be pithy: darkness is the absence of light, but only light is a real thing.

Most Christians would say they know God, however imperfectly. It’s what we seek. But not so many would say they know Satan. They’d describe their sins as their own failures to follow God, rather than evil personified.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:51 PM
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If your beliefs are leading you to walk farther from the path that Christ has set for you, they need to be reevaluated. If you believe firmly in God, but that belief is causing you to hurt others and hurt God, then what good is your belief? "The devil believes and trembles," no? If you struggle with believing in God, but attempt to draw closer to Him and serve humanity, then your struggle is valuable and I would say God is pleased with the effort.
This is a great synopsis.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:49 PM
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Why is it necessary to come up with responses to hypothetical objections?
Because they're not just hypothetical. Metaphoricing away the Satan/Hell part may come from kindness and magnanimity but it's the tiny crack in the window that slowly spreads.


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The purpose of living in Christ is not to browbeat others via debate, what kind of faith can possibly come from being beaten in debate?
While the will to administer a rhetorical beating is common (and I have felt it and fallen for it), I see this place as less of a boxing ring and more of a forum.


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attempt to draw closer to Him
I don't know what that means.

I get the impression that, in practice, it's largely covered by the "serve humanity" part that immediately follows.



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"The devil believes and trembles," no? If you struggle with believing in God, but attempt to draw closer to Him and serve humanity, then your struggle is valuable and I would say God is pleased with the effort.
The part you quote says that both faith and deeds are required. Yet you see to be saying that deeds alone are sufficient, which sounds like non-Orthodox Judaism.

Verse 26 of same chapter says: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." = deeds without faith is as dead as faith without deeds.


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I would say God is pleased with the effort.
I get a gold star?
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:16 PM
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Oh, also on the topic of Hell: Nava already alluded to this, but there is no Catholic, at least, doctrine on who is in Hell, and the population of Hell could possibly be as low as three (since we know that "Satan and his angels" are there, and we don't know how many angels Satan has). Yes, it's taught that anyone who dies with unrepented mortal sin goes to Hell, but it's possible that a person repents of their sin right at the last possible moment before dying, when no still-living mortal could know of that repentance, and it's likewise possible that that happens to everyone.

Or not. Maybe half of all humans end up in Hell, or maybe everyone except for the few thousand officially-canonized Saints. We don't know.
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:16 PM
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Oh, also on the topic of Hell: Nava already alluded to this, but there is no Catholic, at least, doctrine on who is in Hell, and the population of Hell could possibly be as low as three (since we know that "Satan and his angels" are there, and we don't know how many angels Satan has). Yes, it's taught that anyone who dies with unrepented mortal sin goes to Hell, but it's possible that a person repents of their sin right at the last possible moment before dying, when no still-living mortal could know of that repentance, and it's likewise possible that that happens to everyone.

Or not. Maybe half of all humans end up in Hell, or maybe everyone except for the few thousand officially-canonized Saints. We don't know.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:03 PM
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Very interesting. Thank you. A couple of follow-up questions.

Mormons believe that everyone will be physically resurrected. That everybody’s soul reunited with their body. Is that also another “quirky” Mormon belief or do other sects also believe that?

Do most sects believe in Original Sin? Mormonism does not and believes that children under the age of eight are not capable of sinning. More than one seven-year and eleven-month old has attempted to use that as a defense.

What exactly is acceptance of Jesus as your Savior? (If I have the terminology correct.) Mormons believe that:
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No one can return to the presence of God without divine grace. Through the Atonement, we all can be forgiven of our sins; we can become clean before God. To receive this enabling power, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives.
Some notes about this:

The use of the term “grace” seems to me to be a more recent term. I don’t recall it’s use when I was growing up. It’s not emphasized, but rather the ordinations and works are taught more.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is actually an ordinance as well, and requires it to be administered by an authorized priesthood holder, as does baptism. This is the reason baptism from other sects are not acknowledged.

I’m familiar with the Trinity, but Mormonism teaches that there are three separate individuals. I can understand the Mormon concept because of the simplicity, but the Trinity seems less clear on an intuitive level. Is this just because I grew up believing something else and if I had grown up in a more mainstream sect then it would also seem intuitive, or is this a mystery and people don’t care so much?

Mormonism prides itself on having all the answers, and looking at this thread, there are areas which Mormonism claims more answers than most sects. Not a value judgment, just an observation.
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:38 PM
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Tokyo. Since you're an ex-Mormon, we can be frank. (If you are Mormon, then you may stop reading here. My intent is to not to insult your beliefs, but simply to have a frank discussion.) The difference between Mormonism and the rest of Christianity is that the rest of us don't believe that God has a divine mouthpiece that cannot be questioned. As such, answers about the nature of divinity must subject themselves to scrutiny and frequently fundamental disagreement. If Russ Nelson woke up tomorrow and communicated that God said the color red was a sinful color and must not be worn, then so mote it be. If the leaders of any other denomination tried that, they'd be laughed off the dais (except Catholics who would likely form a political bloc to stem the abuse of power.) As such, it's very easy for Mormonism to provide the answers. It just says them and if those answers prove unpopular, God has a tendency to change his mind when necessary. Other denominations change as well, but largely they admit that they don't have all the answers and sometimes they're just wrong about things.

To get to the Trinity, it's important to note that while Joseph Smith was likely well-read for the time, he was in essence a frontier conman. As such, his theology and thus the theology of the LDS church is largely what you would expect a frontier conman to come up with. Understanding the hypostatic union is a philosopher's game (most language to describe it is neo-Platonic in origin) and most Christians don't get it and Smith definitely didn't, so he went with simplicity when crafting his religion. It's late here, so I don't want to get to far down a Trinity rabbit hole, but I'll try and post a run down tomorrow. The essence is that they are three distinct persons of a single nature, where those terms have very specific definitions.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:05 PM
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This is presumably the English translation of the Bible - yes?
It is in the English translationS of the Bible and in every other one. It is in the Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic originals/earliest versions we know, the Vulgata, the Biblia Misionera, the... it's not something the first team to translate the Bible to English came up with and every later translator to English just copied.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:29 PM
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Mormons believe that everyone will be physically resurrected. That everybody’s soul reunited with their body. Is that also another “quirky” Mormon belief or do other sects also believe that?
(Lapsed Catholic here, now a Methodist)

Catholics, at least, also believe in the resurrection of the body. For this reason, the Roman Catholic Church forbid cremation until 1963. Even today, while the Catholic church allows cremation (though I think that it's still not preferred), they instruct that the ashes should be treated with the same reverence with which one should treat a body (i.e., the ashes should be kept together, and interred in a tomb, or in an urn, and shouldn't be scattered).

The Wikipedia page on cremation and Christianity indicates that the Eastern Orthodox Church still forbids it, except in extreme circumstances, though the article also suggests that this isn't due to a belief about the resurrection of the body.

As far as I know, most Protestant faiths don't hold to the concept of the resurrection of the body.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:43 PM
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What exactly is acceptance of Jesus as your Savior?
I wasn't kidding when I said consult the back of Chick Tracts for that. This is the first link I clicked on while googling--look at pages 22 and 23. If you recite this magical formula (known as The Sinner's Prayer) and really mean it, you are Saved now and forever. Everyone else is going to Hell. According to Southern Baptists, it is the only way that Salvation can be gained, and once gained can never be lost. (But you can backslide, and possibly were never a Scottsman in the first place.) And it is a very literal Hell with a very literal Satan.

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Old 04-23-2019, 11:47 PM
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Forgot to add this one before the edit window.

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Do most sects believe in Original Sin? Mormonism does not and believes that children under the age of eight are not capable of sinning. More than one seven-year and eleven-month old has attempted to use that as a defense.
Catholics certainly do, which is, in part, why they believe it's important that babies be baptized. As per this entry on catholic.com:

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Since the New Testament era, the Catholic Church has always understood baptism differently, teaching that it is a sacrament which accomplishes several things, the first of which is the remission of sin, both original sin and actual sin—only original sin in the case of infants and young children, since they are incapable of actual sin; and both original and actual sin in the case of older persons.
Note the distinction between original sin and "actual sin", and that, like the Mormon belief (as well as the belief of fundamentalist Christians), young children aren't capable of "actual sin"...but, since original sin is still believed to be sufficient to prevent salvation, that's why they baptize infants.

One of the side effects of this doctrine is speculation among Catholic theologians as to what happens to unbaptized babies and young children, who die before they become capable of actual sin. The concept of Limbo (neither heaven nor hell) as a destination for these souls comes from this idea, but note that this isn't official Catholic doctrine.

My understanding is that many (most?) Protestant faiths also believe in the concept of original sin, though I suspect that most of them don't have the same belief about unbaptized babies / children that Catholics do. (And, though many Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches do infant baptism as a way to sanctify the child as a member of the faith, many Fundamentalist churches don't do infant baptism, at all.)

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Old 04-24-2019, 01:18 AM
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I consider myself Christian because I believe that the teachings of Jesus Christ made when he was alive are very good precepts to live your life by, and will lead to a more harmonious and prosperous world.

I don't believe that humans have any actual ability to understand the divine. I believe no human has communicated with the divine at all. Any words of Christ implying that he had such communications are embellishments by later authors knowing how the cult of his followers developed after his death.

Obviously this is not a mainstream Christian position, but I'm fairly sure there are plenty of other lapsed Catholics who basically feel this way, including some who actually attend Mass every so often. I attended Mass for quite a long time holding this position theologically until one specific thing happened that made me realize that people were actually serious about the theological stuff; I had thought all the ritual was just cultural and a show of cultural solidarity. Having fairly strong evidence due to one specific incident that this was not the case, I didn't see the point in participating any more.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:22 AM
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And by "the divine" I mean the initial cause of the existence of the universe - the prime mover of Aristotle.
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Old 04-24-2019, 04:22 AM
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The Wikipedia page on cremation and Christianity indicates that the Eastern Orthodox Church still forbids it, except in extreme circumstances, though the article also suggests that this isn't due to a belief about the resurrection of the body.
The LDS church also discourages cremation, although ironically in cases where the church helps provide money for services for the deceased, they pay for a cremation and not a funeral.
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Old 04-24-2019, 06:26 AM
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My understanding is that many (most?) Protestant faiths also believe in the concept of original sin, though I suspect that most of them don't have the same belief about unbaptized babies / children that Catholics do. (And, though many Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches do infant baptism as a way to sanctify the child as a member of the faith, many Fundamentalist churches don't do infant baptism, at all.)
The ones I am aware of (including the one I was raised in and other churches I've attended) believe in something called the Age of Accountability and that all children who die before that go to heaven. Despite the name, it's not some actual official age, but just the point when the child is capable of understanding the process of salvation.

Original Sin also exists, and is why people must explicitly accept salvation rather than simply not reject it, but God has mercy on those who are mentally unable to accept the concept of salvation.

Note that this usually is not considered to apply to those who have simply not heard the gospel message. Only those who can't actually conceive of it.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:25 AM
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Mormons believe that everyone will be physically resurrected. That everybody’s soul reunited with their body. Is that also another “quirky” Mormon belief or do other sects also believe that?
In my experience, the average Christian doesn't hear much about it or think much about it, but it's in the Bible that people will be resurrected in a "spiritual body":
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” ... When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed ... So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:38 AM
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Because they're not just hypothetical. Metaphoricing away the Satan/Hell part may come from kindness and magnanimity but it's the tiny crack in the window that slowly spreads.
As much as I love a slippery slope argument, we're engaging in a journey toward spiritual truth and the nature of God, not attempting to be disingenuous in an effort to shore up other's faiths.

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While the will to administer a rhetorical beating is common (and I have felt it and fallen for it), I see this place as less of a boxing ring and more of a forum.
I'm speaking in general. How a statement impacts the apologetics is not a priority for progressive Christians.

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I don't know what that means.

I get the impression that, in practice, it's largely covered by the "serve humanity" part that immediately follows.
To draw closer means to more fully be aligned with God's will and interests. Serving humanity and creation is certainly part of it, since God created it, loves it and called it good, but it involves loving God and loving ourselves as well.

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The part you quote says that both faith and deeds are required. Yet you see to be saying that deeds alone are sufficient, which sounds like non-Orthodox Judaism.

Verse 26 of same chapter says: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." = deeds without faith is as dead as faith without deeds.
I wouldn't go that far. Faith without works is dead, but works can be dead as well. I'm talking about mistaken belief which is different than no belief. There are about half a billion Christian denominations with mutually exclusive claims. Now maybe, the 'First Self Righteous Church of Truth and Prosperity of Columbus, Ohio LLC' has it right and all the rest of us are wrong, but I would like to think that God cares a lot more about our faith in action rather than whether Job was a real guy that happened to have friends who were very faithful about dictating his words or just a metaphor for how we should respond to suffering.

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I get a gold star?
Why? Do you want one? If you're concerned about the rewards or lack thereof, then you're missing the point. You do good because it is the right thing to do. You want to be in God's will because by definition his will is good. Now maybe there's a reward at the end and maybe there isn't. If you find it fun to speculate and the thought of heaven is what gets you through the day, then have at it, but if gold stars are the only reason you're doing it, I'm not calling you heretical or anything, but you might want to ponder the matter further.

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Old 04-24-2019, 07:42 AM
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Note that the idea of "fallen angels" (and a/the Satan being part thereof) is not Biblical. Most of that folklore comes from the Book of Enoch.

So calling such a belief "Christian" is a misnomer. Sure a lot of sects are okay with this belief but it is not universal nor necessarily dogmatic.
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:26 AM
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Since I said I would:

The Trinity is complex. It hinges on the statement that God is 3 persons of one essence(or nature, substance or being.) The usual terms used are hypostases (persons) and ousia(substance) - although it's interesting to note that hypostases comes from Plato and essentially is a synonym with ousia which comes from Aristotle and both designate underlying substance, but the neoPlatonic use of hypostases to divide a person into three underlying beings (the soul, the intellect and the underlying nature of reality) that likely led to it being used as persons, but I digress.

The bottom line is that there is a singular essence or being that is God. It is not a conglomeration of three beings, but a singular nature. That singular essence has three distinct persons both within it and as it. Think of a "person" (hypostasis) as a consciousness, but one that shares a singular underlying reality (ousia).

I'm not sure that analogies are all that useful since we tend to think of things in physicalist terms, but there are two that I like, though I'm not sure they truly capture the essence of the statement. The first is a hydra, the three headed beast of Greek mythology. The heads are all independent with presumably their own minds and they are distinct from one another, but they are still the same being that acts with the same will. They are not fighting over which head gets to move the left foreleg, nor do they debate the efficacy of eating Hercules. Of course, comparing God to a monster is problematic, but it is what it is.

The other analogy I like is that of a person. A person is a body, a mind and a soul (or if you're a physicalist, we can say a body and a consciousness.) These are distinct things. My consciousness is not my body and vice versa. Yet we are certainly the same being. My body possesses its own will (Eat the Twinkies, senoy!) that my consciousness will sometimes act independently of (Put the Twinkie down, fatso!), but they are the same essence and being. We might be able to vaguely say "There are two persons in me, but I am the same being." It's a slightly problematic analogy because one could argue that consciousness is an emanation of the body, but a spirit does not necessarily have that problem.

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Old 04-24-2019, 08:36 AM
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I would say progressive Christians as a general rule aren't particularly interested in apologetics. They let atheists and fundamentalists worry about such things. Why is it necessary to come up with responses to hypothetical objections? The purpose of living in Christ is not to browbeat others via debate, what kind of faith can possibly come from being beaten in debate? As said before, we are a practical people. God gives meaning to life and provides a template to live a life outside of ourselves. If Heaven is a metaphor, then what of it? Our concern is how to better serve God in the here and now. If someone wants to conceive of God as a metaphor, does that bring them closer to God and make them a better servant of others and therefore God Himself? If so, then why would I be on their case? Again, it's atheists and fundamentalists that are tied up in strict beliefs, why would progressives care? This isn't to say that all beliefs are equal. If your beliefs are leading you to walk farther from the path that Christ has set for you, they need to be reevaluated. If you believe firmly in God, but that belief is causing you to hurt others and hurt God, then what good is your belief? "The devil believes and trembles," no? If you struggle with believing in God, but attempt to draw closer to Him and serve humanity, then your struggle is valuable and I would say God is pleased with the effort.
I want to just say thank you for posting this and so clearly explaining something that I struggle with regularly. From 7 until 18 I was raised in a fundamentalist church and school. Strict beliefs based upon a literal interpretation of the Bible. I have not really been involved in any denomination or religious activity since (I'm now 50) but for many years after high school struggled mightily with the version of Christianity I was taught/indoctrinated into vs. my personal feelings and observations about the world, faith, and God. Your post... it's hard to explain... put into words things I've come to believe but struggled to resolve against how I was raised in those formative years. I bolded the last part because I think this is where I landed in my faith (or lack of faith) but reading it is so reaffirming.
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by TokyoBayer View Post
I’m familiar with the Trinity, but Mormonism teaches that there are three separate individuals. I can understand the Mormon concept because of the simplicity, but the Trinity seems less clear on an intuitive level. Is this just because I grew up believing something else and if I had grown up in a more mainstream sect then it would also seem intuitive, or is this a mystery and people don’t care so much?
Sorry, growing up with the concept of the Trinity doesn't help. It is explicitly defined as beyond human understanding.

People don't care as much now as they seem to have done back in the early church - Arianism vs. Athanasianism vs. Nestorianism vs. other doctrines I have forgotten about.

I was mildly upset to discover that my understanding (such as it was) of the Trinity was officially condemned as heretical back in the seventh century AD. (It is Modal Monarchianism). But I was comforted by the fact that I couldn't understand the difference between that, and the orthodox belief.

The Athanasian Creed goes on and on about the Trinity, but it doesn't help. The finite mind cannot comprehend the full nature of the Infinite. I get that part. Therefore, I (and most of my co-religionists, at least IME) don't worry about it. In our better moments at least, we are focusing on what senoy has been talking about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark 12:28-31
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
After that, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

If you want a précis of Christianity, it is love God with all you have, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Why? Because Jesus said so.

Regards,
Shodan
  #47  
Old 04-24-2019, 08:45 AM
Annie-Xmas is offline
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Some really religious fundamentalist Christians I've talked to believe that all one has to do to go to heaven is accept Jesus as a personal savior before they die. Yes, even Charles Manson and Timothy McVeigh could be in heaven right now, long as they accepted Jesus two seconds before they died.

OTHO, someone whose biggest sin was taking pens home from work is going to hell for not accepting Jesus.

One such rah-rah protests outside the local women's health center, with a sign that says "Everything Hitler did was legal." I told him he should stand outside the local synagogue with that sign. He also believes that people who don't accept Jesus are "of the devil." I guess that includes all Jews, Muslims and atheists.
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:57 AM
AHunter3 is offline
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IANAC, but I was raised in a churchgoing family of the Christian/Protestant/Methodist variety.

Methodists aren't much for the whole ephemeral mystical theological stuff. They're on board with life after death, and jesus rose from the dead, but they'd much rather talk about the virtue of visiting people in prison today and how to be a good Christian in the parking lot.

1. Where do souls/spirits come from?

They don't "come from" anywhere so much as they always were. No details though.

2. Where does Satan come from?

Assuming there IS an actual Satan (you won't find Methodist consensus on this) (alternatives include that he is a metaphorical stand-in representing the absence of God, or represents the darkness which in turn simply means lack of understanding)... some would say God created Satan specifically as Satan, some would say he represents one of the inevitable outcomes of creating entities with free will -- that to varying degrees they'll exercise it in ways antithetical to how you'd want them to, with Satan representing the extreme case of full-on adversarial opposition.

3. After a person died, what happens to them while waiting for the resurrection?

Methodists mostly think you go straight to heaven when you die. There's no resurrection to wait for. No one talks about the Rapture or anything.

4. Does everyone get resurrected at the Second Coming? When are people judged?

See above. No one discusses a literal Second Coming, and everyone is judged individually when they die. When "second coming" is discussed at all, it's usually in terms of a metaphor for a hypothetical time in which things on earth are done as they are in heaven.

5. What sort of people go to hell, and is it forever?

Methodists aren't much for hell either. When hell is described, it's usually a place you condemn yourself to by turning away from God, not the Divine Penitentiary into which the judge of mankind gives you an eternal-life sentence from his throne.


This may be somewhat dated; me and the church went separate ways when I reached adulthood. I'm under the vague impression that the Methodist church veered towards a more literal belief system than they displayed when I was in attendance.

Last edited by AHunter3; 04-24-2019 at 08:58 AM.
  #49  
Old 04-24-2019, 08:59 AM
MeanJoe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Some really religious fundamentalist Christians I've talked to believe that all one has to do to go to heaven is accept Jesus as a personal savior before they die. Yes, even Charles Manson and Timothy McVeigh could be in heaven right now, long as they accepted Jesus two seconds before they died.

OTHO, someone whose biggest sin was taking pens home from work is going to hell for not accepting Jesus.

One such rah-rah protests outside the local women's health center, with a sign that says "Everything Hitler did was legal." I told him he should stand outside the local synagogue with that sign. He also believes that people who don't accept Jesus are "of the devil." I guess that includes all Jews, Muslims and atheists.
These are the type of people that were a part of the church and school I was raised in that I mentioned in my earlier post.
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Last edited by MeanJoe; 04-24-2019 at 08:59 AM.
  #50  
Old 04-24-2019, 09:12 AM
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Oh, and Catholicism does have the concept of "age of accountability", below which a child is insufficiently aware of their actions to be accountable for sin. But while there are rough guidelines for when that age is, there's no hard and fast line, and it's understood that different children will probably reach that age at different times. And a child with sufficient understanding to make the argument that they're below the line, is probably above the line.
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