I just don’t have time. I am busily preparing my house for pilgrims from a little island near mauritious(sp?) helping organise food and activities for the 260+ pilgrims visiting our parish for days in the diocese, organising the 10 kids and 1 husband who are not coming to sydney with us and packing for myself and the 3 who are! so if anybody here has time and inclination here is the post that needs response. pm me if you would like the link to the actual discussion.
I just found this thread, and it has taken me nearly 2 hours to get through it, and I haven’t even read the links yet that I have opened in separate tabs!!
I was bought up in the Presbyterian church, and always had a longing for the things of God. I fell away from God for a couple of years in my late teens, before making a commitment when I was 20.
When DH and I became Christians, we had been (and continued to be) friends with a couple who held pretty ‘radical’ beliefs. They believed (shock, horror), that the Bible was the only written authority on God. And, that Jesus Christ was THE (read ONLY) head of the church.
This couple introduced us to our first experience of the New Testament Church. The TRUE, ORIGINAL church (as recorded in the Bible) wasn’t divided by denominations. They didn’t have a hierarchy. (There were elders, but they were those who guided, not dictated the beliefs of the members. They were no higher up the chain than anyone else.) They met in each others homes (not elaborate buildings). The churches were defined by locality, not doctine (eg. the church at Corinth). Bondia described it beautifully:
My interpretation of ‘church’ is simply a gathering of people who follow Jesus (as per the early believers) and I get really frazzled at all the rules and regulations we see in churches today. So if I were going to save some money and take a trip somewhere to worship Jesus, I’d be more inclined to head overseas and visit the underground churches in Asia or worship out in the fields somewhere in Africa. Just more my thing, that’s all - and far less complicated!
Now, I am not anti-established churches. I have learned a lot in them. We are affiliated with one now. But there is a lot to be said for the New Testament churches.
Money that was given could go to the “widows and orphans”, rather than building maintenance, and pastors wages.
Rather than one “leader” standing at the front teaching (much like in modern schools - but that’s a whole different story…), the people learn from each other, in what is more akin to todays cell groups. (Cell groups are actually a lot closer to the original church, than what we call “church” today.)
There doesn’t need to be a separation of individuals by age groups, such as creche for the preschoolers, Sunday school for the children, youth group for the teens etc. God made us in families, of varying ages, not in litters where we learn from our peers. Children need adults to learn how to become adults, not children to learn how to become children. Our kids can interact with and learn from those of any age.
The Bible tells us parents are responsible for their childrens’ spiritual upbringing. Do you know exactly what is being taught in your kids Sunday school classes???
This structure of church greatly reduces the opportunity for the horrific cases of abuse we see in the churches today.
It is far easier to challenge (and have challenged) our beliefs. What better way to grow, than to lead one another back to God’s Word?
Having said all this…We are currently involved in a church. God is certainly not limited in how we approach Him. The question is, is what we are being taught, of God? The only way to know is to look to His instruction book. It is truly miraculous how that one book contains ALL we need to know for life (I agree, that the Holy Spirit leads us, but what I am saying is that NOTHING the Spirit tells us will EVER contradict the Bible.)
EVERY SINGLE church on the face of this planet has wrong doctines (and I am including New Testament churches here). We are human. We cannot know everything. And, like it or not, our beliefs are often coloured by our personal wants.
This is why the prosperity gospel has such a huge following. It is also why so many Christians are willing to abort their unborn children every month by taking a contraceptive that, in fact, causes micro-abortions. And there are many, many more…
I don’t think a Christian can be defined by his or her denomination. But I do think a denomination can be defined as being Christian-based. (Not Christian, per say. Only individual people can be Christians.) Of course, this brings us to the definition of Christian. Does in mean simply “follower of Christ”? If so, then Buddhists, Muslims, New Agers, and others are “Christian”. They all claim Jesus Christ in one form or another.
But what if “Christian” has a deeper meaning? Well, for starters there are the questions “is He the Son of God?” “is he, being the Son of God, in fact God Himself, appearing to us in human form?” Is He “The Word (The Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God)”? Were His teachings 100% accurate?
If he WAS (and IS) God, His teachings would HAVE to be spot on. So what did He teach?
Just before He was crucified He made a statement that to me, at first, sounded really harsh. In reference to his (Holy???) mother He said “who is my mother”? This implies, not that He didn’t care for her, but rather, that, among all disciples, she was nothing “special”.
He died ONCE for all our sins. He said “it is FINISHED”. There is absolutely NOTHING we can add to this. We do try and do good. The Bible tells us to “be Holy, because He is Holy”. But any reward we receive for this is known to Him and Him alone until we join Him in Heaven.
He NEVER, not ONCE mentions a place called Purgatory.
He taught us, when we pray to say
"Our Father (the only true Father, not a name given to a priest, and THE one we should pray to),
who art in Heaven (not represented in a Pope),
Hallowed be YOUR name (Holy is HIS name ALONE - not Mary’s),
THY kingdom come
THY will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread (what we NEED, not the prosperity stuff)
And forgive us our trespasses (remember, we are praying to GOD alone here, not a priest)
As we forgive those who trespass against us (our only right to forgive, is against those who have wronged us - it is His job to forgive the actual individual sins of others, as they are sins against our Holy God.)
**And lead us not into temptation, **
but deliver us from evil (it truly saddens me how in so many Christian circles today, so many will let themselves get to the very edge of sin, in the belief that they can resist in the end (eg. the dating scene so prevalent in youth groups). They are actually leading themselves into temptation.)
For THINE is THE Kingdom
and THE glory (all these things belong to Him alone)
For ever and ever (NEVER ending, NEVER changing)
Are YOU, as a Catholic, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Anglican, Pentecostal (etc, etc) a Christian??
Why not ask our LORD Jesus Christ? Then check the Bible. Make sure your answer adds up.