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Everything posted by BillM

  1. It is both interesting and odd how, at least for some of us, these mundane experiences of life do take on a sacredness to them. As you know, Joseph, God is not a person (or persons) for me. For me, God is more of an experience of Nature or Reality. So I find it refreshing how my experiences of God have, in some ways, not moved that much from my childhood experiences. But I certainly know more of the world now than I did then, so I have a lot more places to explore. Namaste.
  2. From what I can tell, good people, we can't get to the "real Jesus." We know so little about the historical Jesus that it is probably impossible to reconstruct him. What Christianity leaves us with is the "Christ of faith" to be believed in, which is one of the primary reasons I am not a Christian. Yet, though I know that much of the gospels are fabrications, myths, and tall tales, there is, to me, something that still draws me to the man. But I'm drawn to him, not to slavishly follow him or his ways, but just as the Jewish mystic that I believe he was. I don't take the view that he was "Go
  3. Not to derail the friendly banter, my friends, (interesting though it is), but I don't think there is such a thing as one God-given or divine purpose to life. This, of course, goes against some Christian teachings that we are made to know and worship God, but it is a fact that, according to orthodox Christian, God is hidden (which implies that we cannot know such a God) and I seriously doubt that He has self-worth problems that could only be assuaged by continual praise. If there is a purpose to Nature, it just seems to be to be what it is -- an ongoing cycle of life and death. Death is th
  4. Like others on this thread, I struggle to find the right words. Who or what is God? My views on this have certainly changed over the decades of my life. I can share my experience, but it is deeply subjective and highly anecdotal. I think my first experience of what I call God was when I was about 8 years old and built my first tree house. We had a wonderful old pine tree growing on our property and I somehow managed to find enough scrap lumber and nails to build a crude tree house between the boughs of the tree. The first night it was complete, I laid on my back, covered with a quilt, and g
  5. For me, Lucian, I find theology (what we think of God) interesting but often confusing and problematic. After all, there are so many gods in the world and even monotheists can't seem to agree as to who/what God is and God's attributes. IMO, PC attempts to be a big umbrella while, of course, preserving something of a liberal Christian approach. I tend to favor cafeterianism (ha ha) and have my own theology that is influenced by Borg, Crossan, Spong, and some of the process theologians (that I can understand). But I am far more concerned about what I do and how I live rather than trying to find
  6. A nice article, Joseph. Thanks for sharing it. The only thing I'm certain of is that I'm uncertain. One of the things I find attractive about agnosticism (both within and without religious venues) is that it frees us from the pressure of "I have to know." It is freeing to make best guesses or to rely upon probabilities or to just go with what you know until/unless you know better. It seems to me that we would have to be omniscient to know anything with any certainty. That is a faculty that we simply don't have. Of course, being uncertain does not mean that we don't have to
  7. Thanks, PaulB. I, of course, certainly do not claim to have life all figured out. The more we know (or think we know), the more we discover that we don't know. My wife is probably a moderate Christian (not a Baptist, but definitely a Methodist). And that is okay with me. It's not my job to change her or to force her into my journey. Love doesn't do that. She still holds to much of Christianity orthodoxy, so there are some subjects that we don't discuss. But what we do try to focus on are the common values that we have. She very much agrees with my first post. I doubt she would agree with my "b
  8. Exactly. Community is about connectedness. Certainly it is about people being connected to one another (we are, whether we admit it or not). Despite the Protestant claim of having a "personal relationship with God", I doubt it is possible to experience God deeply without being with others. Many of the great and enduring religions, Christianity included, know that all things are connected, that there is a Unity to all things. The bible itself speaks of God as being experienced in a number of ways -- wind, fire, breath, silence, a door, a warrior, a king, a shepherd, a lover, a way, a light
  9. The Hebrews' concept of the deity was very anthropomorphic. God was, for them, a man-like being. Therefore god had eyes, ears, nostrils, arms, legs, all the rest. And this deity sat on a literal throne above the clouds, from whence he ruled and judged over the earth. As Jack Spong says, "If horses had gods, their gods would be horses." As humans, we tend to create god in our image. I doubt we can help it. But many in our day realize that this Hebrew concept of god, while functioning well for them in their day and time, no longer works for us. There will most likely always be some fundamentalis
  10. I don't find this to be the case, Burl. One of the concepts of early Christianity is that when people encountered "God" (the Divine), they did so in Jesus of Nazareth (the human). God wasn't found in a book or in a building. God (the Sacred, the Divine, the Transcendent) was found in humanity. The doctrine of the Incarnation points to this truth, but, as I've said, it puts God in a box and says that God can only be encountered in Jesus. So it limits God's presence to one person in one place and one time. Some forms of Christianity have held onto this ancient truth, that each of us has the Divi
  11. The concept of the deity? As for God, I no longer hold to a theistic concept. Spong doesn't either. I don’t believe in a Man in the Sky who controls everything, who demands worship, who determines if people go to heaven or hell. Rather, God is a symbol for me. A symbol for what? For Community. To me, being spiritual has nothing to do with “other-worldliness” i.e. some kind of ethereal higher plane. It is, rather, Connectedness. God is, for me, how we are connected to ourselves, to others, and to our world. This Connectedness, IMO, must be based in compassion if it is to be experienced and tran
  12. I was asked recently what I believe. So I thought I would share a brief summation of my beliefs here. I believe in our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that strive for the greater good of humanity. I believe we should be guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience. I believe that knowledge of our world is best derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. I believe that we are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. I believe our ethical values are deriv
  13. Thormas, I'm not a trained theologian, so I certainly can't address what Christianity, as a whole, believes about certain things. All I can do is to share my own experiences, training, and indoctrination in the kinds of Christianity that I was in for the last 40 years (mainly Baptist, Southern Baptist, Calvinist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, and now United Methodist). So while my experiences may be narrow and, according to Burl, a "low information understanding of Christianity", I am not pulling things out of my...well, you know. I'm sharing the doctrines that I was indoctrinated with and how
  14. Burl, if you want to know what I DO believe, read my post on "Turning 58" under the "Personal Stories and Journeys" section. But I would respectfully suggest that you are NOT your beliefs. We are human beings, not human beliefs. Our beliefs can and do change if we grow. But we remain. What defines us is not what we believe, but what we are, what we do. To each his or her own, but I no longer hold tightly to my beliefs. I give myself the freedom to change them as I come into new information and experiences. I know nothing for sure. I can give reasons for what I believe and why, but I don't clai
  15. I suspect this is true, Jack. Many people say, "God is in control" and then live their lives as if they have free will. They pray for the sick, but go to doctors. I tend to think we are pragmatic people living in a natural world, but we hedge our bets by still confessing to supernaturalism. It is an interesting time.
  16. My point really isn't to argue against the Trinity. That doctrine, no matter how we talk about it, narrows God down, not to a wide variety of ways to speak of God, but to the definition of 3 persons, all said to be God. This is, IMO, clearly polytheism, but, for me, it still comes down to flogging a dead horse because it is still supernatural theism, which I don't hold to. 'Nuff said on my part about that. My point is that Christianity puts forth doctrines and dogmas that don't make sense and then tells people that they must believe what makes no sense or go to hell. Unitarian Christians
  17. Nothing in my post above is intended to insult the person of Jesus. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with people who want to refer to Jesus as the Christ as in, "anointed by God." I believe he was anointed by God. I believe he made the most of his religion and tried to impact it and the world around him for the better. I believed he rekindled something in Judaism that was lost or about to be lost. But I simply don't believe he was the Jewish messiah. He failed to fulfill the Jewish prophecies of what the messiah would do. If you doubt the validit
  18. Burl, These are from the NASB, one of the most literal word-for-word translations today: “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.” – Matt 10:23 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” – Matt 16:28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summe
  19. Burl, actually the exact wording is not that crucial, as Jesus wrote nothing. All we have of his teachings is what 2nd or 3rd generations followers after his death wrote down i.e. hearsay. Nevertheless, tell me which translation YOU would like me to use and I'll be more than happy to post those passages. However, you should also know that if you reply with something like, "Well, I (Burl) know what it SAYS, but what it MEANS is XYZ..", our conversation will come to a halt. Though Jesus was a Jew, most Christians have very little idea of what first century Judaism was like and how Jesus' own lis
  20. Oops, Thormas, yes, I meant "panENtheistically." And, of course, when Paul was making his allusion to panentheism on Mars Hill, he was quoting the Greek philosophers. I don't doubt that much of the bible is written from a supernatural theism perspective. That is the natural language of worship, the "I and Thou". God is in heaven, we are on earth. Never (or seldom) the twain shall meet. But I also think that, occasionally, the scriptures make great strides in supporting the notion of panentheism. David says that there is no where he can go from God's presence. The bible often spe
  21. No, Burl, the leprechaun died and Jesus raised him to the pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. Admittedly, magically delicious! FWIW, I see Jesus pantheistically also. Paul, in 2 Cor 5:19, says that "God was in Christ." He doesn't say that Christ was/is God. Paul was a Jew of Jews. He knew how monotheistic they were.
  22. Back on topic: I think another reason that Christianity is declining in the West is because Westerners are, to some extent verifying truth claims according to whether or not they stand up to real life. While I like many of the teachings of Jesus, allow me to highlight a few examples where what he said just comes up short as truth. 1. He said that he would return within the lifetime of his hearers, in that generation. Didn't happen. He didn't return and setup the kingdom as the Hebrew scriptures said he would. This is why most Jews don't consider him to be the messiah. He didn't fulfill al
  23. I enjoyed this. I also enjoyed much of the other content on your page, Romansh.
  24. If your definition is true, Burl, then no one is saved. Everyone, per the bible's definition of sin as "missing the mark", still sins. No deliverance from that (yet). And, again per the bible's definition, the penalty (wages) of sin is death. No deliverance from that (yet). Christians who claim to be saved still sin and they still die. The claimed salvation that Jesus wrought has affected no one. Therefore, no one is, per your definition, saved. Perhaps you believe in salvation as only a post-death deliverance? IMO, Jesus, being a Jew, would never have held to the doctrine of the Trinity. G
  25. Thormas, without consulting a dictionary, theism simply means believing in a god (or gods). We then add modifiers to further describe how we believe in this god (or gods). Supernatural theism posits a deity who is above or outside of nature. It usually then stipulates that this deity can, therefore, control nature and break nature's laws if it chooses to do so, hence we get prophets who can speak for this god or this god does miracles to demonstrate that he is in control and prove his existence via magic tricks. Pantheism usually says that god was once a being but, at creation, dives
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