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PaulS

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Everything posted by PaulS

  1. Mike, I expect I am even more ignorant of the subject matter than yourself, so my only comment will be around my curiosity of a description of God as 'the ground of all being'. IMHO, if 'God' was such, that would possibly explain for me the 'why' we have evolved (and continue to do so IMO) as we have (I am referring to all life). Yes, there is a mechanical element to the process, but what is 'behind' this process? What drives it? 'Why' does life want to evolve? Is this 'God' experiencing? Are 'we' God experiencing this process? This seems to point to God in a panentheistic sense I t
  2. I wonder if a Christian could simply be a person who uses Jesus as an example of how to live one's life. I'm not so sure that any theology is even required. For instance, if one didn't theologise and simply said Jesus was a man who demonstrated a way to live life that resulted in satisfaction and then practised that Way, I think they would be a Christian. I have been questioning this a bit lately and reading a website called The Christian Humanist. The author claims that one can be a Christian without believing in God ( http://christianhumanist.net/default.aspx ). I think there are some e
  3. I love that answer, Nav. As I look into it more and more, it does seem to me that Jesus' central message was calling people to get back 'in touch' with God, and not to perform some act of faith to 'qualify' for a happy afterlife. Jesus was about life now, not later. I certainly think he was more about encouraging people to 'wake up' to their life with and in God now, rather than the model that is mainly presented today about a Jesus who was warning us to make right or suffer eternal torment. Cheers Paul
  4. Mike, I admittedly struggle with the whole concept of God because of hangups with the 'personal' anthropomorphic model I grew up with, which I abandoned/rejected some 20 years ago. However, having revisited all this only in the last couple of years (for various reasons I had begun to question if maybe I had thrown out the baby with the bathwater), currently the concept of God that I can at least think a possibility, is one of a God who is more of a 'life-force' or 'feeling' rather than a personal enitity that might somehow 'know' us. I think this might be similiar to what you are referri
  5. Welcome Jenny. Whilst I don't identify myself as a Christian or even as a Progressive Christian, I do enjoy reading the wide variety of topics introduced here. I too subscribe to Spong's newsletter (which I thoroughly enjoy), but I am also on the mailing list of one Philip Gulley - a Quaker Pastor & author, and if his writings are anything to go by concerning Quakers, I think I can appreciate why you feel at home! I have to say that if either Gulley or Spong had been my ministers growing up, I may well not carry a lot of the baggage I do concerning Christianity and God. I hope you enjo
  6. Thanks Pete. I have read a bit concerning 'Pauline' Christianity and I am a little familiar with what you say. It certainly does seem that in many ways Paul's message significantly differs from Jesus' and it does seem to have that feel of dogma and rules vs unabandonded love, which I think was Jesus' message. Jenell, I do sometimes wonder if my feelings in this are a result of feeling betrayed. Partly 'betrayal' by my parents in that they told me this was the truth and the only way, and when it no longer fits for me as that, I felt/feel betrayed. Also betrayed by my church friends, who
  7. Thankyou for those reponses. I understand where you are coming from Joseph, and I do try to remind myself that I was once that bible-believing, righteous, fundamentalist, so I do try to cut them some slack. And often I can just let it go and remind myself that we're all on our own journey and this is theirs. I guess where the anger creeps is mostly with my own family where I can see how their religion has seperated me from them, yet their religion remains more important (even though they would never admit that). Perhaps it's more frustration than anger, where I wish they would broaden
  8. I'm just sharing the following in the hope that input from others may help me understand myself a little. I was raised a bible-believing, fundamentalist christian, who gave his life to the Lord at 11 or something, but whom by 18 had rejected 'God'. At first I was angry with this God I had grown up believing in as I thought He was unfair (in that he was going to send people to Hell for what I thought was no good reason really), but that later gave away to non-belief in that God concept (well to a degree, there's still a niggling part of me that sometimes says "but what if it is true?").
  9. I liken this to the Michelangelo approach. When asked how he managed to carve such a beautiful statue, Michelangelo replied "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Perhaps by carving away all the stuff that is not God, we can be left with what is God.
  10. I wonder if it's simply a 'sign of the times'. I don't mean that in some sort of 'last days' context, but rather in the context of an insecure world facing global financial upheaval. It seems the media are constantly reporting how bad the financial situation is for the world, the USA & EU in particular. I think this really makes people insecure. Insecure about their finances, their employment & career, their mortgages, their children's future, and so on. And when we feel this way, we try to comfort ourselves by identifying an 'enemy'. I take the prison system as an example - men
  11. Jenell, I would like to suggest a move to Australia where we have an Atheist for a Prime Minister, where we are experiencing low unemployment (5%), and where only this morning the headlines of our national newspaper are blaring "Decades of wealth from boom" (on the back of China and India we are experiencing an unprecedented mining boom of our resources). However, sadly I experience many of the same issues you raise. We still have homeless people, we still face some restricted access to healthcare (although I understand our system is supposed to be miles ahead of America's), we still
  12. I totally agree GeorgeW, and I think this competition leads to fundamentalist having to deny the competing interest lest it threaten their entire belief system. I've had many a fundy Christian tell me that it doesn't matter how good you are, if you don't 'believe' you don't satisfy God. I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted when I say it all seems rather black and white to such people.
  13. I was just listening today to a podcast recently produced by Truth Driven Thinking concerning Humanism. The American Humanist Association defines humanism as emcompassing: Compassion, Responsibility, and Being Ethical The speaker went on to say that unless a person practised all three, they really wouldn't be the best person they could be. For instance, not much point in being compassionate if you're not ethical. And who would want to be around somebody who is ethical but lacks compassion? Responsibility brings the other two into focus in that you must prepared to do something when y
  14. Glintofpewter's story reminds me of one of my own, that hopefully may encourage you to know that what you are experiencing is not all that unusual and that many have gone through the same thought processes. I suffered major 'Hell' anxiety a few years back when I just couldn't shake the worry that perhaps there was a Hell and that perhaps I was destined for it, simply because I couldn't believe in the whole "Jesus is an atoning sacrfice for your sinful nature and you need to accept Him now" thing (I don't think you can 'make' yourself believe anything - you simply either do, or don't, belie
  15. Rockstar, Let me state upfront that I am not a believing Christian and I am not a psychologist, and quite likely I'm not the type of person you were targeting here with your issue. However, I was a bible-believing Christian for the first 19 years of my life, but then I left Christianity because I simply could no longer believe in the God I had been taught to believe in. I'm here (at TCPC forums) because maybe I want to revisit some things, but it's your post so I won't go into my story, yet what you mention here happened to me too, and I don't/didn't have OCD. When I left Christiani
  16. Apologies Joseph, just getting used to this stuff, and thankyou for the redirection. Cheers, Paul
  17. Hi Russell, from one newbie to another - welcome. Not to distract from your welcome and I don't want to take this off topic, but you say: "that I delved into the original Hebrew and Greek writings in scripture about homosexuality and again was hit between the eyes by the difference between what I had been led to believe and the actual writings." I'm not gay myself (but clearly still affected by my upbringing or why else would I feel that I have to point out that I'm not gay!) but fully support the right for people to fall in love with whomever they want, regardless of sexual orientatio
  18. Thanks Jenell, will do. Joseph - You're very close to the mark when you suspect I seek experience of God rather than words or ideas. I find it a funny situation to be in (although I'm not laughing alot!) - wondering if there is 'a' God, wondering if there is a way to experience this God, but then also wondering if I do have said experience will it be genuine or is it something psychological brought on by all this God-talk and wondering about God? Kinda catch 22 really. I am encouraged by a number of people that I am 'on the right path' and that 'things' will come in due course, so in th
  19. Apologies in advance if I should have posted this in another category. I guess this is not so much a discussion thread about Bishop Spong's newsletter per se, but it is initiated by a sentence from his latest newsletter that I particularly identify with: "Since the church as they experienced it seemed to have no other idea of God, they wanted no part of religion." Spong was referring to the closed-mindedness (my words) of fundamental, literalist churches and how a number of christians find the God espoused in those churches to be 'too small' for the world they live in. I guess lik
  20. Ignorant, challenged, guilt, anger, loneliness, reconstructing, curious, wishful. Sorry, that's 8.
  21. Thankyou to all for the warm welcome. I look forward to further discussion with you all. Derek - No hatred for the literal minded. Frustration yes, but not hatred. Like the criminals I referred to, I think many literalists are also simply a product of their upbringing (by extension we all are, at least to some degree). As it seems many of you might know or have experienced - there is a lot of fear embedded in the psyche when you're raised a literalist. It's hard to step away, simply out of pure fear. Joseph - Thankyou for changing my title to Spong Subscriber and yes, Perth is th
  22. G'day - came across this website through a subscription to John Spong's newsletter, to which I subscribe. Will be interested to see what I can learn and read about here. My 'journey' so to speak started with the first 18 years of my life being raised as a member of the Church of Christ in Perth, Western Australia. Didn't think there was anything unusual at all about that or the fundmental beliefs I was raised on. I joined the Police Force at 18 and had my eyes rudely widened to some of the things that go on in the world (gee ignorance was bliss when I was young!) which led me to serious
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