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Hello, Shelby Spong Fan From Ireland


jimb50
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I had normal Roman Catholic upbringing, nothing too severe. When I got to mid 40s for no particular reason I started to question my faith. I found the O.T. really weird and when I spoke to priests I was surprised at how child like their faith was.

I was all at sea.

I discovered John Shelby Spong and was at sea no more. He has enhanced my understanding of the Bible immensely.

I have read 12 of his books (twice) and watched all his Youtube clips. It has been a revelation, thanks to J.S.S.

I admit my faith has been weakened.

I have come across Earl Doherty and find his case for a mythical Jesus compelling. My faith has taken a hit. I am really struggling.

What do you think of Earl Doherty?

Jim ( age 50)

Edited by jimb50
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Jimb,

 

First, welcome.

 

Second, about Doherty. I would recommend Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart Ehrman. He has a lot to say about Doherty's claims (and not very favorable). If you are not familiar with Ehrman, he is a professor of religion at the University of North Carolina and a recognized NT scholar. (And, an agnostic).

 

George

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Welcome Jimb50,

 

I see you are quite a reader from your opening post. It seems to me it may be best not to allow the words of another to weaken ones faith. If ones faith is ultimately based on the words of others, perhaps it is subject to toppling or weakening with new words. Follow your own instinct and heart that "for no particular reason started you to question your faith." When your faith no longer rests in the words of others you will have found that within yourself that has been and is guiding you to that which cannot be taken away. Just a personal observation that worked for me. Again welcome to the forum and i am hoping it will be of mutual benefit to all. Feel free to ignore anything i have said that doesn't speak to your heart.

 

Joseph

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Thank you Joseph, I really appreciate your comment and find it interesting. I had a strong faith but you made me realise it was not as strong as I thought.

I would like to think that others can only guide you with their words. I suppose when you begin to search you are depending on the experience of others.

We are fortunate that books are written on almost every subject by people who have devoted their entire lives to it. Words are all we have really and at least we can check them out.

It is sad that we are taught nothing about the Bible here in Ireland and I can't help but wonder why? From my childhood I have a vague memory of being told not to question. I am sure I didn't give it a thought. It should have made me suspicious. I do think it is right to question faith, I just don't know why it took me 'till I reached mid 40s. Where did that come from? There was no crisis in my life.

The church child abuse scandals didn't influence me though it got me thinking that religion is a human construct.

How did Catholicism survive the inquisition considering the lenght of time it went on for? Too much power and an ignorant populace I suppose. In Ireland now it is all gone completely. The church being the architect of its own downfall.

Once again Joseph thanks, I will ponder your words and who knows where it will lead.

Jim

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Welcome Jim,

 

I feel for you as a struggle with our learned faith is probably the biggest life-changing event we'll ever experience. However I am confident it will be for the better, no matter how long it takes.

 

Don't feel guilty in any way for it having 'taken' so long to question things. We are all a product of our environment and upbringing. For whatever reason your experience didn't compel you to question things until now. There is no blame in that. But at least you are questioing now!

 

All the best and I hope you enjoy your experience here. I know for me it has been of immense value in questioning things, and all in a very safe environment.

 

Cheers

Paul

(Australia)

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Hi Jim, I'm from Northern Ireland (carrickfergus). started questioning my faith a while ago, too, and it depressed me because i thought i must either have the same beliefs as everyone else or be an atheist. I finally found satisfaction, though, in realising that i could cling happily to the parts i loved about my faith (eg the teaching of christ, and the more humanistic writings of the bible) and say 'I don't know' about the rest. i find most of the things traditional christians believe highly unlikely, but if i'm asked i say, 'I don't know'.

It's reassuring to accept that you don't have to know everything, don't have to believe the same thing as everyone else. And never feel like your faith needs to be 'fixed'. your faith is personal to you.

I came across a group called the 'open christian network' who have discussion groups in dublin and belfast. thought you might be interested. i havent made it to the belfast group yet due to work but i hope to. here's the link:

http://www.ocnireland.com/index.htm

 

Jonny

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Hi Paul,

Thank you for your comment. I read your profile and you speak wise words. Indeed we have all taken a financial hit. I don't think Australia is as bad as Ireland. I am happy that you came through your crisis. It is such a motivating factor to be strong for our children, though we all need support sometimes. Us men can have a problem accepting that fact.

At the moment with my faith it is like cutting off my right arm with a blunt knife very slowly and then trying to patch it up.

You know the feeling. Glad you get a lot from this site, it makes me want to stick around.

All the best

Jim

 

Hi Jonny,

Thank you for comment. Nice to know I am not alone on our fair isle.

I find Irish people don't want to engage when you bring the topic of religion up.

I get a strange look if I question anything. Thanks for the link, I will check it out

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Jimb, Greeting to the Divinity and Spirit within you that propels you forward to no where in particular, but everywhere in Spirit. My cousin is a Catholic priest and your description of a priest is very acurate. When he was in the seminary he questioned and searched on his journey to no where, but the seminary drew out a map to somewhere and he has followed it. I met him after forty years, he as a priest and myself searching the world and myself. Our conversation was not like before discussion, disagreement, probing and agreeing. It was he was part of an institution and deserved the respect of a manager or businessmen who achieved rank in an organization. I respect him, but miss the spiritual communion we use to share. We could not even discuss inner spirituality because the outer interferred. Enjoy being who you are and the mountains and valleys on the trip to no where.

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Hi Soma,

Thanks for comment. No doubt your cousin is institutionalised and will follow the line no matter what he encounters. Sad that minds can be so closed.

I would like to know what you mean by " the trip to no where". I would appreciate if you could enlarge on that.

Jim

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I travelled twenty years overseas looking for the true happiness, but found the hindrances to happiness were travelling with me. When I realized that it was nowhere and everywhere at the same time I started to removed the interference with the energies of my mind, and became closer to Christ and Our Father Almighty. I found the soul has free scope to unfold in our consciousness, it is a natural gift, a living grace, not acquired or developed even though we bring to light, heal, and release the negativity within us. It wasn't until i chose to allow the inner Divinity to shape my world, to work unimpeded upon the Earth by challenging my weaknesses and moving consciously towards wholeness, wisdom, and Christ consciousness did I find what i was looking for. I then found it in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Jewish faith and in Atheism. I like to call it love, unity, but it can be referred as absolute reality, bliss or energy.

 

The material world hid the true universe of God’s pure consciousness where all is spiritual, perfect and good from me when I looked externally, but divine love became clear when I directed my gaze inside. Then I saw divine harmony governing all elements and personalities in creation. Pure consciousness was already in the core of my heart, but because of my materially conditioned life I could not see it and had forgotten that it existed. Sometimes we see it and are aware of pure consciousness; and then again it goes into hiding. It is like a flowing spring in the core of our soul if I throw dirt over it with worldly desires, the spring gets covered so I don’t know where it is or am aware of it. Pure consciousness is still flowing though, and if the earthly desires are removed, pure consciousness is discovered again and will guide me once again. It is a path to nowhere because heaven is here, now, everywhere.

 

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

Life is given to us,

we earn it by giving it.

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Jim,

 

First off, let me say Welcome! We are happy you joined. Next, regarding the weakening of Faith that you spoke of. On the subject of Faith, I find the Progressive Christian Marcus Borg to be most helpful. He describes 4 forms of Faith that I will briefly describe:

 

1). Faith as Belief - the most common form of Faith, as in the belief in a creed or set of facts or in an entire book.

2). Faith as Fiducia - the Latin root of the word Fiducial which is Trust. It is the idea that one trusts in God and the ways of God.

3). Faith as Fidelitas - Fidelity, being in a committed relationship to God and God's way.

4). Faith as Viseo - Vision. Simply the way you see the world and how you imagine a more perfect world might look.

 

Personally, this opened my eyes to Faith! I had never even considered the other three, I thought Faith exclusively meant number 1). I am guessing the weakening of your Faith is in number 1), but consider - as I am now - the other 3.

 

Hope this helps..

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Hi Soma, thanks for that, really interesting and a lot there for me to think about.

 

Hi TheNewMe12, yes I was at 1, not sure where I'm at now. Must check Marcus Borg.

 

Hi Pete, thanks for welcome and happy birthday. Hard luck last night, I was hoping England would win, cruel way to lose. Though I'm sure you agree that Italy were better.

 

Jim

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Hi Soma, thanks for that, really interesting and a lot there for me to think about.

 

Hi TheNewMe12, yes I was at 1, not sure where I'm at now. Must check Marcus Borg.

 

Hi Pete, thanks for welcome and happy birthday. Hard luck last night, I was hoping England would win, cruel way to lose. Though I'm sure you agree that Italy were better.

 

Jim

Thanks you Jim.

I do not follow football or watch sport much. However, I guess I have one sporting weakness. When Ireland plays Rugby and I will be glued to the box

I am married a Dubliner and I would be in trouble if I was cheering for anyone else. :D

Edited by Pete
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