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Hello & Where To Start?


MsPragmatic
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Thank you for the opportunity to share on a forum that I hope to feel comfortable enough to explore, ask questions and learn from.

 

Growing up I had limited exposure to Christianity. We were not a deeply religious family but we did participate sporadically when the invitation was extended us, if just out of curiosity or a need to know a deeper understanding on my mother's part. She too was brought up with religion not being a real focus in the family although special occasions warranted attendance in her German family and on those occasions the children went. She shared her father, my grandfather said his religion was nature. I often think about those words. Dad was a non practicing Roman Catholic, said he would never be anything else, truthfully, I don't think he cared even though there are pieces he clung to and held firmly to, (perhaps he held hope, certain faith, I don't really know) I don't know what the war did to him, he never spoke of it but he did cry at the recital of the rosary and hail Mary's which I loved to, as seldom as it happened, hear him speak often with tears in his eyes. He was of the depression era generation, a WWII soldier, our family's stronghold and his passing affected me profoundly thus furthering my quest for understanding of what life and death truly means to me personally and not what some religion or person thinks I need to believe for my own 'saving'. That was often my downfall, living for others. No more, although me sporadic exposures to different churches did indeed shape my belief system early on, one that for me personally has been hard to shake leaving me to feel bitter that it was instilled in me as well as countless others to muddle through if ever questioning came. I am not sorry that I began to question, I am thankful. Without it I could not be true to myself or simply 'accept' on 'faith' as is still expected today. I often find myself baffled by the countless others continuing on in their faith but also envy them for being content in that it is enough, yet it would never be 'enough' for me personally, not since questioning it all.

 

This is where Mr. Spong's writings and views as well as others come in and are profoundly in line with my own thinking on matters of religion and faith. I am currently reading 'Eternal Life: A New Vision' and finding deep understanding within its pages. I choose NOT to go along with anyone's teachings unless it coincides with my own understanding but I am always open to learning and deeper understanding from others. Perhaps I am stubborn that way but this book is truly remarkable and I have enjoyed others as well by Mr. Spong for their clarity and insight.

 

Before it appears I am beginning a book of my own I will stop here. I look forward to future interaction on the boards. Thank you for your time!

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Welcome MsPragmatic,

 

As you, I think one is better off trusting their own understanding and experience rather than the teachings of another when it comes to spiritual things..Teachings are fine but without personal reasoning and ones own life experiences as confirmations it seems to me one can surely be misled.

 

Joseph

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Hello and thank you Joseph,

 

I am new enough to the site that I haven't yet figured out just where to begin. I am in fact fairly new to a lot of the thinking I have explored these past 8-10 years and still trying to figure out just how and where it all fits into my life. Silly as it sounds, for years I took the Belief OMatic Quiz on Belief Net for the fun of exploring who I was in a 'spiritual' sense if that is what I can call it. Each time it seems the test scored different results with my answers, out of that same curiosity I took it again today to find out my result was in alignment with secular humanism, defined also as atheist or agnostic. I've come a long way from that first test that gave me plenty even then to explore in the Christianity realm at the time because I still appeared to hold on to some what I now call, ingrained beliefs. Now I don't know if I can even claim Christianity and exactly what that means or no longer means for me. I do feel very isolated and that doesn't help! The only truth I can find is that in which I am able to make sense of and making sense of religion is no longer an option for me in which to return and remain true to myself or way of understanding. It's a lonely walk. I fear admitting it to anyone because more than not my closest friends and family are Christian and religious. I have yet to meet anyone close to me with similar beliefs and find myself wondering if some sort of counseling would prove helpful in finding my way to accepting and being able to feel I'm not the minority in my personal views of life, death and the lack of religious belief. Perhaps this is the wrong forum but when I read Mr. Spong's views they so closely mirror many of my own, I have to wonder how he has made it this far with the world knowing his story?! Nothing at all wrong with the truth as we know it and I admire him greatly for it, this I understand, yet there are many to condemn a person for unbelief in a supreme deity and I feel as though many if they knew might well turn their backs on me. I can and do respect others in their own views on religion yet I can no longer make myself align with their thinking even if I respect and observe with them their beliefs and rituals.

 

You are welcome to guide me to a discussion if there is a more appropriate forum for what I have shared.

 

Thank you for your time.

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Welcome MsPragmatic,

 

I hope you feel comfortable enough to continue sharing here too. Most people here are very open-minded, many enjoy a good debate, and many are knowledgeable concerning things about Christianity that you don't hear from the pew often. We respect everyone else's views, which I think is an essential part of this forum. People's beliefs and views are formed from their own experiences and none of us have the same two experiences, so it's only naturally that we all have our own way of seeing things.

 

I look forward to getting to know you and your thoughts more.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Hi and thank you for your reply Paul. I appreciate your encouragement. I sincerely invite and encourage thoughts, ideas and experiences to draw on and learn from and sense this might be a good place for them.

 

You mention many being knowledgeable concerning things about Christianity, do you mean in the literal definition of the word? The definition I found online and quote from:

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian

A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. "Christian" derives from the Koine Greek word Christ, a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term Messiah.[1]

Central to the Christian faith is the gospel, the teaching that humans have hope for salvation through the message and work of Jesus, and particularly, his atoning death on the cross[2] and resurrection.[3] Christians also believe Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.[4] Most Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, a description of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This includes the vast majority of churches in Christianity, although a minority are Non-trinitarians.

There are diverse interpretations of Christianity which sometimes conflict.[5][6] However, "Whatever else they might disagree about, Christians are at least united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance.”[5] The term "Christian" is also used adjectivally to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense "all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like."[7]It is also used as a label to identify people who associate with the cultural aspects of Christianity, irrespective of personal religious beliefs or practices.[8]

I personally do not necessarily agree with the initial definition of Christian or Christianity in the definition (taken from Wikipedia) above until you get down to the last sentence [8] I hope it is alright to admit that here, just being true to my personal understanding. I associate Christian or Christianity with religion, belief in God and that Christ is our savior. I respect others beliefs but this does not change my own thinking on the matter, it no longer works for me personally.

I do wonder if one has little to no belief system in a deity how one can continue to call themselves and feel accepted a Christian, if I am correct that is what Mr. Spong also refers to himself as being. That is one thing I would like to better understand here if I can.

Thank you for taking the time.

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I was really referring to a better understanding of the bible and its interpretation based on scholarly research rather than dogma and belief systems that people have been taught to adopt as their own.

 

As a for instance, many Christians here might view the bible as errant, human writings, written within a cultural climate of the time, and with a limited knowledge of modern science. Subsequently, whilst many might view the different books, stories and metaphors in the bible as useful and even enlightening, many would also accept that the bible isn't without its errors and biases, and that it isn't a dictated-from-God manual of how to live.

 

I think many here would feel comfortable with the latter part of that definition of Christian you cite, i.e. it is a label that recognises their connection to Jesus and his teachings (and there may be discussion around what are and what are not his teachings) but they don't carry the baggage of believing they need to believe Jesus is literally the one and only son of a God who required his blood sacrifice in order to forgive human beings who were/are born naturally evil and unworthy of God's forgiveness from birth, unless they accept they are worthless sinners who require Jesus' atonement to gain that special pass to Heaven one day. I hope that might not sound too flippant towards those that hold such beliefs - it's just that I find such beliefs harmful and unworthy of our society in this age.

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I would echo Paul's words and add that even the Bible itself records that they were first called Christians in Antioch. They were merely followers of Jesus and more specifically in my view what they saw in him as the anointing (Christ) of God. (in my view a word not limited to one individual) but rather a spirit of oneness).They had no real Bibles as we have today and the few letters that circulated were just that... letters and not "the word of God" per se as the church system of this time would have us believe.

 

Many would classify PC'ers as agnostic, atheist, etc because we may not see God in the same light as the organized church system would have us. As Paul said above most here do not limit themselves to one book as inerrant or truth. The eight points of PC HERE are general and exclude doctrine and dogma as it is a progressive journey of discovery rather than any fixed belief dictated by any organization. At the same time we have no problem with those who remain respectful even though they may have a different view/opinion. Actions and courtesy always speak louder than beliefs here.

 

Each person speaks for him/her self here including me. That is the nature of a progressive Christian. We may all be at different points in our journey.

Joseph

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Thank you for your replies.

 

Paul, I apologize for misunderstanding or misinterpreting your comments. Personally I am in line with your last statement keeping in mind we are all free to choose and respecting every individual's right to do so even if I don't understand.

 

Joseph, What a history account, the Bible relives! I don't classify myself as or claim any particular group at this time although I may well fit into some of the classifications. Thank you for sharing the 8 points, I have seen them mentioned on the boards but have not really gone over them yet. It is still hard for me to shake the title Christian because of the initial definition of which I no longer claim. It seems the latter statement in the definition is in direct opposition of the initial definition and I find that to be confusing. Perhaps I am reading too much in to it.

 

Thank you both for engaging me.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello MsPragmatic,

 

Let me wish you a belated welcome:)

 

Your comments reminded me of a previous thread, "Am I a Christian... or even a Progressive Christian?", found in the Debate and Dialogue section. I think you might enjoy it.

 

I know what you mean about the loneliness of having beliefs that are very different from those who are close to you. It's taken me many years to speak out about what I do and don't believe to family members who think PC is dangerously wrong. Hope you find a supportive community here.

 

 

Annie

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