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Burning questions (Read 3029 times)
doodad
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Burning questions
Dec 18th, 2015 at 11:34am
 
This thread is primarily for a discussion with Don, although anyone may comment or ask questions if they are interested.

I don't know how many of my posts you have read, so I'm going to start with outlining a bit of my history and belief background to give this whole thing some context. This may go on for a number of posts and a bit of time until I have my bucket emptied, but feel free to jump in anytime if you have questions/comments, etc.

Here are some informative links to the belief system I have lived my life in. It is very fundamentalist and will be very alien to a lot of people here.

Official site: http://churchofgodinchristmennonite.net/en/beliefs

Unofficial:
http://www.bibleviews.com/holdeman.html

Wkipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_God_in_Christ,_Mennonite

Critical viewpoints:
http://www.theholdemans.com/teaches.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVXcNWh5Twg

More posts to follow.
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #1 - Dec 21st, 2015 at 2:57pm
 
If you're not interested in going through the links, that's fine. There are several main takeaways here.

1. They are fundamentalist, very "literal bible".  For example, Paul says in closing several of his letters to "greet one another with an holy kiss". this is taken as a command. The somewhat ambiguous passage in Corinthians about women having their heads covered while praying has been interpreted to mean women must have some sort of covering at all times. Men must wear beards as that is how God created them. Obviously, this means a literal six day creation 6000 years ago etc etc.

2. They have a very strong teaching that they are alone the one true church of God and the highest power on earth, tracing back the lineage back to the apostolic church through a myriad of different church groups through the ages who they claim held the "true faith". Other Christian churches are referred to somewhat dismissively as "nominal Christianity" This gives this group tremendous power over their members as the subtle inference, not taught as such but repeated over and over in different ways, is that the Church is basically the same as God. If they judge you, God has judged you. If they make a rule, God has made the rule.

3. They also have a strong doctrine on the separation from the world, which means no television or radio. (paradoxically, the have allowed the internet which is pretty much a funnel of everything they don't want right into your home. But its got to be filtered) No education, for most, past 8th grade. The effect of this is to severely curtail information and choke critical thinking in those who would be so inclined.

There are many other particulars, but this is the core of the belief system I have been a part of for nearly all of my life.

Just to be clear, I am not implying that this manipulation is done in a cynical, cultish way. They are a sincere, if mistaken, honest God-fearing people.
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #2 - Dec 21st, 2015 at 6:35pm
 
As for myself, the home I grew up in was not typical of that sect. I had access to television through most of my formative years and I read whatever books i wanted. I have always had a scientific bent – as a child I was entranced with astronomy and dinosaurs, and as a youth I avidly read what I could find at the library on relativity, black holes, etc. It mystified me as to why the universe would look as unfathomably large and ancient as it did, when I had been brought up to believe the Creation story. I have also been interested in the paranormal, UFOs, etc., albeit highly skeptical, as well as near death experiences. I read Monroe's book "Journeys out of the Body" many years ago and was quite weirded out.  Nevertheless, through all of this, I basically swallowed what I was told and accepted it as ultimate truth amidst much deception.

Ultimately, about 10-12 years ago, I began to have a crisis of faith. It led to a serious examination of all I had been indoctrinated with. My belief in the church went first, followed by my belief in God.  I distinctly remember the feeling one day as I was reading Richard Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth” There was no getting around it anymore. Evolution was true. The universe is unfathomably old. I “knew” it. I had tried to convince myself that there must be a loophole, somehow there must be a mistake in science, some suppressed evidence, some kind of conspiracy, something that would explain everything – just something. There isn’t. I would love to believe otherwise, but I simply can’t.

Yet in some other ways I have come full circle. There is insurmountable evidence for human evolution, that is true, but there also seems to be a vast body of evidence that nor are we mere mortal beings - a cosmic accident that becomes conscious for a short time and fades into nothingness.

I have not had an OBE or an NDE - I haven't really had any paranormal experience,  so I don't have the luxury of "knowing", but I believe something I don't understand is going on - something I don't know how to process.
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #3 - Dec 23rd, 2015 at 1:45pm
 
The basic concept I am getting of what is “going on” is that our individual consciousness is part of a much wider and perhaps infinite reality of consciousness experiencing itself and expressing itself. We are nothing and yet everything. There is no “God” as understood through the ages. Some even say there is no Source, whatever is just “is”. God is simply a construct to explain what our human ancestors have encountered as they have also had these experiences of NDEs/OBEs etc. and belief systems have evolved from that. Someone else can help me out here and provide a better definition.

The burning questions I have then are these: what place can the Christian concepts of God, sin and the redemption by the blood of Jesus have in this reality? Who, really, was Jesus and what significance should he have for my life? Was he just a great teacher or something more? In what frame of mind does one read the Bible? Does it really hold any more value than any other religious book?

There are, however, several things about Jesus in particular that I personally find very intriguing.

The transformation of his disciples and Saul/Paul. An excerpt of an article found here:

http://factsandfaith.com/the-resurrection-best-explains-the-transformation-in-th...

“Christian apologists are quick to admit neither a transformed life or even a person’s willingness to die for their beliefs proves the person’s beliefs are true; however, a transformed life and/or a willingness to die for one’s beliefs is compelling evidence the person believes them to be true.  In the case of Jesus’ disciples, Christian apologists maintain that except for the disciples actually seeing the resurrected Jesus, it is very difficult to account for the dramatic change in all of their lives from fearful fleers to faithful followers despite enduring lifelong persecution and eventual martyrdom.”

Another is the Shroud of Turin. This is one that is very difficult to get to the bottom of. If I had to guess I’d probably come down that it’s a fake due to anatomical problems and the carbon dating. However, it is admittedly very ambiguous. And at the end of the day, no one really has any idea how the image got there.

I am a believer in evidence and scientific method. That is what we must build our theories around. What we can sense and know and prove over and over again. My religion taught me that the Bible was the unfailable, inerrant Word of God. I don't see how this could be. There is no evidence anything in Genesis ever took place. So while I am finding it very difficult to understand how the Gospel of Jesus can ever fit into this picture of what reality is, I personally can’t simply dismiss him as a myth or just another person who somehow had this belief system built up around him for no good reason either.

So give me your thoughts. Let's have a discussion.
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #4 - Dec 23rd, 2015 at 3:16pm
 
One thing I'll add here. I realize that my ingrained belief system affects my current thinking and it can possibly be a block of some sort. It is the reason I posted about my background religious faith, to give an idea of where I've come from and where I am.

Obviously, the Bible taken in the literal, fundamentalist sense does not work. Yet, I fail to see (at this juncture at least Smiley) how applying fuzzy, get-what-you-want-out-of-it symbolism has much merit because the Bible simply does not read that way or give the impression it is to be taken that way with the redemption storyline. The message purports to be very simple. Who then could understand it and what would be the point?
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1796
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #5 - Dec 23rd, 2015 at 8:55pm
 
They are the most interesting posts I have read on this forum.
I find human stories fascinating, that is part of why I do what I do.

I read your links and don't have a great problem with the beliefs and stated practices of the Mennonite church. I can see why it would appeal and benefit some people, and why it would not others. There are many similar such Christian sects. They were inevitable and do have their place. 

Personally, I don't have a problem with the seeming contradictions or incompatibilities that you see between Christian scripture and the version of reality offered by Science, or between those two and reality itself. It is all quite compatible to me, with only minor differences. To me the incompatibilities people say exist are clearly due to lackings in people's comprehension and inability to see the connections between distant facts. Likewise, the "burning questions" you ask are clearly answerable for myself. I think I have previously answered most of them on this forum.

But some things need to be explained in person, and also the recipient of the explanation needs to be in condition and have a certain mindset too. Both parties need to come together, and the communication needs to be simple, clear and systematic. In all the fields of human knowledge there is nothing so complex that it cannot be explained in simple words and terms by those who understand it. But regardless, the recipient needs to do their part. And knowledge and understanding are built up progressively, in their order, one unit of understanding upon another, in the same way that facts are ordered in reality. Each person has their own structure of knowledge built that they have built thus far, and further knowledge and understanding must start where they are up to.

To your advantage you possess a wide view, for you describe the extremes, and you see them as incompatible while wondering if there might be some connecting reality between them that reconciles them to each other. And you are right, there is.

Everything is part of a spectrum or continuum. The most extreme opposing outer reaches of any field of reality or any pool of knowledge or understanding, are joined by a spectrum of incremental changes that run between the opposing extremes that lie around the periphery of the field.

Practicing subjecture (looking between the facts) is more accurate and rewarding than conjecture (looking beyond them). If you have experienced and know the extremes, or can fathom the extremes, then you know the connecting continuum between them exists. It is just a matter of seeing it. That is why the Jews and the north east Asians are so smart, because between their knowledge of their own individual conscious existence and their belief in an all encompassing, all pervasive, ever extensive God from which all comes, returns to and is a part of, (YHWH and the Tao) everything else becomes subjecture and is easily fathomed and ordered.      

You are curious, which readies the mind, for curiosity is the open minded desire to know. That is another advantage you have. But the heart limits the mind. Great minds don't exist over little hearts. The heart must be expanded for the mind to expand. Wonder is to the heart what curiosity is the mind. It readies the heart. Cultivate joyous wonder in the heart and curiosity of mind will follow. Taking in understanding will come more easily.

Thankfulness is the heart taking into itself that which it is thankful for, into its repository. Thankfulness is the heart's memory, and is eternal. What is received in thankfulness is never forgotten. Cultivate thankfulness, say thankyou to your God for all you blessings, for all that comes along, for all learnings, and you will never forget them.

Then faith, which is in the heart too, powers the heart, which in turn powers the mind. Faith is not the belief in an unknown conviction, but is the certainty that truth exists, and that it can be known. The step between belief and faith is the logical belief in one's own existent consciousness and the logical belief in the great existence of unified Truth, and the logical belief that one's own existence is part of the great existence. From that belief comes faith - the power of that belief and its reality.      

I don't know if it will or not, but I hope those points might give you, and others, something to muse on, which might loosen things up, open and prime the heart and mind, and help with comprehension. It can't be done in a few moments here and there of fleeting thought, but requires gentle delving thought and work upon the heart.



There is a "knack factor" to seeing or comprehending some things, and once seen, it is easier after that. And there is a knack factor to imparting knack factors to others. And that is something I am in process of learning how to do.  

Seeing or understanding some things is like seeing those hidden 3d images in 2d patterns. Once you can see them they are easy after that and you can then immediately see them all. 
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=hidden+3d+image+in+pattern&biw=1265&bih=582&t...

I believe you will find your answers. In time, you will come to know the truth.

cb
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #6 - Dec 30th, 2015 at 5:55pm
 
I will consider what you have said, 1796.
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doodad
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #7 - Feb 1st, 2016 at 10:40am
 
1796:

I've still been mulling this over. I'm wondering about your take on sin. How would you define it and how does it fit in?
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1796
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Re: Burning questions
Reply #8 - Feb 3rd, 2016 at 2:27am
 
Here are some archery targets:
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=archery+target&biw=1277&bih=582&tbm=isch&tbo=...

The word sin is an archery term, meaning to miss the mark, or to miss the gold at the centre of the target. In other words, to land in any of the surrounding rings outside of the central gold circle.

To miss the target altogether is not called a sin, it is called a miss. That seldom happens as archers are traditionally positioned by their coach at a distance where according to the individual's ability he does not miss the target.

Target, from targe, means shield or edge.
It refers to the entire target, the gold centre and all surrounding rings, to the most outer ring.   

Arrow, from Lat & Germanic, arku-bow, meaning extension of or belonging to the bow. Bow, meaning to bend or bow down.   
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