truthlover -- Thank you for those details. Do you believe that God is (a) benevolent and (b) personally interested in you?
To those of Faith on here, a question.
I believe that religion and spirituality can exist together. My faith is a proclamation that I am worth a relationship with God. Altho I am Anglican, I believe in any religion according to that culture. It is more that Christ is the manifestation of God in my culture. Just because I was born into European stock parents, I was exposed to Christianity. Education expanded my faith greatly. I studied New Testament and Jesus in historical religion courses at Columbia taught by Elaine Pagels, the Gnostic expert. We had to read the Bible as any other source material, in cohesive books, rather than one verse, one verse there, Chinese menu style. It opened my eyes to extraorinary beauty and forever convinced me the Witnesses knowingly lie. When I read the Bible for the first time in this manner, I kept calling home to announce to my family that the Society just plain got the Bible wrong. Of course, doctrinal issues such as the Trinity were unclear. On a host of basic objective facts the Witnesses were wrong. It was important to me that it was a neutral, academic setting. In fact, our Jesus seminar started with Pagels saying Carl Jung wrote that we project our feelings onto Christ and told us to quickly write down three adjectives for Jesus. Everyone in the seminar had taken New Testament. It was telling that I wrote Witness lingo. The only ones who interpreted Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospels were two Orthodox Jewish males taking the course to enhance medical school admissions.
With this experience under my belt, I started studying on my own. Naturally, I selected "hot" Witness books. Altho I had left the Witnesses at thirteen, I started with a 1,000 page tome on Revelation, which is a beautiful book. Revelation with the Witnesses put utter terror in me as a child. The illustrations in that orange book for children were over the top. I just read and read. The more I read, the freer I became.
My decision to adopt these scriptures as my personal statement was an act of will. Pagels explained the son of man and son of God concepts. She pointed out that almost every king and notable was a son of God but son of man was the messianic figure. With the proclamation that nowhere were there ever daughters of God, I said to myself, "F..... you.!" Many extraordinary women were in the seminar. Since Pagels was a female role model, we used to linger after he men left and discussed female sexuality and God. After learning more cultural history and majoring in political science, I tried to carve out a system of belief among the doubts.
One day I had to go up to Columbia after graduation. The subway was down so I walked another way to the next stop. I passed this immense structure that was interesting, The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the world's largest cathedral. The Anglican cathedral had a placard up for that Sunday's service. Cesar Chavez, the farmworkers union leader, and Geraldo Rivera, only a local NY reporter where he should have stayed, were preaching. I admired Chavez and Gandhi immensely. It moved me so much I drove in from NJ on Sunday. The cathedral had extraordinary beauty. It also had this urban funkiness and utter sophisitcation and elegance. Artists worked in crypts beneath the Cathedral. Rock and classical musicians gave concerts. There was a litigurical dance company. A very good professional choir. This was not the Kingdom Hall. It had the traditions of Roman Catholicism with modern Protestant and Anglican theology. It is very ecumenical. Shinto priests came regularly to show their respect. Temple Emanuel-El donated fine pieces of art. It was a class act. The priests wore jeans and sandals under their robes.
I craved this. My mind was so messed up I met with a priest who told me that questions were good. He had many of the same questions I did. He said the church (universal) was a community of people asking the same questions as a group. Whenever I went for clarification about some position that the Witnesses took, the priests refused to give me neat formulations. The message was emphatic. Other religions and atheists are respected aboslutely. Their truth is valid for them. Also, I did not have to do anything to merit God's love. This culture was the culture I already adopted.
Later, while I was practicing on Wall St., my life soarded downwards when facial neuralgia was triggered by a routine dental visit. The suicide rate is greater than 98%. Doctors consider it worse than terminal cancer pain. I suffered constantly and became completely dependent on my mom. Doctors were utterly shocked and perhaps disappointed that I did not exit. I wanted to do so but just could not. Without my mom's extraordinary care, I would have died despite my will. I needed structure while she worked so I made the long commute to the cathedral to volunteer. The community embraced me. People gave of their time so generously. I would not be alive if I did not see that placard. The hilarious thing is I was seduced by the liberal political agenda of the place. Many worked in the civil rights movement. My pain made me needed old time religion more. And I found it. Looking back, I wonder why the subway was down.
I have tons of questions and doubts. It is still a journey. I tend to view my illness as punitive from God for worldly success. Not that I believe it literally or intellectually. The JW indoctrination still trips me up despite my best efforts. With my temperament, that certain faith that can be smug will never arrive. Also, I believe living in NY and knowing Jewish, Hindus and Buddhists really well as close friends made the casualties of Armageddon very concrete. We never truly fit with the Witnesses. The people I most loved were going to perish by God. No matter how I conformed with the Witnesses, I had doubts even as a young child. I never felt I would survive Armageddon. And what do you get if you survive, burying bodies for centuries on end. My faith is personal. Friends are thrown off by my doubts and persistent faith. I found both can co-exist. It is possible to pick and choose. In the end, I don't believe faith is doctrinal formulation or knowing the Church Fathers well. I believe faith is how we order our lives. My daily choices should reflect my faith.
Part of me longs for the Witness certainty. It is only a small part of me.
Wobble, thanks for starting this topic, I have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. I was about to post my first topic when I saw yours and found it helpful. I would enjoy your insight on my Topic: Should we try to understand God?
I feel a little awkward posting on a thread that references me in this way (peace to you, dear Wobbles!)... but I would like to ask:
What if the book tells you that One who supposedly wrote it... AND the [other] One about whom it is written... said you don't need a religion... OR a/the book?
That's what it... and afterward, they... told me.
Again, peace to you all!
A slave of Christ,
Faith is not something that you can touch/see/feel...It is not something you can get from a book/church/person. Faith comes from within, from within your soul.
My penny's worth!
I am NOT a slave of Christ...Christ is a friend of ME!!!I dont believe ALL scripture but I do believe
some scripture makes sense to ME!!! I do NOT attend a Church I do believe Religion cause more trouble in
the world than any other thing ( except drugs).I do believe there was a CREATOR of all things
bright & beautiful,that I see with my own eyes. Whom I do believe is called GOD!!!
So Because I Believe SOME teachings ( weather I am right or wrong)of the old writings
I did ask Jesus Christ to be MY GOD!!!! & I believe he cares for me!!! Dont ask why he should,
because I have done very wicked things in my long life( 83+)But I never go out of this house,
with out asking for his help,or do anything with out disgussing it with HIM first,some times I
have not obeyed( like the fall I had a few weeks ago,I "thought" before I went up the hill,
DONT GO!!! but did my own thing.& WENT!!!!so of course HE slapped me. He is my FRIEND,
caregiver,teacher ( through the HOLY SPIRIT who HE sends in my Conscience).I speak to him all
day!! when I want to chat, I yell at him when I hear the news ,Asking WHY??? do you care for,
me & NOT all those who are suffering.??Because HE is MY friend he allows my freedom to behave
rudely to HIM!!! But right after he send someone that LOVES me in an e-mail,visit,phonecall
because those (who dont think I am nuts) & believes in Christ,(whom is the BODY,)Of Christ as the HEAD
Are those who are the CHURCH ( we are the bricks) He is the foundation.... OK. NOW dont
send the guy with the straight Jacket ...YOU asked I answered.
No straight jacket :) You make me smile.
Yes, those who have faith in Christ make up the body of Christ... not an organization in and of itself. He is the head.
Benevolent - one side of a two sided coin I would say - biblical facts show God to be both kind,human,considerate, thoughtful and all the adjectives you want to throw in like kind, yet the other side is one of a person in charge who wants his will to be done, which, if done so, will benefit the Israelite nation, if not, they are left to their own desires and the consequences of such.. I was a sales manager and had many in my team and when I asked something to be done,I expected it to be done --if it wasn't, there were consequences that affected the whole team - missed quotas,deadlines, etc..that affected bonuses...and as we are "in God's Image" I can only think that God may have the same outlook,hence we are in the position we are in today ...
Is he personally interested? Being a person of hope and faith - I think he truly does care, I want him to care, he gave us his son, he promises us a "new heaven and new earth in which righteousness is to dwell" and I would really like to live under these circumstances, seeing my mate has died and I would like to think I will see the resurrection occur..
Seems everything he set in place went to hell in a handbasket and all we have is what we know now - I can only think everything will be better for us all in the future, whenever that may be
What is your take on it?
I hear you, dear Grace (peace to you!). I am a slave of Christ, however, in the same manner as the angel who presented the revelation to John:
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a [fellow servant] with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Revelation 19:10
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a [fellow servant] with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" Revelation 22:8, 9
The Greek word that many Bible versions transliterate as "servant" or "fellow servant" is "syndoulos" and derives from the Greek words "syn", which means "with" (as in, associate or fellow)... and "doulos", which means, literally:
1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition a) a slave b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests 2) a servant, attendant
I realize that due to the very nasty institution of slavery in U.S. history the word "slave" is also considered "nasty." Not politically correct. But it wasn't always a derogatory term. Not when Israel was enslaved in Egypt... and not during the times when the Revelation was penned. My position is that if such a designation was good enough for the angel who gave John the revelation, which revelation he (the angel... who is Michael, BTW) received directly from Christ... to give to himself... then who am I to have a problem with it? I am only calling myself what HE (Michael) called me. And you.
Given its actual definition, therefore, I believe it's entirely appropriate. And since I am calling myself such (and do so willingly, as Michael did)... vs. someone else doing so... and my Lord certainly doesn't... I admit I am often puzzled at why others take offense.
I hope this clears MY use of the term up... and, again, I bid you peace!
A slave of Christ,
What I think doesn't make any difference.
What is true about God and Christ will be found out after death.