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Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 5:09pm On Jan 21, 2011
I just read a blog that I thought was kinda interesting. Just want to know what you guys think. Agree? DIsagree? why or why not? Besides some of the claims about "God" which though I don't exactly disagree with, I have some reservations about, I think he makes a lot of sense.

Are you a believer?

Have you ever been asked this question before? Did the question and your search for an answer make you uncomfortable? Did you wonder to yourself what does this question really mean? For me, the answer to all these questions is "yes."

When I was growing up, I often heard the popular refrain in Christianity that to be "saved" all one needed was to have "faith." When asked what "having faith" meant, the reply was typically "believing that Jesus is the son of God." In other words, all we are required to do in order to have eternal life is to believe a certain set of facts about events that occurred over 2,000 years ago, and whatever else we do in our lives (cheating, stealing, murder, etc.) is irrelevant.

I struggled with this issue because logically it didn't make sense to me. Why would an all-powerful God, who created all of existence, care about a single belief we held? Anthropologists would say that for the vast majority of us, our beliefs are culturally conditioned. Is the Hindu raised in India with little exposure to Christianity who lives an exemplary life going to hell because she does not believe what an American who grows up in the Bible-belt is taught from a young age? What happens when an article of faith (for example, that God created the world in 6 days 6,000 years ago) contradicts what we know from other disciplines like science, history, and archaeology?

The more I thought about this issue, the more it seemed that the formula of "believe in the doctrine of XYZ" and "you will be saved" was little more than a carrot and stick approach to encourage people to conform to the doctrine of whatever authority was making the proclamation. The history of politics has shown that this exact strategy has been employed countless times (often to terrible results) by authoritarian regimes to compel conformity and thus solidify the power of the institution.

The modern view of believing in Jesus in order to be saved has its roots in Martin Luther's Reformation which responded to the Catholic practice of selling indulgences (paying the church for salvation) by substituting the doctrine of Justification by Faith as outlined by St. Paul. According to this doctrine, we cannot be saved by our good works because at heart we are all imperfect sinners -- our works will never be good enough for God. We are only saved through our faith in Jesus.

However, as Luther's doctrine has evolved over the centuries, it has been distorted so that "faith" has become synonymous with "belief." What has happened is that a new requirement has been substituted for good works. Making belief a requirement for salvation is just replacing another kind of work -- the mental work of belief in something -- as a condition to salvation. It is trying to bring in through the back door the type of human action and interference in God's salvation that Luther objected to with the Catholic church selling indulgences.

So what is the meaning of Luther's justification by faith? This means simply that we are already saved. We don't have to do anything for our salvation, and this includes believing in a specific doctrine. When we combine this theory with the conception of God (which I have outlined in earlier posts) as the creative power behind all of existence (instead of a supernatural being who judges our actions like Zeus from the top of Olympus), we can begin to understand how we are already part of the infinite and eternal power of being. The "Kingdom of God" is already present and real because it is the basis that underlies all reality. However, we do not realize that we are already saved -- we do not experience this salvation in our day-to-day lives. We live lives in which our egos dominate us and in which we live apart from the ground of reality that is God. Using an analogy from science, we experience only one side of reality -- our bodies and the spaces around us -- but if we were to look at reality at the molecular level, reality looks very different -- what appears solid is actually made up mostly of space and the empty space around us is filled with particles.

The path to salvation thus becomes more like an awakening, an understanding, and an experience of what is already here but we cannot see. The spiritual path (prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, etc.) becomes a mechanism to peal back the onion layers of who we are and what we think the world around us is, so that we can examine the power of God within ourselves, within others, and within existence itself. Salvation is an opening of our eyes and hearts, a new way of seeing the universe.

Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.

We've all heard the expression "Try it on faith." This doesn't mean, "Believe me" but rather "Trust me, and experience it for yourself." Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting. In science these qualities lead to greater truths, why shouldn't the same apply to religion? For me, religion is about embracing the unknown and the difficult -- a journey of exploration that never really gets there because ultimately I am finite. Faith is about being comfortable with my doubts because doubt is part of my search for truth. Faith is not a closing of my eyes and mind to the real world, to science, to modern knowledge, or to experience, but it is the opposite: an opening up and a new way of seeing.

Understanding evolves and changes with information; it is open and dynamic. The history of science shows us that whatever our beliefs and theories are today, they will probably be proved wrong over time, and we will then adapt our theories to the new information. Yet in religion we often hold onto cherished beliefs in the face of contrary facts. I think we should borrow from the model of science and allow our religious beliefs to evolve with time as well. But we should be cognizant of the difference between scientific knowledge and understanding through faith and religious experience. I view faith as another form of knowledge that is based more on insight and wisdom. It is using intuition as a way of understanding versus pure reason. But it should not be in conflict with reason, science, and experience. Therefore when I pose the question at the top of my blog "What do you believe?", I do so as an invitation to explore your beliefs, to question them, and to engage in a deeper search for meaning that may mean confronting uncomfortable facts and evolving your views.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-small/faith-is-not-a-synonym-fo_b_810458.html
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by JeSoul(f): 6:02pm On Jan 21, 2011
Krayo Happy New 2011 oh smiley I hope this year brings you all that your heart desires.

I like this article. I love this article.

As per this quote:
Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life.

I may be talking in circles, but inevitably, this "trust" factor is borne from some kind of belief in the first place. In other words you cannot have trust without belief . . . but this is just a minor note. His point (and a very solid one) is that shallow belief alone in doctrine void of a tangible change (like Jesus) in how a 'believer' lives, is empty.

And I have just fallen in love with this bit -
Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting. In science these qualities lead to greater truths, why shouldn't the same apply to religion? For me, religion is about embracing the unknown and the difficult -- a journey of exploration that never really gets there because ultimately I am finite. Faith is about being comfortable with my doubts because doubt is part of my search for truth. Faith is not a closing of my eyes and mind to the real world, to science, to modern knowledge, or to experience, but it is the opposite: an opening up and a new way of seeing.
This is simply exquisite. He might as well have crawled into my heart, took notes, and came out to express these words in a way I never could. Beautifully said. Thanks a billion for sharing this Krayola!
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 6:32pm On Jan 21, 2011
I found the article quite curious. According to this blogger, the veracity of the Bible is irrelevant. What then differentiates this person's type of belief from that of e.g a deist? If the Bible is not historically accurate, then why believe that Jesus was the Son of God? If he wasn't, then why worship him?



. . . .
So what is the meaning of Luther's justification by faith? This means simply that we are already saved. We don't have to do anything for our salvation, and this includes believing in a specific doctrine. When we combine this theory with the conception of God (which I have outlined in earlier posts) as the creative power behind all of existence (instead of a supernatural being who judges our actions like Zeus from the top of Olympus), we can begin to understand how we are already part of the infinite and eternal power of being. The "Kingdom of God" is already present and real because it is the basis that underlies all reality. However, we do not realize that we are already saved -- we do not experience this salvation in our day-to-day lives. We live lives in which our egos dominate us and in which we live apart from the ground of reality that is God. . . .


This looks to me like a deist who still believes in some highly modified remnant of Christianity.



Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.

We've all heard the expression "Try it on faith." This doesn't mean, "Believe me" but rather "Trust me, and experience it for yourself." Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting. In science these qualities lead to greater truths, why shouldn't the same apply to religion? For me, religion is about embracing the unknown and the difficult -- a journey of exploration that never really gets there because ultimately I am finite. Faith is about being comfortable with my doubts because doubt is part of my search for truth. Faith is not a closing of my eyes and mind to the real world, to science, to modern knowledge, or to experience, but it is the opposite: an opening up and a new way of seeing.


The above are a redefinition of the word "faith" as used in religious discussions. I wonder what this fellow was driving at because religion requires dogma otherwise chaos will reign if each person decides to receive their own revelations on what their faith should be.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 6:50pm On Jan 21, 2011
Thank you Karyola. My best parts of the post are

The path to salvation thus becomes more like an awakening, an understanding, and an experience of what is already here but we cannot see. The spiritual path (prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, etc.) becomes a mechanism to peal back the onion layers of who we are and what we think the world around us is, so that we can examine the power of God within ourselves, within others, and within existence itself. Salvation is an opening of our eyes and hearts, a new way of seeing the universe.

Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.

We've all heard the expression "Try it on faith." This doesn't mean, "Believe me" but rather "Trust me, and experience it for yourself." Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting. In science these qualities lead to greater truths, why shouldn't the same apply to religion? For me, religion is about embracing the unknown and the difficult -- a journey of exploration that never really gets there because ultimately I am finite. Faith is about being comfortable with my doubts because doubt is part of my search for truth. Faith is not a closing of my eyes and mind to the real world, to science, to modern knowledge, or to experience, but it is the opposite: an opening up and a new way of seeing.

All those lines read the lips of my very own heart smiley
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by JeSoul(f): 7:03pm On Jan 21, 2011
thehomer:
According to this blogger, the veracity of the Bible is irrelevant.
  You refering to this quote:

Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant),

 Good observation and yeah it would seem so. I didn't even look at it that way . . . I think his ultimate point was whether or not biblical accounts can be proven to be historical is irrelevant - because the stories and accounts we read, are powerful in and of themselves.

To a christian (at least to me) whether or not the bible can be verified to be accurate has always been irrelevant. It is power by itself. It's the words, the stories, the message that jumps off the pages and becomes real in my life - this is why I personally believe it, enough to desire to walk like Jesus did.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by DeepSight(m): 7:06pm On Jan 21, 2011
JeSoul:

Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting.

And I have just fallen in love with this bit - This is simply exquisite. He might as well have crawled into my heart, took notes, and came out to express these words in a way I never could. Beautifully said. Thanks a billion for sharing this Krayola!

What parts of your faith have you "tested, questioned and doubted?"

Please share with us, since you say that you love that part of the article and it accords with your view.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by DeepSight(m): 7:11pm On Jan 21, 2011
Dulcet7:

All those lines read the lips of my very own heart smiley


. . .just like the "respect" you stated that you have for the "riveted application" demonstrated by serial killers, eh?
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 7:29pm On Jan 21, 2011
Deep Sight:

. . .just like the "respect" you stated that you have for the "riveted application" demonstrated by serial killers, eh?
You are quite close, Deep Sight smiley
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by DeepSight(m): 7:31pm On Jan 21, 2011
Dulcet7:

You are quite close, Deep Sight smiley

Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 11:14pm On Jan 21, 2011
JeSoul:

  You refering to this quote:


Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant)

Yes I am.


JeSoul:

 Good observation and yeah it would seem so. I didn't even look at it that way . . . I think his ultimate point was whether or not biblical accounts can be proven to be historical is irrelevant - because the stories and accounts we read, are powerful in and of themselves.

To a christian (at least to me) whether or not the bible can be verified to be accurate has always been irrelevant. It is power by itself. It's the words, the stories, the message that jumps off the pages and becomes real in my life - this is why I personally believe it, enough to desire to walk like Jesus did.

I think the veracity of the stories as being historical is quite important in the belief. e.g consider a book series like the Lord of the Rings. It has some nice stories and even some very interesting quotes e.g
"Many that live deserve death, and some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." or
"He should not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall".

These quotes are pretty good. It would be even better if these quotes were made by real people under real circumstances. But, can you really personally believe the stories in the series if you know or even seriously suspect that they are not factual? I think your desire to do what Jesus did is because you actually think the stories about him are true and these stories require faith (i.e unconditional acceptance) to believe.

In conclusion, I don't think the veracity of books on which one bases their worldview can be accepted as being false yet the person continues the belief. This will lead to a cognitive dissonance that will have to be resolved for progress in such a person's worldview.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 1:45pm On Jan 22, 2011
JeSoul:

Krayo Happy New 2011 oh smiley I hope this year brings you all that your heart desires.

Happy New Year to U too. I Hope enjoyment just dey chase you up and down.  smiley

JeSoul:

I may be talking in circles, but inevitably, this "trust" factor is borne from some kind of belief in the first place. In other words you cannot have trust without belief . . . but this is just a minor note. His point (and a very solid one) is that shallow belief alone in doctrine void of a tangible change (like Jesus) in how a 'believer' lives, is empty.

Yeah,  But I think he also makes a point about not ignoring the evidence. We should let what we know thru academia inform our belief systems. Most religious people I encounter are more interested in defending the historicity of some of the more spectacular claims of their faiths, even though there is overwhelming evidence that many of the claims are, with virtual certainty, not historical events.

I think what is more important is the positive impact our world-views can have on our lives and the lives of others. Faith in this context is trusting that living a certain kind life is in line with the will of God, whatever you conceive God to be. . .  and not believing in the certainty of claims about events which mounting evidence suggest never happened. Faith IMO should not be in conflict with science and other academic disciplines. It should be informed by them, and should evolve accordingly.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 2:09pm On Jan 22, 2011
thehomer:

I found the article quite curious. According to this blogger, the veracity of the Bible is irrelevant. What then differentiates this person's type of belief from that of e.g a deist? If the Bible is not historically accurate, then why believe that Jesus was the Son of God? If he wasn't, then why worship him?

I think the point is that the "moral of the story" is more important than the story itself. For example one can learn about the benefits of patience and perseverance from the story about the arrogant hare racing the humble tortoise, and losing. Getting caught up on whether or not forest animals can talk or organize sporting events is missing the point/plot altogether.

Now if, for example, someone questions the historicity of this race taking place between the animals, and the storyteller insists on it being a historical event, despite all the evidence we have that animals do not speak (like virgins do not have babies); and also insists that the benefit of the story is not in the deeper truth it attempts to communicate, but in the belief in it's historicity, then we may just have a deluded "not-so-smart" person on our hands.  grin . I think faith in his opinion  is not belief in a set of facts, but trusting that the lessons these stories attempt to teach are good for the world when put in practice, and acting accordingly.


thehomer:

This looks to me like a deist who still believes in some highly modified remnant of Christianity.

I think you are assuming that all Christians are, and have always been, literalists or even fundamentalists. Christianity like most other religions is not monolithic. There have always been different expressions. I think his views are what Christianity informed by academia, and critical reasoning, can look like. Being comfortable with the "spirit" of the stories enough to let them have an impact on ones life, while still acknowledging that the stories were not intended to communicate accurate accounts of historical events.


thehomer:

The above are a redefinition of the word "faith" as used in religious discussions. I wonder what this fellow was driving at because religion requires dogma otherwise chaos will reign if each person decides to receive their own revelations on what their faith should be.

I don't think religion necessarily requires dogma. Can you please explain what you mean?
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 2:24pm On Jan 22, 2011
JeSoul:

 I think his ultimate point was whether or not biblical accounts can be proven to be historical is irrelevant - because the stories and accounts we read, are powerful in and of themselves.


gbam!

thehomer:

In conclusion, I don't think the veracity of books on which one bases their worldview can be accepted as being false yet the person continues the belief. This will lead to a cognitive dissonance that will have to be resolved for progress in such a person's worldview.

How then do you explain the fact that most religious scholars are devout religionists, and are the ones primarily responsible for most of what we know about the veracity or lack of veracity of the stories we have. And when u say veracity I think u mean literal interpretations. . .  What if the accounts were not intended to be taken so literally?
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 4:16pm On Jan 22, 2011
Krayola:

What if the accounts were not intended to be taken so literally?
I think the bolded is true for most of the Bible.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by mazaje(m): 6:16pm On Jan 22, 2011
Dulcet7:

I think the bolded is true for most of the Bible.

How do you know this?. . . .
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 6:53pm On Jan 22, 2011
Krayola:

I think the point is that the "moral of the story" is more important than the story itself. For example one can learn about the benefits of patience and perseverance from the story about the arrogant hare racing the humble tortoise, and losing. Getting caught up on whether or not forest animals can talk or organize sporting events is missing the point/plot altogether.

If one wanted morals, then the Bible is simply not the best place to turn to. There are several books both older and younger than the Bible that present moral values that are just as good or better than the Bible. So, why hold it in such high esteem over and above these other books?


Krayola:

Now if, for example, someone questions the historicity of this race taking place between the animals, and the storyteller insists on it being a historical event, despite all the evidence we have that animals do not speak (like virgins do not have babies); and also insists that the benefit of the story is not in the deeper truth it attempts to communicate, but in the belief in it's historicity, then we may just have a deluded "not-so-smart" person on our hands.  grin . I think faith in his opinion  is not belief in a set of facts, but trusting that the lessons these stories attempt to teach are good for the world when put in practice, and acting accordingly.

I hope you do realize that from what you're saying, a great majority of religious people are thus deluded because many of them believe the Biblical stories and stories in their sacred texts as being true.
This use of faith is then in this case not quite religious and if it is applied to the sacred texts of the major religions, is misplaced. I say this because the acts commanded or supported by the major deity are quite despicable and would make us blush with shame if we personally knew a person who condoned or performed such acts.


Krayola:

I think you are assuming that all Christians are, and have always been, literalists or even fundamentalists. Christianity like most other religions is not monolithic. There have always been different expressions. I think his views are what Christianity informed by academia, and critical reasoning, can look like. Being comfortable with the "spirit" of the stories enough to let them have an impact on ones life, while still acknowledging that the stories were not intended to communicate accurate accounts of historical events.

One doesn't have to be a fundamentalist or a literalist, but such a person must believe some basic tenets. Can a person be considered a Christian who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God?


Krayola:

I don't think religion necessarily requires dogma. Can you please explain what you mean?

By dogma I mean a code of beliefs accepted as being true without regards to evidence. Religions in general have such beliefs made and accepted based on authority.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 6:57pm On Jan 22, 2011
mazaje:

How do you know this?. . . .

Hello mazaje. I said I think, and not [/i]that I know.

Think [i]carefully
about the following sayings of Jesus. If you still have questions, please let me know.

Gospel of Thomas verse 97:
Jesus said: The kingdom of the [Father] is like a woman; carrying a jar full of meal and walking a long way. The handle (of) the jar broke; the meal poured out behind her on the road. She was unaware, she knew not her loss. When she came into her house, she put down the jar (and) found it empty.

John 6:63
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

John 3:8
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 7:01pm On Jan 22, 2011
thehomer:
One doesn't have to be a fundamentalist or a literalist, but such a person must believe some basic tenets. Can a person be considered a Christian who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Hello thehomer

I found out you are an atheist, but what exactly do you understand/did you mean by the term "son of God" when you said the above? Thanks in advance.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 7:25pm On Jan 22, 2011
Krayola:

gbam!

How then do you explain the fact that most religious scholars are devout religionists, and are the ones primarily responsible for most of what we know about the veracity or lack of veracity of the stories we have.

What is a devout religionist? Also, there is a concept of people belonging to a particular group or tradition but not believing the superstitions associated with the group e.g a secular Jew who does not believe the mystical aspects of the religious tradition but may participate in some of the celebrations. Such a person is actually an unbeliever in the religion.

Krayola:

And when u say veracity I think u mean literal interpretations. . .  What if the accounts were not intended to be taken so literally?

How do you know it was not intended to be taken literally? And, how are the accounts supposed to be taken?
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 7:27pm On Jan 22, 2011
Dulcet7:

Hello thehomer

I found out you are an atheist, but what exactly do you understand/did you mean by the term "son of God" when you said the above? Thanks in advance.

What I mean is that Christians believe there is some supreme creator (God) who has a son Jesus.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 7:58pm On Jan 22, 2011
Thanks for replying me, thehomer but it is not yet clear. In what [b]sense [/b]do you refer to [b]son [/b]when you say "[some] Christians believe there is some supreme creator (God) who has a [b]son [/b]Jesus"?
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 8:01pm On Jan 22, 2011
thehomer:

If one wanted morals, then the Bible is simply not the best place to turn to. There are several books both older and younger than the Bible that present moral values that are just as good or better than the Bible. So, why hold it in such high esteem over and above these other books?

WHat the best source of morals is, is debatable. ANd even if it's not the best, it may still be a great place for some to turn to for morals.

Different books are held in high esteem by different people for different reasons. ALso, the bible means different things to different people.  

thehomer:

I hope you do realize that from what you're saying, a great majority of religious people are thus deluded because many of them believe the Biblical stories and stories in their sacred texts as being true.

Yes. That is pretty much what I am saying. A large number of religious people believe these stories are 100% historically accurate (and that their usefulness depends on that one fact) . . .  Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I think the writer of the blog is saying this doesn't have to be the case.

thehomer:

This use of faith is then in this case not quite religious and if it is applied to the sacred texts of the major religions, is misplaced.

I think the use of "faith" in this case is religious, It just isn't superstitious.


thehomer:

I say this because the acts commanded or supported by the major deity are quite despicable and would make us blush with shame if we personally knew a person who condoned or performed such acts.

IMO no deity commanded any events. The deity is also depicted to have ordered many acts of goodwill and kindness amongst other virtues which almost never seem to make it to the atheist's critique. . . .

I'm not trying to defend majority of religionists. I'm just trying to point out that being religious should not necessarily mean burying one's head in the sand and believing crazy stuff in the name of faith. Faithful should not mean gullible

thehomer:

One doesn't have to be a fundamentalist or a literalist, but such a person must believe some basic tenets. Can a person be considered a Christian who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Yes a person can be a Christian without thinking God impregnated a woman. Jesus's early followers most likely did not believe Mary was impregnated by a ghost. The earliest accounts available do not show that believed any such things. Paul does not mention such neither does the gospel of Mark which is believed to have been the 1st.

King David and  Caeser were also referred to as son of God. Even though they were believed to be fully human. They have birth myths about them. . even though in the case of Caeser we actually have info about his actual birth that would have been available to his contemporaries, they still preferred to tell mythical stories. It's just the way things were done then.  IMO Son of God did not mean the same things then that it means now.

thehomer:

By dogma I mean a code of beliefs accepted as being true without regards to evidence. Religions in general have such beliefs made and accepted based on authority.

Dogma is IMO not necessary for religion to exist and thrive
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 8:11pm On Jan 22, 2011
Krayola:

IMO Son of God did not mean the same things then that it means now.

Hello Krayola. I agree with this.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 8:50pm On Jan 22, 2011
Dulcet7:

Hello Krayola. I agree with this.

Hello Dulcet7. I agree with that too tongue
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 9:00pm On Jan 22, 2011
Dulcet7:

Thanks for replying me, thehomer but it is not yet clear. In what [b]sense [/b]do you refer to [b]son [/b]when you say "[some] Christians believe there is some supreme creator (God) who has a [b]son [/b]Jesus"?

I mean in the sense that the relationship between Jesus and God is at a much higher plane that that between God and any human that ever lived or that will ever live.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 9:29pm On Jan 22, 2011
Krayola:

WHat the best source of morals is, is debatable. ANd even if it's not the best, it may still be a great place for some to turn to for morals.
Different books are held in high esteem by different people for different reasons. ALso, the bible means different things to different people.  

Why should the Bible be consistently held in higher esteem than other books on morals by Christians?


Krayola:

Yes. That is pretty much what I am saying. A large number of religious people believe these stories are 100% historically accurate (and that their usefulness depends on that one fact) . . .  Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I think the writer of the blog is saying this doesn't have to be the case.

Ok.


Krayola:

I think the use of "faith" in this case is religious, It just isn't superstitious.

Hmm. I think one needs to note the subtle shift made by the author which amounts to an equivocation on the word faith because faith as it is used in religions is called on when incredible events are supposed to be accepted. This is shifted to a sort of trust in just the teachings of Jesus which of course include the religious faith that the author is trying to avoid.


Krayola:

IMO no deity commanded any events. The deity is also depicted to have ordered many acts of goodwill and kindness amongst other virtues which almost never seem to make it to the atheist's critique. . . .

Apart from the fact that the cruelty is quite staggering, the acts of goodwill were neither new nor unique at the times of the writings. This deity, it must be noted had no better information than that of the people he was guiding.


Krayola:

I'm not trying to defend majority of religionists. I'm just trying to point out that being religious should not necessarily mean burying one's head in the sand and believing crazy stuff in the name of faith. Faithful should not mean gullible

The degree of faith I think depends on how the individual wishes to rank the external authority figure. i.e the higher the person ranks the authority figure, the more likely the person is to be deceived.


Krayola:

Yes a person can be a Christian without thinking God impregnated a woman. Jesus's early followers most likely did not believe Mary was impregnated by a ghost. The earliest accounts available do not show that believed any such things. Paul does not mention such neither does the gospel of Mark which is believed to have been the 1st.

King David and  Caeser were also referred to as son of God. Even though they were believed to be fully human. They have birth myths about them. . even though in the case of Caeser we actually have info about his actual birth that would have been available to his contemporaries, they still preferred to tell mythical stories. It's just the way things were done then.  IMO Son of God did not mean the same things then that it means now.

Yes it may not mean the same thing but we are living in the present. It is in part due to the understanding that cultures and religions evolve that makes it less likely for someone critically examining religions to believe them.


Krayola:

Dogma is IMO not necessary for religion to exist and thrive

Dogma may not be necessary for the existence of a religion but for it to thrive, I think it is necessary unless you can provide examples of religions without dogma.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 1:13am On Jan 23, 2011
thehomer:

Why should the Bible be consistently held in higher esteem than other books on morals by Christians?

Maybe because the Bible is the identity document of their belief system.

I think from Nairaland threads alone we can see that Christians do not necessarily believe the same things, or interpret their scripture the same way. SO like I said different people hold the bible in high esteem for different reasons. It'll boil down to the individual, and while some may see the bible as the literal word of God and the final word on all moral issues, others won't, but still hold it in high esteem.


thehomer:

Hmm. I think one needs to note the subtle shift made by the author which amounts to an equivocation on the word faith because faith as it is used in religions is called on when incredible events are supposed to be accepted. This is shifted to a sort of trust in just the teachings of Jesus which of course include the religious faith that the author is trying to avoid.


WHat exactly is the author trying to avoid? He said this

Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.

Some people believe that they have felt the presence of God on earth through the life and teachings of Jesus. That if God was a person, that is what he would be like.  This belief is expressed differently by different people in ways that depend partly on how they have interpreted the accounts of his life that are available.

Before and during the life of Jesus religion was not about belief. Orthodoxy did not really exist in religion. The idea of having a "right belief" is something that was unique to Christianity and didn't come about till it was becoming a real institution, close to a century after Jesus' death,  Religion was about practice. Doing certain things to appease the God/the gods to help maintain order here on earth. Jesus didn't teach about a set of beliefs (except in the gospel of John where that is pretty much all he does, and most scholars agree is not a historical account) ; he wasn't going around telling people to believe certain things about his identity or else they were doomed to burn forever. He taught about a compassionate egalitarian way of life and a coming Kingdom of God.  I'm just trying to point out that IMO Christianity can be about being inspired into action by the life and teachings of Jesus, and not necessarily in believing certain claims about his identity  and purpose, which bible research have shown that he most likely never made himself. So I don't think the blogger is trying to avoid anything. . . He is just stating what faith, Christian faith, means to him as an individual.


thehomer:

Apart from the fact that the cruelty is quite staggering, the acts of goodwill were neither new nor unique at the times of the writings. This deity, it must be noted had no better information than that of the people he was guiding.

The cruelty was not new either. Genocide did not begin with the Jewish God.

The acts of goodwill do not have to be new and unique to be inspiring. Why must a source of inspiration be both new and unique for it to resonate? I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at

thehomer:

The degree of faith I think depends on how the individual wishes to rank the external authority figure. i.e the higher the person ranks the authority figure, the more likely the person is to be deceived.

I think it depends on how people understand the bible. A lot of people read the bible but they don't read about the bible. If you believe the bible is the word of God and you take everything in there literally, believe there is a guy up there waiting to dump you in a fiery pit for eternity, you might decide to not use your head and just do as he says. But there is more than enough evidence for one to reasonably conclude that the bible is not the literal word of a perfect deity, and if people decide to ignore all of it in the name of faith, I think that's unfortunate.

thehomer:

Yes it may not mean the same thing but we are living in the present. It is in part due to the understanding that cultures and religions evolve that makes it less likely for someone critically examining religions to believe them.

The blogger mentions faith isn't about belief in certain claims about individuals, which is what the expression of Christianity you seem to have a problem with is all about. One does not necessarily have to believe that Jesus is the biological Son of God to be inspired to live a life like he is believed to have lived. SOme do believe he is the son of God, but like I said that is not what all Christians believe. The blogger is speaking for himself.

thehomer:

Dogma may not be necessary for the existence of a religion but for it to thrive, I think it is necessary unless you can provide examples of religions without dogma.

Pretty much all major religions have some sort of dogma.  I just don't think it's what motivates people to be religious.

I define religion as belief in an unseen order and that supreme good lies in aligning oneself to it. Dogma seeks to symbolically articulate truths about an order that can not be apprehended by the senses. When these symbolic expressions (e.g. the trinity, or the cross) become the central object of focus, then I think we have a problem. Many people IMO, though they sometimes get caught up in all these petty debates about technicality, are more inspired by other elements of religion. .  like the moral values, identity with a community etc
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 11:19am On Jan 23, 2011
Hi thehomer
Thanks for your submission. For me I believe "Son of God" relates to "A chip off the block". It means if God ever wore a physical body, this will be as close as it gets.



Hi Krayola.

I like your last post but let me offer some additions/corrections that I think are in order.

1. Orthodoxy and heresy began to be defined late 2nd century. Prior, religion was personal and defined by intuitive practice.
2. The gospel of John is almost definitely not historical, but rather a calculated refuttal of the gospel of Thomas. To cap it, Thomas was also ridiculed in John.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Krayola(m): 1:27pm On Jan 23, 2011
Dulcet7:

1. Orthodoxy and heresy began to be defined late 2nd century. Prior, religion was personal and defined by intuitive practice.

I think debates about "right belief" started much earlier. The church just wasn't yet at a point where it had much real consequences. Christians were still an obscure small sect and they were really just small internal struggles. . Orthodoxy didn't get defined till much later, but the debates/conflicts had started earlier. . 

1n 1st john 4 , most likely written between 90-115 CE   for example

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

If you read thru the later books of the New Testament one starts to notice a sort of push back against certain kinds of thought. Some forms of Greek philosophy taught that matter/flesh was evil and only Spirit was good. AN early form of christian gnostism, docetism,  believed that Jesus was purely divine and not human because flesh was evil.  These groups, ironically, used some of the ideas expressed in the Gospel of John to justify their claims and some of the later writings push back against them . . in some cases referfing to them as the antichrist.

Dulcet7:

2. The gospel of John is almost definitely not historical, but rather a calculated refuttal of the gospel of Thomas. To cap it, Thomas was also ridiculed in John.

I'm pretty sure John is not historical. Whether it's main purpose was to refute the gospel of Thomas is another matter. It deals with a lot that have nothing to do with the Gospel of Thomas so it's hard to make the argument that it's purpose was to refute the Gospel of Thomas (which is really just a collection of sayings).  The available version of the gospel of Thomas isn't believed to have been the original form so it's really hard to say anything conclusively about that IMO. But I do know in it's current form it is a gnostic text, and the gospel of John and other later New Testament writings push back against gnostic belief that Jesus was not human. SO maybe it was some sort of refutation . . .
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by Dulcet7(m): 2:59pm On Jan 23, 2011
Thanks for shedding light, Krayola.

You are correct the debates & conflicts started earlier, middle to late 1st century. I thought you were speaking of organized "right thinkings" of a global rather than local import. By the time churches started gaining access to other churches' beliefs via their own epistles and gospels, global crises must have escalated and in 2nd century ending concerned people defined their own take. E.g. Marcion came up with his own canon, first ever canon, drawn from only Paul's epistles and a gospel like John but stripped down to remove the virgin birth and stuff.

John versus Thomas? I dont know for sure but I think it wasnt refuting only Thomas but maybe other gnostic texts too. To drive the point home and offer an alternative, John is then written in a gnostic style.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by thehomer: 10:45pm On Jan 23, 2011
Krayola:

Maybe because the Bible is the identity document of their belief system.

I think from Nairaland threads alone we can see that Christians do not necessarily believe the same things, or interpret their scripture the same way. SO like I said different people hold the bible in high esteem for different reasons. It'll boil down to the individual, and while some may see the bible as the literal word of God and the final word on all moral issues, others won't, but still hold it in high esteem.

Which is the dogmatic aspect of the religion.


Krayola:

WHat exactly is the author trying to avoid? He said this


Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.

This is a redefinition of the word faith which actually means something else. Also, if one were to simply go by the teachings of Jesus, such a person would still be making wrong conclusions.


Krayola:

Some people believe that they have felt the presence of God on earth through the life and teachings of Jesus. That if God was a person, that is what he would be like.  This belief is expressed differently by different people in ways that depend partly on how they have interpreted the accounts of his life that are available.

Before and during the life of Jesus religion was not about belief. Orthodoxy did not really exist in religion. The idea of having a "right belief" is something that was unique to Christianity and didn't come about till it was becoming a real institution, close to a century after Jesus' death,  Religion was about practice. Doing certain things to appease the God/the gods to help maintain order here on earth. Jesus didn't teach about a set of beliefs (except in the gospel of John where that is pretty much all he does, and most scholars agree is not a historical account) ; he wasn't going around telling people to believe certain things about his identity or else they were doomed to burn forever. He taught about a compassionate egalitarian way of life and a coming Kingdom of God.  I'm just trying to point out that IMO Christianity can be about being inspired into action by the life and teachings of Jesus, and not necessarily in believing certain claims about his identity  and purpose, which bible research have shown that he most likely never made himself. So I don't think the blogger is trying to avoid anything. . . He is just stating what faith, Christian faith, means to him as an individual.

It can be about inspiration but inspiration is not faith. Faith already means something else.


Krayola:

The cruelty was not new either. Genocide did not begin with the Jewish God.

The acts of goodwill do not have to be new and unique to be inspiring. Why must a source of inspiration be both new and unique for it to resonate? I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at

What I'm getting at is that when people point at the Bible as their source of morality, they are simply picking and choosing based on some other factors and not the Bible.


Krayola:

I think it depends on how people understand the bible. A lot of people read the bible but they don't read about the bible. If you believe the bible is the word of God and you take everything in there literally, believe there is a guy up there waiting to dump you in a fiery pit for eternity, you might decide to not use your head and just do as he says. But there is more than enough evidence for one to reasonably conclude that the bible is not the literal word of a perfect deity, and if people decide to ignore all of it in the name of faith, I think that's unfortunate.

Ok.


Krayola:

The blogger mentions faith isn't about belief in certain claims about individuals, which is what the expression of Christianity you seem to have a problem with is all about. One does not necessarily have to believe that Jesus is the biological Son of God to be inspired to live a life like he is believed to have lived. SOme do believe he is the son of God, but like I said that is not what all Christians believe. The blogger is speaking for himself.

If it's not about beliefs and claims especially incredible ones, then he is not speaking about faith. He might as well have said he gets inspiration from the teachings rather than redefine faith to be something else.


Krayola:

Pretty much all major religions have some sort of dogma.  I just don't think it's what motivates people to be religious.

I define religion as belief in an unseen order and that supreme good lies in aligning oneself to it. Dogma seeks to symbolically articulate truths about an order that can not be apprehended by the senses. When these symbolic expressions (e.g. the trinity, or the cross) become the central object of focus, then I think we have a problem. Many people IMO, though they sometimes get caught up in all these petty debates about technicality, are more inspired by other elements of religion. .  like the moral values, identity with a community etc

People's motivations are wide and varied and I think dogma plays a large part in sustaining it.
Re: Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief In Doctrine by JeSoul(f): 3:53pm On Jan 24, 2011
^Nice discussion fellas. This is one of the reasons I like NL, all sides are almost always well represented.
Krayola:
I think what is more important is the positive impact our world-views can have on our lives and the lives of others. Faith in this context is trusting that living a certain kind life is in line with the will of God, whatever you conceive God to be. . . and not believing in the certainty of claims about events which mounting evidence suggest never happened. Faith IMO should not be in conflict with science and other academic disciplines. It should be informed by them, and should evolve accordingly.
Cuts at the heart of the matter. Conceptions of God are as diverse as we have people.

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