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Pastorl5

Authentic Christian Believer
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Everything posted by Pastorl5

  1. I too apologize for my outburst in response to your post. Thanks for the apology, I hope that you too can forgive me. I am deeply sorry for the loss you are going through and I hope you can find peace in comfort during this difficult time.
  2. So God died, but only just a little bit, and died for our sins, which was unnecessary since he was god, and now we have to speak to this god, and believe in this god, so we don't have to talk to the other god. Because even if we believed in the other god, that's not enough. Gotta believe the new one too, or fry forever. And that dying thing was like - a sacrifice? Lame Lamb of God, right? Sacrifice to himself, which was only temporary, and somehow a partial death is good for us because... he took away sins, but we still have sin and are inherently sinful, so he really didn't take anything away. "Me, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" "Why have I forsaken myself? I can't remember!" "Into my hands, I commend my spirit, and I will sit on my right hand." Jesus, what a load of crap. Once again your bitter, angry, senseless, and idiotic babble makes your statements not worth my time to even look at. If you would like to continue this discussion, put your big kid pants on and come respectfully to this conversation. Otherwise, stop making the wonderful people of this website look bad. How's that for a load of Crap? Larry
  3. To put it plainly, I agree with your definition of what the Love of Christ is, where I disagree is your application of said definition. Love is obtaining a Higher Consciousness, but it is not becoming that Love (or God) it is emulating that Love to the best of your ability. Love is obtaining a Higher Consciousness, but it is not placing that Love on ourselves, it's realizing that love found in the one who gave you that love in the first place. With all that said, let me say this: Above anything I believe in God's Love being manifested through His grace. That even though we don't deserve to be saved, He chose to do so anyway. I cannot honestly stand here, and I don't think I've done so yet (if I have I apologized), and claim that anyone in this website is going to Hell. That is not my job, it is God's, and I hope that those on this website who claim to know "the Christ" yet reject the man who claimed to be that Christ can still gain access to God. All I know is what God has shown me through Jesus Christ, and in my studies I have found the man and the nature (or the ideology) are one in the same. To put this as an example, if a tribe in a completely different culture worships the ideals and nature of Jesus Christ without knowing Him by name, would they be saved? I would think yes, since the Bible tells us that God makes His nature plain to everyone no matter who you are or where you live. Christ's love is for everyone. Everyone can obtain it. Yet I believe that one can only obtain the full nature of this love (as I have explained before) through the placement of that love in the one true God. It is not found inherently within us, it is something we must be given by God when we accept His Son as our Lord and Savior. I will also say that I agree wholeheartedly that there are more "Christians" out there who worry way too much about being "Christian" and not letting the Love of Christ dwell in their hearts. Yet that is not a misinterpretation of the texts that cause this, but too high of a focus on the self rather than on the God that supplies that love. I hope this helps. I enjoy our dialogue. Until next time... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry P.S. How do I get that questioner title off of my profile and get the title of "believer"?
  4. The problem with suggesting you can't separate the theology from the man is that the theology of the man is unknown to us today. The gospels are not historically accurate accounts of the life of Jesus. Much of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospels likely do not date back to him and instead are representative of the theology of the gospel authors and their communities. Then you also have to take into account that you're still filtering the gospels through an Augustian mindset that was developed centuries later than the gospels which were written long after the death of Jesus and anyone who could claim to be an eyewitness. Then you have about 35,000 denominations of Christianity in existence each one claiming their understanding of Jesus' theology is the correct one, so how can we discover what the theology of the man is when there's so much extra theology we have to filter through to get to the man beneath the legend? I would completely disagree with your assertion that you cannot know the Theology of the man. With all of the Scriptures that we have that do date back to the years right after Jesus' death we can be assured that what we have, if nothing else, is actually from the eyewitnesses of the Gospel Account. Being a Pastor I have studied the Scriptures and can dive into that deeper, just not in this post as we are not talking about the validity of Scripture but the doctrine of the Love of Christ. As to your point on the many denominations, we may have those, but we all agree on the basics of Christianity (i.e Jesus is the Son of God, is God, who became a human, died on the cross, resurrected three days later, died for our sins, the way to salvation, will come back again, etc.). We may differ on the details, but we get the big picture. Good point, I hope I clarified these things for you.
  5. But the point of Jesus' parable was that having a correct set of beliefs did not lead to someone being more moral or loving and it was often the people who claimed to be the most holy who acted the most immoral. The point of the parable is that those who show mercy are good neighbors, not those who are true believers. Key word their is "acted". Jesus was telling us that truly Holiness is found only when we truly Love our neighbors. Don't forget though, that Jesus extends this definition when He tells us that first and foremost we are called to Love Him with all of our being and then Love our neighbor as ourselves. Again, this points to my earlier assertion that you cannot perfect this thing called Love, or give it true meaning, without first Loving God.
  6. Since when can you separate the ideology from the man? To talk about the nature of Christ while throwing out the man Christ is standing on shaky ground. You just can't pick and choose which part of Jesus you want to believe in and what parts you want to throw away. Even if you take the ideals of "The Christ" this becomes impossible. What evidence do you have to support that there are more than one "Christ's"? The only one who claimed to be the "Christ" told us that no one else can be what He was and is today. That is why we need Jesus, because only He can be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Perhaps having a discussion of what the term "Christ" means would be beneficial to this discussion. Unfortunately I have to disagree that this Christ is in everyone. Christ can only be in the ones who believe in the Christ, that is Jesus. I don't think even you would suggest that a person who rejects your viewpoint would have that Christ within them. What do you think? Looking forward to your response. Until then... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  7. Do you believe the love of the good Samaritan had no meaning even though Jesus praised someone from a different faith of being more of a good neighbor than the pious Jewish leaders of the time? You realize that Samaritans were a different sect of Judaism right (even though they were "half-jews", they still believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)? Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  8. It seems as if we need to turn this conversation towards how we measure the depth of love between a Christian and a Non-Christian. I completely agree that there is no difference between the sincerity of my heart and the sincerity of your heart, yet there is a difference that we have not looked at. One of the verses I have used time and time again in our conversation has been 1 Corinthians 13, it is here that we see the qualitative difference between the love that a Christian has compared to the love that a Non-Christian has. Reading 1 Corinthians 13 suggests that without Christian love (I realize that the word "Christian" isn't in that text, but it is a word we can assume is meant by the author of that book) what we do is meaningless. Without the love of Christ in our hearts, no matter what we do will be seen as meaningless in the eyes of God. Why is that? Allow me to take time to explain that: First and foremost, for the Christian Jesus Christ is the center of all meaning. He is called the "Author and Perfecter of our Faith" (Hebrews 12:2) and the one that we should fix our eyes on (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, if we do anything without Christ as the focus, we are doing it without Love, and what we are doing becomes useless (Remember Christ is Love). Secondly if what we are doing or showing others isn't for the purpose of showing people the love of Christ then what we are doing becomes useless due to the lack of meaning or purpose behind our actions. Now to your question as to whether or not I have questioned God's love so much that I have needed to force myself to align with God's Word instead of challenging it: allow me to say this: I first came to Christianity due to the leading of my older brother. As you can imagine, his theology became my theology, I literally had no idea why I believed what I believed. Instead of going to God I hid in the shadow of my brother's faith (not the right idea). When I went to college I began to challenge my belief system and the validity of my faith, so I took to apologetics (on my own studies and not listening to the apologetics of others) and I studied exactly what I believed: yet instead of being led astray, my faith became stronger and my resolve steadier. The Love of Christ became more real than any before because I had finally made it my own. I don't think God merely wants us to align ourselves to His Word, that's not true love. He wants us to understand His Laws and His Love and to become rooted in the Faith on our own, not through the faith of others. I could not agree more with your assertion here. The Church has made huge mistakes since the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of reason. Why? Because the church was afraid it was being replaced; they had lost their love for the people and certainly their love for Christ and became more and more political instead of what it should have been all along: The Spiritual guide to the world. Yet let me go back to the original claim I've made: Do not blame the God we follow: blame the institution. God is still speaking through faithful people and bringing change to His church; not all of God's churches are bad (I know a lot who I believe make positive changes within their community and do not control their people). The mere fact that we cannot know everything until we meet Jesus Christ does not necessarily mean we cannot experience the fullness of our humanity here on earth (that is to live a perfect life). While I think it is incredibly hard I do believe, as Christian Theology suggests, that we as humans can obtain a level of righteousness, or holiness, or perfection (call it what you will). Yet, we cannot do this on our own, we need help. We must realize that we fail when we try to achieve perfection on our own. That is why we need Christ, because He was perfect as a human on this Earth through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the Same way, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we cannot and will not achieve that level of holiness that we all long for. Again, I go back to the difference found in the meaning, find the meaning and you find the difference. I hope this was understandable, I look forward to your response. Until then... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  9. I read your response to AM and I have to say, with respect of course, that you recognize how something sounds exclusive because you put a note in there. I smile, because I know you know. When speaking of the symbols of mythology, I will have to refer to Joseph Campbell, a "living mythology" will "waken and maintain in the individual an experience of awe, humility, and respect, in recognition of that ultimate mystery, transcending names and forms, 'from which,' as we read in the Upanishads, 'words turn back.'" If this is what the symbols of Christianity does for Christians, then that is wonderful. It's when the metaphors and symbols are taken as actually occuring in reality instead of inspiring the above, then something isn't working. These things could have occured, but that isn't the message. The symbols have become the reality instead of the "recognition of that ultimate mystery." The symbols vanish and we are left with saying nothing other than, "Oh my God!" There is truth, behind all symbols, behind all stories, there is the Truth that inspires all stories. If the symbols of any religion fails at this, then new symbols are needed. You mention John 8:12 in your response to AM and said that it's not a matter of interpretation, but I believe it is. The name of God is "I Am." I believe this is what Jesus was saying; he was one with God, we know this, so he used this by stating "I am the way..." No one come to God except by understanding this. No one comes to the Father except by him, which isn't found in words in a book. He said a few things about searching the scriptures. He was trying to tell people that he is the only way to understand divine "sonship". This is what that symbol does for me. It opens me up to the mystery of the "I AM." If I was to take it as it being him solely, it wouldn't do that for me. It would leave me in an exclusive group which claims literal "knowledge" of the Divine and it can't be had outside of this group. No, that can't be it. Everyone can experience it, even those that use Jesus to do it. Before I actually respond may I ask a clarifying question: Are you suggesting that Jesus Christ is a symbol of Christianity? Thanks for the clarification. Larry
  10. I thought a couple of times that I grasped your view, but it keeps slipping because I'm not sure how the three statements I have bolded above match up. You say that Jesus' love is an expression of human experience, but not of humans, and that seems contradictory to me. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could define the qualities of "an expression of human experience"? Which parts are we missing? Namaste, Phanta Phanta, Sorry for the confusion, we can chalk that up to my experience in discussing in this type of format. To understand my viewpoint of God's love as a human experience that humans cannot create, you'd have to understand my assumption that God is real. Humans can experience God's love, that is true, but God's love is not something they create it is something that God gives to them when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (I'm really trying to stay away from Christian cliches but it is hard, so excuse me for using them). When I say that the love of Christ is an expression of human experience what I mean is that the Love of Christ is seen, in our viewpoints, when we express our love for Him (either through worship, serving others, praying, etc.). I hope this clarifies what I'm trying to say. Thanks for the respectful response, I look forward to continuing this conversation. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry Seems strange to me that I can feel all that without believing in Jesus or god or gods and I'm sure that you are not a better person that I am or enjoy life and living more than I do or appreciate all the wonderful natural things that exist and happen around us more than I do or love fellow humans more than I do or treat fellow humans better than I do. I'd rather express my love for humans, people who matter to me, rather than an invisible deity for whose existence there is absolutely no evidence. I Love Dog, May I call you ILD for short? I hope you are not assuming that a person who puts their love in Christ cannot in turn love their fellow man. You are completely right, I do not love more than you nor am I a better person; that's why I need Christ. With Christ I don't love more, my love has more meaning. When I love it has eternal benefits, when a Non-Christian loves it makes a person feel good for a lifetime; but what about the after life? Now I have no idea what you think about the other side of this life, but assuming it does exist, wouldn't you want the love that you share with others to have an impact on where they spend eternity? It's not about the feeling of love that makes Christian love any different, it's the meaning behind that love that makes all the difference. I know you'll have a response to this, so I look forward to what you have to say. Until then... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  11. AM, Trust me, none of this conversation has "put me off" I have a rule that on Sundays, outside of church, I spend with Family (so you'll never hear from me until Mondays). I was going to post earlier, but we have a member knocking on death's door, so I'm spending time with their family today. I just read the interesting (to say the least) dialogue between all of you and will have a response later tonight. I'm going to have to take notes on all of this, organize my thoughts, and get back to you later tonight. Until then... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  12. And You know, I believed this for so many years and I truly do understand why I don't believe anymore. In the dark, you think you hear Jesus and God and Spirits, but you turn on the light and it turns out it was just cockroaches. I used to think that any intelligent person, confronted with the facts, who is willing to open their eyes and mind, would realize that God is a myth, Jesus was either deluded or people made him into a god when he had not even considered the idea (by interpolation), and religion is a vast pile of ignorant speculation. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Intelligent people, like yourselves, probably know the facts, but haven't put the pieces together. Impressed by the words in the bible which you were raised with, convinced by the support of others who share the same beliefs and unwilling to see the flaws, continue to believe. Jesus doesn't say "I am the way..." The book does. That's the source of belief. There is a cottage industry devoted to keeping people believers, and obvious problems are swept under the rug with fantastical and ridiculous apologetics. Maybe one day you will open an apologetic book that attempts to sweep yet another problem under the rug and see that it just isn't right. The problem remains, and so do all of the other problems. It isn't a question of love, or good deeds, or generosity, but reality. I suspect that you have already found things that some consider "real" but that you have discounted or ignored. Young Earth Creationism is the most logical interpretation of Genesis, and I'll grant that the Young Earth Creationists are certainly faithful to their interpretation even in the face of contradictory facts. But this position is untenable in the face of reality. Ignorance of science allows many to persevere in their beliefs, but for some it means deliberately altering the facts. The dishonesty of Young Earth Creationism is the tip of the dishonesty of the apologetic literature. It is really difficult to see through something that is a world view passed down for generations. I have seen some theists who seem to view it as a battle of "benefits." God offers eternal life. Atheism doesn't. God makes people good. Atheism doesn't. God brings presents every Christmas. Atheism doesn't. Such comparisons do not come from truth, but unrealistic expectations. Is life better lived in a fantasy? For some, the answer is a strident YES! Should I care what others believe? That's a long story, but I think the answer is yes. I care that you will someday see what you have done and kick yourselves for it. I wish better for you. Shyone, I appreciate your post but, as you might guess, I have a problem with the essence of it. First, can it not be that I can be both a Christian and a sympathizer to science? The mere fact that Bible does not specifically say how long (whether it be a literal or figurative 6 days) does not mean that God did not create. Now, my point of view on such topics is not important here (as we are talking about the love of God and not Creationism vs Evolutionism), but please do not assume that the people who disagree with the facts of Christianity are necessarily true (I could point to the whole email controversy of the Global Warming Scientists trying to hide opposing evidence, but again not the point of this post). I'm sure there are people on my side of the fence who disregard "opposing facts" because they don't think they have to deal with them, but that gives no credibility to said "opposing facts". I am also sure that there are some on your side of the fence who do the same thing, also giving no credibility to said "opposing facts" Truth is truth, that's that. One of us is right and the other wrong, I'll guess we'll figure that out when we leave this earth. Finally, let me just say that your arguments are subjective at best and no real concrete evidence has been brought forth. If you expect Christians to do the same to prove our God, please do the same when trying to do otherwise. Thanks for the lively discussion, I appreciate your post and the thought it has made me go through. I look forward to your response. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  13. Riverdale,

    Thanks for the welcome to the site. Interesting story, perhaps I could ask a few clarifying questions if would permit me the time?

  14. I would like to welcome you to the site and I know that anyone AM invites deserves great respect and I will do so. I now realize that when I speak of the love of God, I do so without religious boundries. I can see all religions as being pointers to the divine and I understand that God doesn't belong to the symbols that point to "It". I would state that love is created by humans. Or that love is the nature of humans when they are open to the divine that already exist in them and everything. Humans can't actively search and find this love because they already have it. They can only remove the block or veil that stops them from realizing it. You may call it the Grace of God because it can only happen when one stops trying to find something that isn't lost. You realize how that sounds don't you? I believe the truth of Jesus Christ has been known before Jesus experienced his Divine sonship. There have been others before and after and continues to be more all the time. The veil is lowering and I would say that this may occur more and more as the symbols are understood more as pointers and less as the real thing. The dismissing of mental idols is a great way to allow Divine Grace to happen. I look forward to this because this is where my heart is also. Blinded by the Blight, Thank you for your response, so as not to repeat myself unnecessarily please refer to my reply to Antlerman on pg. 4 of this forum. One thing I did not discuss there I would like to respond to you: Throughout your post you express the idea that God is not found in the symbols but the symbols are mere pointers: exactly. Yet, to clarify, the question must then be asked: which symbols to the actual truth of the Divine? There is no reasonable way to say that they all do, as different religions have contradicting symbols that claim to point to the same truth. Through my own research and journey I have found that the symbols offered in Christianity (the cross, the resurrection, the blood of Christ, etc) do point to the truth that is only found in Jesus Christ followed by Christianity. Perhaps a better explanation of what you mean by symbols will help me to better understand your point of view. Thanks again, and remember to read my response to Antlerman on page 4. See you soon. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  15. Thank you for your response. It's in the spirit of dialog that we can hopefully move forward as individuals together within a society. Working off assumptions only leaves us with a very limited perception of reality, largely created by our own imaginations without the benefit of a broader understanding through others. This was what MBL pointed out above. I have been considering the comment in respect to that point of view. I can understand the question from that mindset. To you it must seem mind-boggling indeed. I hope to address a response to that with respect to your understanding of it. To briefly answer that, in my case in particular, though I'm certain that is shared by most others as well, is that it's not a case of turning our back on Love or the experience of the ineffable. Instead it is a case of questioning or moving beyond limiting it to one definition, to a doctrine, to a theology, to a religion - in other words 'putting God in a box', so to speak. Quite the contrary for me, it was about being able to free it from the claws of a religion that claimed proprietorship of it. "God as we prescribe", or as "Interpreted from the Bible by us," is not God at all. I can equally argue that how is it that if someone has tasted the transcendent, that they put limits on it by sticking it into a box of religious definitions? Does that Truth that is in them, pull them to something higher? How is it that they turn away from that in favor of allegiance to a religion, or an interpretation? Isn't the ineffable just that? Beyond description? Beyond definitions? Can't I from my perspective ask, how is it that you live within the limits of a religion then, having tasted that which is infinitely beyond? In short, I left because the religion restrained my soul from the needed liberty to grow. This has come up a number of times recently in conversation with other Christians how they externalize this, how they separate us out from it. That that love, comes from outside to in, and that we do not 'create it'. I want to explore that idea with you. I would agree that we do not create it, in the sense that it is a purely manufactured reality of of nothing. However, it is something that we participate in. We are not passive, nor external to it. It is our nature as part of existence itself that we through our conscious participation within it either open our conscious awareness to or close off from ourselves. It is not as though we have zero in us, and suddenly that nature is 'put into us'. It is our nature as part of all being, and is strictly a case of apprehension or the realization of it. We don't create it, nor does it exist outside us, as separate to us. We are never outside it or removed from it. You suggest that the Love of Christ is not something shown in higher morals and values, but is something we experience. But couldn't you recognize that the experience of higher Self or "God", is manifested through those things? That they are the 'fruits' of that? They are expressions of that? That they themselves can be considered as 'evidence' of that living in them, and showing through them? And if so, then "God" is in them, regardless of their acceptance of religious mythical symbols describing it? That the symbols are not what is apprehended, but the truth beyond the symbols? And if there is a truth beyond the symbols, then how does one recognize it? Certainly not by the symbols, by someone using or not using the symbols. What manifests it, if not actions? And here becomes the crux of our discussion. You are in essence saying that someone accepting the religious symbol of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior, is the measuring stick, the evidence of the Spirit in them. You are in essence saying this: That love manifests through an individual must in effect be not recognized, accepted, nor embraced as manifestation of true Spirit if it is not evidenced by them accepting Christian doctrines. That is exactly what I hear, exactly why I left, and exactly what breaks my heart for those who in fact do love Truth, but block themselves from it in others because of a sad, or mistaken notion of fidelity to a doctrinal interpretation of a religious organization. That in effect is worshiping theology above "God", above those things you assign to and describe by the symbols of your faith. It's the point at which spirituality becomes a religion, and development ceases and man is in fact "separated from God", so to speak. In in an ironic sense, I express that by saying that true salvation, is freedom from religion. To say we must use a book compiled by priests representing their 'orthodoxy' of acceptable religious beliefs, canonized and mythologized to by the standard of acceptable belief that God Himself gave us, is in fact to deny the Spirit it claims to embrace. I agree and I appreciate your response. I look forward to exploring this with you. Antlerman, Since this topic has been lost in numerous tangents (interesting ones at that) I will respect your direction to come back to the original question at hand: that which is the Love of Christ. I looked back at what you had said to my original post(context above) and I'd like to make a few comments: To briefly answer that, in my case in particular, though I'm certain that is shared by most others as well, is that it's not a case of turning our back on Love or the experience of the ineffable. Instead it is a case of questioning or moving beyond limiting it to one definition, to a doctrine, to a theology, to a religion - in other words 'putting God in a box', so to speak. Quite the contrary for me, it was about being able to free it from the claws of a religion that claimed proprietorship of it. "God as we prescribe", or as "Interpreted from the Bible by us," is not God at all. I can equally argue that how is it that if someone has tasted the transcendent, that they put limits on it by sticking it into a box of religious definitions? Does that Truth that is in them, pull them to something higher? How is it that they turn away from that in favor of allegiance to a religion, or an interpretation? Isn't the ineffable just that? Beyond description? Beyond definitions? Can't I from my perspective ask, how is it that you live within the limits of a religion then, having tasted that which is infinitely beyond? In short, I left because the religion restrained my soul from the needed liberty to grow. It is amazing how two people can have two completely different experiences from within the same structure. I for one, did not find religion restraining my soul, I actually found it to be liberating to my relationship with Jesus, helping me grow closer to Him and freer than I have ever been. Now, how I define religion and how you define religion are probably two separate things. I don't necessarily think that Christianity as a religion as a negative in its structure, again this is the fault of the people within the structure. I happen to think that if a person studies the religion of Christianity (through the Bible) and not the laws set up by certain churches within it, they would find it to be more liberating than any other thing. As a pastor I see a huge problem within our reaction to such a structure. As a matter of fact I agree that we as followers of Christ are often too restrictive when it comes to the nature and power of the God we follow. I just preached a sermon speaking against such a thought and tried to encourage my church to realize the full potential of God's power in their lives. So yes, I would agree that some of us "religious types" do put limits on the truth to either fit our needs or our own perceptions. As Christians, as you know, we are indeed called to a Higher truth/power. Yet due to our fear or our own restraints we never realize the potential of this truth here on this side of the world. As I read the Bible I see that once we get to Heaven we do realize the fullness of that truth (see for instance 1 Corinthians 13) but while we are here on Earth we must still obtain and strive to obtain it as well. I would agree that we do not create it, in the sense that it is a purely manufactured reality of of nothing. However, it is something that we participate in. We are not passive, nor external to it. It is our nature as part of existence itself that we through our conscious participation within it either open our conscious awareness to or close off from ourselves. It is not as though we have zero in us, and suddenly that nature is 'put into us'. It is our nature as part of all being, and is strictly a case of apprehension or the realization of it. We don't create it, nor does it exist outside us, as separate to us. We are never outside it or removed from it. You suggest that the Love of Christ is not something shown in higher morals and values, but is something we experience. But couldn't you recognize that the experience of higher Self or "God", is manifested through those things? That they are the 'fruits' of that? They are expressions of that? That they themselves can be considered as 'evidence' of that living in them, and showing through them? And if so, then "God" is in them, regardless of their acceptance of religious mythical symbols describing it? That the symbols are not what is apprehended, but the truth beyond the symbols? And if there is a truth beyond the symbols, then how does one recognize it? Certainly not by the symbols, by someone using or not using the symbols. What manifests it, if not actions? You are correct when you say that the love of Christ is within our nature. The Bible does tell us that God made us in His image and that His heart (that is His motivation) is found in all that He creates (and since His nature is Love we can assume that Love is seen throughout all of creation). Yet, the difference between the Christian and the Non-Christian is in fact that we experience more of that love when we decide to follow Him (and by following, loving Him back). Think of it this way, before one accepts Christ they have a sample of God's love for them, but it isn't until we buy the product (or in this case become a Christian) that we can truly experience all that that product has to offer. Even in your assertion of symbols, the Bible suggests that those symbols mean nothing without the love of Christ in the middle of them (again see 1 Corinthians 13). So in essence those symbols could exist in a person's life without the love of Christ; yet, for the Christian it becomes more meaningful (I know, I know... quite presumptious of me). And here becomes the crux of our discussion. You are in essence saying that someone accepting the religious symbol of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior, is the measuring stick, the evidence of the Spirit in them. You are in essence saying this: That love manifests through an individual must in effect be not recognized, accepted, nor embraced as manifestation of true Spirit if it is not evidenced by them accepting Christian doctrines. That is exactly what I hear, exactly why I left, and exactly what breaks my heart for those who in fact do love Truth, but block themselves from it in others because of a sad, or mistaken notion of fidelity to a doctrinal interpretation of a religious organization. That in effect is worshiping theology above "God", above those things you assign to and describe by the symbols of your faith. It's the point at which spirituality becomes a religion, and development ceases and man is in fact "separated from God", so to speak. In in an ironic sense, I express that by saying that true salvation, is freedom from religion. To say we must use a book compiled by priests representing their 'orthodoxy' of acceptable religious beliefs, canonized and mythologized to by the standard of acceptable belief that God Himself gave us, is in fact to deny the Spirit it claims to embrace. As a Christian would you expect me to say something else? Jesus, the center of my religion, tells me that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him. That is not religion, but the expression of truth in the world in which we live. The fact is that anyone seeking truth must look at Jesus as the answer to their quest, otherwise they are missing out in the greatest truth of all time. This is not doctrinal interpretation, as you would suggest, but the truth that is set out plainly in front of His creation. So in essence, the Love of Christ is set in this: seeking the Truth and finding it through Jesus Christ. I didn't need a religion to tell me that, God did quite a good enough job. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  16. Thanks for the respect and the welcome... I haven't gotten too much of that outside of this forum! I just wanted to let you know that I read your post, but as I am a family man (as I'm sure most of you are as well) I need to spend some time with my family tonight. I will, however, be responding to your reply tomorrow afternoon. Until then... Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  17. Appreciates all the feedback He is getting... boy does my head hurt!

  18. As a follow up to my post, let me just say that all my quotes are from AM's previous one. Still trying to figure out how all of this forum stuff works!
  19. Wow. And yes, AM you are right I am wondering what I walked into! There is way too much for me to respond to all of it, so let me just respond to AM's latest and greatest: "One of the big problems I have with this is because in mythologizing Jesus as outside humanity, that is never needing to improve or become more consistent with greater truth, is that it removes him as a symbol of one who found a path to the divine, and hence we can too. Instead he is turned into this God on Earth figure, and words are mouthed that 'he was tempted in all points like us, yet without sin". That's all good and fine for a son of Zeus, but that's not reality. There is no human, any real human who is a product of this world who does not have to grow. And growth necessitates a series of successes and failure, hopefully leading to greater degrees of success and subsequent improvement. IMO, Jesus, even though he is claimed to be human is presented as beyond human by the mere fact of his being a miracle intervention of God into the world." I fully agree with you that we all have to grow, through successes and failures, towards improvement in this world. The problem with your assertion is that we cannot follow a human who also claimed to be God b/c they are not an example for us. As you already know, being a former Christian, Jesus had to be perfect to die for the sins of mankind. Yet, logically, isn't it a good thing to follow a leader who's been where we are at and has conquered it? Why would I want to follow a person who's failed at what I failed at? What could I possibly learn from his/her experience (except for another way of how not to live life)? "To me, I would find much greater inspiration in the view that Jesus was a man of great spiritual depth and character who discovered a path to the realization of the divine and the fulfillment of his humanity in connection with infinite Spirit, than some divine god from the cosmos come to set an example of perfect, sinless behavior for us. No. That takes the possibility of any other human attaining complete Oneness with the Divine and removes it from them. Only the Divine Son of God who became a human can Realize that! What a shame it had to be crafted that way in the church's evolution of mythmaking. What an injustice to those who seek union with Spirit." Didn't Jesus do exactly what you are looking for in inspiration? In my mind, Jesus did give us a path to the realization of the dinve and the fulfillment of humanity in connection with the Spirit; only that path is through Him and is Him. When we realize that path and begin to follow it we can obtain to the one thing that you claim we cannot: Complete Oneness with the Divine. This is not an injustice, but a hopeful answer to a wrecked world. "Perfection is living consistently with the Universe. Evolving to higher and deeper levels of Realization. That is reality, not the myth of perfect god/human beings." Again I agree, yet I think we would agree on the definitions of some words. Perfection is living consistently with God (or as you would call it, the Universe). As we grow in our knowledge of Him we do "Evolve" to higher and deeper levels of Realization until the day heaven comes and we know all there is to know. This is reality, as you would put it, yet it is found in the truth of a God made human who died for our sins. I probably didn't say this as beautifully as End probably would have, nor did I say it as intelligently as AM's rebuttal probably will be, but sometimes the most basic of thoughts can give us the most profound of answers. I am looking forward to continuing this discussion. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  20. I thought a couple of times that I grasped your view, but it keeps slipping because I'm not sure how the three statements I have bolded above match up. You say that Jesus' love is an expression of human experience, but not of humans, and that seems contradictory to me. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could define the qualities of "an expression of human experience"? Which parts are we missing? Namaste, Phanta Phanta, Sorry for the confusion, we can chalk that up to my experience in discussing in this type of format. To understand my viewpoint of God's love as a human experience that humans cannot create, you'd have to understand my assumption that God is real. Humans can experience God's love, that is true, but God's love is not something they create it is something that God gives to them when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (I'm really trying to stay away from Christian cliches but it is hard, so excuse me for using them). When I say that the love of Christ is an expression of human experience what I mean is that the Love of Christ is seen, in our viewpoints, when we express our love for Him (either through worship, serving others, praying, etc.). I hope this clarifies what I'm trying to say. Thanks for the respectful response, I look forward to continuing this conversation. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  21. Larry, So what exactly is the love of Christ again? You say it is "something" that Christians experience from God. And from that I infer it is something that non-Christians cannot experience. So, what is it that you experience that nobody else can experience? What is it like for you? What does it do for you? How does it affect your daily life? Thank you, Scott Scott, Your inference is correct, the Love of Christ is only something that Christians can truly experience the fullness of. That experience is hard to describe (I know, it sounds like a cop out), but for me it is a peaceful closeness to the God who created me and loves me. When I worship Him, pray to Him, serve others, speak of Him to others, I truly feel a presence of God that is more than words can describe. Sorry, I'm sure that doesn't help but for me to describe something that is indescribable is kinda hard. I'll keep thinking and will get back to you. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry
  22. First off, let me say thank you to Antlerman for inviting me to this discussion. I am always intrigued by the opinions of others so that I can better understand how people feel. There is a lot to discuss here, but I guess what I want to focus on is Antlerman's initial question: what do I mean by the "Love of Jesus". Plain and simple what I meant was to ask the question, "How could a person who has claimed to experience God's love turn away from it?" I have been a devoted Christian for 9 years and my experience of God's love has only gotten deeper and better. To have a person who has experienced that love to only leave it is mind-boggling to me and thus the thrust of my comment. But you raise some other things that I would like to discuss: "What is that, if not an expression of human experience? And if that of human experience, something we all share - as humans, then how is it that someone within the religious system is unable to 'see' what exists in other humans as well as them? What is it exactly that they see that gives them the impression we don't experience, or know, or 'see' all these things ourselves, and value them at least as well? Is it solely the use of words, or is their something of real, practice substance?" I would agree that the Love of Jesus, or what is meant by it, is a expression of human experience; however, as you would expect, this expression is not something humans can create. Now, I will be the first to admit that I see tons of people, who do not believe, who are genuinely loving and caring people. I have many friends who don't believe in Christ and they are people who share the same values as I do. So, at the least, I would suggest that the Love of Christ is not something that is shown in our higher morals or values; it is only something that we experience from God. You go on by saying this: "How is it that one person's not tying this to a symbolic figure "Jesus" means that they don't share the same truth? And of greater importance, how is it that the one who claims an embrace of truth by holding up a religious symbol, "Jesus", in this case, is unable to see it in others? How is it that because they hear someone challenge or dismiss the system of religious mythologies of gods and sacrifices of appeasement, that they leap to the conclusion that we don't know the nature of love?" Whether or not you believe in Jesus is the measuring stick of what I see as truth. If you don't believe in Jesus, how can you believe in the truth that He teaches? My truth (or I see it everyone's truth) cannot be truth without Jesus Christ at the center. It's not that I don't think non-Christians are unable to know the nature of love, I just think (and don't be offended) that you cannot experience the fullness of that nature without the truth of Jesus Christ. I hope this is a good start to what i hope to be a wonderful conversation. Thanks for the invite, I hope to hear from you soon. Peace, Love, and Soul Larry D Vinson P.S. Anterlman, anytime you want to get in person and talk of this, please look me up @ FOrest Lake Christian Church (or email @ larry@myflcc.com)
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