Questioning The Faith

 

bible-with-question-markThis page is for honest exploration of doubts about the faith and questions pertaining to Christianity.

  47 Responses to “Questioning The Faith”

  1. and no doubt last

    captainwillkeephisshipawayfromthisreef

  2. I’ve seen the light.

    The bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!

    If you disagree, you’re going to burn in hell, you and all your devil spawn children! I rejoice in what will be your eternal suffering ye heathen scum!

    In Jesus name, amen.

  3. As I mentioned on TGIF, the exhortation that God is a spirit and those that worship him must do so in spirit & truth is something that has daunted me for a long time. Beginning with my awareness that my former church was not actually operating like the historical church (as claimed) whether in Acts or for 1000s of years of church history, to discovering that every corner of christendom has greatly differing opinions regarding fulfilling this “must” My quest to discover just exactly what is worshipping in spirit and truth over the last 8+ years has generated more skepticism than I could have ever imagined.

  4. I have to go out for the afternoon. But wanted to say I am grateful for this sidebar.

  5. Once Upon A Time,

    I think part of your stress comes from a faulty interpretation of the passage.

    In context, I believe that what Christ is saying here is not that you need to have all your secondary doctrines lined up correctly for inspection.

    To worship in spirit is to worship from the heart…a heart that has been filled with the Holy Spirit and is directing worship toward the true and living God.
    To worship in truth is simply to worship God as He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ…who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

    I have spared you an in depth exegesis of the passage and corroborative passages for the sake of brevity and clarity…but I think it’s an easy case to make, nonetheless.

    Everything I know about you says to me that you are already fulfilling whatever mandate is here.

    Let me say one more thing, my friend.

    Note that Christ came to this woman…a woman whose life was in moral and ethical disarray and whose head was filled with much “bad theology”.

    I’m not making a comparison…I’m saying that the God you seek is already seeking you and I believe has found you.

    Enjoy His presence and His love and worry no more about whether you or your worship is acceptable in your Saviors eyes.

  6. “My quest to discover just exactly what is worshipping in spirit and truth over the last 8+ years has generated more skepticism than I could have ever imagined.”

    Once:

    The scripture mentioned points at a few things, but I think the issue isn’t what is this kind of worship, rather why are you more skeptical now. Personally I believe the answer is you (as well as many of us) listen to too many teachers and traditions.

    The woman at the well was a Samaritan who worshiped in conflict with Jewish tradition and God’s City. To worship in “spirit and truth” points to a simplicity focused on the Messiah Jesus.

    Her traditions (which she compared with His) are not the focus at all and neither should Christendom’s 2000 years of tradition. In the end all faith requires men to stand before God and having Jesus right there next to you is what it is all about.

    Oh and worship isn’t music, but it can be as can reading His words, living peaceably with others and blessing God for His provision. True spiritual worship is from the heart of a grateful person.

  7. I don’t think it is coincidence that we read chapter 4 immediately after the Nicodemus encounter of chapter 3, with another message about the importance of the Spirit – this time not with a scandalized Samaritan, but an upstanding Jewish leader.

  8. “My quest to discover just exactly what is worshipping in spirit and truth over the last 8+ years has generated more skepticism than I could have ever imagined.”

    The tough part for me is the “truth” part of that equation.

    Fundamentalists seem to deny many truths that are factual, which makes me skeptical of their professions of saying they want to know truth and saying they have the truth.

    Hard to have the truth and to sell that you are the purveyor of truth, when you embrace lies and untruths and deny the undeniable in many areas.

  9. Interesting Steve mentioned Nicodemus. I was thinking about that encounter this morning. Just consider the response Jesus gave to an obviously very intelligent man, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Pretty high ranking position in society among the learned.

    Yet, Jesus tells him:

    “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

    5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

    10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”

    Of course, we all know the rest of that passage.

    It’s astounding when you consider the context of that encounter and how Jesus refused to relate to him on a solely legal or even intellectual level. He used spiritual language and metaphors that are an offense to the carnal mind.

    In addition, I was remembering the passage in John 12:20-26 where the Greeks asked to meet with Jesus. Jesus refused to even meet with them, instead declares among other things, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone.”

    Think about that, especially in light of trying to relate to these matters on an intellectual level.

  10. I love the Nicodemus passage – Jesus telling ol Nick – “get baptized if you want to see God’s Kingdom” . :-)

    Off to go take my mom to dinner – I can’t hack restaurants on Mother’s Day.

  11. MLD

    john 3:5 ‘water’ is not talking about water baptism. BTW, when did you switch to CofC?
    -MIC

  12. in v4 before it and v6 after the context is birth from the womb, often accompanied with a different kind of water. Jesus was speaking metaphorically of physical birth as ‘of water’
    -MIC

  13. MIC, I think you have it wrong. Jesus is speaking about how to be born again – not how to be born. The natural birth has already taken place for all people via “the water” you are speaking about. So think about it, are you saying to be “born again” that you have to recreate that natural birth process? Oh wait, that was the question Nick asked.

    No, Jesus is now speaking of a separate event, the born again event that now takes place with a different water and the Holy Spirit – baptism.

  14. Michael,
    Thanks for creating this area to post and explore our honest thoughts, feelings and doubts. You do truly have a pastor’s heart.

  15. G-man, what a great article.

    My 2 1/2 year old daughter learned the words, “Plain and Fancy” from Mr. Rogers.

    One day we were showering and she looked at me and said, “Mommy, why are you so fancy and I am so plain?” I replied, “Well, when you grow up, you will be fancy too.” :-D

  16. Nonnie,
    That is priceless!

    Happy Mothers’ Day =)

  17. I have a slightly different take on worshiping “In spirit and in Truth.” I think too often that little phrase is taken out of context of the conversation Jesus was having. The conversation dealt with he competing cultures that viewed different physical locations as special in reference to meeting God. At which mountain should I worship? Jesus countered that whole concept, pointing towards a future time when God would not be found on a particular mountain, or in a building, or any place. He was pointing towards a time when God, in the Holy Spirit would dwell in the believers themselves. The Believer is the Temple. God is where His people are.
    So, worshiping in Spirit and Truth simply means that we no longer go to a certain location to meet with God. He is always with us and in us, and out lives are continuous outpourings of worship.

  18. Right on, Josh. Thus the Nicodemus reference earlier as well.

    Key also being “future time” as in Acts chapter 2 and following….

  19. Yeah, I had not thought about the contrast with the Jewish leader, that’s a good point. As a worship leader for the last twenty years, I’ve heard hundreds of sermons, seen entire conferences, and several books dedicated to those two words, “spirit” and “truth”. I think it misses the forest fro the trees, so to speak.

  20. Exactly, Josh @ 21 “We worship in spirit & truth” was even the motto at a church I spent most of my life connected with. No wonder my OCD brain has gotten so fixated on it! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts so patiently and graciously with me.

  21. I think Passing By makes some good points. There is something innate and spiritual that transcends the intellectual and reasonable. It’s not Math (as G says), it’s Art.

  22. @ 23 – Quick funny story from this past Saturday. I live in a town of real fundamentalist Christians. Not the broad brush type that Believe has described, but the Waldensian, Mennonite, Anabaptist, IFB type.

    So Saturday night, I was booked to play at a coffee shop. These type gigs are very fun because I’ll bring my kids and they dance around and act crazy in front of the stage. Very family friendly stuff. We play mostly stuff I wrote, which is about family, pain, and faith, but we also cover a few “oldies”. Stand By Me, that type of thing. Keep in mind, the coffee shop plays stuff like Coldplay and Mumford and Sons constantly over the sound system when a band isn’t playing.

    So we come in to set up and there are 5 or six youngish adults sitting near the stage area. I make some quick conversation as I’m loading in, didn’t really notice anything different about them. Maybe more clothing than the 80+ degree weather would call for, but nothing major.

    Anyhow, have everything in and go out to move the cars. Come back in and they have disappeared. Weird, like no trace. They would have had to time it perfectly, and basically run for me not to at least see them going out the door. That was the first time I noticed anything odd, was that they had the ability to vanish into thin air. I even joked with the other guys. “Ummm, were there 5 or 6 people…like RIGHT here?!?!” When I went to plug in my bass, I had all the answers I needed. There, on my amp, was a small pamphlet that boldly proclaimed that I am going to Hell. On the back was a one paragraph defense of KJV Only-ism, followed by a sentence that said all those who disagreed would burn in Hell forever.

    I just laughed and laughed. I’m a Southern Baptist minister. Believe says I’m a fundamentalist. These people saw me carrying an electric instrument, and assumed I was headed to Hell. Forget the irony that “secular” college rock was on the radio the whole time they had been sitting there. I guess if you record it and listen to it its OK. Play it live, and its straight to Hell.

    The tragedy of all that is that I would have loved to have a conversation with them about Jesus. I tried about 5 times to be polite and speak, and they’d smile and nod, but no one ever said, “Hey man, you’re on the fast road to Hell. It’s so important to us, that we are planning our escape right now, but we’re gonna toss a tract your way in hopes that maybe you’ll be saved.”

  23. The Mormon question:

    1 of the many problems with Mormonism is that it is founded completely on deception. There is no question that Joseph Smith made the whole thing up. He was a conman, and came up with a decent con, that has now fooled millions of people. I can give you hundreds of pieces of evidence that point towards deception, but I’ve never seen one that validated Smith.
    Therefore, if the whole thing was founded on deception, I can’t imagine why it should ever be taken as a legit denomination unless they completely denounce their founding, their false prophets, and their false practices. Would it be possible for an ignorant young Mormon to actually think he was following the Christian Jesus? I could see that, but any serious Mormon would eventually realize that the Jesus they worship is completely different from the Jesus of historic Christianity. Without condemning all that they were founded upon, including their sacred texts, I can’t imagine why they would even want to be called another Christian denomination.

  24. Re: Inerrancy

    Believe had posted many seeming contradictions from scripture, and posited that these possible “errors” overrule inerrancy. He also posted a link to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, which I think aswers the questions about English translation quite well:

    ” Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture, it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired and to maintain the need of textual criticism as a means of detecting any slips that may have crept into the text in the course of its transmission. The verdict of this science, however, is that the
    Hebrew and Greek text appear to be amazingly well preserved, so that”we are amply justified in affirming, with the Westminster Confession, a singular providence of God in this matter and in declaring that the authority of Scripture is in no way jeopardized by the fact that the copies we possess are not entirely error-free.”

    Well said, by some very smart men.

  25. “Again, another Paradox in the bible and in the church.

    Out of one side of the mouth: Be the Good Samaritan!

    Out of the other side of the mouth: We are under NO OBLIGATION to help others,”

    See, this would be a paradox, if the bible said both of those things. It does not. What you mean, is that those in the church who espouse such things are hypocrites, which of course, is correct. Then again, you have no room to talk.

  26. “Whenever you have truth, (or think you do*) it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.”
    -Mahatma Ghandi

    Or as Paul said: if you have not love, you’re a loud, noisy cymbal. (which makes people plug their ears*)

    * editorial inserted by poster ;-)

  27. Since Mormons have already been mentioned in this thread, thought I would share this article in the local paper entitled “The Ultimate: To Mormons Heavenly Mother is Ultimately Unknown”
    http://rapidcityjournal.com/lifestyles/the-ultimate-to-mormons-heavenly-mother-is-ultimately-unknown/article_dbca90b0-a213-5cf4-895d-36f427cd259a.html

  28. Believe said: “We know very very little for certain.”

    Correction – YOU know very little for certain, and you are angry at any one who doesn’t share the same lack of certainty.

  29. What language did Adam and Eve speak?

    The bible doesn’t say, so I don’t know how a bible believer could be dogmatic about it. Was someone basing their faith on this? No? Then who is believe arguing against this time?

    Strawman.

    Was that original language lost, or why was it lost?

    The tower of Babel story in Genesis 11 talks about languages being split and such. Its an interesting story, written as a chiasm.

  30. Josh,
    I just looked up the Genesis 11 chiasm. That is pretty interesting. I have heard of them before, but didn’t know till now that this passage was one.

  31. It is fascinating. I don’t think we can full know why, but there has to be a reason it was written in that form.

  32. The dad of a very close friend of mine personally knew Gandhi. They shared the gospel together, and he heard this objection and answered it clearly to Gandhi. But Gandhi was first and foremost a politician who wanted to liberate and lead a nation of mostly Hindus. We certainly may admire his methods and tactics to achieve that temporal, earthly power – especially as compared to other liberators of nations – but a politician all the same.

  33. …and that makes his objection any less valid, how?

    http://thisisnthappiness.com/image/51328636261

  34. g, How exactly did Ghandi view Jesus? Did he see him as a holy man who was a good example? Or did he see Him as God in the flesh?

    I understand there are poor examples of Christians aplenty but I imagine the same is true of any sect, religion, cult, or however one chooses to describe various faiths.

    I would say that it’s not what one chooses to do with the followers of Jesus but with the claims Jesus made of Himself.

    I would say no person will be separated from God for eternity because of poor examples set before them but because of what they chose to do with the truth that Jesus is the only way to God.

    As a universalist isn’t it your belief that at some point all will come to exist in God’s presence for eternity??

  35. erunner,
    Simply put, it doesn’t matter to me who said what was said, rather that it challenges me to do what the graphic I posted says, Universalist or no.

  36. g, The graphic is a goal we would all aspire to as we live out our lives for Christ. I was hoping you might clarify your beliefs so I might better understand them.

  37. erunner,
    The graphic is the core, the key, the beginning point of all spirituality for me, my personal standard.

    After almost a decade here I’m worn out debating or arguing, just a guy here in the corner, singing songs, doing art, a harmless fuzzball throwing spaghetti at the wall and opining with the rest of the crowd. ;)

  38. Does God hate anyone? John 3:16 says God so loved the world…..yet there are verses stating that God hates the wicked person. Any insights would be appreciated.

  39. I have a question for Faith:

    Here goes: Can God make a rock so big even he can’t lift it?

    There ya go, God can’t do everything! :lol:

  40. Michael,
    You posted an eloquent statement on another thread summarizing some of the aspects of your faith…

    “The Cross tells me everything I need to know about the goodness and righteousness of God.

    God became man and lived among us and allowed us to murder Him so that many could be saved.

    That tells me first of the depth of the problem…that my sin was so heinous an offense against a holy God that it required a sacrifice that only God Himself could provide.
    I was helpless and hopelessly lost until He intervened.

    The second thing it tells me is that He loved me so strongly He was willing to make that sacrifice.

    He is God and I am not…He was under no obligation to save anyone.
    His wrath against sin is righteous and just and I am a sinner by birth and by choice.
    He is the offended party and I am the offender.
    He made a way for me, when there was no way.
    I have no right to demand another way…I had no right to what has already been given.
    The cross was an act of pure grace and mercy where my just punishment was poured out on God Himself.

    Those who refuse what has been given will receive what they have chosen.

    I do not know the judgment toward those who have never heard the Gospel…but I know the One who judges is always good and righteous in His actions.

    I know that He gave His only Son on my behalf…and it is that knowledge that I am responsible for, not the things I know not.

    The secret things belong to God.”

    Here’s something I have a big problem with…

    “He is the offended party and I am the offender.”

    I understand the theology we all call “Original Sin”, a construct arrived at from reading the scriptures and then extrapolating a cause & effect for the murder of Jesus, declaring that He had to suffer for the sin of Adam.

    What I don’t understand is that it’s akin to holding a grudge against someone for something my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather did and because I am his distant relative I’m held responsible for something I simply didn’t do.

    As a mere human being, if I were to tell anyone else that I had a right to kill a guy across town because of something his distant relative did to one of my distant relatives I would be rightly called a barbarian.

    Why is it that I, as a mere human, am held to a standard of forgiveness that God is not?
    Why can’t God simply choose to forgive and stop holding a grudge against each and every human that is born, hour by hour as life here on Earth unfolds?

    Why isn’t God held to the standard of “Forgive us our trespasses?”

    Thanks, I’ll check back for your response.
    Love ya and thanks for having this thread to engage these tough issues.

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