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Old 09-07-2005, 01:13 AM   #31
Aphrodite
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The only people who believe in Satan, also believe in God.
You can believe in God without belief in Satan though.

Was Satan created to make balance between light and dark, good and bad?

Without villains there can be no heros.
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Old 09-07-2005, 05:14 PM   #32
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Hi Brynn.
Well, now I know that our ideas of free will are different. My idea of it (probably very unclear) is any choices you make without being caused to do it. There has to be absolutely no cause for the decision. You just do it. Well, about the athlete example you gave me, the athlete could will himself to do his best, but he is caused to make that decision. A cause could be that he or she wants to win or wants to compete. Likewise a person on a diet wills themselves to diet. Their cause could be because they want to lose weight. A person may fast, having their cause be because they feel spiritually motivated to do so. Anyways, I was talking about something different, something that was completely off-topic. I apologize for that and I'll go back on topic.

Yeah, I agree. We all have the free will to choose God or not. We see that free will exercised everywhere by how many different religions there are out there and by how many non-believers there are. Supposedly the "good" thing to do is to choose God, but everybody is free to choose whatever they please.

I know of this person in my church who chose God just because he didn't want to go to hell. He heard that hell is terrible. Therefore he felt that there really isn't free will because he was naturally inclined to pick heaven. He picked Heaven for no other reason than for the sake of his personal welfare. He didn't want to be eternally tortured. Anyways, it is the same kind of natural inclination or instinct that tells him that he wouldn't want to touch a hot stove. He knows touching a hot stove is bad for him just like how hell is bad for him. So he rejects both of them.
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Old 09-09-2005, 12:13 AM   #33
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Hmmm. Not quite tracking here. So does this guy go around with bandages and salve on his hands all the time because he touches hot stoves?:-)

Oh, wait - okay. I read it again. It's not that he rejects the idea that touching a hot stove is bad for him. He rejects touching hot stoves in general (I'll bet he has a microwave ).

So... he feels forced to choose God out of a sense of self-preservation.

You know, if I have a choice between eating a handful of Hershey's Kisses or a handful of live beetles, I'd probably feel forced to eat the chocolate too, resenting every single delicious bite, licking my fingers in despair.

But there's always a choice. I could abstain altogether and choose neither.
I believe that's called agnosticism, but some would argue that making no decison at all is still a decision.

So does your friend resent having to toe some kind of line, and eschew the things he'd like to do otherwise in order to avoid burning in hell?

Last edited by Brynn : 09-09-2005 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 09-09-2005, 01:21 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aphrodite
The only people who believe in Satan, also believe in God.
You can believe in God without belief in Satan though.

Was Satan created to make balance between light and dark, good and bad?

Without villains there can be no heros.
This is something I think about a lot, and too often I just give up and shove it into a big folder labelled "The Mystery."

Somebody gave me a big coffee table book about space once, with various quotes from astronauts both Russian and American. One big page is just a vast black glossiness with a few sentences from a Russian (I wish I could quote him exactly, but it's buried somewhere under a huge stack of Atlantic Monthlies right now). But he was remarking on how utterly and almost uncomprehendingly dark and empty certain areas of space are. Then he'd turn around and be dazzled by the brightness of the earth reflecting the sun's rays.
It occurred to me that no matter how bright and powerful the sun was, would we see it - would it have any kind of use meaning at all if it had nothing to reflect back it's light? What if nothing was there for the rays to hit? It's really a powerfully simple idea (and sort of similar to the familiar meditation on "if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?" ).

It made me wonder about the reasons God might have had to create anything. The Bible tells us that man has only one real purpose in life that will ever completely satisfy him - to worship and serve God, thereby reflecting God's glory. But there's a symbiosis there as well that underscores God's passionate love and need for his own creation.

As far as why God created Satan, I also wonder why God created fleas and other annoying things. But in Judaism and Christianity anyway, the two forces are not the equal powers that say, the yin and the yang symbolize. God definitely uses Satan for His own ultimate good, and allows Satan to do his worst sometimes - usually in order to introduce mankind to His presence, the ultimate blessing. Lyrics to "Amazing Grace" put it well - "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious was that grace to me the hour I first believed."

According to the mythology in the Bible, Satan has to always ask permission from a sovereign God to do this or that. But when God releases Satan's hand in something, it's usually with this bigger plan in mind.

Other disciplines encourage the faithful to embrace and accept both good and evil as necessary ingredients to mankind's experience - which to me, there's really very little difference in practical application when one is trying not to lose hope in a bad situation. The goal is to be able to get through intact, and maybe not just intact but perhaps even richer, more joyful and more accepting of life/God/circumstances because one has come out of it alive.

And, if you think about it, what if every seeker is really just trying to get back to that original mythological state of innocence in the Garden before eating of the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - to be able to get back to a point where you really have no opinion about it because it doesn't concern you in light of the bigger things?

The differences as I understand them between Western and Eastern thought, however, is that in eastern thought, the strength to do that comes from somewhere within - you are basically on your own in the journey. In the major Western religions, you find your strength in partnership with God, and are shaped by that experience of submission to God. By resisting the temptations of Satan, you get stronger and stronger in your resolve to do what pleases God.

The closest, say, Buddhism comes to Satan (I believe) is in the idea of selfish desires and overcoming them.
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Old 09-10-2005, 12:46 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
Hmmm. Not quite tracking here. So does this guy go around with bandages and salve on his hands all the time because he touches hot stoves?:-)

Oh, wait - okay. I read it again. It's not that he rejects the idea that touching a hot stove is bad for him. He rejects touching hot stoves in general (I'll bet he has a microwave ).

So... he feels forced to choose God out of a sense of self-preservation.

You know, if I have a choice between eating a handful of Hershey's Kisses or a handful of live beetles, I'd probably feel forced to eat the chocolate too, resenting every single delicious bite, licking my fingers in despair.

But there's always a choice. I could abstain altogether and choose neither.
I believe that's called agnosticism, but some would argue that making no decison at all is still a decision.

So does your friend resent having to toe some kind of line, and eschew the things he'd like to do otherwise in order to avoid burning in hell?
Well, my church would argue that not making an active decision to choose God means that you did not choose him because there is only two choices: you actively choose God or you don't. There is no in-between. There is no other place to go besides Heaven or hell and if you don't actively choose God then you will go to hell. I think agnostics acknowledge that there is a God, but that he or she does not interact in human affairs like how the Christian God does. Since the God of the agnostics have nothing to do with humans, humans are not offered the choice of being able to go to Heaven or not because they do not know the Christian God. My church says that they do not know what God will do with those whose choice of not choosing God is not due to any fault of their own. Such as if they have not heard of the Christian God. Or if they are babies. And so forth.
But if you know of the Christian God and know of the choice and do not actively choose God, then you will probably be cast into hell.

As to whether he regrets not being able to do things he would be able to do if he weren't a Christian . . . I haven't asked him about that.
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Old 09-10-2005, 04:55 AM   #36
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I used to go to a church like that.

I don't disagree with your church about really needing to make a definite choice. But I'm uncomfortable with any church that claims to know who's "probably" going to hell. It's my personal position (and the position of many post-modern Christians) that it's nobody's business who's going to hell, and it's not our job to make that call. Mostly because nobody really knows the full extent of God's grace and mercy, or how how he operates in the life of an individual - even to their dying breath. No person can read someone else's heart like God can. All we are called to do is to do our very best to be an open channel for the love of Christ, and when we are asked about it, to give an answer - like a good witness. For people who are attracted to that, we are to disciple them.


I don't go to that church anymore for a lot of reasons, but the thing that eventually pushed me out was that one of the married deacons developed a crush on me which turned into an obsession. He would stare at me in an anguished way during services. Because my husband is an agnostic, he never accompanied me to church, so basically I felt unprotected there, and psychologically violated by this person whom I had once treated like a big brother. It was especially frustrating and annoying when the deacons were called up to the front at the end of every service to pray for anyone who felt they needed prayer, and this guy was always up there, even though I had complained about the whole thing to my pastor. So instead of going up for prayer, I started leaving early.

This church didn't like homosexuals, who, unless they renounced their sexuality, were definitely going to hell. They basically didn't discuss the backbiters, the adulterers, the petty thieves, the gossips, or any of the other people on that list ( a list that illustrates that basically something is wrong with everybody and therefore nobody should judge anybody) - because that would be hitting too close to home.

If you swore, smoked, drank, didn't read your Bible - these things were warning signs that you were probably a good candidate for hell.

This church also emphasized that unless you voted for Bush, you were probably well on your way to hell.

I gradually realized that all this emphasis on hell instead of grace was lopsided and that people were so busy worrying about who was going to hell and judging each other that they were ignoring Jesus.

I have no doubt that Satan was a regular at that church. That's why they call him "The Accuser of the Brethren."

I go to a different church now. My husband goes with me.
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Old 09-10-2005, 08:43 PM   #37
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I have met Satan. He is in disguise as my mother in law at this very moment.
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Old 09-10-2005, 10:29 PM   #38
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Avalon, I am so sorry. I feel your pain, dear. As Anne Lamott would say, "Remember to breathe, and try to be kind."

If that doesn't work, I highly recommend a cleansing couple of hours at the batting cages. It's such a beautiful feeling when you're done, and it will eventually make you a star at company softball games.
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Old 09-11-2005, 12:35 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
I used to go to a church like that.

I don't disagree with your church about really needing to make a definite choice. But I'm uncomfortable with any church that claims to know who's "probably" going to hell. It's my personal position (and the position of many post-modern Christians) that it's nobody's business who's going to hell, and it's not our job to make that call. Mostly because nobody really knows the full extent of God's grace and mercy, or how how he operates in the life of an individual - even to their dying breath. No person can read someone else's heart like God can. All we are called to do is to do our very best to be an open channel for the love of Christ, and when we are asked about it, to give an answer - like a good witness. For people who are attracted to that, we are to disciple them.


I don't go to that church anymore for a lot of reasons, but the thing that eventually pushed me out was that one of the married deacons developed a crush on me which turned into an obsession. He would stare at me in an anguished way during services. Because my husband is an agnostic, he never accompanied me to church, so basically I felt unprotected there, and psychologically violated by this person whom I had once treated like a big brother. It was especially frustrating and annoying when the deacons were called up to the front at the end of every service to pray for anyone who felt they needed prayer, and this guy was always up there, even though I had complained about the whole thing to my pastor. So instead of going up for prayer, I started leaving early.

This church didn't like homosexuals, who, unless they renounced their sexuality, were definitely going to hell. They basically didn't discuss the backbiters, the adulterers, the petty thieves, the gossips, or any of the other people on that list ( a list that illustrates that basically something is wrong with everybody and therefore nobody should judge anybody) - because that would be hitting too close to home.

If you swore, smoked, drank, didn't read your Bible - these things were warning signs that you were probably a good candidate for hell.

This church also emphasized that unless you voted for Bush, you were probably well on your way to hell.

I gradually realized that all this emphasis on hell instead of grace was lopsided and that people were so busy worrying about who was going to hell and judging each other that they were ignoring Jesus.

I have no doubt that Satan was a regular at that church. That's why they call him "The Accuser of the Brethren."

I go to a different church now. My husband goes with me.
Sorry that you had to go through that.

I apologize. I didn't mean to give the impression that my church had a list of kinds of people that would go to hell (homosexuals, Bush-supporters, drinkers, etc.). Or that they knew, in any sense of specificity, about who would go to hell. They just emphasized about how lucky they were that they were going to heaven. They also emphasized that one of the worst sins is to know Christianity, "know what is right", and not choose it. It seems to me that they never just fully come out and talk about who would go to hell, but they seem like they harbor some sort of judgemental pity or feel sorry for those who do not choose God. It is probably my imagination, but that just seems like the attitude that some of them might have. The vibe concerning that kind of attitude seems especially prevalent when we go evangelizing.
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Old 09-11-2005, 07:55 PM   #40
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WE HAVE JUST ENOUGH RELIGION TO MAKE US HATE, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE US LOVE ONE ANOTHER....AHAHHAHAHA, THAT IS WHERE I COME IN SILLY MORTALS!!!!
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Old 09-11-2005, 09:21 PM   #41
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Beelzeboob's right - he tells you stuff that's partly the truth in order to make you believe the whole lie.

Dead religion, the long list of do's and don'ts, the emphasis on keeping the law of God without remembering that through the sacrifice of Christ, the law of love and grace triumphed over the law of sin and death - that's completely on the mark. We end up trapped into cycle of "holier-than-thou-ness," an impossible task of trying to be as perfect as God apart from God. It makes us miserable. So yeah. That's what Jesus called the "leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees," and he told us to beware of it.

But according to Satan here, he would have us think that what we need is MORE religion to make us love each other. Hmmm.
No. What we need is something far more radical and original. Jesus knew this.

No apologies necessary McPon - after only three years of going to this new church, I guess I'm still ah - a little raw about the old one. It was very difficult to leave it because I really care for so many of the people there, and still keep in touch with many of them. This is especially so because I don't have any other family in the area.
However, I'm so much happier now, and I can only praise God for how he's taken my emotional devastation, surrounded me with truly loving people, and healed my wounds. I can finally smile and laugh and joke now, and I can see how God took a terrible situation and used it to push me out of that church and into a more emotionally healthy one.

What I'm about to say is not directed against you, McPon, or your church. I don't know your church.

But in order for today's church to be relevant at all, I just feel that Christians need to do everything they can to preserve the beautiful simplicity of the gospel - that "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." That God loves the world, and gave his son to die for it so that nobody would perish from the consequences of that sin. That you don't have to get your ducks in a row first to believe that Jesus actually did that for you - you are completely and totally welcome as you are, and not just welcome, but beloved as you are, right here and right now.
Anything that happens after that is the work of the Holy Spirit - working at a pace in someone's heart that is right for them as individuals, as a partnership.

Now scat, Satan, before I tie a knot in your tail and swing you around until you're dizzy.
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:04 AM   #42
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But in order for today's church to be relevant at all, I just feel that Christians need to do everything they can to preserve the beautiful simplicity of the gospel - that "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." That God loves the world, and gave his son to die for it so that nobody would perish from the consequences of that sin. That you don't have to get your ducks in a row first to believe that Jesus actually did that for you - you are completely and totally welcome as you are, and not just welcome, but beloved as you are, right here and right now.
Anything that happens after that is the work of the Holy Spirit - working at a pace in someone's heart that is right for them as individuals, as a partnership.

Smarty's right, you are articulate. I don't know. I just said that because I liked the way that (the above quote) sounded.

I don't know. I think that going to any church is just fine. As long as we remember Jesus' overall message (love, I think), which should be inherent in all churches. One of my church's pastors said that Jesus gave us two commandments above the ten (not doing away with the ten commandments or anything) so that we would not lose sight of what is really important. But then someone might say why can't you just stay home and worship. Well, for me, I only go to church just to fellowship with fellow human beings. That's just my experience, that's all. Anyways, I'm bored. I just felt like jabbering like a squirting, twitching severed limb.
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Old 09-14-2005, 02:26 AM   #43
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Well, for me, I only go to church just to fellowship with fellow human beings.
You could always follow Tom Cruise to the Mothership!
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Old 09-15-2005, 08:00 PM   #44
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^ yeah but it'll cost bucks deluxe by the time they're through!

I find it easier to worship at church - easier to stay focused. I also love the fact that since one day is always set side for that, it's a ritual that helps me keep track of time passing, so the weeks and days don't all bleed into one.

I had the worst time keeping track with that, living in L.A. - beautiful weather everyday, no seasons - I was self-employed, so no real schedule to adhere to. Every so often, I'd wake up with a jolt and realize that five years had slipped past since I'd called a certain friend, or been on a trip. Pretty alarming.
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Old 09-22-2005, 08:49 AM   #45
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Well, for me, I only go to church just to fellowship with fellow human beings.
That's the only reason I would attend a church - the fellowship. I keep telling myself that I'm going to get my butt in gear and spend some time at the local Unity, UU or Episcopal churches, but I never do. I know that Unity would welcome me without question, as there is absolutely no expectation in Unity churches that members believe in the God of the Christian bible, nor is there any real doctrine involved.

The closest I come to fellowship is through Humanity's Team - we're a spiritual organization with members of all faiths. I'm about to launch a new spiritual Study Group here in Michigan, and that's where I'll find my fellowship for now. I'd have done it months ago, but I got so wrapped up in my duties as a core Coordinator for the United States that I sort of let my own personal spiritual journey go for a while. While I'm still on the board of directors and still one of the core coordinators, I've let go of one of my roles, and it's like a huge weight off my shoulders.

I spent the last several weeks working with a local church group on Katrina relief - they have been very welcoming to me and all the other "heathens." LOL They've also been extremely respectful of the fact that I'm never going to turn around and become a Christian - I appreciate that a great deal. The fellowship and common purpose has been really uplifting for me. I've grown quite fond of these men and women. And while I'm not going to be joining their church any time soon, I've signed up for their mailing list so I can show up to support them in future efforts - not only for Katrina, but for their own church. They have a breakfast coming up next month - I've volunteered (and been accepted!) to help cook. That'll be fun.

And the whole reason I started this post - ! - have you all heard of this "100 minute bible" being released? Here's a link to one of the news stories.

http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/eu...ble/index.html
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