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Author Topic: Have classical churches lost their relevance?
drunkennewfiemidget
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Icon 1 posted July 23, 2004 11:00      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I wholeheartedly agree with the last post.

If someone chooses to believe in Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Scientology, or whatever, go for it. I don't care what you do, all the power to you. I won't treat you differently for it, and I won't judge you for it. Just keep it to yourself.

Jehovah's witnesses and mormons who bang on my door, I believe, deserve the treatment they get. It's OK to believe in what you believe in, but don't spend my time with it. If I want to know more about your religion, I will ask.

I have a book called 'Essential Tibetan Buddhism' on my desk downstairs. I'm going to read it. Why? Because I want to see what it's about. I'm not particularily interested in becoming a buddhist, but I'm intrigued as to what it entails and what it involves.

Posts: 4897 | From: Cambridge, ON, Canada | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
DoctorWho

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Icon 1 posted July 23, 2004 11:36      Profile for DoctorWho     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
After reading my last post, I think I hit the nail a little too hard. To be honest, Jack Chick is a sore spot with me. I hate his cartoon tracts, and I hate his "scare 'em into believing methods". Those tracts give the worst impression of christianity IMHO. I feel like it also gives people who are converted by those tracts a wrong impression of God. I don't believe God is watching to see how many people he can condemn. I believe He gives everyone every possible opportunity to accept Him so they can know Him. Sorry GMx, I didn't mean to get up in your face. I just have had to deal with too many new christians who are screwed up in the head because of Jack Chick.

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Laughter is like changing a baby's diapers. It doesn't solve anything but it sure improves the situation. Leo F. Buscaglia

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GMx

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Icon 1 posted July 23, 2004 12:24      Profile for GMx     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No problem. I realized after I posted that that some might get angry. as for Jack, it just goes to show that no matter how far we have gotten technologically, there are still a lot of people who are in the middle ages theologically.

Was it Socrates or Aristotle that said, "Know thyself"? I think we have to know ourselves before we begin to understand what God (or whatever you wish to call him or her or it) is.

I was reading The Steven Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching the other day and came across this:

In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
endlessly renewed.

When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.

The master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn't glitterlike a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as a stone.

Pretty good advice no matter what religion you believe in.

I do think that a lot of people are intolerant of others' beliefs because they want to be on the "right" side. If they stopped worrying about being on the "right" side and just do right they would probably feel a lot better about themselves and the world.

And don't get mad about Jack Chick. That's his problem and there's not much you can do about it. If people are put onto the wrong track by his screeds, with hope, maybe some day they will see the light. Free will and all that. Most hate comes from within and Jack just profits from that. He may see himself as doing good or be a cynical bastard making money off people's fears. It isn't right, but like I said, there's not much you can do about it. Except laugh. Laugh long and hard at the obsurdity of it all.

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Groggle
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Icon 1 posted July 23, 2004 20:53      Profile for Groggle     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Intriguing - looking through the collective postings, there's a couple of patterns emerging:

1. Lots of people seem to be evolving their own sense of spirituality. It may be rooted in whatever religious upbringing they may have had, but it is clearly their own.

2. A number of people have pointed out - quite rightly - that churches do serve a rather unique social purpose.

I get the feeling that the church as a social organism is likely to remain a significant player in our society. I think it's important to recognize the role of a community church in providing a structure in which neighbors may communicate outside of the straightjacket of the workaday world.

Where I think many organized churches have lost their significance is in the realm of their ability to influence public policy directly. There was a time not so long ago where the clergy could say something, and it would significantly influence the direction of public policy.

Today, there are other groups clamoring for the government's ear as well, and the church no longer holds that privileged position at the government's shoulder. (This is one of the reasons for Bishop Henry's often pugilistic commentary, I'm sure)

I can't speak for the US, but in Canada, the notion of separation of Church and State emerges in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which stipulates freedom of religion for all who live subject to the Charter. In doing so, it gives equal footing to all of the various faiths that comprise our land. In doing so, the authors of the Charter essentially guaranteed that no one faith would ever have preeminence before the law and governance of the land. The results are most interesting to watch at times.

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csk

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Icon 1 posted July 24, 2004 08:37      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OK, go and get yourselves a cup of your favourite beverage, this is going to be a long one.

Yes, classical churches have lost their relevance. But not in a bad way. Let me explain. Note I'm referring to Christian churches here, because that's what I'm familiar with, and that seemed to be the scope of the original question.

Churches are primarily designed as a support group for Christians. Once they start stepping outside of this role, then they're starting to interfere with the larger world. This is a bad thing, and was never meant to be the case. You know all those New Testament letters that say "Don't do this, or this" etc? They were written to churches, not society at large, and were never meant to be applied to society at large.

Secondly, a lot of people complain that the churches are flawed. Hypocritical, child abusing, moralising, etc. Well, that goes right along with classic Christian theology (everyone stuffs up, and does it frequently, basically). Unfortunately, a lot of people/churches don't do a great job at the whole repentance/positive change thing. But most in my experience want to do better, even if they don't succeed.

Thirdly, it's quite right to have a personal relationship with God. That's a good thing, and to be encouraged. Better to have some sort of a relationship with the maker seven days a week than to be a "Sunday Christian" who forgets all about Him the remainder of the week.

Fourthly, there's more than one church out there. We have an incredible amount of choice, both between denominations and actual congregations, so if you have deep seated issues with one denomination, try another. While no church is perfect (as a weekly church attender I know this all too well), why miss out on the good things that can come from a good church? Speaking for myself, there are people in my bible study and church who would be my first port of call in difficult times, and I'd be happy to do the same for them.

Fifthly (and slightly off the point), I've never understood (and this isn't attacking anyone, personally, BTW) how some people think about God in this supposedly scientific and rational age. If there is indeed a God, surely he/she/it has some sort of nature/personality/way to be worshipped, etc. It seems to me that it would be very strange sort of God that would say in effect "I don't really care how people live their lives and acknowledge me or not, I'm going to treat them OK regardless. It doesn't matter whether they're a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist (a "nice one, though), it's all good". If that really is the way God is, then why can't I just decide for myself how to live my life, it doesn't really matter.

Let me encourage you all (if you want to) to check the whole religion thing out. Do any of the religions seem true? Plus I'm always happy to discuss this stuff either on the forums, or via PM.

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6 weeks to go!

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Super Flippy

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Icon 1 posted July 24, 2004 08:55      Profile for Super Flippy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Actually, I don't think "classical churches" are losing their relevance (though perhaps religion degrees are, speaking as one with a B.A. in that subject [Wink] ). Among people I know, friends and family, in the places I and they live, they're as relevant as ever. The church is a place where people go to worship and seek God, and a place where we find fellowship and support. It's a launching pad for community outreach, whether that community is next door or hundreds of miles away.

Yes, you can be spiritual and religious by yourself, but a large part of the reason for having a church is to be part of a family of believers who will support and care about you. Early Christian churches took this seriously; they would look more like communes to us today.

But I guess it all depends on your point of view. For people who don't participate in organized religion, it's not relevant. For people who do, it is.

Edited to add: csk, I'm afraid I have to contradict you about this one item:
quote:
Once they start stepping outside of this role, then they're starting to interfere with the larger world. This is a bad thing, and was never meant to be the case.
At least for Christians, Jesus commanded his followers to go out into the world and convert people. This command is called "The Great Commission." : Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
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csk

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Icon 1 posted July 24, 2004 09:14      Profile for csk     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Super Flippy:
At least for Christians, Jesus commanded his followers to go out into the world and convert people. This command is called "The Great Commission." : Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

True, but I was more referring to the imposing Christian morality on others bit. Us Christians need to share the faith with others, keeping in mind that our actions are equally as important as our words, and that our words are much more effective in the context of relationship.

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6 weeks to go!

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Groggle
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Icon 1 posted July 24, 2004 10:43      Profile for Groggle     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
CSK Writes:
quote:
I've never understood (and this isn't attacking anyone, personally, BTW) how some people think about God in this supposedly scientific and rational age. If there is indeed a God, surely he/she/it has some sort of nature/personality/way to be worshipped, etc.
I was listening to a rather interesting program on CBC the other night that just happened to touch on this very subject. I don't remember _who_ was being interviewed, but they were a scientist of some renown. His point was rather nicely put - as a scientist, he is researching the 'how' of things, not so much the 'why'. Therefore, in his mind, there was no inherent conflict between his rather rationalist view of the world and his spiritual beliefs. Basically, he had separated them into two very distinct mental spaces, and dealt with them as independently intelligible. One does not deterministically drive the other.

I thought this nicely summed up my own perspective - rational understanding of the world around us does not preclude a spiritual belief in a higher power. What it does preclude is any kind of literal interpretation of scripture. I tend to view scripture as parable. Stories that provide guidelines for behaviour.

If one tries to interpret scripture literally, then you run right smack into the wall of conflict between what's in scripture and reality. The evolution debate is along these lines usually, with the misunderstanding made that scripture and science are somehow mutually exclusive. If one is pragmatic about it, the subject rapidly becomes a lot less troubling.

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disciple3d
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Icon 1 posted August 06, 2004 07:19      Profile for disciple3d     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I tend to agree with that kind of hypothesis as well. I have always thought of religion as theology and philosophy rather than tangible scientific rules.

As such, I wouldn't call myself a Christian, but I see great value in Christian philosophies, and the way that the more philosophical Christians interpret the scriptures.

I see the same in Islam, from what I understand of it too, and similarly in other religions.

I try to make a (perhaps overly simplistic) distinction between two ways to understand religions;

a) A set of rules from books thousands of years old which aren't interpretable, except in a literal fashion, and must be followed as hard rules by all god fearing people.

b) A set of guiding principles, ideas and philosophies which guide our moral existance and spirituality.

I think that most people would adhere to the latter, or a mixture of the two, because it says more about human existance, experience and understanding than 'a' alone.

As churches go, I believe that those which feel relevant to people's lives will continue to exist and grow stronger, where as those which force their rule and regulation against the feelings and experience of their potential members are less likely to continue to exist.

For instance,a church that preaches 'homosexuality is evil' isn't going to last very long in a town like San Francisco, (or at least, gain much power) because it's likely that the general attitudes to homosexuality in the town would be incompatible with the churches preachings. (I am speculating here, as I haven't actually been to San Francisco myself.)

I don't think churches will ever be irrelevant, as long as they continue to change and evolve with society's social attitudes. We have some pretty modern churches here, including those which are focussed on being a meeting point for people with similar beliefs, raher than an active preaching point to try to convert people.

I think people have become more spiritual and tollerant of other's beliefs in general, and I think this can only be a good thing. It probably comes from many different areas, including the change of social attitudes, which have certainly got a lot more libertarian and open minded, in regard to personal freedoms over the last 50 - 100 years.

I think less arguments about which religion is wrong or right, and more understanding is really important, because as others have been saying, religion isn't about scientific actualities, and isn't provable in any way by modern science.

Perhaps this modern scientific endevour is partially responsible for people's changing attitiudes towards religion?

I don't know, but I am glad that science has taken over religion in beginning to explain the 'how' to society.

Perhaps religion is also getting better, and more focussed at trying explaining the 'why' as well...

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