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Old 07-20-2006, 05:54 PM   #16
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For what my non-Protestant two cents are worth...I've never really understood why the tendency for religions to split into various denominations should be, in and of itself, much cause for consternation. Religion is a social institution, not just an allegiance to some particular abstract set of precepts about the nature of the divine or the proper moral goals of a "good" human life. Even if you don't personally belong to a formal religious organization, or for that matter even if you're an atheist, you still have to constantly make decisions about how to realize and apply those moral goals through your own actions, which tends over time to lead to certain interpretive tendencies culminating in a full-fledged, if derivative, personal or collective "moral philosophy." Likewise, in the case of theists at least, you'll inevitably develop a particular--and, again, derived--interpretation of what precisely (e.g.) "Jesus is our Lord and Savior" actually means, which again tends over time to culminate in a fairly specific set of doctrines: exegetical, eschatological, etc. And if you do choose to practice your religion as part of a community, then inevitably there will be still further breakdowns emerging from that: what form should worship take; what, if any, the sacraments should be and how they are to be understood; what the community's particular priorities concerning moral action, scriptural study and interpretation, etc. should be; and so on. I suppose the Catholic Church's assertion of the Vatican's ultimate authority on the latter two matters (i.e. formulating theological doctrine and defining religious observance) is itself an instance of the third.

You could trace similar patterns in any human institution, government for example: "We hold these truths to be self-evident...etc." sounds great, and much of it would be gladly seconded by people anywhere, but it really doesn't mean very much until you elaborate it into a particular organizational framework and a particular set of policies (which, again, in turn will wind up entailing the development of a parallel, derived body of political philosophy over time).

And with religion as with other institutions, it's at the point where "safely" broad, abstract, innocuous-sounding (or for that matter, appalling-sounding) precepts assume their bewildering array of real-world forms that the potential for destructive conflict creeps in. It's the tangibles, however incorrectly diagnosed, that we go to war over, and unfortunately the different ways various precepts get unpacked--while inevitable--makes differences of diagnosis inevitable too.
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
For what my non-Protestant two cents are worth...
Your non-Protestant two cents are worth a whole hell of a lot!

I don't think I've ever seen you post anything less than a thoughtful and well-reasoned response. It's why I admire you so much!

Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by shart1780
That's kind of a hard question for me. I don't believe in a Bible which is full of relative truths. I wouldn't be okay with those things you listed because I think they go against some fundamental teachings of the Bible and show a lack of faith in God's word. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the church should have authority (in fact, it condemns it. It's legalism). It also is VERY clear that Hell does indeed exist. The fact that anyone could look past things like this is a warning sign that they're trying to twist the Bible in such a way that is convenient for them.

Ah, but it's these very things that are usually what divide denominations. Denominations usually don't form over dancing and rock music. Individual congregations perhaps, but not denominations.They form over issues of "Biblical truth"--the so-called non-negotiables. I'm sure a Catholic priest could show you from the Bible why the Church holds authority over Biblical interpretaton. And I can tell you that I don't think the Bible is as clear as you think about eternal hell. The common Protestant accusation that "they're trying to twist the Bible in such a way that is convenient for them" is always used against those of other denominations who are drawing conclusions about scripture that don't jibe with our own. And you see how there's no winning here. You say, "But it's Biblical" and I say "Yes, but you're misinterpreting these texts" and you say "No, YOU'RE misinterpreting" and I say "No, you just want to make the Bible say what you already believe" and you say, "No, YOU'RE doing that!" And back and forth we go. . .

The only solution that I see (beyond just tossing the whole thing out) is for both of us to concede that we might be wrong in our interpretations, and go at it from there.

The point is you (backed up by your understanding of scripture) determine what is "silly" to squabble over and what is non-negotiable. THAT is how denominations form.
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:29 PM   #19
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I'd like to see how there's more than one way to interpret the Bible's position on an eternal Hell, because IMO it's very, VERY clear. By that logic you can do some very dangerous things with the Bible. Why not just throw out the fundamental teaching of the Bible? That we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people call that a matter of interpretation as well.

When I considered the differences od denominations in this thread I was thinking more about things such as denominations of christianity. I wouldn't exactly call protestants, catholics and mormons of the same religion.
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:33 PM   #20
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Re: Why are there so many denominations?

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Originally posted by maycocksean
So why are there so many denominations within Christianity?
Because having only one was a resounding failure. Even the origin of Christianity had two from the start, so why would we ever expect all Christians to agree 100%?

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Old 07-20-2006, 11:36 PM   #21
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The whole denominational perspective shouldn't be the main one. My wife and I come from completely different backgrounds. I grew up in the Lutheran church, she grew up Pentecostal.
Then we both went to my family's church at the time, which was Covenant (watered-down Lutheran) and now we go to one that's simply called Cedar Ridge Christian Church. It's a great middle ground for us. It's modern, but they see the value in a lot of the traditional stuff. It's very cool. It's a breath of fresh air to us both.
My point is, the denomination, to us, isn't what's most important. We feel comfortable in any of these churches (except you won't find me in a Pentecostal church )
The main thing is that we're Christian. That's what we tell people. That's all that matters. The rest is litterally just details.
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by shart1780
Why not just throw out the fundamental teaching of the Bible? That we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people call that a matter of interpretation as well.
Many people do! This was, after all, one of the foundations of the infamous Catholic/Protestant split. So yes, two different groups of Christians will butt heads on "fundamental" teachings of the Bible.
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:59 PM   #23
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I'm Catholic. I get really confused by the Protestant religions sometimes, but overall I know this:

- We all believe in Christianity.
- We all believe in the general principles of being a Christian.
- While rough around the edges sometimes, we're generally the same thing.

If I recall from my history lessons in school, the whole idea of Protestant was to break away from Catholicism because they felt is was too strict. Could Protestant be defined specifically as that? I'm not sure.

I think the bottom line is that people who have a certain interpretation follow that to the appropriate church. Usually it will be what you grow up in, but you never know.

I don't see a problem with it. If you feel you have a big difference between something, why not switch or even create your own church? Whatever works.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:04 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by shart1780
I'd like to see how there's more than one way to interpret the Bible's position on an eternal Hell, because IMO it's very, VERY clear. By that logic you can do some very dangerous things with the Bible. Why not just throw out the fundamental teaching of the Bible? That we need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people call that a matter of interpretation as well.

When I considered the differences od denominations in this thread I was thinking more about things such as denominations of christianity. I wouldn't exactly call protestants, catholics and mormons of the same religion.
Well, see that's just it. When you're used to one VERY CLEAR understanding of the Bible it's hard to comprehend how anyone else could possibly have a different interpretation. There are many people in my denom who are confident that they can take on just about any other Christian in a head-to-head on what Scripture says and come out the "winner." And they wouldn't say it's a matter of "personal interpretation" they'd say it's a matter of correctly understanding God's word. Personally, I don't care much for that approach, but I'm just saying my denomination is about as conservative as they come when it comes to taking the Bible as the word of God.

I'll explain why I don't believe in an eternal hell later, either in a seperate thread or in this one.

In the meantime let me ask you two questions.

1. Do you not consider Catholics Christians?
2. Why is not believing in an eternal hell a "dangerous" belief?
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:06 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by phillyfan26
If I recall from my history lessons in school, the whole idea of Protestant was to break away from Catholicism because they felt is was too strict. Could Protestant be defined specifically as that? I'm not sure.
Protestantism split off for many, many reasons (even socio-political influences came into play), but basically it was because of Catholicism's stance that an individual cannot have a personal relationship with Christ unless it's mediated by the clergy, sacraments, theology, etc of the institutional Church. Protestants believed that people are saved by God's grace, through Jesus Christ alone and that everyone has access to a relationship with and salvation through Christ. Catholicism is strict in that lay believers have limited control of their spiritual destiny, so to speak. Also, many Protestant denominations reject the rigid hierarchy of power used by the Roman Catholic Church. My denomination is one example. We answer to no bishop, no cardinal, no pope. The congregation itself elects their own reverends, sets their own budgets, and runs the church. There's no orders or appointments coming from someone higher up. So structurally, we are less strict. There are other Protestant denominations that are almost mirror images of the Catholic Church, though.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:11 AM   #26
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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
Catholicism is strict in that lay believers have limited control of their spiritual destiny, so to speak.
We don't have control over our spiritual destiny? I think the whole ideal of Catholicism is in having control. Encouraging people to return to the church after years away? It being on your hands whether you give in to temptation?

The Catholic Church is strict in its stances on issues like abortion. It's strict in protocal - every Sunday go to church, receive the sacraments, etc. But in control over spiritual destiny?
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:17 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by phillyfan26


We don't have control over our spiritual destiny? I think the whole ideal of Catholicism is in having control. Encouraging people to return to the church after years away? It being on your hands whether you give in to temptation?

The Catholic Church is strict in its stances on issues like abortion. It's strict in protocal - every Sunday go to church, receive the sacraments, etc. But in control over spiritual destiny?
Things may be different now, I'm sure they are. I was refering to the time the split occured. It was a huge factor. Lay people had no control. They were just stupid sinners who would never make it to heaven on their own because they couldn't even read the Scriptures (speaking in the tone of the times, not how I feel). Services were done in Latin, which only smart -> higher class people knew, they were conned into purchasing indulgences, told that they had to confess to God through a priest (not confessing to God himself). The church equalled power. The people were made to feel that they were not worthy without the institutional church, thus could not control their own spiritual destiny. However, if you were lucky, you could give enough money to the church such that it would "buy" the right for your son to join the clergy and thus become an educated person (education = power).

I'm not sure what you mean about encouraging people to return to church. I'm not following how that, or being on your knees, is unique to Catholicism.

I'm not trying to bash Catholicism here. I've always respected this denomination and have several Catholic family members.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:29 AM   #28
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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic


Things may be different now, I'm sure they are. I was refering to the time the split occured. It was a huge factor. Lay people had no control. They were just stupid sinners who would never make it to heaven on their own because they couldn't even read the Scriptures (speaking in the tone of the times, not how I feel). Services were done in Latin, which only smart -> higher class people knew, they were conned into purchasing indulgences, told that they had to confess to God through a priest (not confessing to God himself). The church equalled power. The people were made to feel that they were not worthy without the institutional church, thus could not control their own spiritual destiny. However, if you were lucky, you could give enough money to the church such that it would "buy" the right for your son to join the clergy and thus become an educated person (education = power).

I'm not sure what you mean about encouraging people to return to church. I'm not following how that, or being on your knees, is unique to Catholicism.

I'm not trying to bash Catholicism here. I've always respected this denomination and have several Catholic family members.
True about the time period.

The encouraging to church thing was to say how the churches are similar and how it's not unique to Protestants to have choices in spiritual destiny.

I certainly can see that. Nothing has been offensive.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:57 AM   #29
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Now I should ask you, since the only things I know well about Catholicism is that which relates to Protestantism, how has Catholicism changed since that time period? Has the theology evolved so that people are encouraged to develop a relationship with Jesus and confess their sins to God? Are the things which were so corrupt during the time of the split not really relevant anymore, and more a part of tradition?
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Old 07-21-2006, 01:12 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
Now I should ask you, since the only things I know well about Catholicism is that which relates to Protestantism, how has Catholicism changed since that time period? Has the theology evolved so that people are encouraged to develop a relationship with Jesus and confess their sins to God? Are the things which were so corrupt during the time of the split not really relevant anymore, and more a part of tradition?
I'm especially interested in the answer to this question, because living in a predominantly Catholic country, I get the impression, that Catholics understand that the Church still calls the shots (though it seems a lot of Catholics just kind of ignore those shots, and just do what they want anyway). I mean you still don't have Catholics going off and starting their own versions of Catholicism? Or do you? I don't know. . .
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