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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Purgatory   » How much heresy is ok? Are we still Christian? Do we accept others' beliefs?

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Source: (consider it) Thread: How much heresy is ok? Are we still Christian? Do we accept others' beliefs?
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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There are several topics where we have discussions of the important things in Christianity: teachings, love for Jesus. praying for people, beliefs, etc. These are both past and present. They recur.

It seems there are several clusters of people to me. Some who subscribe to what I might call fully creedal. Some of subscribe to some of the creedal ideas and not so much other. Some who really don't accept creedal Christianity, but continue to identify as Christian for reasons of their and family/cultural history, and for reasons of comfort or need to believe in something. --There are more ways to cluster us. You certainly don't have to hold to my way of defining clusters of folk.

Is there a tension among us, among these clusters? Are we okay with people who are on opposite ends of the spectrum on some of these things? Can we accept each other as Christian if we differ? How much difference is okay?

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Brenda Clough
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The other thing to be aware of is history. There were periods when it is clearly -not- OK, when dissent is met with tar and feathers or even worse. I'm reading a book about the Oneida Community, and their particular theological quirk was Perfectionism, the idea that once you accept Christ and had the Holy Spirit imbue you (sometimes the HS had to do it twice) you were perfectly in God's will and could never sin again. (It was a very 19th century thing, I don't know if it has any adherents now.)
The Oneida founder converted to and then loudly professed his Perfectionism, and they threw him out of Yale Divinity School. Another thing I am not sure they'd do today.

[ 06. April 2017, 18:07: Message edited by: Brenda Clough ]

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mousethief

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# 953

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What do you mean by "accept each other as Christians"? Call each other by that appellation? Sit together at the Christian lunch table? Recognize each others' sacraments? Intercommune? There are a thousand shades of grey that could go under the rubric "accept each other as Christians."

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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It's the other side of it. Where we reject or contrastingly hold as essential and leave others out that makes me wonder.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Jay-Emm
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It would depend on the situation (as MT suggests).

With me (and this would be personal)

There's an outer layer which is very very woolley I think it would be believing something is uniquely special (Christly) about Jesus, and that loving your neighbour is important (without specifying how that occurs, or if things trump it). Outside of which you completely forfeit your right to expect me to call you Christian Which isn't a problem, if they don't expect me too, also there being a partial exception if christian was explicitly redefined for the context, if say a muslim told me 'by following Mohammed, they're doing from Jesus Christ really wanted, and so are the real Christians'*, but otherwise the mere attempt to take the name would be annoying, broadly splitting off other religions and the extreme Ukipy (and I guess the extreme marxist, except they tend to be atheistic) elements.

Then there'd be a bit where I'd be explicitly disagreeing, but it would be IMO an honest disagreement (but I'm really sure I'm righter). I'd be a bit picky about when I include you (and expect the same in return), sometimes allied, sometimes debating, sometimes boycotting or boycotted. In terms of explicit grouping this would be where Jehovah's witnesses would separate and the more Ukipy elements of church. More of less as the creeds get denied, or ... [this catagory more or less ending as joint worship begins]

The next one would be where I'm not really convinced. I've got my opinions, but I'd hope just to feel silly when I get to heaven. In this case I'd expect to put myself in positions where I ought to play by their rules, and while in those positions would try to play by them, or work round. (The Ave's being one I'd happily do on occasion, while in contrast the song about Queen of the sea is getting very mumbled). Broadly denominational splits, the extreme theological wings of the anglican church, and extreme social wings of the anglican church.
[no problem with communion if I meet their conditions/they know what their doing]

Finally you'd have the bits where I really don't care.

That's not quite it, as things are a bit messier, and not symmetric.

*You could of course do a similar thing with submission to god the other way round. Neither might be helpful.

[ 06. April 2017, 19:14: Message edited by: Jay-Emm ]

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Lamb Chopped
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You know, you've loaded the question with terms like "can we accept one another" and "are we okay" with one another. You can love anybody, even the devil himself (that last is certainly going to take divine help, but never mind). But to love, accept, be okay with a person and to love, accept, be okay with his/her beliefs are two different things. Really, they are.

And one does not invalidate the other. If you (general you) find my beliefs abhorrent or incomprehensible or just plain wrong, that doesn't let you off loving me as your neighbor. But neither do I have the right to demand you accept my views as correct or even tolerable, simply because you have to love me as a neighbor. You are perfectly within your rights to say, "hey, we can't have this," when I start trying to propagate child sacrifice or what have you. And you can certainly say "this isn't Christian" and attempt to defend it (which will involve defining terms and citing authorities, but there you go).

I have the same rights and responsibilities in reverse.

It's a confusion of the mind to mix up a person's right to love and that of their beliefs and practices. We must distinguish, or else wind up like the ISIS idiots on one extreme or the "Christianity-and-water" folks on the other.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Are we okay with people who are on opposite ends of the spectrum on some of these things?

Who are 'we'?

People believe a whole lot of different and even incompatible things, and belong to a huge range of institutions. This is what religious freedom means.

Ecumenicalism has its good points, but I don't think anyone has a right to demand that their theology be accepted as valid by a denomination other than their own, or its members. So long as we're not victims of religious violence, libel or otherwise prevented from living our lives in peace, my Christian atheism, (for the sake of argument), doesn't have to be indulged by the inerrantist Pentecostals down the road. And it works the other way around of course.

Within denominations is a different matter. The sociological argument is that Christian denominations increasingly develop so as to become more tolerant of pluralism. The historical groups have had the longest to reconcile themselves with this, although cultural developments do keep throwing up new things for them to get anxious about absorbing. I suspect that the speed of change is increasing, which itself is going to be very difficult for churches to manage.

The other problem is, if church members aren't united by their doctrines then what does unite them? The historical groups can unite around a lot of other things - heritage, status, demographics, denominational wealth, musical excellence, etc. The newer groups have less to gain by becoming pluralistic, which is why many of them resist it.

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Brenda Clough
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There's also a difference between accepting someone's differing beliefs, tolerating them while disagreeing, tolerating neither the beliefs nor the believer, and finally permanently scotching the beliefs by taking a machete to the believer.

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What do you mean by "accept each other as Christians"? Call each other by that appellation? Sit together at the Christian lunch table? Recognize each others' sacraments? Intercommune? There are a thousand shades of grey that could go under the rubric "accept each other as Christians."

Exactly. "How much difference is okay?" Well, in what context?

When someone at my church on the stewardship committee wanted to make a pitch to the congregation during a church service that sounded way too close to prosperity gospel bullshit, I objected rather strenuously, and if the other committee members hadn't agreed with me, I would have gone to the rector to make sure this didn't go forward. I see no reason to be out of fellowship with those of my fellow church members who subscribe to these and other dubious beliefs, but there's no way I'll sit still and see them promulgated in church. Do I think this person is a Christian? Sure. Do I accept her beliefs? Hell, no. My objection to the proposed intrusion of a prosperity gospel in the church service wasn't because I can legitimately say it's unChristian; too many Christians hold to it for that. I objected because it is wrong, and that's a claim that only holds up within certain boundaries; i.e., it is most definitely not a teaching of the Episcopal Church.

The beliefs of the people who call themselves Christians are so widely varied that there's really no way to even define "Christian" except by saying all those who call themselves Christians are indeed Christians. That goes against the beliefs of Christian groups who think there are clear definitions -- you have to be baptized in the name of the Trinity, or you have to believe in the saving grace of Christ, or whatever -- so even saying that all who call themselves Christians are Christians is itself meaningless and incoherent.

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simontoad
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Heretic and heresy are very uncomfortable words, used to inflict suffering in the past in the denominations I hang around. This is in the not too recent past as well. I am very leery of using these labels, and I know that many others are as well.

In fact, doctrine has been used to discipline and/or dismiss priests in Australian Catholic Archdiocese as recently as a few years ago. Actually, I was thinking of Fr Bob McGuire, but that was more political. There was a Priest in Queensland who got the bullet for his unorthodox practices and beliefs a few years back. They were of the liberal variety, and I think he might have been a bit of a spongophile, but can't remember. His parishioners arked up a bit in support and that made the news. I think he ended up starting a new church.

I tend towards the creedal version of Christianity, that of the Nicene variety. If it's in the Creed, I believe it, and if it's not in the Creed it's optional. I take a broad approach to the one holy catholic and apostolic church, seeing as how I can often be found haunting the door of the local Anglican church.

I find it easier to condemn those I don't know as heathens than those I do. I think there's something in that.

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andras
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Differing theological views? Heck, the hierarchy of the Methodist Church here in the good old permissive UK told me a few years back that a Church Steward was entitled to challenge a preacher if he thought that he might be about to say something at variance with church policy.

That's right, it didn't have to be a theological issue and the preacher didn't actually have to say something, it was enough if the steward thought he might do so.

Not darkened their door since!

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gorpo
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I have a hard time calling churches who only serve a political agenda "christian". Even though I am sure there are many christians in there. That doesn´t mean christian churches cannot have political actions. Question is, do they adopt a certain political agenda because they think that is a better way of living their christian faith and is in line with what God expects them, or do they adopt a Church because that is a more effective way of propagating their political beliefs? In other words, is their political agenda a way to better serve the Lord of the Church, or are they just using the Church to better serve their political agenda, regardless of what their personal beliefs are?

So when you have denominational leadership who is so vocal about certain political issues, but are so quiet, or even openly oposed to being vocal about any specifically christian orthodox belief, that´s a big sign a church body was taken over by non-believers. Remaining christians in these denominations should be vocal about their beliefs and dennounce that their leaders are not in line with the official denomination confessions of faith.

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by andras:
Differing theological views? Heck, the hierarchy of the Methodist Church here in the good old permissive UK told me a few years back that a Church Steward was entitled to challenge a preacher if he thought that he might be about to say something at variance with church policy.

That's right, it didn't have to be a theological issue and the preacher didn't actually have to say something, it was enough if the steward thought he might do so.

Not darkened their door since!

I was a Methodist church steward for several years in the noughties and was never told that I had the right to challenge any preacher, or to prevent a preacher from speaking. Indeed, the general impression I got from other, older stewards was that the preacher is always right!

What I was told, as far as I can remember, was that any reputable person may preach, but there always has to be a fully accredited Methodist preacher or ordained minister on the premises for an official Methodist service to occur. This is to ensure that what's being preached accords with Methodist doctrines.

Be that as it may, I've worshipped at Methodist churches for many years and never seen or heard of anyone being prevented from preaching either before or during a service. Conflict-avoidance is a Methodist trait, so such a situation is very hard to imagine. Any non-accredited person seriously suspected of being unsuitable simply wouldn't be invited to preach.

A particular congregation might have ongoing misgivings about a certain accredited Methodist preacher, but in that case the circuit superintendent could presumably ensure that the preaching plan never sent this person to that church again. (If all the churches were unhappy with this preacher then that would be a more serious problem....)

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andras
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It happened to me, as an accredited local preacher of many years standing. In the middle of my sermon, the steward stood up and accused me to my face of lying. I was utterly dumbfounded, gathered up my Bible and hymnbook and left.

He subsequently phoned me at home and apologised, but point blank refused to repeat his apology in front of the congregation. A formal complaint from me ultimately brought forth the official view that he was entitled to interrupt the preacher if he thought they were going to say anything at variance with church policy. Theology didn't come into it.

Vile, but it speaks volumes about a church which has forgotten what it's for.

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Adrian Plass

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SvitlanaV2
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Strange. But churches can be very bad at dealing with conflict. There may also have been some base pragmatism involved - in that circuit its possible that stewards were hard to find but local preachers less so. Outcome: the steward's side would be taken. I don't know.

It's a great shame you had to go through that.

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Ethne Alba
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Oh i think lots of us teeter on the very brink heresy lots of the time. Especially when a microphone is around....
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Makepiece
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For me, teachers and leaders ought to be held to the highest standards and be consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine. Apart from that the category of people I would agree are Christian is very broad save that I would draw the line with anyone who doesn't trust in Jesus as their saviour and Lord. Saved from what? Saved from sin and its consequences. Saved for what? For eternal life and a relationship with God. It seems to me that one can't trust in Crist as saviour without believing that he died and rose again. Whilst I would not expect all Christians to have a sound doctrine of the atonement I would say that it is indispensable to believe that Jesus death leads to our salvation. It seems to me that one major area of contention arises from the definition of 'sin'. I do not believe that someone is a Christian if they are not contrite and repentant regarding their sins but as sanctification is a gradual process I would not necessarily accept a complete and immediate change upon trusting in Christ. As such I would only be sceptical that a person who outwardly endorses Christian doctrine is a Christian if they ought to be maturing in their faith but there is no apparent 'fruit'.

[ 09. April 2017, 14:09: Message edited by: Makepiece ]

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andras
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# 2065

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Strange. But churches can be very bad at dealing with conflict. There may also have been some base pragmatism involved - in that circuit its possible that stewards were hard to find but local preachers less so. Outcome: the steward's side would be taken. I don't know.

It's a great shame you had to go through that.

Not to bang on about one of the nastiest experiences of my church life, but the primacy of steward over preacher and of policy over theology was put to me in almost those terms by the then Connexional Secretary of the Methodist Church.

God help us all!

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God's on holiday.
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Adrian Plass

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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I once read that the Methodist people are very resistant to being led. So in that sense deference to preachers, whether ordained or lay, can't be assumed. Perhaps that's always been the case. The people loved John Wesley, but every other leader has been viewed as second best....

With regard to theology, the cynic in me - or the would-be sociologist - feels that policy or circumstances always push that into second place. So the issue isn't about how much 'heresy' a church should allow, but what a church stands to lose or gain by taking or rejecting a particular stance.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:


Ecumenicalism has its good points, but I don't think anyone has a right to demand that their theology be accepted as valid by a denomination other than their own, or its members. So long as we're not victims of religious violence, libel or otherwise prevented from living our lives in peace, my Christian atheism, (for the sake of argument), doesn't have to be indulged by the inerrantist Pentecostals down the road. And it works the other way around of course.

What ecumenism is all about is not looking for the lowest common denominator, but acknowledging that we come from different traditions, each of which is to be respected, and each contributing to our common pathway.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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SvitlanaV2
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In theory, yes. But in practice I think it's more complicated than that.
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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
In theory, yes. But in practice I think it's more complicated than that.

Not really for us and our ecumenical partners. Palm Sunday for example saw us processing together through a couple of local streets with our friends from the Catholic and Uniting Church parishes. Each peeled off at an appropriate place and returned to their own service. At the combined Lenten services, the host church provides a non-Eucharist liturgy suitable for that church, and the same occurs at other joint services through the year.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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SvitlanaV2
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Well, you've obviously grown closer in many ways. But not all churches will share those similarities.

The historical churches have had longer to develop theological, cultural and sociological similities. Newer churches that are very different in these respects are harder to incorporate.

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Gramps49
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When I grew up in Southern Idaho we made a clear distinction between what the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) taught and traditional Christianity. The Mormons are now trying to make it clear they are Christian too, but I hesitate to agree. Their concept of the Godhead is much different than the traditional Christian understanding of the Trinity. They believe there are three Gods not one. They also believe that true believers can become gods of their own universe. They see Jesus as opening up the way of salvation, but he does not bring salvation himself. There is a strong emphasis on works righteousness within the Mormon Tradtion. The list goes on.

Am I okay with what they teach> No. I will witness my faith to them any chance I get.

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Latchkey Kid
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
There was a Priest in Queensland who got the bullet for his unorthodox practices and beliefs a few years back. They were of the liberal variety, and I think he might have been a bit of a spongophile, but can't remember. His parishioners arked up a bit in support and that made the news. I think he ended up starting a new church.

That was Peter Kennedy. His parish supported him and became St Mary's in Exile using the Trades and Labour Council building up the road. They also run the Micah Projects. On a visit to the area I worshiped and took communion there before they were exiled.
Left to themselves I think they would have carried on happily, but there were a few vindictive people who took it to Rome. Certainly, one I met came across as a nasty piece of work.
They were the ones that were stirring up divisions and many, including Catholics, found it disappointing that those who were doing the good works of the church were the ones disciplined rather than the one creating hatred and dissension. A case of creeds trumping praxis IMHO. It rather reminds me of the scripture that "these people worship me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" and the RC authorities preferred lips to heart.

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'You must never give way for an answer. An answer is always the stretch of road that's behind you. Only a question can point the way forward.'
Mika; in Hello? Is Anybody There?, Jostein Gaardner

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SvitlanaV2
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But the RCC is one of the most conservative churches in Christendom. It's hardly suitable for the 'spongified', is it?
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Garden Hermit
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The Bottom Line IMHO is that a Human Mind can't understand The Creator except very, very 'dimly'. So as long as you have Humility and ask that God instructs you, you'll be OK. The trouble comes when Humans think they have the answer.
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Lyda*Rose

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Amen.

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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Enoch
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IMHO there's a big an important difference between those whose faith is weak, faltering, a spluttering candle, and those who seem to take a delight in telling everyone how little they believe, and how it's only the old-fashioned, credulous and dogmatic who are not spiritually chic like them.

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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
IMHO there's a big an important difference between those whose faith is weak, faltering, a spluttering candle, and those who seem to take a delight in telling everyone how little they believe, and how it's only the old-fashioned, credulous and dogmatic who are not spiritually chic like them.

There are a few of the latter, aren't there? And it always tempts me into the opposite error, being proud of my un-chic-ness. [Disappointed]

After reading one of those I try to put down the Internet and go off and do something grounding. Like picking up the house or something.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 19991 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged


 
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