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Source: (consider it) Thread: Ways to initiate relationship with God
Raptor Eye
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A comment by Belle Ringer in the 'wrath' thread in which she deliberately bypassed the question of whether repentance was the only way to initiate relationship with God led me to open this thread. Is it? Are there other ways?

It seems to me that prayer initiated relationship for me, but as others have pointed out, I was baptised as a baby......

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Truman White
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I've seen sick people healed whose relationship was initiated out of gratitude. Others are moved to relationship through awe. Others so moved by Christ's sacrifice that they give their loves up to him in love. Others think through the Gospel, reckon it makes more sense than any other way of approaching life and start following Christ as a result. Does any one of these have to come before any of the others? Never seen any good reason to think so.
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Jengie jon

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We don't initiate a relationship with God either through repentance or other means. The initiative is always from God and since he makes the first move then who is to say what is the right response.

Jengie

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Mudfrog
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We love him because he first loved us [Yipee]

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balaam

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Are there other ways?

Yes, lots of them.

"He who comes to me I will not cast away" - Jesus.

So whatever way we come to Jesus he accepts us.

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Gamaliel
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Yes - however we cut it, both Jengie Jon and Mudfrog - from slightly different theological perspectives - are on the money here. The initiative is always God's.

I wouldn't get too prescriptive as to how that works out in terms of our individual response, as it were.

We can't reduce any of this to a nice neat formula.

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LeRoc

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'Having a relationship with God' isn't really part of the theological language of my tradition.

But setting that aside for a moment, I often think that one important way we can have a relationship with Him is by having a relationship with our neighbour. Jesus may have said as much.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Polly

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If repentance is more about re-orienteering our life towards God rather than an emotional response, could it not be considered part of everyone's response who follows Christ?
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Jemima the 9th
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I think, if I were to consider relationship with God to be a Thing, He would have to be the one who initiates it. I stand at the door and knock and all that.

My concern is that it leads all too easily to neurosis, or did for me in my younger days - "Do I really have a relationship with God? Did I definitely say yes? What if I accidentally changed my mind or didn't do it right? How do I know it's still continuing? Why has it all gone quiet?"

But these days any relationship I once had with God is like a deteriorating romantic relationship - long periods of silence interspersed with angry accusation.

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Raptor Eye
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Attitude is clearly important, and so is baptism, isn't it? Confirmation of baptism was certainly a response in my case, and I did see it as starting afresh, having been cleansed from all that had gone before.

That wasn't the initiation of relationship, however. In fact, it came some four years after the first prayer request.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Martin60
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Soooooooo, Gamaliel, our existential longing cannot be the initiative of God?

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Teilhard
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
A comment by Belle Ringer in the 'wrath' thread in which she deliberately bypassed the question of whether repentance was the only way to initiate relationship with God led me to open this thread. Is it? Are there other ways?

It seems to me that prayer initiated relationship for me, but as others have pointed out, I was baptised as a baby......

worship … prayer
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no prophet's flag is set so...

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
We don't initiate a relationship with God either through repentance or other means. The initiative is always from God and since he makes the first move then who is to say what is the right response.

Jengie

Then virtually all of what we do is naught isn't it? All of our liturgies, prayers and hymns.

Let me take a second step, further out of step.

Here is my rough transcription from Bill Mason's quoting of an Algonquian orator, 1984. Waterwalker, National Film Board of Canada.
quote:

We see the Great Spirit's work in almost everything: sun, wind, moon, trees, water, mountains. Sometimes we approached [him] through these things. They called us pagans. But I think we have true belief in a supreme being, and a stronger faith than most [of you people who are disconnected from the natural world].

I think a lot of what our culture and its transplants around the world spends far too much time talking and doing stuff when we'd be better off listening, and not to ourselves talking.

400 km ago, this morning and yesterday I listened to ice shifting on a lake (there's still 3 or 4 feet of it), and watched water wash on top of it, while a dozen geese walked in it, and 3 coyotes talked them about it. (One each for the father, son and holy ghost I suppose). I didn't do anything but listen, watch, and be amazed.

There's something about the ancient Israelites getting into cities, setting up judges and having lost the ability to listen to what the creator created. They used to listen in the desert and on mountain tops. Such that today people have inherited the expectation of not hearing such things, not understanding and usually rejecting. But it isn't that difficult.

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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
We don't initiate a relationship with God either through repentance or other means. The initiative is always from God and since he makes the first move then who is to say what is the right response.

Jengie

Then virtually all of what we do is naught isn't it? All of our liturgies, prayers and hymns.
That's the old faith vs. works paradox, isn't it? If God's grace achieves everything, what's the point of doing anything other than what we feel like doing? On the other hand, if God's grace isn't sufficient all on its own, then whatever it is that we must do to respond becomes a way for us to try to earn that grace, which is impossible. Either way, you end up either with universalism or with God handing out rewards and punishments arbitrarily.

Which is why I like Swedenborg's take on it: God is always initiating a relationship with and striving to save every single one of us, but only as far as we accept it using our God-given free will. Compelling ourself to actually live by our faith merits nothing and changes nothing, but is merely the way we exercise our free will to most fully commit ourselves to allowing God to change who we are.

If we make no effort to change, God respects that and lets us remain exactly as we are. If we do make an effort to change, any change that results comes not from our effort, but from giving God our permission. God accepts any and every form of permission we give him to change us, but only to the degree we are genuinely committed to it with no reservations. And repentance is the primary way we can commit ourselves completely.

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A new church and a new earth, with Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life.

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The Midge
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I suppose that when St James asks:
quote:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?
the rhetorical suggestion is that if we responded to God in actions we have not grasped what our purpose is. A relationship with God means that we will correctly relate to other people by clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. If we don't then we have either missed the point or relate to a god of our own imagination.

Be do because of salvation not to be saved.

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Gamaliel
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This

quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
If repentance is more about re-orienteering our life towards God rather than an emotional response, could it not be considered part of everyone's response who follows Christ?



--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Jengie jon

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Right

Initiating a relationship is different from being in one just as Sanctification is different from Salvation.

True repentance is the action of the Holy Spirit in a persons life therefore it can only happen if they are already in a relationship with God.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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Golden Key
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If God exists, then maybe everyone and everything is in relationship with God, simply by existing? And maybe every moment of our lives is a working out of that relationship?

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
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Polly

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
If God exists, then maybe everyone and everything is in relationship with God, simply by existing? And maybe every moment of our lives is a working out of that relationship?

All through scripture God, and then Jesus states that for anyone who desires to be part of the Kingdom is only admitted on the basis of grace.

However, for anyone who wants to be recognised as a citizen of God's Kingdom must offer evidence in his/her life that authenticates such a claim.

'Works' is not about me proving I'm good enough but demonstrating to others around me that I understand what matters to Jesus and make those things matter to me.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
We don't initiate a relationship with God either through repentance or other means. The initiative is always from God and since he makes the first move then who is to say what is the right response.

Do you see this in specific terms - i.e. the Holy Spirit moves within our hearts to make us reach out to God? If so, then this understanding of prevenient grace immediately elucidates the question, "Why does God move in some peoples' hearts but not others?"

Or are you thinking in more general terms - qua Mudfrog, God has already shown his love to (all of) us by sending his Son to die on the Cross, the onus is now upon us to respond?

I may be fairly Reformed but I am more comfortable with the second view.

[ 07. April 2015, 09:39: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Gamaliel
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Perhaps it's both/and ... [Biased] [Big Grin]

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Offeiriad

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I've always liked the definition of conversion as 'Jesus meeting each of us at our point of need'.

Maybe the Gospel and our response to it is like one of those continuous loop train time-tables? You ring into it and pick it up at that point, but you need to hear the whole thing through in order to encounter the whole thing complete - Repentence, Faith, Healing, Conversion, Adoration, Thanksgiving, etc, etc.?

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Snags
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
We don't initiate a relationship with God either through repentance or other means. The initiative is always from God and since he makes the first move then who is to say what is the right response.

Jengie

Then virtually all of what we do is naught isn't it? All of our liturgies, prayers and hymns.
It's not naught, but I don't think it's necessarily doing what "we" often think it is.

It often feels like we operate on a very Old Testament/Temple model of worship & relationship. The important stuff happens at the church service. You have to make sure you go along and sacrifice your sparrow, sorry, sing your praises, pray your confession, listen to the teaching etc. in order to "draw close to God" or "worship" or "meet with God". I'm increasingly of the view that all of that is really, really poor theology, and in essence plain wrong.

Meeting together is important, but it should encourage, provoke, comfort etc. - it should "spur us on" and it should do that through the communal aspect. It can also teach and develop us, and liturgies (formal or otherwise) can be very useful in re-grounding us. But they aren't "worship" (or at least, they're only a tiny aspect of it) and they don't in and of themselves create the relationship in some mechanistic way. As far as I can see that happens away from the service as faith informs life at work, home, play, wherever.

So all the church stuff is far from pointless, but at best it is a support to a developing on-going relationship, rather than the mechanism and nature of the relationship itself.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
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Baptist Trainfan

Not really. You ask what I believe so be warned you are dealing with something that is not simple. I believe the initiative stays with God, but that is based on my reading from the Old Testament and the way God treats all covenants.

What also has to be said is that I believe in God who creates, that this moment in time is as much a creation of God's will than any other i.e. I am not someone who believes God kicked started the universe and let it run itself. This is because time is part of the created order (an expression of the created order). Due to this I believe that while God invites us to proactively participate with him, the relationship this causes is not one of equality.

What I also believe is normative time is only one possible expression of the creation and that Salvation and Sanctification work on another that is ordered differently. I am not going to say how, I just have enough evidence to be persuaded that the organization of salvific time is very different from normal though not independent of it.

Jengie

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Golden Key
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Polly--

I respectfully disagree. [Smile]

I'm a universalist. But even strict Calvinists sometimes allow for *everyone* to be predestined for heaven.

I think God, if She exists, won't rest until everyone is safe, and well, and Home--no matter how long that takes.

You spoke of grace. This *is* that, but freely bestowed and provided to everyone. Unearned, even unasked for. If Jesus really sacrificed Himself for us, is He going to give up on anyone? Or is the Good Shepherd, not resting until He finds and rescues His lost sheep?

As to grace vs. works: I don't think we have to prove ourselves to God to be recognized, loved, and accepted. Nor do I think we have to prove our faith to those around us. But, as we grow--and the details are going to be different for each person--we'll become more interested in helping others and treating them well, and making tough decisions well.

I think growing and learning and healing and loving continue for ever and ever. Not in a "bad human--Bad, BAD, no cake" way, but growing into our whole selves, and learning to do better than we did in the past, and healing what we've done, and loving in new ways.

God, if She exists, won't let us go--any one of us.

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
What I also believe is normative time is only one possible expression of the creation and that Salvation and Sanctification work on another that is ordered differently. I am not going to say how, I just have enough evidence to be persuaded that the organization of salvific time is very different from normal though not independent of it.

Yes, I'd go along with that, no problem.
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leo
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I thought that it was God who initiated the relationship with us, not we to him.

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
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Leo

See second and third post on thread!

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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anteater

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LeRoc:
quote:
Having a relationship with God' isn't really part of the theological language of my tradition.
Nor mine, though I note from your profile that your tradition is "ecumenical".

quote:
But setting that aside for a moment, I often think that one important way we can have a relationship with Him is by having a relationship with our neighbour. Jesus may have said as much
That is about as good an answer as I could come up with.

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Polly

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@ Golden key

Respectfully disagreeing is perfectly ok. [Smile]

But....

The everyone gets to heaven regardless argument IMHO seems to cherry pick the bits of the Bible it likes and disregards the bits that don't fit in with an Universalist theology.

For example, scripture speaks an awful lot of about repentance, judgement and this other place hell (whatever these terms mean in reality, ignoring them doesn't seem a sufficient response).

Of course the predominate thread in scripture is God's love and his grace but these aren't the only threads.

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LeRoc

Famous Dutch pirate
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quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
LeRoc:
quote:
Having a relationship with God' isn't really part of the theological language of my tradition.
Nor mine, though I note from your profile that your tradition is "ecumenical".
I guess the word 'ecumenical' doesn't mean that I should make all words of all traditions mine [Smile]

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Golden Key
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quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
@ Golden key

Respectfully disagreeing is perfectly ok. [Smile]

But....

The everyone gets to heaven regardless argument IMHO seems to cherry pick the bits of the Bible it likes and disregards the bits that don't fit in with an Universalist theology.

For example, scripture speaks an awful lot of about repentance, judgement and this other place hell (whatever these terms mean in reality, ignoring them doesn't seem a sufficient response).

Of course the predominate thread in scripture is God's love and his grace but these aren't the only threads.

Basically, I got tired of being afraid. And it came down to which threads in the Bible I was going to deal with: love, hate, or both. I decided on love, because anything else tore me apart.

And now I can sleep nights.

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Eirenist
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Are we not all in a relationship with God who is our Father, though some of us are estranged from him?

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Raptor Eye
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quote:
Originally posted by Eirenist:
Are we not all in a relationship with God who is our Father, though some of us are estranged from him?

Can we be in a relationship without knowing it? Perhaps it depends upon what we think a relationship actually means.

If someone has been parted from a parent since they were born, or since they were very young, they surely don't have a relationship with that parent unless they seek him or her out and come to know who they are, can they?

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Polly

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
@ Golden key

Respectfully disagreeing is perfectly ok. [Smile]

But....

The everyone gets to heaven regardless argument IMHO seems to cherry pick the bits of the Bible it likes and disregards the bits that don't fit in with an Universalist theology.

For example, scripture speaks an awful lot of about repentance, judgement and this other place hell (whatever these terms mean in reality, ignoring them doesn't seem a sufficient response).

Of course the predominate thread in scripture is God's love and his grace but these aren't the only threads.

Basically, I got tired of being afraid. And it came down to which threads in the Bible I was going to deal with: love, hate, or both. I decided on love, because anything else tore me apart.

And now I can sleep nights.

Which is more important than any tbeological position.
[Smile]

Posts: 560 | From: St Albans | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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Amen. [Smile]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18601 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Demas
Ship's Deserter
# 24

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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
quote:
Originally posted by Eirenist:
Are we not all in a relationship with God who is our Father, though some of us are estranged from him?

Can we be in a relationship without knowing it? Perhaps it depends upon what we think a relationship actually means.

If someone has been parted from a parent since they were born, or since they were very young, they surely don't have a relationship with that parent unless they seek him or her out and come to know who they are, can they?

Parents whose children were taken and adopted out know their child is out there. Often they go to great lengths to try to find them, even if the child is not aware of their existence. What do we call that tie if not a relationship?

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They did not appear very religious; that is, they were not melancholy; and I therefore suspected they had not much piety - Life of Rev John Murray

Posts: 1894 | From: Thessalonica | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged


 
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