A few questions about Christianity.... - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-19-2005, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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A few questions about Christianity....


These questions are not meant to be insulting, argumentative, or disrespectful....Just questions that I have, and wonder about....Obviously I am not expecting definitive answers, just wondering what peoples' feelings are about them....

1.Can you be a Christian and still be in pain, doubt, suffering, feel lost etc?
Are you still Saved if in this state?

2. Can "True" Christians do harm or evil, and are they still Saved after doing so? Police, soldiers, interrogators of Al Qaeda etc. sometimes have to do nasty, even immoral things in their line of work.Are they still "True" Christians, and Saved? How can someone who is really Saved do bad things? I find the question of pedophile priests to be particularly disturbing....Were they, and are they now still Saved? How could they do the things that they have done if they were "True Christians"?

3. I think I fear surrendering control of my own life, giving up my identity...Most of us are amalgams of Good and Bad....If we give up the Bad parts of ourselves are we still "Us"? It almost seems like giving up some of our identity, emotions, habits etc. to be a Christian....Can I still enjoy violent movies, horror novels, violent computer games, drink beer, rock music, sexuality etc. and be Saved, be a Christian? It goes to the question of who I am before and after.It's not that the current me is great at all, it's more of the fear of the current me disappearing, dying if you will....Almost like a Pod person taking over the current me....As flawed and suffering as the current me is, it is still me and I care about it.
It's almost like the Star Trek episode with the two Captain Kirks, if you will forgive the poor analogy....One good, one bad, but both parts are necessary to make up the "Real" and functional Captain Kirk....what happens to the bad thoughts, interests etc. half of me? It exists, has feelings and pain, even if it isn't terribly noble.Is it abandoned or destroyed, and can I really be "Me" without it? Or just a pale copy, or different me? Not unlike a Pod or Clone? Does the current me have to be destroyed to become a Christian, or exist in the Afterlife? Will I be the same me, in the Afterlife? I have read verses about all of our pain, suffering etc. being lifted from us, animals lying down together in peace etc.Is my pain, doubt, and suffering an integral part of me? Am I truly "Me" without it?

4.What is the After Life supposed to be like? Don't expect any definitive answer for this one....This goes back to the whole question of identity, choice, freedom etc.Is our whole existence for all of eternity to bow, pray, and sing praises of God? Do we have a role to play, activities, or duties to serve in the After Life, or just worship and praise God? Will we still have identity, choice, freedom etc. in the After Life? No offense, and I feel bad saying this, but spending eternity just sitting there, singing the praises of God sounds boring....Or are we more of a partner of God? To join him or wonderful missions and activities? This one book that I have read said all of Humanity, Children of God and Jesus will be like Princes of the Universe.And that from the dawn of time, Jesus has been preparing the Universe and Afterlife as a wonderful creation for us....I kind of like that view of the Afterlife better.That we will join God and Jesus in doing wonderful things.Exploring the Cosmos, time and space, building, creating, rather than just sitting around doing nothing but praising God...
Of course sitting in the clouds, lying around, singing praise is often a common misconception among non Christians or very lay-Christians like myself.I just wonder if people will have identity, choice, freedom of thought and actions, roles to play, missions to accomplish, and things to do in the After Life? Just some questions that I have wondered about, I hope this post didn't offend anybody......... Dave
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-19-2005, 03:20 PM
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Dave...I really liked your post...it sure didn't offend me...and I think you had some good questions...
since really you are just going to be getting some other peoples opinions...which is about all we really have here...is it ok if I give mine?
First it sounds like you are planning to make some kind of decision on spirituality and you want to know ahead of time if it will be worthwhile for you to choose...
I guess that is something you have to find out for yourself...My view point on this kind of relationship is that it is a very personal one...one that one no else really has a right to judge. If you think you have to become "perfect' to attain this relationship, then you are either in for a big disappointment...or you are going to go crazy trying to become perfect. I think that is the point of what jesus did...The great Reformer martin Luther probably had the same dilemma...until he came to the words in the Bible that said 'For by Grace are you saved through Faith and that not of yourself...it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast"

You can't get to heaven by good works or being perfect...it's all a gift, which is a good reason to praise him...but I think heaven is going to more than sitting around praising Him...he is the ultimate in action...besides it says in the bible that earth is a shadow of things to come...if this is a shadow...then the real thing is going to be busy enough to satisfy any soul...and since he cares about the desires of your heart...and you desire to travel the universes...I have a feeling that you'll be doing a lot traveling of the universes...
I think eternity is an awesome concept since I'm always concerned about not having enough time. I think the absence of time (as we know it) should be really interesting...always having enough time.
There are two interesting stories about time in the bible where God had time stand still and another where it actually went backwards...one has to do with a battle and the other has to do with a sign that God gave a king that he would extend his life (I think)
I'm interested in what others have to say on your questions.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-19-2005, 04:16 PM
 
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You know there are no easy answers to those questions. Of course, I appreciate how hard it is to struggle with questions like those. I'll just add a little bit here.

Quote:
1.Can you be a Christian and still be in pain, doubt, suffering, feel lost etc?
Are you still Saved if in this state?
Yes, absolutely. And even more so. Suffering of any size or kind brings us closer to God, although that can mean different things for different people. Jesus suffered, and so do we. There's a connection there, but we don't know why. Catholics call this the "paschal mystery."

Quote:
3. I think I fear surrendering control of my own life, giving up my identity...
If God wanted perfect robot puppet slaves, he would have made us that way. Instead, he made unique people with unique gifts. You've got the toolbox, the boss has the plan. Think less about what you shouldn't be doing and more about what you can do with what you have.

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4.What is the After Life supposed to be like?
I like the Muslim idea that when we die, we understand what happened in our lives from God's point of view. We know objectively what good things and bad things we did, why we did well or messed up, and we understand why it all happened. Then it's OK if we were good or bad in the last life; we can learn from what happened and good people and (previously) bad people can get along because they understand each other.

I guess you asked what the Christian view of heaven is like, but I substituted my own (part of which I got from Islam)... Well, I'm Catholic, and strictly speaking Catholics still believe in Purgatory, indulgences, formal requirements for salvation, and things like that. It's something I have a hard time with; I don't think I believe in those things.


Have you ever read "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis? A quick read that will help you look at some of these questions from a different point of view.

Good luck.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-19-2005, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior last April, acknowledged that He was the only way to everlasting Life, and asked for forgiveness of my Sins....I have been lazy, and not enriched my relationship with him by going to Church or reading The Bible yet....I hope to do so....In my current, trouble plagued, suffering state, am I still saved? I know you come to Christ as you are, and we are Saved by admitting Sin and asking forgiveness, not being perfect since no Human Being can be so.....
I just worry and wonder about things.....Still dwell in unfulfillment and unhappiness...And I also wonder about my previous questions such as if you are Saved, is there anything you can do to lose that Forgiveness....And what our lives are like in the Afterlife etc...And what happens to the Muslims, the Hindus, and the people of the Earth that live morally but have not asked or the forgiveness of Christ....It seems that about 99% of the population does not initially make it to heaven....Just questions that I have wondered about, thanks for the responses.... Dave
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-19-2005, 07:39 PM
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Yes your saved...Jesus said "No man can pluck you out of his hands"...I think that would even include you...you can't pluck yourself out of his hands...he has very capable hands...
Suffering is not an indication of being unsaved...
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 01:22 AM
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Question 3: ...It's not that the current me is great at all, it's more of the fear of the current me disappearing, dying if you will....Almost like a Pod person taking over the current me....As flawed and suffering as the current me is, it is still me and I care about it.

I think that if I let God in, and allow Him to work in my life, I do change. But, the old me doesn't just disappear. I end up with a new understanding of my old self. What was behind the attraction I had to a particular sin? In growing with God, I start to see that. Someone else doesn't take over, it is still me, just me with a new and deeper understanding. I think that is why sin can become less attractive.
The sin is like a bandage that I had been mistaking for healed skin. It was never a part of myself. And once parted with, it's not as bad as I thought. Your attraction to particular sins (not that everything you mentioned is a sin, at least to me) might stem from your own uniqueness, but God knows what truly fulfills you in your uniqueness. So, in growing with God you don't lose your identity. You end up seeing that you are so much more than any sin or inordinate attraction to this or that.

I like reading the questions and answers. I wonder about some of these things, too.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 10:53 AM
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I think Christianity is a very diverse and broad religious family. I don't personally subscribe to all the little nuances inherent in your questions, but I'll try and answer from my perspective. And you can take it for what it's worth (with a grain of salt).

Quote:
1.Can you be a Christian and still be in pain, doubt, suffering, feel lost etc?
Are you still Saved if in this state?
I don't see what being a Christian has to do with being in pain or having doubts. I think that happens to everyone: it's a part of life.

I know that some people like to sell the idea that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. But Jesus said that the rain falls on the just and on the unjust.

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2. Can "True" Christians do harm or evil, and are they still Saved after doing so?
I don't believe in being "Saved" with a capital S. I believe that salvation is a process, not a destination. Better said, it is more the comittment to a process than an actual desination.

Therefore, one could be on the road to salvation and still be in a state of sin. In fact, that is probably the state in which we are all in, all the time.

I agree, it IS disturbing that people can call themselves Christians and still do terrible things. I find it disturbing that anyone does those things whether they are a Christian or not. I try not to think about it too much. My own spirituality is intensely personal; indeed, I doubt very much if anyone else on the board is quite as eclectic as I am. That's kind of nice, as it frees me from trying to put other people into my own boxed categories of "good" "bad" "saved" "heathen" or whatever.

Quote:
3. Can I still enjoy violent movies, horror novels, violent computer games, drink beer, rock music, sexuality etc. and be Saved, be a Christian?
I enjoy all those things, and consider myself to be a Christian. I don't consider myself "saved", because that concept comes from a worldview that I don't agree with. I do consider myself accepted by my higher power, which might be the same thing as "Saved", I don't know.

I think that for me it's a question along these lines: is what you're doing making your life better? If it is, then it's probably good. If it's not, then maybe it's worth leaving behind. I'll watch Kill Bill because it's a breathtaking work of art, and that enriches my life. I'll pass on Starship Troopers because it's just gory and dumb.

Medication-related posts are for brainstorming purposes only. Talk to your doctor.

My meds: Parnate, Lamictal, Wellbutrin, trazodone
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 10:44 PM
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Sometimes it can be hard to find the balance with what we should be. Sometimes I still feel like that I have to be this perfect person to be a pleasing person and then I think of what you would call a pod person. As if Iím just a robot or something and not living, but I had the wrong point of view.

Quote:
I think I fear surrendering control of my own life, giving up my identity...Most of us are amalgams of Good and Bad....If we give up the Bad parts of ourselves are we still "Us"? It almost seems like giving up some of our identity, emotions, habits etc. to be a Christian....Can I still enjoy violent movies, horror novels, violent computer games, drink beer, rock music, sexuality etc. and be Saved, be a Christian?
Ephesians 4:23 talks about putting on the "new personality."
And that we should be "made new in the force actuating our minds"


There are many scriptures that indicate this means that we should rid ourselves of the *undesirable* traits that we have, not who we are as a person.
It gives us the choice to decide and make changes and it indicates we *can* if we choose to.
We have free will.

Matthew 10:39 "He that finds his own soul will lose it,and he that loses it for my sake will find it."


Hope that helps.

"A simple man believes everything he hears; a clever man understands the need for proof." Proverbs 14:15-The New English Bible
'O the depth of God's richness and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgements are and past tracing out his ways are!'-Romans 11:33
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-21-2005, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogamigo

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1.Can you be a Christian and still be in pain, doubt, suffering, feel lost etc?
Are you still Saved if in this state?
I don't see what being a Christian has to do with being in pain or having doubts. I think that happens to everyone: it's a part of life.
This brings up something I have wondered about. If you experience doubts, how do you really know what you believe? I have heard that faith isn't a feeling, that you can have doubts, yet, still have faith. What does this mean? I experience doubts sometimes and am bothered by them. I would like to think that I still have faith at those times.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-21-2005, 01:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenlight
This brings up something I have wondered about. If you experience doubts, how do you really know what you believe? I have heard that faith isn't a feeling, that you can have doubts, yet, still have faith. What does this mean? I experience doubts sometimes and am bothered by them. I would like to think that I still have faith at those times.
I really donít know how to answer your questions. I try to, honestly, but I get so confused. Religion and faith is something that I am still working with and learning from and developing.
I believe Christians, or any other for that matter, have their doubts. Thatís how you learn and grow and develop your faith. Isnít it?
Maybe I am totally off.
Here are two quotes I really like by D.H. Lawrence.

A man has no religion who has not slowly and painfully gather one together, adding to it, shaping it; and oneís religion is never complete and final, it seems, but must always be undergoing modification.

It is a fine thing to establish oneís own religion in oneís heart, not to be dependent on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not a lesser, but a greater thing.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-21-2005, 10:52 PM
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Thank you for the response and quotes, Ophelia! I also think doubts can be a way for faith to develop, depending on how you deal with them. I feel like I am partly to blame for my doubts and lack of faith when I haven't been spending much time in prayer. I guess I am. I would like to have a more consistent prayer life. Hopefully in time I will develop one, with God's help.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all your replies, I really appreciate them.....
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 10:20 AM
 
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Re: A few questions about Christianity....


1. You can be saved or unsaved and be in doubt, pain, fear, loss. I think of "saved" as on the path to salvation, with a choice to deviate.

2. People who call themselves Christians do bad things. Those who do the worst things, the pedophilia and the murder, for example, and are not repentant, I would certainly not call Christians. Christians care whether or not they follow what Christ would do. Christ wouldn't do obviously bad things and expect others to follow or believe Him. Christians make mistakes, but will become repentant for the ones they believe are sin.

3. I believe we will be what we are in our hearts when we die in the Afterlife. I also think that there is a lot of individuality beyond sin. I think the question of violent films and video games needs to be answered by you. Do you think it's holy? Do you think it draws you away spiritually or emotionally to a bad place? Does the religion you belong to endorse this stuff or not? I personally think I should keep things like this to a minimum for myself. It affects whether or not I can feel good if I am engaged in lots of entertainment that is either degrading in some way or overly violent.

4. I think the Afterlife is something beyond human comprehension. It will be as wonderful or as restful as we deserve. I do not believe in Heaven/Hell dichotomies in a strict sense. I believe Hell exists. I also believe that there are different rewards different people will be comfortable with. I think we will gain more knowledge and adventure in the next life if that's what we would merit and be comfortable with. I also believe no one will be comfortable in an afterlife it turns out they didn't merit. I only believe a concept of Hell will be eternal for those who are the worst of the worst, by no means a very large percentage of people on the earth. So, I don't think it's a waste to try to be good. There is always some reward or rest somewhere.
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