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Okay, first off, I want to say that I really enjoyed reading that. You obviously have a firm understanding of your beliefs, and though we may disagree, I greatly respect someone who knows how to articulate what they belief to be true. 🙂
Before I make a few comments and go into my beliefs, I would like to ask a few clarifying questions:
One: How exactly do priests and bishops differ (in most denominations the elder/bishop/preacher is the overseer and message giver to a local church)?
Two: This is an ignorant question, so forgive me, but do Catholics read and study the bible on their own (without a priest)?
Three: Could you give me a verse supporting transubstantiation?
Four: Would you agree that the church institution shown in the New Testament does not have the hierarchy of cardinals, bishops, archbishops, priests, archdeacons, pope, etc.. (I can’t find it anywhere)?
Five: I would just like to clarify exactly how you belief someone receives eternal salvation. This is my understanding of what you belief: God loves everyone, meaning he gives everyone the choice to do what it takes to get to heaven. What it takes is for a person to be baptized in one of the ways you listed, for a person to perform the sacraments (Eucharist/communion/Lord’s Supper), and for a person to strive to please God. Is that correct? If it is, how good does one have to be? Do Catholics still believe a person has to repent of their sins to a confessor to go to be eternally saved? Also, which baptism if any would you say applies to an aborted baby? Sorry, lots of questions, I’m really curious about all your beliefs. 🙂
Okay, so I’m going to start with bible translations because that is something of great importance. I once saw a video of a man asking a bunch of different Christians to read Psalm 23 from their own bibles aloud at the same time. They did. What happened was total chaos with the different translations saying different things from each other. I give this example merely to show how important it is to find a specific translation (possibly more than one if they are the same), because if one doesn’t they will have a mess on their hands. I’m not going to go into which translation I belief to be the true one, but suffice to say, I belief that God inspired and preserved one specific text, and that text is the only accurate one (not that God cannot use un-preserved translations for good, he can use many things for good). After saying all that, the verses I reference when I present my beliefs will not be in all bible translations. Some bibles literally removed verses or parts of chapters, abominable in my opinion, but I won’t get carried away. xD
Predestination, Election, Calling/Born Again/Attaining Eternal Salvation, and Justification (yes, I’m going to cover them all at once for reasons you’ll see in a minute xD):
Okay, so no, I actually didn’t mean the election of the clergy, but that was interesting to read. 🙂 I meant the term election used in reference to God’s elect spoken of in Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 9:1-16 (but really focus on verses 11-16). I’ll get to election in a moment.
Okay, so here is the basic layout of my beliefs and their order: Predestination and Election, Calling/Being Born Again, Justification, Glorification (resurrection, going to heaven). Romans 8:29-30 lay these ideas out nicely. So let me give a quick summary of these concepts:
Before time began, before creation (Eph.1:4), God loved a people, he chose (chose = elected in the bible) a people, and he predestined (the word merely means to determine a location beforehand) those people (the people being the elect) to heaven (best verses: Eph. 1:5, Rom. 9:11, Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 1:11, 2 Tim. 1:9).
Now, before I move on, let me clarify what the bible is speaking of when it comes to predestination. What it is not speaking of is God predestinating people to heaven, and people to hell. We were all already bound for hell, what God did was choose some of those wicked people (the elect) and predestination them to heaven. To understand why this is, what I always find the most helpful is the foundational concept of Total Depravity. This concept merely means that after Adam fell and sin entered the world, man fell with him and became bound for hell. Everyone, no exceptions. Not only were we bound for hell, but we also had no ability to change are ways, we were dead to the things of God, we could not please God, we could not understand spiritual things. The best verses to show this concept of total depravity, or us all being dead with no ability to redeem ourselves or become spiritually alive are: 2 Corinthians 15:22, Romans 3:9-20 (where Paul is quoting from the Psalm 14&53), Romans 8:1-8, and 1 Corinthians 2:14.
So, we all died in Adam, and could not save ourselves, could not change our ways, could not doing anything spiritually pleasing to God. Knowing this would happen, God chose a people (the elect) out of the fallen from the us, and predestined us. He then justified us in the sight of God when his Son Jesus Christ died on the cross for those elect.
Now we get to regeneration/spiritual calling or sanctification/attaining eternal salvation/being born again. In this again, the doctrines of election and total depravity are of paramount importance. If we understand the bible teaches that man could not please God, could not perform good works or be faithful (as you mentioned James talking about), then we will understand that something must change in man before he can do anything pleasing to God. That is where being born (or the others) comes in. Sometime during an elect’s lifetime after conception (as soon as an aborted baby is conceived it can be born again), that individual will be regenerated/called/born again (they’re all the same thing). How will they? Well Ephesians 2:1-9 says it quite explicitly. I won’t types the verses here, but I would encourage you to go read them, and the others I’ve posted, that way you can at least know where I’m coming from. 🙂 What that passage states is that only through the grace of God touching that elect person’s heart can they be saved eternally and start acting spiritually and serving God. Man had nothing to do with, he couldn’t, because he was spiritually dead (totally depraved), it only took God, man’s help or what people think of us good works (people can’t do good work until they are born again) do nothing. John 3:1-18 is another fantastic place that teaches this doctrine, but before someone comments on John 3:16, let me get to it first. xD
Almost everyone knows what the verse says, but I’m going to type it out anyway: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” First things first. God loves the world. Well what exactly is the “world?” As in many places in the bible, verses must be taken in context, and compared to sister verses (such as Eph. 2 and John 3:8). An example of having to take a verse in context is in Luke 2:1, where it says that Caesar taxed the world. Did Caesar tax the Chinese? The inhabitants of the Americas? No, of course he didn’t, the word “world,” has to be taken in context to make sense, as it does in John 3:16. In the God so loved the world case, “world” means the world of his elect, his chosen people. Okay, so that I tried to explain that concept, let’s move on to the other controversial part, the “whosoever believeth in him.” One of my clarifying questions was meant to determine what exactly your current thoughts are on this verse, but what many people belief it to mean is that one was must accept God, or belief in God, or some variation of these to be saved to eternal life. But when we understand the concept of total depravity, and we compare this scripture with Eph. 2, we see that what it really means is that the belief is evidence of being born again. In other words, John 3:16 is saying that whosoever believeth on him has everlasting life, basically, the belief shows that they are already born again. I hope I made these verses clear, I sometimes come out a little jumbled. xD
A few more quick things. One, the bible does not teach absolute predestination (the belief that all of are actions, sin included, is predetermined by God, i.e, we don’t make decisions for ourselves). Two, at the end of time, God will return and his elect’s physical bodies will be resurrected and glorified. Three, here is a quick rundown of our worship service: We use a regulative practice, which means we only use thing we find in the New Testament. Thus, we have no instruments, motorcycle shows, youth groups, Sunday schools, etc..We start with congregational singing with prayers mixed in, then we moved on to preaching. That’s really it. We have the Lord’s Supper and Foot Washing at intervals throughout the year, we believe in water baptism by immersion. However, this water baptism does not save people to heaven (total depravity, election, Eph. 2, no by works of men, etc..), it is just a symbol of us following Christ into the grave and rising with him a new man, a now as a member of the Church.
There are other things to say, but this post is getting crazy long. xD I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 🙂
if one more person tells me I’m flirty I’m gonna punch ‘em!
I would like to see that. 😄
What’s the premise of your book?