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Dear Church, Here's Why People Are Really Leaving You

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Buzzword View Post
    We can no longer spout Bible verses or our little store of pat answers and platitudes and expect to make a difference.
    It has never been effective or meaningful to simply spout Bible verses. A serious teaching of what the scripture actually says is a very different thing.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

    Comment


    • #17
      I'm thinking of the situation in the US and Europe. The growth of Pentecostals is most dramatic outside the US. While there is some growth here (about 1% per year for the Assemblies of God), I've seen claims that much of that is immigration from areas with heavy Pentecostal influence. I doubt that experiential Christianity will be enough to restore Christian numbers in the US, except through immigration (an effect that also tends to help the Catholic Church).

      I do think there will be a shift towards experiential Christianity in the US, at least in part through dying of denominations that aren't. For example, I think it's pretty clear that the long-run future of mainline theology is in the more liberal parts of the evangelical and non-denominational churches. As an elder of a PCUSA church, I can tell you that too many of our churches persist in worship that's primarily a lecture. This isn't something our kids are going to be willing to continue going to. But I don't forsee the move to a more experiential emphasis moving us back to the percentage attendance that we had just after World War II, for the reasons I noted before.

      I am *not* saying that Christianity is going to die out here, by the way. Before the 20th Cent, the US was largely Christian, but also largely unchurched. To a reasonable extent we're going back to that situation, though we probably do have more agnostics than in the old days. I'm sure we'll continue having a significant Christian presence here.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by hedrick View Post
        I'm thinking of the situation in the US and Europe. The growth of Pentecostals is most dramatic outside the US. While there is some growth here (about 1% per year for the Assemblies of God), I've seen claims that much of that is immigration from areas with heavy Pentecostal influence. I doubt that experiential Christianity will be enough to restore Christian numbers in the US, except through immigration (an effect that also tends to help the Catholic Church).

        I do think there will be a shift towards experiential Christianity in the US, at least in part through dying of denominations that aren't. For example, I think it's pretty clear that the long-run future of mainline theology is in the more liberal parts of the evangelical and non-denominational churches. As an elder of a PCUSA church, I can tell you that too many of our churches persist in worship that's primarily a lecture. This isn't something our kids are going to be willing to continue going to. But I don't forsee the move to a more experiential emphasis moving us back to the percentage attendance that we had just after World War II, for the reasons I noted before.

        I am *not* saying that Christianity is going to die out here, by the way. Before the 20th Cent, the US was largely Christian, but also largely unchurched. To a reasonable extent we're going back to that situation, though we probably do have more agnostics than in the old days. I'm sure we'll continue having a significant Christian presence here.
        I think a dwindling of statistical numbers is more a dwindling of church attendance than a dwindling of the number of Christ followers.

        Going to church became such a social institution around the middle of the 20th century that it was just expected, for the reasons you listed, regardless of the details of one's actual beliefs.

        Because a physical church building is no longer required for a sense of community (via the Internet and the growth of home-based ministries), we are gradually seeing the downfall of the social, political, and business institution, not of the faith.

        "Christianity started in Israel; was exported to Greece, where it was made into a philosophy; taken to Rome, where it was made into an organization; sent to Europe, where it was made into a culture; and sent finally to America, where evangelicals made it into a business enterprise."
        -Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind

        Of course, with that institutional downfall comes a major change in priorities, away from the assumptions and prejudices of the generations who built it and supported it, and into a new understanding of Christ's work in the world and our place in it.
        “In many ways the evidence of our faith is found in our ability to control our tongue (or our keyboard)."
        -Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by Buzzword View Post
          I think a dwindling of statistical numbers is more a dwindling of church attendance than a dwindling of the number of Christ followers.

          Going to church became such a social institution around the middle of the 20th century that it was just expected, for the reasons you listed, regardless of the details of one's actual beliefs.

          Because a physical church building is no longer required for a sense of community (via the Internet and the growth of home-based ministries), we are gradually seeing the downfall of the social, political, and business institution, not of the faith.
          Connection online is a pale imitation of assembling in person. And I say this as an INTJ who is much more comfortable talking online than face to face.
          "Christianity started in Israel; was exported to Greece, where it was made into a philosophy; taken to Rome, where it was made into an organization; sent to Europe, where it was made into a culture; and sent finally to America, where evangelicals made it into a business enterprise."
          -Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind
          Tony is mostly wrong, and altogether West-centric.
          Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

          Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
          sigpic
          I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

          Comment


          • #20
            The problem with church is biblical illiteracy, specifically the fact that it does not even know what the Bible says about it, what it is

            1. It isn't the source of bread:

            32Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.

            He was referring to the deprivation from water and miraculous supply from the Rock as bread, feeding, teaching:

            1 Corinthians 10:4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual
            rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ


            2. It is that of which Moses is a type:

            Matthew 23:2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.

            Jesus said Moses did not instruct, it was God teaching, through demonstrating that survival, both physical and spiritual, was not by serving self (Egypt, mammon) but by being loyal to God, not murmuring against him.

            Deuteronomy 8:3"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

            When people reject the ways of the world and join a church, oftentimes they jump out of the frying pan into the fire and are made greater devils than they originally were:


            Matthew 23:15Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

            That's because of wrong teaching that only those in the church are going to heaven (heard it just last week, accompanied by big lecture about the invisible church, when queried, from my pastor, basically buzzwords that I'd already heard of, in reading Augustine).

            Those who enter eternal life are those who give up serving self and begin serving God:

            Luke 12:32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give
            you the kingdom.

            When the truth is correctly preached people agree to continue rejecting the world, depending on the proof they see.

            This is how it happens:

            1. Believer agrees to turn away from serving self.

            2. He is tested (forced to face hunger, thirst and flying solo).

            3. The Pastor prays for him and shows him that God can help.

            4. God works through Pastor in helping.

            5. He is tested (shown God requires selling everything and following Him to be perfect)

            6. Believer

            A. Obeys

            or

            B. Asks for terms of peace (for example, like Naaman the Syrian)

            Both acceptable manifestations of loyalty.

            7. God gives him the eternal treasure, that which was promised to Abraham, the ability to be a blessing to the world:

            8. Ability to preach the Gospel with words and works, through God dwelling in him and him dwelling in God. Effectively manifest God's words and works so that the believer is encouraged to repent, turn from serving self to serving God.

            Obviously everything falls apart if the Pastor himself can't manifest God's words and works.

            A friend belonged to a priviliged tribe in my country. He was worshipped as God. He persecuted the church . I'm not lying.

            In a Damascus experience, he was knocked over by God. He began to follow Christ. His family was shamed and he had to leave, had to live rough. God provided. Providentially, he saw a video showing a faith healer. He prayed to God for the ministry of Moses, of Christ, of word and works. God did give him that ministry. His theology has rough edges. But his ministry is doing what its supposed to do, exposing believers to the Word of God.

            That's why it's important not to avoid the assembly of the separated ones.

            Because only then is it possible for that important word to be sowed:


            Luke 11: 1It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
            2And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
            ‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
            Your kingdom come.

            3‘Give us each day our daily bread.

            4‘And forgive us our sins,
            For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
            And lead us not into temptation.’”

            5Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

            9“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12“Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

            ...

            Rant over...

            Your turn.
            Last edited by footwasher; 01-12-2015, 12:43 AM.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by hedrick View Post
              I'm thinking of the situation in the US and Europe. The growth of Pentecostals is most dramatic outside the US. While there is some growth here (about 1% per year for the Assemblies of God), I've seen claims that much of that is immigration from areas with heavy Pentecostal influence. I doubt that experiential Christianity will be enough to restore Christian numbers in the US, except through immigration (an effect that also tends to help the Catholic Church).

              I do think there will be a shift towards experiential Christianity in the US, at least in part through dying of denominations that aren't. For example, I think it's pretty clear that the long-run future of mainline theology is in the more liberal parts of the evangelical and non-denominational churches. As an elder of a PCUSA church, I can tell you that too many of our churches persist in worship that's primarily a lecture. This isn't something our kids are going to be willing to continue going to. But I don't forsee the move to a more experiential emphasis moving us back to the percentage attendance that we had just after World War II, for the reasons I noted before.

              I am *not* saying that Christianity is going to die out here, by the way. Before the 20th Cent, the US was largely Christian, but also largely unchurched. To a reasonable extent we're going back to that situation, though we probably do have more agnostics than in the old days. I'm sure we'll continue having a significant Christian presence here.
              Rodney Stark argues in The Triumph of Christianity that Europe was never highly Christian.
              Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

              Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
              sigpic
              I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                Not a bad article on the subject. I wishes it was longer on solution and less on problems.

                I don't think basing a church on people's experiences is going to hold together. How do you determine whose experience is valid and whose isn't? How do you resolve issues when experiences conflict. It just seems like the foundation has become quick sand.

                Also, I found little mention of God throughout the article. The church exists to serve as God's representative on earth. I think some church issues would resolve if God was taken more seriously.
                After further review and reflection, the ruling on the field is reversed. The article is bad and it leads nowhere profitable.

                For the most part, the article is about the church being insufficiently people pleasing. The part of about the church talking its own language for example. I think footwasher is right. The people don't understand what is being said because they are not properly taught. If your not taught, how do you know what you believe or what is expected of you.

                Same for the comments on entertainment. If I ever went to a worship service expecting to be entertained, God has cured me of that. I would hope eventually all churches that use worship to entertain the members would repent or close.

                I think my origin point about "God was taken more seriously" wasn't stated strongly enough. Ever since Willow Creek, churches have gone a long down the road of how "do we be so pleasing to people that they come in" that we've lost our focus on God. We keep trying to find the next thing and slowly lose the committed believer because they are being starved of spiritual food.

                I do agree with the article on this point, our battles with society can be too trivial. We need better discernment on what to make a fuss over and what to let go. As people with military experience know, if you try to defend everything you defend nothing.

                Let's abandon trying to get numbers into our churches. Let's work on quality disciples who follow the Lord, know what they believe, and can defend it in the face of opposition. Yes, this is a big change but this self-centered society has left us. I don't think its sustainable and we must be ready to provide a better solution when society crashes and burns.
                "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                Comment


                • #23
                  I just keep preaching Jesus crucified, buried and risen again, and people keep coming. Our Church is growing. Maybe I'm not doing things right.
                  The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                    . . . <snip>


                    Let's abandon trying to get numbers . . . <snip>
                    You do not mean stop obeying Christ's commission.

                    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                    I just keep preaching Jesus crucified, buried and risen again, and people keep coming. . . .
                    Yes.
                    . . . the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; . . . -- Romans 1:16 KJV

                    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV

                    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1 KJV

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                      You do not mean stop obeying Christ's commission.

                      Yes.
                      Matthew 28:19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

                      Luke 14:33"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by footwasher View Post

                        Luke 14:33"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
                        The historical context here, was to be His disciple with Him when He walked this earth.
                        Last edited by 37818; 01-14-2015, 08:35 PM.
                        . . . the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; . . . -- Romans 1:16 KJV

                        . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV

                        Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1 KJV

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                          Let's abandon trying to get numbers...
                          But if God wasn't interested in NUMBERS, why did He name a whole book in the Bible "Numbers"?

                          ... and 3,000 were added to the Church that day... and he fed 5,000 men, and women and children.... the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints... And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand....


                          Seriously, though, I know what you mean --- not numbers for the sake of numbers, but don't forget, each "number" represents a soul.
                          Last edited by Cow Poke; 01-13-2015, 09:55 AM.
                          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                            The historical context here, was to be His deciple with Him when He walked this earth.
                            Special pleading. You need to show Scripture that proves otherwise.


                            Acts 5:” 9Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
                            12At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. 13But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.14And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.


                            It seemed like there were some who pretended the Holy Spirit had come upon them, outwardly manifested by turning from serving mammon to serving God, resulting in their judgment. Together with the joy that empowerment had finally been given was the fear of not being able to complete the tower, accept the challenge of the opponent, resulting in failure and judgment.

                            The numbers which were added to the church expected to be empowered to serve God resulting in eternal treasure.

                            If the people who come to our churches were only shown interpretations of Scripture that explain the Gospel as being enabled to go to heaven after death, aka preaching Christ crucified, buried and risen again, when it means Christ buying redemption with His blood, dying to put His will into force, and being raised again as the first fruit (beneficiary) of that will, so that those who believe can share in His status as follower of God as well as His inheritance of a Spirit empowered life. Those people who were misled will never serve God properly in this life, through word and works by dying to self.

                            New Living Translation
                            Hebrews 9:13Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deedsf so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
                            16Now when someone leaves a will,g it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.h 17The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.
                            18That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. 19For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,i along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. 20Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”j 21And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. 22In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
                            23That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
                            24For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the agek to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.


                            Several churches seem to feel this error on their part. Pastors are happy that the church is filled with joyous people, but they keep on preaching about moving to a higher ground. The transition is difficult if the initial premises were misunderstood.

                            My pastor preached recently about not being static in our walk with God, and suggested we ask our bosses for transfers to unevangelised postings to work out His empowering. So the perception about an unreached goal is there, but many churches are not very clear about what it is.
                            Last edited by footwasher; 01-13-2015, 01:02 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                              Luke 14:33"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
                              Acts 5 says that Peter told Ananias and Sapphira that it was all right for them to keep the land or sell it and use the money "any way you wanted." [NCV]
                              The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                              [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                                Acts 5 says that Peter told Ananias and Sapphira that it was all right for them to keep the land or sell it and use the money "any way you wanted." [NCV]
                                Absolutely:

                                The requirement is to be found loyal to receive the ministry of works and words.

                                Saved=receive ministry of words and works
                                Faith-loyalty
                                Grace-gift of the ministry of words and works

                                Ephesians 2:4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

                                Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”h 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

                                Luke 14:31"Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32"Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possession.

                                Terms of peace is confessing you can’t do the impossible, pass through the needle’s eye. The enemy king demands you join His army. You negotiate and offer to pay tribute:

                                Luke 16:9“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

                                So Ananias and Sapphira were free to choose how they showed loyalty:

                                repentance to become disciples and gifting of the Holy Spirit

                                or

                                compromise and become those who make friends with wealth of unrighteous so that when it runs out, they will be able to enter the kingdom by jumping on the gravy train.

                                Repentance is switching loyalty from mammon to God. mammon is not just money, but all the worship of earthly things:

                                Colossians 3:5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

                                Acts 17:“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

                                A friend returned from Turkey with postcards of Artemis of Ephesus: she was worshipped for curing infertility! Please google “images of fertility goddess ephesus”.

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