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  • #16
    Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
    Much better way to express the intent of the question. Thanks for sharing the insight.
    Thanks for your kindness.

    I've given this a lot of thought - when I see how Jesus restored Peter after Peter's denials, it really made me think about labeling somebody "not Christian" before I've had opportunity to talk to them personally, or to hear their story.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

    Comment


    • #17
      Hi folks

      Thanks for letting me post. I find this an interesting topic. My perspective as an 'ex-christian' gives me some insight about this. (Yes, I know for some of you there can be no such thing as an ex-Christian.)

      About that, for some, there is a doctrinal position that anyone who ceases to be a Christian must never have been a 'real' Christian in the first place. This has been put to me several times and I find it offensive in that it negates my personal lived experience. When I WAS a Christian I was ardent and active, I studied the scriptures, I prayed and had what I though at the time was a very real life with God. I was a worship leader at a very large church and frequently pronounced by others to be 'Spirit filled' and so on. At that time, I defy anyone who met me to suggest I wasn't a Christian.

      My point being that our spiritual antennae are not particularly good at sorting out who is or isn't a 'real' Christian. If those people are right, I had everyone, including myself, completely fooled and does not speak highly of Christian discernment. If they're wrong, their discounting of my lived experience also lacks discernment.

      In all kinds of social groups including churches there is a natural human tendency to have a way of defining who's in and who's out. My personal opinion is that we have to rise above that.

      My favourite scripture is Gal 5:22. Here is a beautiful description of what a 'saint' ought to look like. It's what we call an operational definition, defining what outward signs declare an internal holiness. In my 'post-Christian' years, as I have applied those criteria without preconceptions I have found the world is full of Holy people of varying labels. It is my suspicion that God is more gracious and merciful than we can ever imagine.

      In a later post, I'd also like to explore Karl Rahner's idea of an 'anonymous Christian'.

      http://www.stjohnadulted.org/The_09.htm#Karl Rahner's Arguments for Inclusivism

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_Christian

      Comment


      • #18
        I know when I was very little, I made the decision to accept Jesus. I'd had a long term line of Spiritual dreams regarding talking with Jesus, Jesus knocking at my house, seeing Angels (this was not a dream according to my mother) And being visited by Jesus in frightening situations. A short time later I really just wanted to have Him. And I pretty much declared to my mother that I was a Christian and Demanded Baptism at the age of 4 because I knew Jesus like everyone else. I'm pretty sure that made me a Christian. That said, I never really had the mystical experience some Christians state they have, but I sure spent my years growing up with Christ. However my teenage years were tough. I wondered if God was there at times (I can see now that he was) and early adulthood. I can state that the Catholic Church played a large role in my personal faith formation as an adult. Through this I learned about the importance of daily and constant prayer, How to pray when I just couldn't find the words (yup I still use the Lord's prayer regularly, and the Jesus Prayer) The importance of Logically thinking through Scripture, and not seeking an emotional experience with God, but rather knowing that He's there, and just simply working my life around the fact that he exists and no matter how emotional I become whether its an up or a down, this is not going to change. The rest is a matter of trust, and logically thinking out my own emotional thoughts with the word of God. And when I'm far away God does not drop me like a brick, He's still there.
        Another discovery I should mention, Becoming a Christian does not need to be a matter of fancy prayer, it need only be the recognition of Christ as the Lord inside the spirit and one ought to make a confession to another. Baptism I believe is crucial but I recognize this is a debate among people.
        A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
        George Bernard Shaw

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
          Hi folks

          Thanks for letting me post. I find this an interesting topic. My perspective as an 'ex-christian' gives me some insight about this. (Yes, I know for some of you there can be no such thing as an ex-Christian.)

          About that, for some, there is a doctrinal position that anyone who ceases to be a Christian must never have been a 'real' Christian in the first place. This has been put to me several times and I find it offensive in that it negates my personal lived experience. When I WAS a Christian I was ardent and active, I studied the scriptures, I prayed and had what I though at the time was a very real life with God. I was a worship leader at a very large church and frequently pronounced by others to be 'Spirit filled' and so on. At that time, I defy anyone who met me to suggest I wasn't a Christian.

          My point being that our spiritual antennae are not particularly good at sorting out who is or isn't a 'real' Christian. If those people are right, I had everyone, including myself, completely fooled and does not speak highly of Christian discernment. If they're wrong, their discounting of my lived experience also lacks discernment.

          In all kinds of social groups including churches there is a natural human tendency to have a way of defining who's in and who's out. My personal opinion is that we have to rise above that.

          My favourite scripture is Gal 5:22. Here is a beautiful description of what a 'saint' ought to look like. It's what we call an operational definition, defining what outward signs declare an internal holiness. In my 'post-Christian' years, as I have applied those criteria without preconceptions I have found the world is full of Holy people of varying labels. It is my suspicion that God is more gracious and merciful than we can ever imagine.

          In a later post, I'd also like to explore Karl Rahner's idea of an 'anonymous Christian'.

          http://www.stjohnadulted.org/The_09.htm#Karl Rahner's Arguments for Inclusivism

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_Christian
          Something you may be interested in, The RCC is very inclusivist. Its an interesting concept, and honestly one that I believe is a good measure of the Merciful God we worship.
          A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
          George Bernard Shaw

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
            My point being that our spiritual antennae are not particularly good at sorting out who is or isn't a 'real' Christian. If those people are right, I had everyone, including myself, completely fooled and does not speak highly of Christian discernment. If they're wrong, their discounting of my lived experience also lacks discernment.

            In all kinds of social groups including churches there is a natural human tendency to have a way of defining who's in and who's out. My personal opinion is that we have to rise above that.
            I guess I'm coming from the perspective of ministry to that particular individual -- I need to have a sense of "where they are" spiritually, because I don't have a spiritometer or salvifiscanner -- and they may actually be an honest-to-goodness 'redeemed of the Lord' who happens to be in a bad place, or got mixed up with a wrong crowd.

            As a Pastor, yeah -- I have a responsibility to protect my flock from doctrinal error by cults and outside groups, but that deals with the denomination or a particular Church - not the individual "member" or attender who might be stuck there.

            In my recent dealings with the two Mormons in Houston - after they saw the deception of their President over the purchase of land, and they saw actual documentation that there was deception by the Church, they left, but they still professed Christ, and we worked through who that Christ was. I didn't write them off because they "were Mormons" - I saw them as deceived and stumbling.
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
              I have pondered knowing if someone is saved or not for awhile and have concluded that there is no human way to know for sure. Unless you happen to get a direct communication from God about someone, I don't think you can know.

              I'm not saying you can't get an indication of their salvation status. I think behavior can indicate their status. But over emphasis on behavior I think can lead to legalism.
              Yeah. I think "we know them by their fruit" can go some way. I think that if someone were to call themselves a Christian and yet they are a participate in, say, a cause that is mercilessly hateful, I'm within my God given rights to doubt their sanctification.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
                Something you may be interested in, The RCC is very inclusivist. Its an interesting concept, and honestly one that I believe is a good measure of the Merciful God we worship.
                Thanks Cath. I was actually IN the RCC for a few years because of this 'enlightened' side as I saw it. Unfortunately the assault of the 'dark side' of the RCC proved too much. Frankly, I'm with Groucho Marx here, I wouldn't belong to any group that would have me as a member.

                Comment


                • #23
                  There are two nevers:

                  "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. . . ." -- Matthew 7:21-23.

                  ". . . Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, . . . " -- John 10:25-28
                  . . . 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


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                    Yeah, I get that, honest.... but you can't know for a fact that I am a Christian, nor can I now if you are. Particularly, just because I'm a Baptist is certainly no "proof" that I'm a Christian, or that I go to Church, or that I tithe, etc...
                    You are right, we cannot know for sure about anyone else but ourselves.

                    Paul's advice, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, . . . " -- 2 Corinthians 13:5.
                    . . . 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 pancreasman View Post
                      Thanks Cath. I was actually IN the RCC for a few years because of this 'enlightened' side as I saw it. Unfortunately the assault of the 'dark side' of the RCC proved too much. Frankly, I'm with Groucho Marx here, I wouldn't belong to any group that would have me as a member.
                      I'm with John Chrysostom. The church is a spiritual hospital, filled with broken people in need of healing.
                      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


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                        I'm with John Chrysostom. The church is a spiritual hospital, filled with broken people in need of healing.
                        Yeah. Hopefully, there are also enough mature Christians who realize this and accept the ministry of assisting those who are hurting and/or in need.
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                          I'd say that there are a few grayish areas, but there is also plenty of black and white on this issue. Jehovah's Witnesses, Gnostics, Mormons, and given that Islam called Jesus "al-Masih"(the Messiah) Muslims as well fit into the category of non-Christians.
                          Whoever you are, if you believe in Jesus Christ, the one path given us by almighty God you are a Christian. You can have all sorts of errors in your theology, but that is not what faith is all about. Faith is believing and trusting.
                          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


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                            I didn't become a Christian until I was 40 years old. But looking back I see that God was working on me the whole time, putting people in my life that made me think and consider even though at the time I was not ready. So if we are talking about someone's ultimate fate, which God knows and we do not, then I have always been saved, because God knew that one day I would accept Christ. I didn't know and others didn't either. Now, I wasn't a Christian until I made the decision to follow Christ, but I think in God's eyes I always belonged to him.
                            It was the early 30s for me, but yes I could look back and see His hand in my life from the earliest times.
                            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


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                              Yeah. I think "we know them by their fruit" can go some way. I think that if someone were to call themselves a Christian and yet they are a participate in, say, a cause that is mercilessly hateful, I'm within my God given rights to doubt their sanctification.
                              To doubt indeed, to deny not so.
                              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


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                                Thanks Cath. I was actually IN the RCC for a few years because of this 'enlightened' side as I saw it. Unfortunately the assault of the 'dark side' of the RCC proved too much. Frankly, I'm with Groucho Marx here, I wouldn't belong to any group that would have me as a member.
                                You know that I disagree with you on almost everything. You know that. I none-the-less must say that every Christian who is not fooling himself (or herself generic pronoun here) must have to recognize much the same thing. Am I good enough to claim Christ? No. But I do not have to be good enough, He is changing me. One fine day I will be good enough - but not in this sad world.
                                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

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