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Thread: What makes a group or church a cult?

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    Re: Is the International Church of Christ a cult?

    Originally posted by kermie

    Additionally, the doctrines that make Christianity "Christian" are the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, etc...
    Kermie...Was this quote of yours a misprint?

    Why did you say:

    1) Trinity
    2) Deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit

    Is there a Trinity teaching that does not suggest that Christ and the Holy Spirit are deity?

    Can you explain your understanding of the Godhead?

    Also, what does the Scripture say are the foundational doctrines of Christ?

    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    HIS

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    Umm, I didn't write that stuff. It was taken from carm.org... Also, I don't understand what would cause you to bring these questions up. I didn't see anything wrong with the article....

    Originally Posted by HIS
    Is there a Trinity teaching that does not suggest that Christ and the Holy Spirit are deity?
    Oh yeah, there are teachings that suggest these things. They are found in CULTS, you know, mormonism, jehovah's witnesses, etc...

    Can you explain your understanding of the Godhead?
    the following is taken from carm.org....
    http://www.carm.org/doctrine/trinity.htm
    http://www.carm.org/doctrine/2natures.htm

    God is a trinity of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as Father. They are distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God. They are in absolute perfect harmony consisting of one substance. They are coeternal, coequal, and copowerful. If any one of the three were removed, there would be no God.

    There is, though, an apparent separation of some functions among the members of the Godhead. For example, the Father chooses who will be saved (Eph. 1:4); the Son redeems them (Eph. 1:7); and the Holy Spirit seals them, (Eph. 1:13).

    A further point of clarification is that God is not one person, the Father, with Jesus as a creation and the Holy Spirit is a force (Jehovah's Witnesses). Neither is He one person who took three consecutive forms, i.e., the Father, became the Son, who became the Holy Spirit. Nor is God the divine nature of the Son (where Jesus had a human nature perceived as the Son and a divine nature perceived as the Father (United Pentecostal). Nor is the Trinity an office held by three separate Gods (Mormonism).

    Jesus is God in human flesh. He is not half God and half man. He is fully God and fully man. At the incarnation He added to His divine nature the nature of man. Thus He has two natures: divine and human. He is both God and man at the same time. He is not merely a man who "had God within Him" nor is he a man who "manifested the God principle." He is God, second person of the Trinity. Jesus' two natures are not "mixed together," nor are they combined into a new God-man nature. They are separate yet act as a unit. This is called the Hypostatic Union.

    One of the most common errors that non-Christian cults make is not understanding the two natures of Christ. For example, the Jehovah's Witnesses focus on Jesus' humanity and ignore His divinity. The Christian Scientists, on the other hand, focus on the divine nature and ignore the human.

    For a proper understanding of Jesus and, therefore, all other doctrines that relate to Him, His two natures must be properly understood and defined.

    The Bible is about Jesus (John 5:39). The prophets prophesied about Him (Acts 10:43). The Father bore witness of Him (John 5:37; 8:18). The Holy Spirit bore witness of Him (John 15:26). The works Jesus did bore witness of Him (John 5:36; 10:25). The multitudes bore witness of Him (John 12:17). And, Jesus bore witness of Himself (John 14:6; 18:6).

    Other verses to consider when examining His deity are, John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:6-8; and 2 Pet. 1:1.

    1 Tim. 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Right now, there is a man in heaven on the throne of God. He is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He is our Savior (Titus 2:13). He is our Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). He is Jesus.


    You can read more about what makes a church or group non-Christian here: http://www.carm.org/cults/cults.htm
    This is my signature.

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    Kermie,

    Thanks for your latest reply. I must not have been clear with my statement to you. I only meant to ask:

    Is there an understanding about the "Trinity" that says Christ and/or the Holy Ghost are not deity? In other words, I always thought the doctrine of the Trinity defined Christ and the Holy Ghost (as well as the Father) as deity.

    The way you posted the statement, it looked as though this was the case (at least in my reading).

    I will read through your explaination of the Godhead and respond later.

    Take care my friend (In Christ),
    HIS

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    Cults may be defined from a sociological perspective.
    small size, search for a mystical experience, lack of organizational structure, and presence of a charismatic leader. Often, can be destructive which brainwash or manipulate followers, with the leader exercising control over virtually every aspect of the follower's life. Typically, followers are cut off from all former associations, including family and friends.

    Cult can be defined from a theological perspective.
    Deemed a pseudo-christian group. It claims to be christian, but denies one or more essential christian doctrines, but they insist on being called christian.
    Denver Seminary professor Gordon Lewis summarizes it this way: "a cult then, is any religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of christianity by 1) an additional revelation, and 2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter"

    A cult may also be defined as a group of people gathered around a specific person or person's misinterpretation of the Bible.
    A primary characteristic of cults in general is the practice of taking biblical texts out of context in order to develop pretexts for their theological perversions. In addition, cults have virtually made an art form out of using christian terminology, all while pouring their own meanings into the words.

    I won't name any specific groups cause that isn't what I perceive the intent of this thread to be. But there are some very large, popular and culturally accepted cults out there today.
    2 Timothy 4:2-4
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    1 Peter 3:15
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    Signs of a "cult":


    A religious movement or organization founded by a man, and with a man as the central figure or leader

    A religious movement or organization that may or may not use the Bible, as it's principle source of spiritual teaching, but also uses it's own organizations writings or teachings, to supplement the Bible

    Movement or organization that may or may not base it's teachings in part on the Bible, but also adds the teachings of it's own created doctrine

    Just a few things to think about...
    "SOLA SCRIPTURA… GRATIA… FIDE… CHRISTUS… DEO GLORIA" Scripture alone, being our final authority, teaches us that salvation is by grace His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

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    Originally posted by Christ_†_Alone
    Signs of a "cult":


    A religious movement or organization founded by a man, and with a man as the central figure or leader

    A religious movement or organization that may or may not use the Bible, as it's principle source of spiritual teaching, but also uses it's own organizations writings or teachings, to supplement the Bible

    Movement or organization that may or may not base it's teachings in part on the Bible, but also adds the teachings of it's own created doctrine

    Just a few things to think about...

    Based on your above definition, Judaism is a cult.

    Abraham, Moses (a man as the central figure or leader)

    Talmud, Mishnah (own created doctrine)

    Just a few things to think about...

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    What is a Cult...

    Two good questions to ask (and nothing is foolproof) are...


    What do you believe the nature of Christ in regards to the Trinity?

    How are we saved?

    If either one of these questions are not answered according to the commonly held belief of the Christian Orthodox system then you can be pretty sure that it's a Cult.

    _________________


    What do you believe the nature of Christ in regards to the Trinity?

    Should be answered in fashion that reflects the Athansian Creed. (substitute Catholic for Christian when reading it and it's accurate.)


    How are we saved?

    Salvation is a gift given freely by God and paid for by the death of our saviour Jesus Christ on the cross. In order to receive salvation we need only ask with a sincere and meek heart to be forgiven.

    __________________

    The following is the Athanasian Creed. If you're not Catholic, as I am not, then simply exchange the word Catholic with Christian. Otherwise this is one of the most accurate descriptions of the nature of Trinity I have seen. It may not leave you less confused but it does define the boundries within which our beliefs must be placed.




    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Etneral and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

    So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity is Trinity, and the Trinity is Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.

    Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.

    God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

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    Re: What is a Cult...

    Originally posted by Word Walker

    What do you believe the nature of Christ in regards to the Trinity?

    Should be answered in fashion that reflects the Athansian Creed. (substitute Catholic for Christian when reading it and it's accurate.)
    _________________
    this is one of the most accurate descriptions of the nature of Trinity I have seen. It may not leave you less confused but it does define the boundries within which our beliefs must be placed.
    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity....etc.
    OR

    Originally posted by Christ_†_Alone

    Signs of a "cult":

    A religious movement or organization founded by a man, and with a man as the central figure or leader

    A religious movement or organization that may or may not use the Bible, as it's principle source of spiritual teaching, but also uses it's own organizations writings or teachings, to supplement the Bible

    Movement or organization that may or may not base it's teachings in part on the Bible, but also adds the teachings of it's own created doctrine
    I prefer CA's thoughts on defining a cult. Perhaps one should be able to explain the Godhead by the Scripture (alone) instead of using (and relying upon) a Church creed or doctrine . . .

    ONLY by His Word will we be justified in our sayings, and overcome when we are judged.

    Just something to think about...

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    Kermie,

    I asked you two questions above:

    1) Can you explain your understanding of the Godhead?

    2) What does the Scripture say are the foundational doctrines of Christ?


    You answered the first question by simply pasting a teaching from "carm.org"

    Since you did not say that this clearly defined your understanding of the Godhead, I am still at a loss as to what you actually believe.

    I didn't see any response to my second question.

    HIS

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    You said, "Perhaps one should be able to explain the Godhead by the Scripture (alone) instead of using (and relying upon) a Church creed or doctrine . . . "

    Intersting and I have no problems with explaining God from the Bible, however the doctrine of Trinity is Biblically based. Trinity is basically a title given to the explanation of God through the proper study of the Bible. Therefore, since the Bible is the sole source for this doctrine, it is explaining "the Godhead by the Scripture (alone)".

    Also we must be careful in not dismissing our doctrines so quickly. Doctrines are simply put, proper study and interpretation of the word of God. When we dismiss the proper study of the Bible we end up with cult groups such as Mormonism (polytheistic, believing that the three persons are seperate beings, each of them equal and forming a coucilliatory godhead. One Godhead but not one God), or Jehovah Witnesses (Only the Father is truly God, Christ is merely an angel and the Holy Spirit a mere force or power of God the Father and not truly individual in nature.), etc...

    Each of these groups and more claim to be based on a "true interpretation" of the Bible. They explain their God from the Bible. This is why Christian doctrine, which is a proper study of the Bible as put forth by orthodox Christianity, is so important. It does not allow for the manipulation or purposeful misinterpretations as put forth by other cult groups and offers true Christian a solid Biblical foundation from which they can defend their faith.

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    I'm in agreement with Question above. By that definition, Protestanism is a cult.

    Central leader: U-pick (Calvin, Zwingli, Luther)
    Use of Bible and other teachings: Augustine, Calvin's Institutes.
    Rejected teachings: Replacement of eucharist as center of corporate worship with a sermon. (Just to name one of mannnny)

    I'm not calling Protestantism a cult. Just pointing out how the definition given fits.
    Peter

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    What do you think of this websites definition of a Christian cult?

    http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/c09a01.html

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    Cult Peter

    You said,"By that definition, Protestanism is a cult."

    Not quite sure I follow this. If, as in this example, "Protestanism is a cult", then what would be your basis for a true religion? Catholicism?

    If that's the case, it can also be said that Protestanism is a breaking away of the Catholic religion, which had transformed itself into a ritualistic and inaccurate form of the truth, and returned to it's original Biblically based Christian origins. It was not so much a creation of a cult group, as it was a return to the true origins of Chritianity.

    For a list of changes added by the Catholic church over the years to their original belief system see: http://www.victorious.org/chur40.htm
    This article is quite an eye opener and worth the read.

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    I don't think there's any such thing as a "true" religion. Some are just more doctrinally consistent than others. Star Trek is much more "true" in this respect than any religion. The problem with determining what is true always comes down to interpretation. The most literal interpretations lead to ultra-fundamentalism like the type we see in the Taliban and to a lesser degree the Christian Coalition. Any group that FORCES it's members to conform to a set of beliefs is harmful, whether its Catholic Inquisitors, Zionists, Islamists or Jonestown. It's the US vs. THEM mentality and claims to absolute truth where the real problem lies.

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    What's our option...

    What is the alternative to believing something it the truth? Believing nothing is the truth? Can't do that because then if that were the case then even that belief wouldn't be true and therefore something must be true.. (What a mind-bender )

    I say that all theological issue tends to boil down to three main points.

    1- Is there a God?
    2- Who is that God?
    3- How are we to act towards that God.

    Atheists tend to stop at number one. but for the rest of us this is usually an important issue. By answering number one we can usually answer number 2. We can prove there is a God by reason (science isn't the only method of proving things and I doubt we'll find God at the bottom of a testube, regardless of what an atheist might tell you.) or by personal experience. Proof by reason can be shared whereas proof by personal experience will always be personal proof only, even if we share the details. (Testemonials)

    In showing that there is a God by reason our reasoning usually tends to lead us to the answers of the second question. Who is that God. Finally once we know there is a God and who that God is we can figure out how we are to act towards Him.

    I'm not going to try and convince anybody that God is real today but I do have personal proof of His existance and reasonable proof for those who would listen. For me, in anycase, God is real and man's truth is relative. We need to stop believing that we are always right and realize that it is God who is always right. Who knows maybe everything I just said is wrong too but what am I supposed to do, believe in nothing?

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    very nice

    Very well put all of you very nice thread. All of the definitions were helpful because there are many types of cults. Some pretend to be Chrisitian & some do not. Mystical, earthy, search for knowledge groups, etc. I studied these groups along with non- Christian religions for about 10 years and I found something interesting. Of the cults & religions who don't claim to be Christian the one thing they have in common is that: eventually they will try to convince you that Jesus was not the Messiah. I was an atheist at the time. But why do all of these differing religions & chumpy little cults go out of their way to convince you Jesus is not the Messiah? Christians dont go to that much trouble to inform muslims that Mohammed was a fake, nor do the same to buddists etc. It invariably led me back to Christ where I belonged. They want to take your salvation away, even if you are an atheist, they want to ensure you are never saved. The only other sign of a cult not mentioned in this thread is the sign of demonically inspired literature. Just as we read scripture that is inspired by God, the opposite is true. I have read literature that was written so well it very clearly explained how reincarnation works in 2 sentences, and other demonically inspired literature that said things I don't wish to repeat, but was overwhelmingly convincing yet untrue. Some literature is meant to sidetrack the person from being a good Christian. Some cults are so bad you can get goosebumps from the evilness. Most cults today are more sophisticated because we are smarter. God bless us, Debbie

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    Re: What's our option...

    Originally posted by Word Walker
    What is the alternative to believing something it the truth? Believing nothing is the truth? Can't do that because then if that were the case then even that belief wouldn't be true and therefore something must be true.. (What a mind-bender )

    Why not look at things on a spectrum and not just as black and white?

    We can prove there is a God by reason (science isn't the only method of proving things and I doubt we'll find God at the bottom of a testube, regardless of what an atheist might tell you.) or by personal experience. Proof by reason can be shared whereas proof by personal experience will always be personal proof only, even if we share the details. (Testemonials)
    If reason had proved the existence of God, this argument would have been put to rest ages ago. Personal experience is never proof.

    I'm not going to try and convince anybody that God is real today but I do have personal proof of His existance and reasonable proof for those who would listen. For me, in anycase, God is real and man's truth is relative. We need to stop believing that we are always right and realize that it is God who is always right. Who knows maybe everything I just said is wrong too but what am I supposed to do, believe in nothing?
    Do you see that even by your own words, you cannot get past the PERSONAL? There is little you can offer to anyone that can be directly transferred from your mind to another's due to the nature of personal experience. Also, consider that you are susceptible to "man's truth" simply by being human. To believe in nothing is the best place to start. That way, you begin without preconceived ideas and build your knowledge from a clean slate. Above all, be completely honest with yourself.

    "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
    - Voltaire

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    questian:

    I know what you are saying but this statement I feel is an impossibility.

    "To believe in nothing is the best place to start. That way, you begin without preconceived ideas and build your knowledge from a clean slate. Above all, be completely honest with yourself."

    We all have preconceived notions. We all have things from our past that point us to one direction or another. whether is was your parents, frineds, teachers or anyone else. We just can't get away from it. We do need to take a step back and judge for ourselves what we have been taught to believe. Only then does it become our belief and not our parents or whomever.

    The reason why I posted this is because I just wanted to say that Athiests again do the same thigs as Christians. They take their preconceived notions with them when they judge whether religion is true or not. No one ever is a blank slate.

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    We do need to take a step back and judge for ourselves what we have been taught to believe. Only then does it become our belief and not our parents or whomever.


    You have just taken the first step to becoming a skeptic.

    No one ever is a blank slate.


    True, but being able to set aside at least some of what you think you know leads to greater understanding.

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    Questian:

    I would call myself a Christian skeptic. I question everyting but what I have found is that Christianity is correct. I do not believe God has anything to fear from my questions. Now we can just question things and not have an open heart about it That is wrong. For example if I question athiest beliefs (or unbeliefs) and just state that they are wrong without at least being open enough to them so that if the evidence proves that Christianity is wrong I still won't become an athiest That would be wrong. It might take a lot for me to be convinced that Athiests are right becasue in my experience they are not right but to not care what the truth durig this life is a terrible thing to do. See my post in the thread about this in skeptology. questian I think in some ways we are alike. WE both question things but we have come to different conclusions.

    Blackhaw

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