I have been giving this quite a bit of thought lately. The whole thing on what is a Christian, what is Christian behaviour, beliefs and actions. I have tried to just let it go but it keeps coming back to bug me.
What prompted this? A couple of weeks ago I went shopping to buy a birthday/Christmas gift for my good friend Mrs P. Now I figured because she is a church goer (Mormon), a good place to find something with meaning for her would be the "Christian" book store.
I wandered in and started browsing. I had been looking around quite aimlessly for about 10min, finding one book that I thought might be okay, when a young female employee came up to me. The following conversation took place:
girl "Can I help you with anything?"me "Possibly, I am looking for a book, maybe with prayers or something for a good friend. Because I am pretty much non-religion I don't have much of a clue. Do you have any Mormon literature?"
girl "Um, well we have books on witnessing to Mormons?"
me "Ah no, she is a Mormon already, doesn't need converting"
girl "Yes, well, um, perhaps there might be something in fiction she would like, they are Christian but she might still like them"
me "Well, seeing she is Christian I am sure she probably would but I was thinking something non-fiction."
girl "well we are a Christian book store so you won't find anything Mormon or to suit her here I shouldn't think."
me "Soooooo, are you saying Mormons are not Christian? What church is affiliated with this store?"
girl "No! Mormons are a cult!! We are Protestant, you know the Reformation and all that so we are Christian and we believe in Jesus and Mormons don't!"
me "OOOOOOOOOOOOkay! Well, I know she does believe in Jesus, pretty sure she doesn't have pictures up of him just for decorating the house!"
girl "Oh no, I have researched it! It is in a book here (she goes and grabs a book on other religions written by the Protestant church), see it says they believe in ..........oh, okay so they believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. UM, oh but yes!! The believe in JOSEPH SMITH!! There, see!"
me "So I guess you wouldn't call any of the new evangelical churches, Jews or Muslims Christian?
girl "ah NO!"
me " what about Catholics?"
girl " well, not really. they have some christian stuff about them but not really"
me "oh but why? They are as judgemental as the Protestants so why leave them out?"
girl "oh you really need to be nice!"
and she walked away.
um, I need to be nice??? Who was it that put down every other religion, including other Christian and called The Church of Latter Day Saints a cult????
By this stage of was fuming, I really wanted the book I had so I still bought it and declined their offer of a membership card and then left.
Since then, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what a Christian is, what you need to do to be a Christian.
But then I thought perhaps I had gotten it wrong so I did a bit of research. OH BOY!! there is a whole lot of religion bashing happening out there on the net by so called 'Christian' groups. It really gets quite high and mighty and down right nasty!
A reasonable definition of Christianity was on the ABC website it also includes a brief history of Christianity and how it's origins were as a Jewish Sect, wonder if my shop girl knows this!
It also states the key beliefs of Christians as:
- Christians believe that there is only one God, who is all-powerful and all-knowing.
- Most Christians believe that God is a Trinity made up of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
- The second person of the Trinity, God the Son, became a human being in the person of Jesus.
- Jesus was born to a human woman, Mary (whom many believe was a virgin), and was subject to pain, suffering, and sorrow like other human beings.
- Jesus was put to death on a cross and three days later was raised from the dead (the resurrection). Forty days after this he ascended to heaven (the ascension).
- After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Holy Spirit was sent to bring the knowledge and power of Jesus to the church.
- Christians believe in eternal life after death, but not earthly reincarnation.
- Christians await the second coming of Christ which will bring fulfilment of the Kingdom of God and a final day of judgement.
- Christians share with Islam and Judaism a moral code that includes the Ten Commandments.
- Eastern churches, Roman and Protestant churches accept (with slight verbal differences) the Apostles’ Creed, a profession of faith formalised around 500 CE.
- Many Catholics believe that the Western Catholic church is the church founded by Jesus Christ and that only it offers the fullness of sacramental grace.
Just reading a few different descriptions of Christianity was enough to do my head in. I did find this site quite interesting though. It also talks of the history of the church and compares the role of tradition and the Bible in the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox branches of Christianity.
It also states that "Christianity is to a large extent dependent upon historical events: Its idea of God is based on how God dealt with ancient Israel, on Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, and to some extent on later happenings among Jesus' followers. Being a Christian means (for most of us) being convinced that there really is a God who guided Israel through much of its history, that Jesus really represents him, and that Jesus was really resurrected."Which leads me to my next quest. I went to Mormon.com and they say that:
"Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer. The Holy Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ's mother was Mary, His father on earth was Joseph, that He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, and labored with Joseph as a carpenter. When he turned 30, He began a three-year ministry of teaching, blessing, and healing the people of the Holy Land. He also organized His Church and gave His apostles "power and authority" (Luke 9:1) to assist in His work."
and finally the adventist.org.au pretty much says what everyone else has been saying.
The way I see it, Christianity is about following God, his son Jesus and all their teachings. But at the top of that chain is GOD.
So, who cares if you kneel in church, or wave your hands, speak in tongues or clap a tad too much? Why all the bitchiness? Honestly this whole church thing is like being locked in a room with 20 pre-pubescent girls! FAR OUT!!!
If we are born in His image, then shouldn't that mean we act Godly. Not judging, being cruel, proud etc etc SO WHAT if they read some extra doctrines or wear blue on Wednesdays with rollerskates? Does it affect your relationship with your God?
You know, I reckon God is sitting up there wondering what the hell is going on. Wars are fought over religion, people are killed for their beliefs. WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY THEY PRAY BETTER!! Who has the right to say their way is better?
I read of scorn for Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon. I wonder, if that had come before the 2nd testament would it be the other way around? Who has the right to say that he is full of crap but the authors of the bible aren't? NO-ONE!
I am baptised a Catholic. I went to a Catholic high school and had a year or so of being devout. That was a long time ago. I don't know that I will ever be drawn back to a church, mainly because I don't want to be part of a so called 'Christian' organisation that judges people for their beliefs, their sexuality, that highlights and twists the words of the bible to suit their interpretation.
I wonder how many others out there could benefit from the community and sharing provided by church but are turned away for the same reasons as myself. I find this incredibly sad.
I want to add a disclaimer to this before I get shouted down, I do want to say that I know there are individuals who attend church that don't necessary support everything the church 'says'. I don't want to tar you all with the same brush so please, it isn't so much the 'congregation' as the organisation I have issues with.
I think this small piece of humour from Yuricare report sums up my thoughts on the interpretations of the bible quite beautifully.
"On her radio show sometime prior to 2004, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant
Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22,
and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an
open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the
Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law.
I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge
with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual
lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly
states it to be an abomination. ... End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of
God's Law and how to follow them.
1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odour for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They
claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus
21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I
tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A
friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not
Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2.
The passage clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated
to kill him myself?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I
don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a
defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27.
How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me
unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different
crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two
different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse
and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of
getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we
just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people
who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable
expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan,