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Undercover apostates (from Christianity) CC, obviously


Are there "secret" apostates at your church?  

  1. 1. Are there "secret" apostates at your church?

    • Yes, I think there are many apostates externally going along with the program.
      42
    • Maybe there are a moderate amount of undercover apostates at my church.
      27
    • I think there are very few apostates at my church.
      47
    • I don't believe there is any such thing.
      6
    • Other
      16


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Do you think there are many people going to your church who have internally gone apostate or who have withdrawn from most of the belief system of their faith? Do you think it's common or rare?

 

Poll to follow. Please add your thoughts.

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Do you think there are many people going to your church who have internally gone apostate or who have withdrawn from most of the belief system of their faith? Do you think it's common or rare?

 

Poll to follow. Please add your thoughts.

 

I think it's fairly common, given the conversations I've had.

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I don't say this to be rude or snarky, but it isn't any of my business so I have no idea what the state of most other people's beliefs are. Within my parish or the church at large.

 

I take it that evangelizing is not your cup of tea, then. ;)

 

Seriously, though, that raises an interesting question. Suppose 75% of your church doesn't fully believe the tenets of your faith. That wouldn't bother you? To be part of a group that ostensibly believes these things, but in reality, most don't?

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I doubt it, because there is little reason for people to participate if then don't share these beliefs.

 

Cultural norm to participate, makes spouse happy, makes parents happy, likes the sense of community. I've seen all of these......

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I voted other. I'm not really sure what an apostate is. I know what the definition is, but I think it's a fine line between work-in-progress & renouncer. There are times in everyone's life (I think) where they struggle with belief(s). If someone attends church then I think the vast majority of them are at least open to belief - I don't think that is apostate even if at that time they may not believe.

 

So, Maybe there are some? I don't know. I think it's not really productive to categorize people this way.

 

No matter what people believe or don't, they'd be welcome to attend & participate at our church. As such, I don't think they'd be trying to be undercover.

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In our area people go to church. They grow up going to church, they getting married in a church, some within the same community. I wonder how many people truly have a faith of their own and not just inherited the tradition from their parents. I don't know, really.

 

We are not currently in a church, your question being one of the reasons. I'm not in agreement with many christian denominations right now and that's pretty much the flavor around here.

 

However, many community events are done through the churches. Anything to do with teens is either through the churches or the school, so we've considered returning to a church for the culture of community. I just can't bring myself to do it, dh isn't pushing it, and ds doesn't want to go either.

 

I would venture a guess (total guess) that more people have never questioned the beliefs they hold and simply go along with the status quo because that is what those around them are doing. I'm not saying you can't have faith that way, just that people have not truly questioned themselves or can articulate why they believe what they believe. I think this situation would be more common in our area than those who whose beliefs are at odds with the tenets of their church.

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I take it that evangelizing is not your cup of tea, then. ;)

 

Seriously, though, that raises an interesting question. Suppose 75% of your church doesn't fully believe the tenets of your faith. That wouldn't bother you? To be part of a group that ostensibly believes these things, but in reality, most don't?

You are correct. Evangelizing is not something I do much of.

 

I suppose we will have to define church. Would you be meaning the parish where I attend mass or the RC church in general.

 

Honestly I can't believe that 75% in either definition. We do have those who are culturally Catholic. We have those that are called "cafeteria Catholics". But for the vast majority of people who self identify as Catholics believe. They just don't necessarily live their faith. I was one of those people during the vast majority of my 20s.

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I chose "other". We're atheist, but I was raised in the RCC. I know many, many, many people still officially in the RCC, but who have rejected RCC dogma. They're unsatisfied with the RCC position on abortion, gay marriage, contraception, etc. They tell me they feel "trapped" in their parish, though, because leaving would mean severing family ties, business ties, and community ties. I can understand this.

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I take it that evangelizing is not your cup of tea, then. ;)

 

Seriously, though, that raises an interesting question. Suppose 75% of your church doesn't fully believe the tenets of your faith. That wouldn't bother you? To be part of a group that ostensibly believes these things, but in reality, most don't?

 

Not chuck, but - Do you mean 75% of the denomination or 75% of the specific parish/congregation? Maybe that wouldn't make a difference.

 

For me, if 75% of my congregation openly didn't believe & were actually apostate, that would bother me. But it would be directly because I can't imagine a lot of Holy Spirit work going on in that kind of a church & that's why I would leave. I say this knowing that I could be totally wrong & the Spirit can move wherever it wants to - maybe it would be working in such a church.

 

I guess my same reasoning applies to the denomination as a whole - if 75% are apostate then there's not likely to be much HS work. Again, could be wrong.

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... Honestly I can't believe that 75% in either definition. We do have those who are culturally Catholic. We have those that are called "cafeteria Catholics". But for the vast majority of people who self identify as Catholics believe. They just don't necessarily live their faith. I was one of those people during the vast majority of my 20s.

 

That sounds like me. I was raised in the Catholic church but left in my 20s. I was vaguely "Christian" during that time, as in, I believed, but I wasn't living much like a Christian. People might have considered me apostate, I suppose, which may be why I'm uncomfortable with the question of which people in the pews with me may or may not be real believers.

 

It is an interesting question, though, and I wonder, OP, if you care to share... how this came up for you to ask?

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That sounds like me. I was raised in the Catholic church but left in my 20s. I was vaguely "Christian" during that time, as in, I believed, but I wasn't living much like a Christian. People might have considered me apostate, I suppose, which may be why I'm uncomfortable with the question of which people in the pews with me may or may not be real believers.

 

It is an interesting question, though, and I wonder, OP, if you care to share... how this came up for you to ask?

 

I'm with you. When do you cross over the line to apostate? None of us are always doing the right Christian thing or always having the right Christian motives. Nor do we always want to. Nor do we always agree with what our particular church/denomination says is right.

 

Also interested in your (my doing) bold.

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That sounds like me. I was raised in the Catholic church but left in my 20s. I was vaguely "Christian" during that time, as in, I believed, but I wasn't living much like a Christian. People might have considered me apostate, I suppose, which may be why I'm uncomfortable with the question of which people in the pews with me may or may not be real believers.

 

It is an interesting question, though, and I wonder, OP, if you care to share... how this came up for you to ask?

I will say that I never really left the church. I knew she was there to go to if at any time I needed/wanted to be there. (And not just the building of the local parish.) That was always a comfort.

 

What I didn't do was live as though I was a Catholic Christian. I spent a lot of time sowing wild oats. I was more of a cultural Catholic who when pressed became a cafeteria Catholic.

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I'm sure there are some at our church....it's a good-sized body of about 1500 and part of a large denomination but with a strong individual identity. Knowing human nature and our predisposition, in some cases, to go against the tide and question, it's inevitable. It's not my perogotive to determine the state of someone's heart, that's God's business- He says He knows the hearts of man. However, one can certainly ascertain where someone is coming from by their words, questions and actions- I'm not blind. Given the tenor of the teaching and the intentional efforts made to encourage, stimulate and help people to grow in their faith, I'd say the numbers of 'apostates' as you call them is quite low. There are bound to be spouses that are 'dragged' to church and some teenagers not happy to be required to attend..there have been a few of those type of kiddos in our house at one time or another. The concerted efforts of the pastors, elders, teachers and ministry heads is to move all of us to examine ourselves, know scripture and APPLY what we learn in an environment of openness, acceptance and love, above all, love...the sermon this past Sunday was about that very thing. My 'job' is to be that caring and accepting person who loves on people anytime we get together... for now, my areas of influence are in the worship ministry and MOPS. You asked a good question!

Edited by JVA
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Well, there's a fairly well-publicized issue going on in my denomination right now with an out-and-out apostate (believer turned athiest) who has continued church attendance, posing as a believer, with the specific goal of finding those in the congregation who are having doubts and flood them with information meant to kill their faith. And then he blogs about it. :glare:

 

If someone attends for reasons other than belief, but is otherwise respectful of those who *are* believers, then welcome! But don't come in as a non-believer, posing as a believer, and try to quietly create more non-believers.

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Cultural norm to participate, makes spouse happy, makes parents happy, likes the sense of community. I've seen all of these......

 

:iagree: We're not even Christian, and I've been tempted to join a church just for the community and so dd would meet more kids and be involved in something. I would imagine there's a lot of pressure to just play along if one's beliefs waver.

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You are correct. Evangelizing is not something I do much of.

 

I suppose we will have to define church. Would you be meaning the parish where I attend mass or the RC church in general.

 

Honestly I can't believe that 75% in either definition. We do have those who are culturally Catholic. We have those that are called "cafeteria Catholics". But for the vast majority of people who self identify as Catholics believe. They just don't necessarily live their faith. I was one of those people during the vast majority of my 20s.

 

Bold mine.

 

Do you think this causes a lot of guilt or internal "discomfort?" (You don't have to answer for yourself if that's too private a question. :001_smile:)

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Bold mine.

 

Do you think this causes a lot of guilt or internal "discomfort?" (You don't have to answer for yourself if that's too private a question. :001_smile:)

Well, I do believe that scientists and researchers have established that Catholic quile is a measurable phenomenon. :lol::lol:

 

Seriously, there were times, yes, that I felt a bit of guilt. I've since confessed my 20s and that guilt is gone. (Yes, it was a 4 page typed single-spaced confession. I'm not even sure Father understood most of the last page as it was recited through hiccups and copious amounts of snot. It was cathartic.)

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You are correct. Evangelizing is not something I do much of.

 

I suppose we will have to define church. Would you be meaning the parish where I attend mass or the RC church in general.

 

I don't think it makes a difference which way I mean it; either is worthy of the question.

 

Not chuck, but - Do you mean 75% of the denomination or 75% of the specific parish/congregation? Maybe that wouldn't make a difference.

 

For me, if 75% of my congregation openly didn't believe & were actually apostate, that would bother me. But it would be directly because I can't imagine a lot of Holy Spirit work going on in that kind of a church & that's why I would leave. I say this knowing that I could be totally wrong & the Spirit can move wherever it wants to - maybe it would be working in such a church.

 

"openly" is not the same thing as I mean - that is why I said undercover apostate. Someone who comes to church, sings the songs, has their kids in the programs, doesn't want to be shunned by parents, doesn't want their kids to be "unfriended" by all their Christian friends - all that, yet doesn't believe or mostly disbelieves the tenets of the faith.

 

I also don't mean someone trying to subvert the population to become apostate, too. Just someone keeping their head down and going along with the program because they want the social/community structure of their church.

 

It is an interesting question, though, and I wonder, OP, if you care to share... how this came up for you to ask?

 

Part of why I am asking is because our (local) church had an on-line spiritual health quiz they asked members to fill out. It is anonymous and is sorted by a third party. I took the quiz, but there was no provision for the possibility that one was answering as a doubting Christian, or someone who once did certain activities, but no longer does. Which would fit me. So, I wonder how many people might take the quiz, but think about the questions more as a former believer.

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Do you think there are many people going to your church who have internally gone apostate or who have withdrawn from most of the belief system of their faith? Do you think it's common or rare?

 

Poll to follow. Please add your thoughts.

 

75% plus. Common!

 

And I think many of them wouldn't describe themselves that way.

 

So, apostate without a *full* awareness of that fact.

 

BTW I'm not critizicing ANYONE'S spiritual journey. For all I know their path will lead them right where they need to be. :D

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I take it that evangelizing is not your cup of tea, then. ;)

 

Seriously, though, that raises an interesting question. Suppose 75% of your church doesn't fully believe the tenets of your faith. That wouldn't bother you? To be part of a group that ostensibly believes these things, but in reality, most don't?

 

Well, dh and I have beliefs regarding this that might be a bit outside the mainstream. I know; shocking, right? :D

 

I'd estimate, if I had to give a number, that somewhere between 75 and 90% of those who attend an instituional church on Sunday are either apostate or falsely converted. I'd estimate the percentage to be lower in housechurches, however there are still a fair number of attendees even there who are either apostate or falsely converted; but I'd estimate the percentage to be closer to 50% in housechurches.

 

This is based on our time (dh and I) attending both instituional churches as well has homefellowships.

 

HOWEVER. Let me add this disclaimer. It is NOT my goal nor intention to judge the salvation/heart condition/relationship with God of any one person EXCEPT myself. I do not claim to know. I do, however, as I am instructed in scripture, judge who is a believer based on the fruit of their lives. Hence the guestimate percentages I gave. Because you asked. :D

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I also don't mean someone trying to subvert the population to become apostate, too. Just someone keeping their head down and going along with the program because they want the social/community structure of their church.

 

That maybe would've been us at our former church. It wasn't that we aren't Christian (that's how we continue to define ourselves), but it was that our thinking and believing had become such that we no longer agreed with many of the things taught by that denomination. But we continued to attend for a long time because of the social/community benefits. Eventually the toll of keeping our heads down got to be too much and we left. But I have no idea how many others felt that way, if any.

 

FWIW, it's now been about seven years and we still haven't found a church/denomination where we fit in. And neither DH nor I want to go through the "keeping our heads down" thing again. We will continue to do our own little home church unless/until we find somewhere that's a really good fit with our beliefs. But I'm thinking more and more that's not going to happen.

Edited by Pawz4me
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75% plus. Common!

 

And I think many of them wouldn't describe themselves that way.

 

So, apostate without a *full* awareness of that fact.

 

BTW I'm not critizicing ANYONE'S spiritual journey. For all I know their path will lead them right where they need to be. :D

 

The term commonly used (in my circle, anyway) to refer to someone who is 'apostate without a *full* awearness of that fact' would be a false convert/false believer.

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I don't think it makes a difference which way I mean it; either is worthy of the question.

 

Okay so the original question was: Do you think there are many people going to your church who have internally gone apostate or who have withdrawn from most of the belief system of their faith? Do you think it's common or rare?

 

On a plant wide scale there are 1.1 billion Catholics. I do not think that there is a large percentage of them world wide who are secretly apostate. If anything the larger percentage is devout.

 

On the local parish scale, I still don't think there are a lot of people in the pews that are secretly apostate. There might be a handful who are drug there by parents or spouse. But I'd say the majority who are there want to be there.

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The term commonly used (in my circle, anyway) to refer to someone who is 'apostate without a *full* awearness of that fact' would be a false convert/false believer.

 

That term sounds yucky to me. :tongue_smilie: I assume you consider them dam*ed.

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ETA: I voted "there are many" but I was thinking it was 30% or less, and it seems that doesn't qualify as many according to the rest of the posts.

I think it's fairly common, given the conversations I've had.
I agree. Many are pressured by their family. This is based on my experiences as a Jehovah's Witness and a Baptist. For some reason people feel comfortable telling me these things.

 

I doubt it, because there is little reason for people to participate if then don't share these beliefs.
Yeah, I really don't see going along to get along in a Lutheran church, but I really don't have experience there. Edited by Lovedtodeath
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Okay so the original question was: Do you think there are many people going to your church who have internally gone apostate or who have withdrawn from most of the belief system of their faith? Do you think it's common or rare?

 

On a plant wide scale there are 1.1 billion Catholics. I do not think that there is a large percentage of them world wide who are secretly apostate. If anything the larger percentage is devout.

 

On the local parish scale, I still don't think there are a lot of people in the pews that are secretly apostate. There might be a handful who are drug there by parents or spouse. But I'd say the majority who are there want to be there.

 

Wow. You are seriously optimistic! :tongue_smilie:

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That maybe would've been us at our former church. It wasn't that we aren't Christian (that's how we continue to define ourselves), but it was that our thinking and believing had become such that we no longer agreed with many of the things taught by that denomination. But we continued to attend for a long time because of the social/community benefits. Eventually the toll of keeping our heads down got to be too much and we left. But I have no idea how many others felt that way, if any.

 

FWIW, it's now been about seven years and we still haven't found a church/denomination where we fit in. And neither DH nor I want to go through the "keeping our heads down" thing again. We will continue to do our own little home church unless/until we find somewhere that's a really good fit with our beliefs. But I'm thinking more and more that's not going to happen.

I would love to discuss this. You aren't expected to agree with every detail are you? Where is the line drawn?
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HOWEVER. Let me add this disclaimer. It is NOT my goal nor intention to judge the salvation/heart condition/relationship with God of any one person EXCEPT myself. I do not claim to know. I do, however, as I am instructed in scripture, judge who is a believer based on the fruit of their lives. Hence the guestimate percentages I gave. Because you asked. :D

 

Now I think that would make for a really interesting discussion! How does one determine that?

 

I'm not a new Christian but I am always baffled when people make comments about the lack of fruit of someone's life. How does one determine that, particularly if they are (mostly) together for a couple of hours on Sunday? Is it based on volunteer hours? Modesty of dress? Willingness to work in the nursery (I'm out of luck then ;)). I'm not being snarky but I truly don't get this.

 

I'm not talking about obvious lack of fruit, such as... an ex-relative of mine who sat up front in church, sang loudest of all, gave loads of $$, but abused his wife and children at home. To the folks at church, he looked very fruitful.

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I would love to discuss this. You aren't expected to agree with every detail are you? Where is the line drawn?

 

I suppose everyone has their own line. For us it got to the point that we were experiencing quite a bit of cognitive dissonance every time we attended a service.

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I try not to join the religious threads around here (okay, I mostly lurk whatever the thread), but this discussion is definitely leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. It reminds me Screwtape's letter #2 (summary is not mine, my brain isn't working well enough):

 

"Screwtape notes that Wormwood’s patient has become a professing Christian, but tells

his nephew not to give up hope. Many have been turned away, he notes, by focusing on the flaws

and peculiarities of Christians rather than on Christ himself. As long as the patient somehow

thinks of himself as a good person, he can easily be persuaded that those he sees in church are

hypocrites because of their imperfections."

 

I'm going to assume that someone is not an apostate until they actually apostatize.

 

Please stop lurking. :001_smile: I like your posts so far.

 

Other. It's a MYOB thing.

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That term sounds yucky to me. :tongue_smilie: I assume you consider them dam*ed.

 

I'm sorry the term bothers you. It's a fairly common term. Have you ever heard of Way of The Master, with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort? They use the term 'false convert'.

 

I was myself a false convert as a teenager. And yes, I believe if I had died in that state, I would have gone to hell.

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I'm sorry the term bothers you. It's a fairly common term. Have you ever heard of Way of The Master, with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort? They use the term 'false convert'.

 

I was myself a false convert as a teenager. And yes, I believe if I had died in that state, I would have gone to hell.

 

It isn't common to me. I don't really even know what it means. Can you explain?

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Wow. You are seriously optimistic! :tongue_smilie:

I don't think so.

 

You'll find the disenchanted Catholic but generally they have moved on. That is one reason in the US you'll often find Catholic churches that are huge but maybe half full on any given Sunday morning. Or even Catholic churches for sale.

 

If they are sitting in the pews, even if they are questioning, the vast majority are not apostate.

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Hmmm.

 

Honestly, it's not something I'd ever think of. I have enough going on in my faith, raising my kids in faith, to wonder about what anyone else is doing.

 

Personally, I've yet to find a church whose entire SOF 'fits' me. There's no church I've found yet that I'd choose to become a member of.

 

Yet, I *do* have faith, I do consider myself a Christian. Just haven't discovered a denom that I can fully embrace yet.

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I try not to join the religious threads around here (okay, I mostly lurk whatever the thread), but this discussion is definitely leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. It reminds me Screwtape's letter #2 (summary is not mine, my brain isn't working well enough):

 

"Screwtape notes that Wormwood’s patient has become a professing Christian, but tells

his nephew not to give up hope. Many have been turned away, he notes, by focusing on the flaws

and peculiarities of Christians rather than on Christ himself. As long as the patient somehow

thinks of himself as a good person, he can easily be persuaded that those he sees in church are

hypocrites because of their imperfections."

 

I'm going to assume that someone is not an apostate until they actually apostatize.

 

ETA: I guess what I'm trying to say is that if someone goes to my church, until they indicate otherwise to me, I'm going to assume that they are just weak sinners, just like me.

 

But this is not what I mean at all. I don't mean going to church and looking around to try and determine if others have flaws or not. What I mean is do you assume that the large percentage of those sitting in the pew are totally "sold" on the beliefs of their faith? That they are not inwardly disagreeing? That the vast majority has a large degree of confidence in their faith? Or do you think there are many who perhaps don't buy some or all of the doctrine, but do not want to lose that anchor in their lives?

 

Of course, it's speculation, as we are not mind-readers and most of us probably don't have intimate knowledge about the spiritual states of many people. What is your hunch? That was my question.

 

I'm trying to draw a conclusion on how unusual it is to be in a category like this.

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I'm sorry the term bothers you. It's a fairly common term. Have you ever heard of Way of The Master, with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort? They use the term 'false convert'.

 

I was myself a false convert as a teenager. And yes, I believe if I had died in that state, I would have gone to hell.

This is the first time I've heard the term, too. Maybe because I don't watch a lot of movies.

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I'm probably one of them. I have my reasons for taking my kids to church, but my beliefs are largely inconsistent with what they tell me to believe. Not 100%, but let's just say they would never ask me to lead a Sunday School class if they knew what I really think.

 

And I do believe there are others like me, but I also believe many parishioners really do accept the majority of the message and gain something from it. (Which I think is great - though I wish some of them were a little less holier-than-thou.)

 

Honestly, I'm not convinced our pastor really believes the whole message. But that's just my own gut feeling.

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I don't think there are many people who go through life with a static view of God or Christianity. Therefore, I would guess that most churches have many, many people that are wavering in various parts of faith. It would only be an issue to me if another congregant became belligerent or completely negative about the beliefs within the specific church I attend.

 

I think an interesting poll would compare age, education, and length of time professing to "be" a Christian, with various beliefs within Christianity. However, that would most likely create some serious judgement of others while interpreting the results. (At least for me!!:D)

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Now I think that would make for a really interesting discussion! How does one determine that?

 

I'm not a new Christian but I am always baffled when people make comments about the lack of fruit of someone's life. How does one determine that, particularly if they are (mostly) together for a couple of hours on Sunday? Is it based on volunteer hours? Modesty of dress? Willingness to work in the nursery (I'm out of luck then ;)). I'm not being snarky but I truly don't get this.

 

I'm not talking about obvious lack of fruit, such as... an ex-relative of mine who sat up front in church, sang loudest of all, gave loads of $$, but abused his wife and children at home. To the folks at church, he looked very fruitful.

 

I *am* talking about somone like in your last paragraph. I mean people in my life, who I know well, who profess to be Christians but do NOT display the fruit of the spirit.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. - Galatians 5:22-23

 

It isn't common to me. I don't really even know what it means. Can you explain?

 

Hmm.

 

A false convert. Ok. Let's use me as a teenager as an example.

 

I said the 'sinner's prayer'. I went to church three times a week. I was a 'good' girl. But I didn't really believe any of it. The Lord had not changed the desires of my heart. I didn't WANT to live a Christian life; I just did the outside things to look good, to make my parents happy and keep myself from being on their bad side, and to fit in with my youth group. I still wanted to be cool, be accepted by the world, have boyfriends (to validate my worth, you know), and so on. I was a false convert. Very akin to the Pharisees of Jesus' day. In fact, I have heard it referred to as 'Phariseeism' or being Pharisiacal.

Edited by bethanyniez
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I take it that evangelizing is not your cup of tea, then. ;)

 

Seriously, though, that raises an interesting question. Suppose 75% of your church doesn't fully believe the tenets of your faith. That wouldn't bother you? To be part of a group that ostensibly believes these things, but in reality, most don't?

Two things here:

 

1) Evangelizing and Proselytizing are two different things. Also, how one group does it may or may not be how another group does it. With those two things in mind, the comment was close to being rude and presumptive.

 

2) Speaking for myself, no. Numbers have nothing to do with my faith. Other person's journeys do not affect my faith. How many people that come to church for reasons other than they having faith or believing what that church teaches has no bearing on my faith. Yes, there are those that were in our last parish because it was what they were raised with, expected out of them, and part of their culture. That will be normal with any church or faith where you have a long line of generations within. Why they are there is between them and God.

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