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Ex-vangelicals (and evangelicals and anyone who wants to comment on the cognitive model of how beliefs are formed) - your thoughts?


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  • WTM changed the title to Ex-vangelicals (and evangelicals) - your thoughts?

My husband and I have been talking about this for months, as we have processed leaving our church.

It has been particularly challenging as we have been shunned by our former social circle. We were part of a high demand rather than told us not to criticize leaders, not to read from anything other than church published sources, and to “not share our doubts with other doubters”. In many ways, our former denomination fits the BITE model definition of a cult.

For evangelicals and other high demand Christian groups, our lives are often wrapped around the framework of church. There is little room for social dissonance and there is a huge backfire effect if someone brings up (legitimate) issues.

IMO, part of this fracturing is because the core group is doing boundary maintenance and anyone with a broader viewpoint is being driven out. 

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7 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

For evangelicals and other high demand Christian groups, our lives are often wrapped around the framework of church. There is little room for social dissonance and there is a huge backfire effect if someone brings up (legitimate) issues.

IMO, part of this fracturing is because the core group is doing boundary maintenance and anyone with a broader viewpoint is being driven out. 

I was not Evangelical but we belonged to a "high demand" Christian group. Life revolved around church and it took up much of our time. 

We have been shunned by most of our former friends since we left. It's odd because one of the people who shunned us told me how much it hurt her feelings when she was shunned by her old church when she left. I've wondered if she realizes that she's doing exactly what her ex-friends did to her. 

Our former community became more extreme over the last few years but COVID was the breaking point. Now the community is extremely secretive and controls communication between members. It's out a fear of "gossip." But that manifests as no discussion at all about anything unpleasant. 

 

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To the above replies....what you describe is not a healthy church.  I mean no church is perfect. The church is made up of fallible humans. Idk. I’m starting to wonder how many healthy (albeit imperfect) churches still exist. 

This is not a reason to give up on church altogether. I am certain of that. Interested to see what others have to say.

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I posted this earlier this week on another thread. I would said I would have been happy to continue to serve indefinitely (averaging 10-20 hours a week) prior to what happened this past year. I am not angry...just profoundly grieved.

I am very sad to come and say that I resigned from serving on the board of our homeschooling co-op where I served for the past 6 years. The leadership has decided to no longer follow the masking mandate in our state. Currently in California, we have been operating under the umbrella of a church, so there are no legal restrictions any more on gathering, we are just required to mask when you can't socially distance. While I understand the frustration with masking requirements, I believe our homeschool community is broad and diverse across the board politically because we come from many different churches and believe we ought to lead in a way that encompasses the needs of all rather than a particular political agenda. I can't see how making this decision isn't a political statement. I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the highly politicized social media postings by our president which are contributing to the divisiveness in our community. I am so heartbroken over when I see how the Christian community is increasingly being perceived as unloving and aligned with Christian nationalism because of attitudes around social distancing and masking.

I could not reconcile serving in leadership with integrity with respect to my personal integrity and also serving as an elder in my church if I condoned this choice. This homeschooling community has been more of our core Christian community more than my church because of the sheer amount of time doing life together. I have not chosen to leave the group at this time, but I am very sad because it has come to this. 

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4 hours ago, Seasider too said:

I was just trading that article! I stopped halfway through because I want to read it with a clearer head in the morning. 
 

I will make one comment now, though. He introduces a premise based on conversations with friends, “...all raised and nurtured in healthy evangelical families and congregations...”

That immediately caught my attention. Because I don’t think most evangelical churches in the last fifty years have operated free of racial and gender  inequality, or free of political winds, either. I think “healthy” is not the best description. Conflict-free, perhaps. 

Ok that’s my late night first thought. I will revisit this conversation tomorrow. 

Agreed. We left (and never looked back) in the early 2000's, somewhere in the 2003-04 range. The final straw was a personal one, but we'd already been very unhappy and uneasy for a few years. We didn't have the words for it, but we know now that what was making us so very uneasy was the increasing Christian nationalism post-9/11 that we were seeing. From what I can tell, though, things have gotten much worse. But even way back then we didn't see it as anywhere remotely near a healthy environment in which to raise our boys. 

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If it is ever to be true again that broadly respected authorities form an important part of our shared information curve, it will be because we turn from a culture of celebrity to a culture of sanctification, where leadership is less about building a platform and more about carrying the cross of Christ. It will be because we remember the words of Jesus that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). It will also be because we relearn how to listen to men and women of wisdom, leaders as well as neighbors, without crucifying them over political differences.

I think this is what it boils down to. We need to re-focus on the cross of Christ. I see all too many leaders who either compromise with the world in their beliefs (to the detriment of sharing the Gospel), spend so much focus fighting against the beliefs of the world to remember to point people to Christ, or compromise in their own living and damage their testimony (e.g. Ravi Zacharias.) We need to re-focus on the Gospel.

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I’m now wondering if this is actually what’s happening with my family. We’ve had a huge falling out and I was shocked by it all but now I wonder if they’ve just been too sucked in by their SBC churches in their small Texas towns. It’s like they can’t be around or respectful of my LGBTQ dc at all anymore. They feel they have to say how sinful my dc are all the time and they’ve painted themselves as victims for us not just taking it. They act like they’re being religiously persecuted and it’s ridiculous. I left those churches at about 19 and never looked back (very happy with our Episcopal Church now), but my siblings are still very involved and my mom is easily influenced by them. 

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25 minutes ago, MJlovesJesus said:

I think this is what it boils down to. We need to re-focus on the cross of Christ. I see all too many leaders who either compromise with the world in their beliefs (to the detriment of sharing the Gospel), spend so much focus fighting against the beliefs of the world to remember to point people to Christ, or compromise in their own living and damage their testimony (e.g. Ravi Zacharias.) We need to re-focus on the Gospel.

You might find this book interesting: https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Jesus-Not-Evangelism-Carl-Medearis-ebook/dp/B0052DYEUW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=INQ6PBNTS6U8&dchild=1&keywords=speaking+of+jesus+by+carl+medearis&qid=1618662066&sprefix=speaking+of+Jesus%2Caps%2C177&sr=8-1

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12 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Also, the podcasts/video series The Way of Love by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Lots of info here, but it can be a bit overwhelming as there are resources for churches as individuals. The podcasts are towards the bottom. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love/

Basically, it's on the core message of Jesus. 

I think that as Christians (and I'm not "evangelical" unless we count living a life I hope points to Jesus as evangelical) we would do well to get better at the very basics, and then deal with the rest. Lets focus on the Sermon on the Mount, and the Great Commandments and then worry about mixing fibers and pants vs skirts, lol. (simplifying, I know, but if we can't laugh we'll cry). Same with most problems in this world....

 

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Wow. Very powerful and well-put. He’s captured so much of my experience, except that I don’t think deeper entrenchment into evangelical ways of thinking are the answer (which is probably because I’m an ex-evangelical). He talks about the importance of community which I agree with entirely. But community is diminished in the evangelical ethos. It’s all about personal relationship with God. It’s hyper-individualistic. He talks about more time in the word of God, as he is sola scriptura believer. That approach denies the activity of the Holy Spirit and diminishes the person of Christ to secondary to a book. So, I think the splintering of evangelicalism is inevitable because of its own ethos. 

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1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:

Agreed. We left (and never looked back) in the early 2000's, somewhere in the 2003-04 range. The final straw was a personal one, but we'd already been very unhappy and uneasy for a few years. We didn't have the words for it, but we know now that what was making us so very uneasy was the increasing Christian nationalism post-9/11 that we were seeing. From what I can tell, though, things have gotten much worse. But even way back then we didn't see it as anywhere remotely near a healthy environment in which to raise our boys. 

Yup, about 15 yrs ago I tried attending the local non denomination mega church near me in South Florida. I walked out 20 minutes in, when it became clear it was much more a Republican political rally than a church service. (and then got mad all over again when I found my son crying hysterically in a corner of the nursery after they PROMISED to page me if he got upset - why give out pagers if you were not going to use them! They were not even consoling him! Christian love my rear end!)

  Around that time anger and more than that, FEAR seemed to take over in a lot of churches. It went from Jesus love me, lets have coffee with Jesus, WWJD bracelets to this angry us vs them, fear of the world thing that just seems so out of touch with the confidence we have in Christ. And way more focused on how the world is out to get us, vs our own personal choice to follow Jesus and love our fellow man. 

As an example of fear, instead of focusing on what ARE healthy relationships, the focus was on how the world was corrupting them. Now, I'm very anti pornography, for many reasons, but when I see Christians posting that 80% of Christians are addicted to pornography and that's why any depiction of nudity in art must be hidden or destroyed, I'm googly eyed in shock. 30 years ago, the average Baptist was not freaking out that almost all church members were "battling" pornography addiction and crusading about it. I mean, I don't think the average Christian mom even thought much about it. Now, I know it is easier now with the internet, but we can be cautious about it and proactive without FREAKING OUT. And spending that much focus on it probably makes it MORE likely to be a problem!

 

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 I've been looking into why people leave and where they go and have a found a few resources that I think address and articulate the problem well. Thanks for the link above and please post more related links.

Faithful Christians leaving organized religion, not their faith and focusing on following Jesus:

Documentary: When God Left the Building
https://wwv.group.com/whengodleftthebuilding/

Book: Church Refugees
https://www.amazon.com/Church-Refugees-Sociologists-reveal-people/dp/1470725924/ref=sr_1_1?crid=Z6X7L6EAPS0U&dchild=1&keywords=church+refugees+by+josh+packard&qid=1618664191&sprefix=Church+Refugees%2Caps%2C163&sr=8-1

Book: Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Non-Evangelism
https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Jesus-Not-Evangelism-Carl-Medearis-ebook/dp/B0052DYEUW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=RFYFBFI4LFQF&dchild=1&keywords=speaking+of+jesus+by+carl+medearis&qid=1618664245&sprefix=speaking+of+Jesus%2Caps%2C224&sr=8-1

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Interesting read, and interesting cognitive model - thank you for sharing.

I'm not of the OP community / target, so I'm processing the model in terms of other realms (I think analytically, it has insights for other realms as well).

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OP, I really enjoyed the article, especially the idea that each thing we hold true is part of a larger whole, like a photomosaic. That really does make a good analogy for how hard it is to change a single belief when it is connected to so many others. 

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26 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

Interesting read, and interesting cognitive model - thank you for sharing.

I'm not of the OP community / target, so I'm processing the model in terms of other realms (I think analytically, it has insights for other realms as well).

Yes, I liked the article, too. I left a high demand denomination and eventually religious belief altogether, and I still am processing that journey. His model was helpful and applies to other areas as well.

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

Interesting read, and interesting cognitive model - thank you for sharing.

I'm not of the OP community / target, so I'm processing the model in terms of other realms (I think analytically, it has insights for other realms as well).

I'm interested in perspectives from non evangelicals and non exvangelicals, too 🙂 

I should have made the title of the thread less exclusive! That's what happens when you post at close to midnight...

Edited by WTM
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  • WTM changed the title to Ex-vangelicals (and evangelicals and anyone who wants to comment on the cognitive model of how beliefs are formed) - your thoughts?
1 hour ago, lauraw4321 said:

He talks about more time in the word of God, as he is sola scriptura believer. That approach denies the activity of the Holy Spirit and diminishes the person of Christ to secondary to a book. 

An aside: this is twice now in the past week that you've labeled someone a "sola scriptura" believer whose views deny the activity of the Holy Spirit and result in a diminished relationship with Christ. The other time was me. 🙂 

You might want to be careful about that. I do believe the Word of God is truth; I don't believe that we are not also guided by the Holy Spirit and by Christ Himself (who *is* the Word embodied, BTW, which is one of the reasons I hold the Bible in such high esteem). 

Sola scriptura is a term that I usually associate with a particular denomination, and not one I claim for myself.  

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My mother and my sister, both firm and devout believers, now refuse to have anything to do with the evangelical church or be called by the evangelical label. I don't blame them one bit.

[removed for privacy]

I don't know the answer. I don't know how to break through the lack of wisdom and lack of love that is so strong and becoming stronger. I think most of it comes from an unholy mix of politics with Christianity. It will take a work of God for people to wake up. 

Edited by MercyA
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3 minutes ago, MercyA said:

An aside: this is twice now in the past week that you've labeled someone a "sola scriptura" believer whose views deny the activity of the Holy Spirit and result in a diminished relationship with Christ. The other time was me. 🙂 

You might want to be careful about that. I do believe the Word of God is truth; I don't believe that we are not also guided by the Holy Spirit and by Christ Himself (who *is* the Word embodied, BTW, which is one of the reasons I hold the Bible in such high esteem). 

Sola scriptura is a term that I usually associate with a particular denomination, and not one I claim for myself.  

I was responding to this from him:  “Members of our congregations may spend a few hours a week in the Word of God (which should always be the Christian’s most important source of information and authority) but 40 hours or more mainlining the animosities of the day. 

The “always” and “most important” are problems for me. 
 

I apologize if I mischaracterized you, but I think my characterization of him is accurate. 

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2 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

Wow. Very powerful and well-put. He’s captured so much of my experience, except that I don’t think deeper entrenchment into evangelical ways of thinking are the answer (which is probably because I’m an ex-evangelical). He talks about the importance of community which I agree with entirely. But community is diminished in the evangelical ethos. It’s all about personal relationship with God. It’s hyper-individualistic. He talks about more time in the word of God, as he is sola scriptura believer. That approach denies the activity of the Holy Spirit and diminishes the person of Christ to secondary to a book. So, I think the splintering of evangelicalism is inevitable because of its own ethos. 

I agree...  I think it took me awhile to get a proper handle on why that felt "off" ~  because on the surface it sounds good.  But it's a very me-centered approach, kind of the antithesis of what Christ taught.

And I agree with others that what the article talks about didn't just come out of the blue.  It had its roots in years and years of history and (some) false doctrine.  It's just that so much of it was deep and vague and hidden, and I'm sure a lot of people (in those churches) didn't even realize it was there.  And to be fair, I believe that a good deal of evangelical churches have many beautiful things about them and are trying to do what they think is right.  But I think the flames of certain politics, subtle prejudices, and judgments have increasingly been fanned as righteous and bold, and because those emotions (the politics, the prejudices, and the judgments) come so naturally to people, it was an easy step for congregations to latch on to the notion that those things are now actually being called good and even Christian, instead of something to be squashed.

One of the saddest parts is that those who are considered outcasts -- the very people Christians are told to reach out to in love -- are some of those being harmed the most within that context:  the LGBT community, immigrants and persons of color, people on very low income or homeless... and also those affected by very strict anti-abortion laws and even contraceptives availability.  And gosh, even the health of the planet and the treatment of animals!

I grew up in an ELCA church (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) which actually wasn't at all like what "evangelical" is thought of today.  It would probably have been considered a quite liberal church compared to today's "evangelical" church!  It was a really sweet church that accepted everybody.  I now belong to a non-denominational church that it is very gospel-oriented but it would definitely not fall into today's definition of evangelical, which I'm really grateful for. 

Maybe it's a good thing that things are blowing up and people are being forced to make a choice one way or the other.  Isn't that what brings on change?

Edited by J-rap
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It seems pretty obvious that something is happening WRT American's religious affiliations (can't think of a better word). The surveys show that the percentage of Americans who attend church regularly keeps declining along with the percentage of Americans who claim to belong to a religious group (increase of the "nones"). I believe the majority of Americans still claim to believe in Christianity though. 

Everyone has ideas about what is going on. I've read (sorry no cite here) that these trends have escalated since 2016. 

I roll my eyes a little when I read something like, "we just need to focus more on Jesus" though. American Christianity (in all of its forms) has always been about more than "Jesus." What does that mean anyway? 

As I wrote above, we left our "high demand" church (Eastern Orthodoxy - I'd converted 15 years ago) to return to my former religion, Roman Catholicism. Catholicism can be "high demand" or "medium demand" and that's refreshing for us right now. However, both American Orthodoxy and American Catholicism are experiencing the same kinds of divides as Protestantism. Both churches are plagued with grifters with online platforms who undermine the authority of local priests and bishops. It's not uncommon for new Orthodox converts to be more influenced by an armchair online "theologians" than his/her (usually his in this case) priest/bishop. It's poisonous and the aging bishops in Catholicism and Orthodoxy have no idea what is going on. Priests are also becoming radicalized by these online personalities. In our former church, the priest listened more to hardliner priests online than his own bishop. 

I've thought about this a lot over the last year and ISTM that "just focus on Jesus" is too simplistic. There is too much garbage that needs to be cleared out first. The SBC was founded to justify slavery. That has to be addressed or "just focus on Jesus" won't accomplish anything. In my religious traditions, misogyny is tangled up in everything along with reactive politics. The Catholic Church worldwide served the needs of many terrible regimes. That needs to be addressed. Look at the example of Marcial Maciel. For those of you who aren't Catholic, Macial founded a conservative religious order and was on the 'right' side of the cultural wars in the Catholic Church in the late 20th century. After Macial died, the truth came out that he sexually molested his own (secret) children. He was a horrible human being and the Church turned a blind eye to it. His movement was also entwined with several terrible Latin American regimes. 

 

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I grew up Baptist, but in a very religious leftie church. I was very active in the church as a teen when our church was kicked out of the SBC. It's hard not to see these struggles as having existed for a long time but slowly and steadily growing. There are ways that secular norms have shifted deeply to put them so out of joint with evangelicals that these fractures were inevitable on some level.

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34 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

Can someone explain to me why sola scriptura is a bad thing?  How does it deny the Holy Spirit?   The Holy Spirit is Jesus.  Jesus is God.  God is the Holy Spirit.   Scripture is the inerrant word of God.   It's been a long week, so maybe I'm just missing an obvious point.  

This is a can of worms for another thread. The Holy Spirit is not Jesus. Jesus is not the Father. I defer to Sproul or maybe John Piper for a much better explanation that’s quick and easy to google.

I agree that scripture is inerrant. And sola scriptura is a good thing. All 5 solas are absolutely essential for anyone who is Protestant. None of that denies the work of the Holy Spirit either.

eta I forgot that there are those who don’t believe in the Trinity. If that’s you, just ignore me lol

Edited by popmom
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8 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

I feel so stupid talking about stuff like this.   I was taught the nicene creed, so maybe I'm explaining it wrong.  I believe they are equal and do not contradict each other.   Three separate beings, but one and the same.   I'm not saying this right probably.

Same! It makes my brain hurt!

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53 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

Can someone explain to me why sola scriptura is a bad thing?  
nm on the rest...

Part of the reason is that there's no such thing as uninterpreted scripture.  Many people who think they're following sola scriptura are following sola John Piper scriptura or sola RC Spraul scriptura.  To choose two not entirely random examples.  The evangelical world has a handful of men who get to interpret the Bible and everyone pretends that they're not interpreting, just teaching what it plainly says.  

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59 minutes ago, WildflowerMom said:

Can someone explain to me why sola scriptura is a bad thing?  
nm on the rest...

For those who are Catholic (or Orthodox, I would assume) it means someone who relies solely on Scripture and denies the authority of the Church. I give my Catholic friends a little grief over using that term because there's a huge population of non-Catholic Christians who believe in the infallibility of Scripture who have never heard that terminology.

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1 minute ago, Ellie said:

For those who are Catholic (or Orthodox, I would assume) it means someone who relies solely on Scripture and denies the authority of the Church. I give my Catholic friends a little grief over using that term because there's a huge population of non-Catholic Christians who believe in the infallibility of Scripture who have never heard that terminology.

Yes, and Catholic and Orthodox would say that the Church decided what books to include in the Bible so how can you say that you rely on Scriptures alone? What Scriptures? 

I'm not an expert on this but it's my understanding that there were many different gospels used in the early church. 

 

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5 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

I was responding to this from him:  “Members of our congregations may spend a few hours a week in the Word of God (which should always be the Christian’s most important source of information and authority) but 40 hours or more mainlining the animosities of the day. 

The “always” and “most important” are problems for me. 
 

I apologize if I mischaracterized you, but I think my characterization of him is accurate. 

It seems to me, Lauraw4321, that you are misinterpreting his sentence.  Given the context, he is contrasting the Word of God with other news- and social-media, not contrasting the Word with the Holy Spirit and/or the church as sources of information/teaching/wisdom.   

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8 minutes ago, Danae said:

Part of the reason is that there's no such thing as uninterpreted scripture.  Many people who think they're following sola scriptura are following sola John Piper scriptura or sola RC Spraul scriptura.  To choose two not entirely random examples.  The evangelical world has a handful of men who get to interpret the Bible and everyone pretends that they're not interpreting, just teaching what it plainly says.  

I don't follow anyone.  I read the Bible and study it myself, with no outside influences, and I let the Holy Spirit lead me.  
I did grow up in church, though, and was taught the nicene creed.  I don't know if what I believe now is what I was taught, though, because I've pretty much forgotten.  I just go on Bible alone, now (and the Holy Spirit guiding me).   I've heard of Sproul and Piper.  I don't know anything about them or what they teach.

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1 hour ago, WildflowerMom said:

Can someone explain to me why sola scriptura is a bad thing?  
nm on the rest...

Generally, some churches are sola scriptura. Others teach that the Bible is one way to know God, but that the Church came before the Christian Bible, and decided what went into it, and therefore it makes no sense to say you rely on the bible and not the authority of the Church/Tradition because if that were true, how do you know what to even call The Bible? Drawing on that idea, there are denominations that, rather than sola scriptura, also rely on Tradition (not meaning empty tradition, but the handed down knowledge of the church) and some others that would also add in Reason as a third basis for knowing God, with the idea that God gave us that as a way to know him. Some also include the handiwork of God in the physical realm, aka all of creation, as another way of knowing God. Most would still say that all you need to know for salvation can be found in the Bible, but would rely on those other things to help understand and interpret the meaning of scripture. 

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27 minutes ago, Danae said:

Part of the reason is that there's no such thing as uninterpreted scripture.  Many people who think they're following sola scriptura are following sola John Piper scriptura or sola RC Spraul scriptura.  To choose two not entirely random examples.  The evangelical world has a handful of men who get to interpret the Bible and everyone pretends that they're not interpreting, just teaching what it plainly says.  

Hmmmm. Having interpretations of the Bible is not a bad thing. That is not at odds at all with sola scriptura. It is in fact scriptural to interpret scripture. I do not rely on one person. I have been taught various ways of interpreting scripture myself. Then I look to others also. I have a Matthew Henry commentary, and I can access others online. 

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1 hour ago, WildflowerMom said:

Can someone explain to me why sola scriptura is a bad thing?  
nm on the rest...

Some denominations believe that they receive "new revelation" from the Spirit that guides them in addition to or apart from Scripture. Others, like Catholics, put some church traditions on par with Scripture (correct me if I'm wrong, Catholic friends). 

My issue arises when any claimed new revelation is in contradiction to Scripture. I believe the Scripture is the inspired Word of God, inerrant in the original writings. That does not mean I reject the leading or guiding of the Holy Spirit or refuse to learn from church history, church fathers, etc. 

Re: the canon--there were certain criteria books had to meet to make it into the Canon of Scripture. Most, for example, were authored by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle.

Might come back later but I have to get ready for tomorrow! [Forcing self to close tab....] 😉 

Edited by MercyA
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Just now, MercyA said:

Some denominations believe that they receive "new revelation" from the Spirit that guides them in addition to or apart from Scripture. Others, like Catholics, put some church traditions on par with Scripture (correct me if I'm wrong, Catholic friends). 

My issue arises when any claimed new revelation is in contradiction to Scripture. I believe the Scripture is the inspired Word of God, inerrant in the original writings. That does not mean I reject the leading or guiding of the Holy Spirit or refuse to learn from church history, church fathers, etc. 

 

I think you and I probably agree on most things regarding this topic.  I wish I could speak about it as eloquently as you, though.    My thoughts get jumbled up in my head. 
 

re: the bolded...   this is what I don't understand from people.   Why would following the Bible and believing it is inerrant mean that we reject the guiding of the Holy Spirit.  They don't contradict each other.   

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I'm wondering if the replacement theology and prosperity gospel are just reaching their inevitable conculsions in front of us right now.  (Obviously I don't agree with either.) I think very conservative mainline branches of Christianity tend to manifest their replacement theology in a more collective way and Evangelicals tend to manifest their subset of replacement theology, which is the prosperity gospel, in more individualized ways.

When I say replacement theology I mean the doctrine taught by branches of Christianity that "Spiritual Israel" is this thing they made up that means Christianity has replaced physical, literal Israel (Ancient Judaism practiced by Jewish people AKA physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac through Jacob) and therefore "Christian Nations"  (whatever that means) are entitled to all the promises and curses God gives to Israel in the Old Testament in Deut. 28 and Deut.  4: 40. In other words, God is no longer talking to Jews in Ancient Israel in Deut., He's now talking to Christians, including those in modern day America (among other places.)

When I say prosperity gospel I mean the doctrine taught by branches of Christianity that God rewards Christians with health and wealth if they're right with Him. If He disapproves of them they are subjected to illness and poverty and general want because they earned it. Again their foundation for this is Deut. 28 and 4: 40 in the Old Testament.  There's a conspicuous lack of New Testament knowledge about suffering and persecution that Jesus experienced and  warned his followers they would experience for their own good to make them more like Him. (He never said those who don't follow Him are experiencing suffering and persecution for their own good; quite the opposite. Those suffering need His followers to serve, comfort, and love them to ease their suffering and show them what Jesus is like.)

A natural result of those beliefs (which, again, I think are dead wrong) is wanting to take political and cultural  power to build Christian culture so that as a nation, the US can experience prosperity as a whole. No wonder Christian nationalism is rearing its ugly, heretical head. In their minds when some people in the country are sinning, it could affect everyone, including them,  by God withholding blessing or bringing judgement on the nation as a whole.

What's really bizarre about much of Evangelicalism is that it focuses on other people's sins to avoid judgement from God on the nation and ignores addressing their own personal sin because when you're motivated by prosperity, you aren't as inclined to take a very hard look at yourself when it comes to greed and gluttony. If God is justly punishing sinners with suffering and want, you don't have much obligation to alleviate that suffering and want on your own, and you're less inclined to consider giving  much of that role to government.

Yet in the New Testament Jesus taught His followers that following Him meant daily engaging in self-denial.  Add in the secular culture's obsession with consumerism in the wealthy industrialized world you have a convoluted set of priorities that sharply contrast Jesus' life and teachings. This is why many are saying we need to get back to Jesus and His teachings as the primary focus and put doctrinal teachings lower down the priority list.

The other problem with Evangelicalism is that it's teaching on not being able to lose your salvation if you were sincerely a believer has been an excuse to avoid personal spiritual growth that requires weeding out vice then growing the fruits of the spirit through the disciplines of the faith, even though Jesus said those not producing fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire. Like brainless sportsball fans at mindless games, they're so busy focusing on cheering for team works-and-the-disciplines-don't-save-you, that they never bother getting around to them AFTER salvation when it's appropriate. So you get shallow faith that can only get deeper outside of the typical evangelical local church.  If you're not motivated enough to grow on your own time through supplemental ways, you're not going to grow much at all. 

This results in dissatisfied people sociologists call the dones: those believers who've left organized church congregations and sought out other Christian groups for growth and to serve others and the nones: those who no longer have any belief in any type of religion.

Anyone else have thoughts on these undercurrents?

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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11 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I'm wondering if the replacement theology and prosperity gospel are just reaching their inevitable conculsions in front of us right now.  (Obviously I don't agree with either.) I think very conservative mainline branches of Christianity tend to manifest their replacement theology in a more collective way and Evangelicals tend to manifest their subset of replacement theology, which is the prosperity gospel, in more individualized ways.

When I say replacement theology I mean the doctrine taught by branches of Christianity that "Spiritual Israel" is this thing they made up that means Christianity has replaced physical, literal Israel (Ancient Judaism practiced by Jewish people AKA physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac through Jacob) and therefore "Christian Nations"  (whatever that means) are entitled to all the promises and curses God gives to Israel in the Old Testament in Deut. 28 and Deut.  4: 40. In other words, God is no longer talking to Jews in Ancient Israel in Deut., He's now talking to Christians, including those in modern day America (among other places.)

When I say prosperity gospel I mean the doctrine taught by branches of Christianity that God rewards Christians with health and wealth if they're right with Him. If He disapproves of them they are subjected to illness and poverty and general want because they earned it. Again their foundation for this is Deut. 28 and 4: 40 in the Old Testament.  There's a conspicuous lack of New Testament knowledge about suffering and persecution that Jesus experienced and  warned his followers they would experience for their own good to make them more like Him. (He never said those who don't follow Him are experiencing suffering and persecution for their own good; quite the opposite. Those suffering need His followers to serve, comfort, and love them to ease their suffering and show them what Jesus is like.)

A natural result of those beliefs (which, again, I think are dead wrong) is wanting to take political and cultural  power to build Christian culture so that as a nation, the US can experience prosperity as a whole. No wonder Christian nationalism is rearing its ugly, heretical head. In their minds when some people in the country are sinning, it could affect everyone, including them,  by God withholding blessing or bringing judgement on the nation as a whole.

What's really bizarre about much of Evangelicalism is that it focuses on other people's sins to avoid judgement from God on the nation and ignores addressing their own personal sin because when you're motivated by prosperity, you aren't as inclined to take a very hard look at yourself when it comes to greed and gluttony. If God is justly punishing sinners with suffering and want, you don't have much obligation to alleviate that suffering and want on your own, and you're less inclined to consider giving  much of that role to government.

Yet in the New Testament Jesus taught His followers that following Him meant daily engaging in self-denial.  Add in the secular culture's obsession with consumerism in the wealthy industrialized world you have a convoluted set of priorities that sharply contrast Jesus' life and teachings. This is why many are saying we need to get back to Jesus and His teachings as the primary focus and put doctrinal teachings lower down the priority list.

The other problem with Evangelicalism is that it's teaching on not being able to lose your salvation if you were sincerely a believer has been an excuse to avoid personal spiritual growth that requires weeding our vice then growing the fruits of the spirit through the disciplines of the faith. Even though Jesus said those not producing fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire. Like brainless sportsball fans at mindless games, they're so busy focusing on cheering for team works-and-the-disciplines-don't-save-you, that they never bother getting around to them AFTER salvation when it's appropriate. So you get shallow faith that can only get deeper outside of the typical evangelical local church.  If you're not motivated enough to grow on your own time through supplemental ways, you're not going to grow much at all. 

This results in dissatisfied people sociologists call the dones: those believers who've left organized church congregations and sought out other Christian groups for growth and to serve others and the nones: those who no longer have any belief in any type of religion.

Anyone else have thoughts on these undercurrents?

Wow...you summarized and explained that really well. And I agree totally. 

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Yes, and Catholic and Orthodox would say that the Church decided what books to include in the Bible so how can you say that you rely on Scriptures alone? What Scriptures? 

I'm not an expert on this but it's my understanding that there were many different gospels used in the early church.

There were "many" different gospels used until the Church eventually made the decision as to which ones were actually inspired, which the Church decided were the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

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1 hour ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:



This is why many are saying we need to get back to Jesus and His teachings as the primary focus and put doctrinal teachings lower down the priority list.

Thank you for taking the time to share this—all of it, I mean—not just what I quoted. 

I would add to the quoted that we need both equally. Or maybe don’t put doctrinal teaching too far down the priority list. 🙂

Eta: I grew up southern Baptist. Doctrine was like a dirty word. Now I’m Presbyterian, and there’s still not much doctrinal teaching from the pulpit, but for different reasons. It’s assumed that the congregation is already sort of steeped in it. But so many of us come from other backgrounds that I wish it would be addressed more. Doctrine informs my worship. All teaching and preaching is worship for me. More so than praise and singing for me personally. 

Edited by popmom
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I am part of a tradition referenced in this thread as "high-demand." I don't see it that way. I see it as "high opportunity." Perhaps that is because of the way it is handled in my particular community. No one is taking attendance or finger-wagging at absence. If someone is gone, we miss them, we don't chide them. We know that people have to hold jobs, wrangle children, care for elders, and need downtime and vacations. The church services are not an obligation but an invitation to worship and pray. I read a book a number of years ago, A Royal Waste of Time, which had a big impact on my thinking about all of this. I see this as "high opportunity" because I really don't have anything better to do.

I mean no offense.  I hope to present a different perspective.

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8 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:


Yet in the New Testament Jesus taught His followers that following Him meant daily engaging in self-denial.  Add in the secular culture's obsession with consumerism in the wealthy industrialized world you have a convoluted set of priorities that sharply contrast Jesus' life and teachings. This is why many are saying we need to get back to Jesus and His teachings as the primary focus and put doctrinal teachings lower down the priority list.

The other problem with Evangelicalism is that it's teaching on not being able to lose your salvation if you were sincerely a believer has been an excuse to avoid personal spiritual growth that requires weeding out vice then growing the fruits of the spirit through the disciplines of the faith, even though Jesus said those not producing fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire. Like brainless sportsball fans at mindless games, they're so busy focusing on cheering for team works-and-the-disciplines-don't-save-you, that they never bother getting around to them AFTER salvation when it's appropriate. So you get shallow faith that can only get deeper outside of the typical evangelical local church.  If you're not motivated enough to grow on your own time through supplemental ways, you're not going to grow much at all. 

This results in dissatisfied people sociologists call the dones: those believers who've left organized church congregations and sought out other Christian groups for growth and to serve others and the nones: those who no longer have any belief in any type of religion.

Anyone else have thoughts on these undercurrents?

I come from a religious tradition that prioritizes doctrine/dogma and a formal liturgy. I don't know how to separate Jesus and His teachings from doctrine. Doctrine, dogma, and a formal liturgy provide a foundation that can be very comforting. Everything does not need to be high emotion. Liturgy happens whether I'm there or not and whether I'm paying attention or not. 

Many churches have had upheavals during the last year, e.g. masks vs no masks, shutdowns vs no shutdowns, etc. Rules, i.e. "doctrine," have provided structure and taken the pressure off of individual churches, ministers, and congregants. 

Coming from my tradition, "following Jesus' teachings" is pretty vague. Which ones? How do you decide which ones take priority? In my opinion, a church that eschews doctrine to follow Jesus is being set up for guru-ism and many other problems. How does the group decide which teachings matter the most? The way these things usually go is that the leaders decide and the people who disagree leave and set up their own church. And eventually, people say they're following Jesus but they're actually following Minister So-and-So. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I come from a religious tradition that prioritizes doctrine/dogma and a formal liturgy. I don't know how to separate Jesus and His teachings from doctrine. Doctrine, dogma, and a formal liturgy provide a foundation that can be very comforting. Everything does not need to be high emotion. Liturgy happens whether I'm there or not and whether I'm paying attention or not. 

Many churches have had upheavals during the last year, e.g. masks vs no masks, shutdowns vs no shutdowns, etc. Rules, i.e. "doctrine," have provided structure and taken the pressure off of individual churches, ministers, and congregants. 

Coming from my tradition, "following Jesus' teachings" is pretty vague. Which ones? How do you decide which ones take priority? In my opinion, a church that eschews doctrine to follow Jesus is being set up for guru-ism and many other problems. How does the group decide which teachings matter the most? The way these things usually go is that the leaders decide and the people who disagree leave and set up their own church. And eventually, people say they're following Jesus but they're actually following Minister So-and-So. 

 

That is an interesting perspective.   Thank you.   I’ve not seen it broken out quite like that.  I’ve definitely been in churches where it’s really following Mr. So-and So.  

Edited by HeartString
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10 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I come from a religious tradition that prioritizes doctrine/dogma and a formal liturgy. I don't know how to separate Jesus and His teachings from doctrine. Doctrine, dogma, and a formal liturgy provide a foundation that can be very comforting. Everything does not need to be high emotion. Liturgy happens whether I'm there or not and whether I'm paying attention or not. 

Many churches have had upheavals during the last year, e.g. masks vs no masks, shutdowns vs no shutdowns, etc. Rules, i.e. "doctrine," have provided structure and taken the pressure off of individual churches, ministers, and congregants. 

Coming from my tradition, "following Jesus' teachings" is pretty vague. Which ones? How do you decide which ones take priority? In my opinion, a church that eschews doctrine to follow Jesus is being set up for guru-ism and many other problems. How does the group decide which teachings matter the most? The way these things usually go is that the leaders decide and the people who disagree leave and set up their own church. And eventually, people say they're following Jesus but they're actually following Minister So-and-So. 

 

Jesus' teachings don't contradict each other, so I'm not sure I understand some your questions.  Which ones?  All of them. I don't find reading what He said in the gospels hard to understand. And how is that any different than the doctrinal issues that have been around that people have decided which matter most and set people up for potential guruism? Doctrine and liturgy haven't solved that problem. But when God in human flesh shows up in person and starts teaching the people directly, that's more important than election vs. free will or sprinkling vs. immersion and such. Jesus is the Logos-the ultimate communication and study (depending if you want to use the Koine or Classical Greek usages of the word) between God and humanity.  He IS the way, the truth, and the life.  That matters more than whether we'll say a prayer written by someone else or freestyle a prayer on our own. It matters more than if we'll use a formalized programmed corporate worship format or a casual more improvised one.

I don't come from a liturgical background, and neither do many branches of Christianity, so I don't see the problem with doing without it or making it less important. But then, I'm a personality not prone to struggling with change, so it's a non-issue for me. That said, I've been using the Book of Common prayer in my own way privately in the last year and I see it as a useful tool in some situations, so I'm not opposed to using a liturgy.  I'm also a personality type that doesn't struggle with prioritizing things and assigning different degrees of value to things, which I know many people struggle with.  So obviously I see this as not a general issue but rather a personality issue that could be developed if a person chose to. 

I'm not sure what you mean by high emotion. Are you talking about Charismatic and Penecostal services? Yeah, not my thing either.  You do know just as many evangelical services are extremely emotionally reserved, right? Have you not heard the term "frozen chosen" as a self-description by evangelicals who attend that style of service? To be honest, I'm wondering how familiar you are with evangelicalism at all based on your post.

And you seem to be using the word doctrine very differently. I never said get rid of doctrine, I said make it lower in priority than Jesus's teachings, which should reign supreme as the lens through which Christians view things.  Doctrine would include positions on issues like:

Who qualifies as a believer or follower of Jesus?
What is baptism for?
Who is baptism for?
What method(s) of baptism is/are acceptable?
What is the Bible?
What writings make up the Bible?
Should some parts of the Bible be prioritized over others, if so how?
What criteria should be met to become church leadership?
How does salvation work?
How does someone grow the fruit of the Spirit?
What is the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
What is the purpose of communion?
What methods of communion are acceptable? 
When and how should communion be taken?
Who should take communion?
What happens to a person after they die?
What is eternity?
What will a person be doing for eternity if their soul lives on?

We have branches of Christianity because different people answer those question differently.  That's not going to go away no matter what anyone does.  None of that has anything to do with the pandemic or mask wearing and the upheaval of the last year or getting churches through it.  Quite the opposite-many churches have ongoing conflict within their congregations about COVID related issues in spite of their shared views on their doctrine.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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22 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

The Catholic Church worldwide served the needs of many terrible regimes. That needs to be addressed. Look at the example of Marcial Maciel. For those of you who aren't Catholic, Macial founded a conservative religious order and was on the 'right' side of the cultural wars in the Catholic Church in the late 20th century. After Macial died, the truth came out that he sexually molested his own (secret) children. He was a horrible human being and the Church turned a blind eye to it. His movement was also entwined with several terrible Latin American regimes. 

 

I just wanted to point out that the culture war aspect of religion is very different in Latin America. There are Catholics on both sides of the debate. There's an Marcial Maciel, but there's also an Oscar Romero. There were priests that went along with the Juntas during the Dirty War, but there were liberation theology influenced priests who were disappeared. Even in the US, there are Catholics chanting "Build the wall!" and Catholics working at Annunciation House. It's such a huge spectrum.

I think this is the major difference between Catholic and Protestant Christianity in America. The US Catholic church is huge with members drawn from all over the world so you get a lot of inter denomination philosophical conflict and mainly a "pass the bean dip" approach at a personal level. Among Protestants, people tend to look for a church that matches their opinions and preferences so denominations and, especially, parishes can be very homogeneous and less averse to turfing out people who disagree. 

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