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Switch to Forum Live View Not sure what my own beliefs are
5 years ago  ::  Aug 09, 2009 - 9:58AM #1
Confusedman
Posts: 102

As stated in the title, I'm not sure what my beliefs are so I've been conducting a search lately, investigating various religions and beliefs, reading books, etc.  I should probably clarify some things.  Prior to the age of seven nobody had ever told me about religion and I was quite content not having one.  The closest I had to any kind of religious beliefs was my belief in a bearded wizard-like man living at the bottom of the universe.  Then I was told about Jesus.  I asked Jesus into my heart and then I spent the next 15 years as a protestant Christian. 


My beliefs did fluctuate and change a little over the years but then in the past month started having doubtful thoughts.  First, I came across a website that made a good arguement.  It said something like this.  "What kind of God would punish people with eternal, unceasing fire just because they fail to worship him in the correct manner?  Especially when he doesn't even leave any evidence as to what the correct religion is."  I also used to be convinced that the Bible is literally inerrant in every way and that the Earth was literally 6000 years old.  But now I've come to the conclusion that the Bible was written by imperfect men and that I no longer want to deny science in order to jusify my beliefs concerning the creation of the universe. 


And I've also decided that while possible I'm no longer convinced that Jesus is the son of God.  I currently believe that there is some kind of god but that this god does not punish people for believing the wrong things.  This god is also the direct or inderect inspiration for all religions.  This god is in everything around us.  I guess that would make me either a pantheist or a panentheist.  I don't believe heaven and hell are actual places.  To me, earth is heaven and hell.  If people act with kindness and love then they are propagating heaven on earth.  If they act with malice and selfishness then they are propagating hell.  My beliefs about the afterlife are uncertain.  I tend to believe that there is either nothing after death or some kind of reincarnation. 


Beyond this I am uncertain what to believe and how to label myself.  I have prayed to various gods and studied many belief systems.  Hinduism is interesting though I'm not sure about it.  I think that I might be a neopagan though I'm not sure about that either.  Not really sure what kind of responses I'm looking for.  I guess I'd like to know if anyone thinks they have an idea as to how my beliefs would be labeled.  Also, suggestions for interesting sacred texts would be nice.  Conversation is good too. Anyone else here uncertain of what they believe?  Sorry for the text wall.  I got kind of carried away.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 10, 2009 - 10:16PM #2
inthemidstwest
Posts: 136

I personally am not comfortable with religious labels.  I think if someone considers themselves Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, etc., then that's fantastic. Spiritual but not religous? There are days I think I'm religiously exempt, LOL.


I think the biggest division I have seen concerning different titles has ultimately to do with the afterlife.


You may be at a phase in your life where titles/labels no longer apply, even if your core beliefs haven't changed that much.


There are many ways people come to question faith. Follow your heart.


 


Best of wishes on your journey.


 

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 11, 2009 - 10:32AM #3
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Thanks much.  For some reason I felt that I needed a label for my beliefs.  I guess it makes things simpler.  There's still a great many things I'm uncertain of however.  There have been a few events that could be interpreted as signs that I should be a Christian but I don't know if they really are signs or if it's just wishful thinking and attachment to my old religion. 


Around when I started doubting my beliefs I was in church on Sunday morning as usual.  and so I prayed that if Christianity is true then that the sermon would somehow apply to my problems and questions.  The sermon that morning didn't have anything to do with what I was going through but the pastor did say that the evening service would be about "Understanding what we actually believe as Christians and why we believe in Jesus so that if people ask us questions we'll actually be able to answer them." 


I felt that maybe this might apply to me so that night I went to evening service as usual.  And they showed a movie made by this Christian apoligist guy named Lee Strobel.  It talked about how Christianity is true because Jesus is the only guy to have made such outrageous claims as being the son of God and how all these other religions were created because people had a "spiritual void" and were actually needing Jesus all along.  It didn't address all my questions and such a movie being shown to the congregation is not so strange when one remembers that this is in a Christian church.  But at the same time I thought that it might be a sign since the timing seemed about right. 


Then just last evening I decided to go out to the park nearby and pray in the hopes that I would receive some sort of answer or that someone would notice me praying and I'd be able to talk to them about it.  So I sat down next to a walking trail and prayed.  I was praying to Jesus hoping for some kind of sign or for God to let my mind be at peace.  And I was thinking about giving up since I wasn't really getting an answer.  And while I was praying at least two people walked by.  One of them saw me and cycled back around.  So she said, "I don't know what you're going through right now but God loves you!"  And I thanked her and she walked away. 


Somehow, simply being told that God loves me made me feel a lot better.  But I had to know what this person's beliefs were since according to my thinking at them moment what she believed might have a bearing on what I'm supposed to believe.  So I caught up with her and asked her what she believes in.  She told me that she believes in God so I asked her if she was a Christian and she said that she was.  So she asked me what I was going through and we both sat down.


So I explained to her that I didn't understand why God would send people to a fiery pit for all of eternity.  and she gave me the explanations I've heard before.  "That God doesn't want us to go to Hell.  That's why he gave us Jesus.  And that we have to accept him while we're still on earth because after that it's too late."  This really wasn't a satisfactory answer for me.  Why is it that to have our sins erased we have to believe in Jesus?  Why would it be too late for someone to accept Jesus after their death?  If God is truly omniscient then surely he can hear people asking for mercy in hell.  Despite the unsatisfactory nature of the answers I left it at that.  She asked me if I had asked Jesus into my heart and I explained that I had and that I've been a Christian for fifteen years.  And she also mentioned that she was going through something as well so we agreed to pray for eachother. 


At some point her mother called and she explained that she was o.k. and that she was talking to someone who needed her help.  So she didn't really answer any of my questions but it still helped me a lot that someone was willing to sit there with a stranger and talk to them about their beliefs and about Jesus.  So I said bye, thanked her, and left so that I could think about things.  And at first I took this as a sign that Jesus is real and that he loves me and I should be a Christian but now the initial effect has worn off and I'm not so sure.  Part of my mind likes to point out that there are amazing coincidences and circumstances everywhere, all the time.  It's just that I tend to notice them more if they support a belief in Jesus.  and that I haven't had as many events that can be taken as sign that support a belief in other gods and religions because I regularly attend a church, not a mosque or a mandir or a synagogue.  I'm sure that people of every faith see "signs" that their faith is correct if they look hard enough.  So why should mine be so special and everyone else's be disregarded as mere chance.  So I think that to put my mind at rest and come to any sort of conclusion I have to experience some other religions first.  I have prayed to "other gods"(I believe that they are really the same god, different name), and have read material from various religions but I haven't actually taken the time to "experience" any religions other than Christianity yet.


There is a lurking fear in my mind that experience religions other than Christianity would somehow be wrong.  Part of me says that this is my conscience and that other religions are just lies and that if I experiment with them I'll lose Jesus.  Another part of me says that this fear itself is wrong and that it's the result of 15 years of indoctrination.


Anyway, I have the feeling you weren't expecting a repy to be that long.  I'd appreciate if you have anything to say in response to this but at the same time I'll understand if you don't.  This is a strange subject.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2009 - 10:04PM #4
soma77
Posts: 256

Other religions don't detract from Christianity, they only add to it. A good site to visit for a deeper view on Christianity is Christian Mysticism.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2009 - 9:18PM #5
Bricksee
Posts: 1,209


Great site to visit.  Thank you for posting.

Love, Light and Laughter is the Universal Language, Betty
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 22, 2009 - 10:03AM #6
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Thanks much for the link.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 03, 2009 - 1:36AM #7
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 946

Confused... what I see in this (granted, I had to skim read, because I have trouble reading very lengthy posts back to back, but I think I got the meat of it) is that you are, and always will be, Christian, even if you don't agree with all the externals or all the doctrines, and even if you incorporate other paths.  I think that's what these signs you've seen are telling you.  Not that other ways are necessarily wrong, but that Christianity is your path--or at least a very strong part of your path.


I find a lot to argue about in Christianity myself.  I flat out don't believe in hell, let alone that anyone's ever going there for having the wrong religion.  I can see a possibility of something like C.S. Lewis put forth: "The door to hell is shut on the inside."  His view of hell was that people are there only if they choose to be, and they choose to be by cutting off what is good, thereby cutting off God. They can change their choice anytime--change of heart, what in the Bible is called metanoia, or repentance.


And I find the ingrained patriarchal structure of Christianity--which is there even in liberal churches that ordain women--very alienating.


But I do find that every single time I go to church (not often these days, but it once was) I hear something personally meaningful to me, usually in the sermon.  The pastor can't possibly have planned what he (or she) would say based on what I need to hear, but it often ends up being exactly what I need to hear--and sometimes I hear other people say that's true for them, too.


As for the sneaking sense that trying anything else would be wrong, that could be two things: perhaps saying that you, personally, need to stick with Christianity because that's your path--or perhaps the deeply ingrained voice of that insular patriarchal god (which I find myself running up against all the time even though I no longer believe God is that insular patriarch): "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Here's a thread that discusses that a little.


And this thread, towards the end of its first page, goes into discussion of how the prohibitions against "idolatry" and other religions are viewed in Judaism.  Personally, I see it as a great tool for debunking "Christianity is right and everything else is wrong": the idea that Christianity is the only right religion has a strong basis in Old Testament prohibitions on idolatry, which Judaism shares--but to Jews, that's really saying not worshipping other gods is a way to maintain their identity as Jews, not that it's wrong for others to do so, any more than it's wrong for others to eat pork.


I see also that you express the fear that if you experience other religions, you'll lose Christ.  I find that not to be so at all, and I have. Christ is very much present for me, even if the Goddess also is (that's the path I'm on now).  In fact, if you learn about and experience other religions, it's likely to help you better understand your own.  And Christianity itself is a syncretic religion at its core.  From the beginning, it was a conglomeration of ancient teachings, based in Judaism, Greek religion, Babylonian religion, Egyptian religion, Mithraism, and a few other things.  Everywhere Christianity has been adopted, the local pagan flavor has been added, most clearly evident in the holidays--after all, everything associated with the celebration of Christmas and Easter, besides church, has pagan roots.  So apparently, from the beginning, Christ has been accustomed to being added to other religions!

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 04, 2009 - 11:03AM #8
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Sep 3, 2009 -- 1:36AM, ManzanitaBear wrote:


Confused... what I see in this (granted, I had to skim read, because I have trouble reading very lengthy posts back to back, but I think I got the meat of it) is that you are, and always will be, Christian, even if you don't agree with all the externals or all the doctrines, and even if you incorporate other paths.  I think that's what these signs you've seen are telling you.  Not that other ways are necessarily wrong, but that Christianity is your path--or at least a very strong part of your path.




Thanks much.  What you've said makes a lot of sense to me.   I guess my problem is that there are aspects of Christianity I disagree with but at the same time there's a combination of fear and attachment keeping me from leaving Christianity.  I know that fear is not a genuine reason to stick with a religion but attachment can be a good reason.


These past few weeks I've been praying to other gods in addition to Jesus.  In addition to the lurking fear that I'll be smitten I've heard that Christianity just can't be mixed with other religions.  Not sure if that's true or not but it hasn't stopped me so far.


There are also "signs" that could be taken as showing that I shouldn't be afraid of the other gods and religions I'm attracted to.  I came across a book unexpectedly while visiting my folks.  "life of Pi".  It involves an Indian boy lost at sea who practices Christianity and Islam in addition to Hinduism.  I also had a dream lately where Osiris and the Virgin Mary were eating communion bread.


I have also read much about Christianity being syncretic which is of course something many Christians deny.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 09, 2009 - 8:53PM #9
soma77
Posts: 256

Pick a God and it is the same God dressed in different clothes. The key is a quiet mind where the memory of God returns in the form needed. Christian Mysticism and the mystics of all religions are holding hands and worshiping the same God.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 10, 2009 - 10:56PM #10
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Sep 9, 2009 -- 8:53PM, soma77 wrote:


Pick a God and it is the same God dressed in different clothes. The key is a quiet mind where the memory of God returns in the form needed. Christian Mysticism and the mystics of all religions are holding hands and worshiping the same God.




Mysticism, Christian and otherwise does sound interesting from what I've read of it.  I'm not one to plunge in headfirst without sticking my toe in the water first though.  The investigation has only begun.

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