You can send me a message at Nicolaouc@gmail.com.
1. Episcopalians, Presbyterians are not part of Protestantism……they are spinoffs of Catholicism, and Catholicism is not Baptist or Protestant. In fact, that is why the original Martin Luther got into so much trouble by posting his list of complaints against the Catholic church on their door. He realized that each person was able to understand the Plan of Salvation and accept Jesus as their Savior, without having to be a Catholic. Martin Luther’s “protest” against the Catholic Church was the start of Luther’s followers becoming “Protestants”, aka protestors also against the Catholic church. Methodist is simply a very generalized form of Protestantism, but per my mom (whose family was Mehodist until they moved to a location in which there was only a Christian Missionary Alliance [Baptist] church, Methodists do not teach about Salvation…..which Protestants and Baptists do. Unitarianism has NOTHING to do with Protestantism, Catholicism, or any other definite religion. Unitarianism is such a very general philosophy that I do not know why it is even considered a religion, and it is NOT Protestant, Baptist, or Catholic.
2. Before any particular formal religion, the most important need in each one’s life — is to learn about the truths and Love that God and Jesus have for each of us humans. God can be angry, but only because mankind constantly rebels and disobeys God’s Will for their lives.
REMEMBER THIS ………God has always loved us SO MUCH that He sent His one and Only Son, Jesus, to earth as a real human to die on the cross in payment for our sins. I have been a lifelong, Bible fundamental Christian, raised in a strict Christian family, but though I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a young child, and have grown up in the Bible and attending church all my life — it was not until I was well into my adulthood that I actually began understanding the reasons behind why Jesus had to do what He did, and why God sent Jesus to earth. It seems that 1. for reasons that I still do not completely understand, God required a human blood sacrifice to pay the price for mankinds sinful nature for all time. Until Jesus was sent to Earth to be that sacrifical Lamb, animal sacrifice was allowed to be the “temporary” blood payment……but per the Bible, the ultimate, permanent payment had to be a human blood sacrifice, and since no one on earth is without sin, the ONLY one without any sin is Jesus. One of the reasons Jesus was sent to Earth to be the Savior (meaning to save mankind from Eternal death — aka Eternal separation from God), is because God is SO holy that mankind cannot even approach God’s presence without first cleansing his soul by accepting Jesus as his / her personal Savior.(who paid that sin price through Jesus’ blood on the cross.)
3. I need to follow up my info in item # 2………one does not really need to have a specific religion, as long as one knows the truths about God, Jesus, and God’s Holy Spirit (which is God and Jesus living in your heart. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit to his Disciples at the Last Supper). Accepting the existence and truths about God and the Bible…..and accepting Jesus as your personal Savior is what will allow you to be able live an Eternal Life (meaning that either when you die, or if the Rapture happens first — and no one but God knows when that will happen…….not even Jesus knew that while He was on Earth — your soul will NOT die, but immediately will go to Heaven to live forever [literally] in the presence of both God and Jesus, as well as with all the other Christians, and all the multitudes of God’s Angels.)
The reason I say that one does not have to be any particular religion — as long as one accepts Jesus as Savior……is because many Christians belong to and attend non-denominational churches, meaning those churches ministers and guest speakers preach Christianity, but the church does not belong to any particular formalized religious dogma association or group.
Well said, I enjoyed reading your response
Having read the first comment, I can only say that I was turned off by that sort of Christianity. It’s not my cup of tea. I like the Episcopalian Church, whether it’s an offshoot of Catholicism or not. Let me tell you my perspective.
I grew up spending more time in a masonic lodge than I ever spent in church. I was a member of DeMolay, a masonic youth group, and I feel I derived more spiritual benefit from my experience in that organization that I ever did by going to a traditional church. In all of the masonic organizations in which I’ve participated, we value religious tolerance, kindess, courtesy, tradition and intellectual freedom. Spirtuality grew not from rigid adherence to a dogma, but from regular participation in our ceremonies and traditions. This is not the modern view of religion, but the more ancient one; a way of life rather than a belief system. Freemasonry and it’s concordant bodies are not religions in themselves, but they are closer in fit to some of those older traditions, like Judaism or even Hinduism. Many of our Founding Fathers were Freemasons and our American view of religious freedom and tolerance owes a considerable debt to masonic philosopy. Also, many of the Founding Fathers were considered Deists as opposed to “Nones”. I think that’s a much better label.
So as you continue your quest, do examine other traditions that have less to do with dogma and more to do with finding your spirituality through participation within a distinct community. I find that way of life utterly more satisfying that waiting for a “Jesus moment” to happen. That’s why I like the Episcopal Church.
the truth is — not whether one chooses religion / dogma, or whatever……..the truth is whether one chooses to follow Jesus, God, and the Bible (where the Truths are).
It’s possible that only one religious perspective and one set of holy writings has the truth. It’s also possible that there are many truths that can be gleaned from many different religious (and non-religious) sources and when we look at the way those truths connect with each other, we can see that God has a message that transcends any one viewpoint. You may argue that your viewpoint is the truth and therefore transcends everything else, but how can that be anything but a sectarian argument?
It is not possible for many different religious or so-called “spiritual” forms to be ways to God.
Why else did Jesus say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, No one comes to the Father but through Me.” ……period.
In other words, ONLY by accepting Jesus as each one’s personal Savior, will each person be allowed to enter Heaven, because God is SO holy that mankind cannot even enter God’s presence, due to mankind’s sin nature (which originated when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and allowed the Serpent [Satan] to persuade Eve to indulge her desire to also be like a god and know everything, by eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though God specifically told them not to). And by the way, the Bible does NOT say what the fruit was…..the verse just says “fruit”.
All other religions and / or spiritual beliefs / philosophies are man–created, and therefore, are not acceptable to getting one into Heaven, even if you do believe in God. You are REQUIRED to believe in and accept Jesus as Savior.
San Pedro, CA
Then I suppose it’s not possible to consider that Christianity’s early theological development was in large part due to the Apostle Paul? Most of the theological positions you have cited are the Pauline interpretations of Jesus’ words. This is a perspective which tends to dominate among evangelicals, who heavily embrace the Pauline doctrine of original sin as a means of reaching potential converts. Paul’s epistles were composed before the Gospels, even though the New Testament was structured to place the Gospels first, which seems to downplay the scope of his actual influence.
2 Timothy 3:16a All Scripture is God-breathed. Men wrote the Bible, but God told them what to write. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Yes, I am aware of how important in Christianity Paul’s — as well as the other Disciples words are in Christianity — but, Jesus’ teachings are paramount over everything, because Jesus got His teachings straight from God in Heaven.
So Jesus’ teachings /lessons should be observed / obeyed first, then the others teachings can be applied to our lives.
The books of the Bible ARE important, and should be used as guidance in our lives, BUT, Jesis’ words should be our first guidance. Yes, God DID use His Holy Spirit to give the Bible’s authors the words to write, but since Jesus is part of the Trinity / GodHead, and got His teachings straight from His Father (being God), Jesus’ instructions to us should have first priority, followed closely by the other’s words.
I don’t usually get into these sorts of discussions on the internet, but I have to agree with Jo L. You can’t pick and choose what parts of the bible you want to believe or find more important than others; either you believe that it is the truth, or you believe it’s not the truth. It’s black and white. And yet so many “believers” (no offense meant by the quotes…) want there to be a gray area to leave ourselves wiggle room when it comes to the values and teachings the bible contains. It’s uncomfortable when we come across scripture that points out our sinful nature, and so we try to justify it instead of doing something to change it. (Which as a side note gives Christians a bad image.) Clearly everyone falls short of perfection and there is no way that we as mere humans can achieve perfection in God’s eyes, but graciously God has remedied this through His Son. So in the black and white of the bible – 2 Timothy 3:16 “ALL scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is TRUE…” [NLT] Instead of trying to create a gray area when we hit that uncomfortable passage of scripture, why don’t we try accepting that we are imperfect and ask God to help us change ourselves to be more like Him?
I’m still hung up on this idea that the teachings of Jesus is more important than the letters of Paul (et al). When I say it like that, it seems very obvious… but wouldn’t they be one in the same? I mean – Paul knew Jesus personally. Paul doesn’t twist the words of Jesus or contradict Him at all, and from what I’ve comprehended is that Paul just expands and explains what Jesus was all about anyway. This is definitely an area I want to explore further! I’m excited about how God will use this to give me a hunger for and deeper understanding of Himself and His Word.
Hi Noelle, Thank you for your comment (even if it’s a bit out of your “comfort zone” — this entire blog is a bit out of mine, so I understand!). I appreciate you sharing your perspective, and I hope you’ll comment again.
Love your blog and your ability to express your search and findings. Your Feb 1st comments on Calvanism oare very insightful—yeah, in America Calvinism is in the water we drink. It and a lot of other “stuff.”
I don’t mean to disparage the other “stuff.” It’s just that there’s s much of it. But let me back up and try to be concise.
You and your friends are at least curious about God, and the religious traditions thereto related. But God is ineffable—not matter what some traditions try to say—which, means, of course, the we are incapable of understanding God, the Godhead, etc. So what do us us humans do? At various points in our history certain individuals (not just men) pop up and claim an insight into God. We tend to diefy these individuals and build ritual, ceremony around them and their teachings. The list is long; Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha, Aristotle, Socreties, Plato; it’s a very long list. Over time these traditions become mythological—which isn’t to say they are wrong, but it’s easy to see how the may conflict.
Our modern society has confused the issue even more and I gained some insight into this when I found a small book entitled, “The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Existed.” It catalogs people from Greek mythology to modern film characters. Notable among the list are: Santa Clause, Luke Skywalker, Cinderella, Barbi, and the one rated the most influential, The Malboro Man! This rugged individual, who is obviously successful riding his horse out on a cold winter morning, adopts the myth of the American Cowboy and the Puritan and Calvnist tradition all in one. And if that’s not confusing enough, take a walk through the Rockefeller Center during Christmas—you will probably see the statue of Atlas on one end, the statue of Prometheus on the other, and a Christmas tree right in the middle.
So what is true Spirituality? I hope you and your fellow Nones, call help us identify it.
Thank you so much. I’m glad you are here. It can get a little rough at times, but I hope you’ll stick around.
I think i will “stick around.” Thanks for the encouragement! I intend to keep up with your comments and add appropriate comments or questions from time to time. What you are doing and experiencing from both sides is going to shine light into some dark corners–which is going to upset some folks–Jesus could testify to that fact. My own experience with the “religious smorgasboard” is long and probably boring, but I did walk out of more than one church service!
1. D. Laird – you are correct in saying that God is “ineffable”, however, it is WRONG to state that mankind does not have the ability or resources to understand God…………
A. Jesus states – in the Bible – that those who saw and knew Jesus, saw and knew the Father. “I and the Father are One and the Same”. The Bible was / is God’s inspired and intended way for mankind to understand and know Jesus, and thus God…..because of what Jesus said (my first sentence in this paragraph). Thus, it IS possible for humans to KNOW and understand God.
B. There are many who (love to) claim that the Bible is simply myths gathered together and put into book form – which would thus also intimate that everybody written about in the Bible – are therefore fictional characters……
HOWEVER, how then do you explain all the Bible sites/villages/towns, and countless items that archaeologists have discovered in digs – throughout history ? AND, (and when I read this in a Readers’ Digest archaeology book about the Bible fairly recently, I didn’t know why I didn’t think of it before)………….explain THIS – Abraham, his wife Sarah, their son Isaac, Joseph, his sons Manasseh and Ephraim, and King David – are all buried in 2 caves [one called the Cave of Patriarchs] in the Hebron valley near the ancient Bible city of Hebron (which is still in existence…..in fact, that area has been under Palestinian control for at least several years now). If those supposedly fictional people have REAL bodies buried in those 2 caves, then that means they were NOT fictional characters doesn’t it — and means that everything ELSE in the Bible must ALSO be true, too, right ?
2. You note a list of individuals through mankind’s history – that you say are all fictional. Perhaps you should do a little more research about who IS fictional, and who is not……..
A. Santa Claus – the originator of that name was NOT fictional. During the Medieval ages (or possibly before that time), there WAS a German (?) man named Nicholas, who was born into a wealthy family (this was before people acquired surnames). After he became an adult, and both his parents had died, winter was such a dark, dreary, long time (before the first of Spring started appearing in each new year), that Nicholas decided he wanted to use his families wealth to make life a little brighter for the children in his village and the surrounding area, so he purchased candies and gave them to the children in that region – continuing to do so for the remaining years of his life. Much later, the Catholic church took notice of Nicholas’ good deeds through all those years of his adult life, and decided to canonize Nicholas (who by this time had become known in Europe as “Father Christmas” because Nicholas had acted kind and fatherly towards the children at during the Christmas season). Thus Nicholas became known as Saint Nicholas. Well, we all know how through history, and how European people with thick accents coming to the U.S., can cause names to be “slaughtered” / totally messed up in the English translations. Because of that, the 1700′s / 1800′s Americans, trying to understand the foreign accents, and the immigrants possibly halting English, ended up corrupting the correct Catholic name “Saint Nicholas” into what we know as Santa Claus. To keep warm during the cold, dark European winters, Nicholas wore a long, thick, wool coat / robe that WAS a red color, and trimmed with fir….and he also wore a close-fitting wool cap trimmed with fir, to keep his head warm, plus, many men in Nicholas’ time, wore heavy beards – and word is that Nicholas did also. Well, along with Nicholas’ name getting messed up into “Santa Claus” , his appearance also got a little messed up – into how Santa Claus is dressed. But, the kindness of Nicholas – in giving gifts to the children, did continue pretty correctly into contemporary times (although I fear that nearly everyone possibly believes more in Santa Claus than they choose to believe in God / Jesus).
B. Cinderella – you may be surprised to learn that “Cinderella” WAS a real person ! Like everyone else, I grew up figuring the Grimm Fairy Tales were all fiction stories. Imagine MY surprise when I got one of my Westways magazines (published for the members of the Automobile Association of America – aka “AAA”), several years ago, and found a two-page spread about the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales, the upper central region of old Germany the brothers were from, that the “fictional” characters were based on REAL people, and that the Auto Club was offering the “Grimm Brothers Tour” (a car tour) of that historical area of Germany. One of the 2 pages in that Westways issue highlighted a few of the Grimm Brothers stories – I thought I kept that page, but unless I find it again, I may have accidently thrown it out. I will explain the 1, 2, or 3 Grimm story highlights I can remember………….
1. Cinderella was a woman named Ella, whose father WAS a widower count who died after remarrying a wealthy woman with two daughters. Per the people living in the “Cinderella” region of Germany, not much is known any more about Ella (because so much time has passed since the Medieval time when these Grimm Brothers characters were supposed to have been alive in), but per those people, the story of Cinderella IS based on the life of this count’s daughter, and the people in that region say that this young woman DID end up marrying a medieval prince.
2. Little Red Riding Hood is based on a number of factors in one certain area of that upper central region of Germany…………
a. There is a reason the forests in Germany are called the “Black Forest(s)”……..the color of the trees in the still very thick forests of Germany is such a dark brown and green (the trunks/branches, and leaves/needles – since I have not been to Europe myself yet, I am not familiar with whether the trees have leaves or are like fir/pine trees, having needles instead of leaves) that all the thickly wooded forest areas give the impression of being black in color.
b. How the custom started, not even the townspeople know any more, but per this Westways highlight of the Little Red Riding Hood story, one day a year, all the women in one particular village wear a red cap. It is thought that that is how the “Red Riding Hood” part of that storie’s title comes from.
c. The horrible, evil witch in Little Red Riding Hood comes from the custom of the old women in that region becoming ugly with age……..their skin acquired warts, their teeth fell out with age, and being too poor to be able to take care of their teeth, their eyes became larger as their facial skin aged and lost its elasticity, their bodies became deformed and bent due to lack of knowledge of improper diets, and also due to aging………. in order to hide the ravages of time, numerous old women chose to leave their village homes and hide in the forests in simple huts or hovels.
d. The wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is easy to explain….. whether there still is, or they have all been hunted to extinction by now, there WERE many wolves / wolf packs which inhabited the forests of Germany in those medieval times.
e. The Musicians of Bremen is based on the many farms in that historic region of upper Germany, and how all the farm animals on each farm displayed such individual personalities. I can’t remember how the musical instruments came into being in the story, but THAT was also explained.
Those are the only 1 of the Grimm Fairy Tales that Westways illuminated…….however, I have learned – from other sources – about the truth of the following……
3. Sleeping Beauty is based on a medieval woman who IS supposed to have been a princess…..and suffered the medical condition of narcolepsy. The Shrek 2 movie isn’t far off the mark in its humorous animated portrayal of Sleeping Beauty falling out of her carriage, and into a sleeping “mound” on the street. Per what I read, this woman DID fall asleep constantly in the middle of things.
I know I’ve read about the basis of other fairy tales, but my memory escapes me about what those facts/details are. What I’ve given you – gives you PLENTY of think about.
Forgive me……..in rereading my comments, I have gotten some of Little Red Riding Hood mixed up with Hansel and Gretel, which I believe was also one of the fairy tales highlighted on that Westways page.
The grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood was explained, but I can’t recall how……..the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel fits what I said about the old women hiding in the forests.
There are so many different facets of Christianity and so many kinds of Christians. There are the Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox, just to name the major branches. Today, I passed by a Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, so naturally with a name like that, I had to look it up. This church is in the tradition of St. Thomas, who was said to have founded a church in India in AD 52. Also they are connected to the greater Syriac Orthodox Church, said to be descended from the church founded at Antioch by St. Peter in AD 37 and part of the great Oriental Orthodox branch. It’s good to know that Christianity is so broad-based. One can always find something new to discover!
Hi William, I love that you were curious and looked into what the church was about. I wonder how closely it’s related to Greek Orthodox, which I will be writing a bit about. It seems like the Eastern Orthodox traditions are tied together and share common roots dating from when the Roman Empire was divided West and East. They broke from the Pope–what they percieved as the “Western” leader–but retain much of the same tradition, namely a beautiful ritual and opulence.
Thank you again for your openness in sharing your feelings and thoughts. I was saddened by your experience with the “First Communion.” Apparently we must read the “fine print” even in church. Here’s an applicable quote from a master twentieth-century Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich, “The first word…to be spoken by religion to people of our time must be a word spoken against religion.”
Paul H. Jones, an ordained minister, professor and author translates this as “1) the church must listen to its external critics whether or not we like them or their ideas, and 2) the church must constantly weed its own garden.”
Your blog is showing “us” some “weeds.
As to your “Cosmic Lottery” comments: you ask some very good questions and, coincidentally, the Lent you mention is the time of year Liturgical Churches (Episcopals, Catholics, Lutherans, for example) grapple with them. What was Jesus really saying in His Sermon on the Mount? Was he talking to a group of insecure, oppressed, disfunctional people like us? Probably.
I just read you work on the Watchtower Society. If you want to know the REAL Watchtower, find out about the Pittsburgh area members who have protected the UNDENIABLE FACT that their organization is OWNED by Satan. The girl with “Down” syndrome that was writing “I will not listen to Satan” might be the ONLY one not listening to him, because the others ARE, and have been told to keep it quiet. I’m working on a website to show the world. Check it out, and see for yourself at…
I’m still working on it, but it will be ready and published this upcoming week, to go along with their “special” campaign to invite unsuspecting people to their Satanic Nisan 15 “event” on March 26th.
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