Maddy wrote:This thread needs to be taken out back and shot.
No smilies, so I assume that wasn't necessarily said in jest....
I personally don't currently believe in the religion I was brought up in (Catholic), or God in general (but I tell you, that sentence is still very difficult to write! From my upbringing, I still have a sense that he's up there marking me down in his big book of bad people...)
But if Mountaineer and others believe, more power to them. We are all free to listen or to not listen. As long as no one is forcing their beliefs on me by force, you can believe whatever you'd like.
At many times I wish I could be like Mountaineer -- to have such faith must feel pretty good. My brother and his family are that way. I have always been the black sheep. My mother, 82, finally accepted it just a few short years ago!
Happy New Year!
Since the topic of this thread is "Figuring Out Religion", perhaps my response to the above two posts will be helpful in helping with that ... or not.
My initial feelings upon reading the two posts: Hopeful
and seeing God at work. I'll explain why.
First to Maddy's post: I perceive Maddy to be very intelligent and very self-reliant based on her posts in this forum. I would characterize my self that way also. I too was in her shoes for many years, but generally, I was more apathetic toward religion than her "shoot it" remark indicates she is at present. I have great empathy for those self-reliant types who struggle with religion, and before anyone says "I'm not a religious person, or I don't need religion" I would beg to differ. If one ponders that statement seriously, I believe everyone has some sort of religion or god. It may be nature, it may be gardening, book reading, investing, fitness, helping the poor, cooking, or any number of endeavors that brings one comfort or stimulation or meaning. There is always hope that God will somehow snatch that person out of their apathy or disgust or intolerance toward Christianity. In the meantime, Scriptures say that Christians will be persecuted by the "world, i.e. non-believers". Thus, every time Christians are persecuted, even mildly on an internet forum, I am reminded of the veracity of Scripture; persecution is to be expected. We in this country have escaped the brunt of that persecution for a few hundred years; it will only get worse the closer the time to Christ's return. So, the more the persecution, the closer I am to living eternally with a perfect body and soul in the presence of Jesus. No more aches, pains, sorrow, or sadness. Come Lord Jesus!
Secondly to Cortopassi's post: His post indicates to me a sleeping-for-now Christianity and shows evidence of Christian graciousness. I expect God will use something that will get him back to church - perhaps pondering the reasons for his mother's late life conversion. Many of my friends who were raised Catholic have similar experiences. They have lingering feelings of guilt and fear a wrathful God. Those who have decided to read and study the Scriptures themselves (vs. just listening to their Priest) generally have a revelation; the Bible is the story of Jesus, the First Testament is about the need for a Savior and God's plan to deliver Him, the Second about the Savior and what He did ... FOR ME! The God of wrath who acted to bring the Savior to intersect with the world and save it becomes hidden, the revealed God shines forth and is understood as forgiving and gracious no matter how big ones sins. He wants everyone. Many will have ears to hear and go to where He has promised to be (in Word and Sacrament) when two or three are gathered together. From what I read and hear, and is true of my friends, the former Catholics who study the Scriptures usually end up in an Eastern Orthodox or Lutheran congregation, sometimes Presbyterian, or even sometimes back in a Catholic congregation with a renewed understanding; the liturgical congregations seem to have more appeal to them than the big box mega churches which do not have a commonly held confession that is subscribed to throughout the denomination - they tend to be Pastor dependent re. the doctrine.
My two cents.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Left untreated, the itching ears syndrome is spiritually fatal.