Just how other is other ?

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Just how other is other ?

Postby Bare_Truth » Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:49 pm

Ok, If one is to discuss Christianity and other religions, just how "other" does "other" have to be .

For instance:
Islam makes a degree of recognition of Jesus. They say he worked miracles and was a prophet of God, but there is high likelyhood that anyone would classify it as "other than Christianity"

Well, what about:
Christadelphians

What about:
"Arian Christianity" The first 3 "Christian Roman emperors" were Arian or semi Arian according to The article at Wikipedia. Are Arian Chirstians an other religion?

What about Jehovah Witnesses
What about Mormons
What about Unitarians (not to be confused with Unitarian Universalists)
What about "Binitarians" (Father & Jesus but not HS)

My point is that there are so many degrees of this that it is approaching a continum
Threre are:
-- Christians
-- Christians with different doctrines
-- Christians with extra doctrines & practices
-- Heterodox Christians
-- Heretics
-- Christian Cults
-- Religions who acknowledge the historicity of Jesus Christ but don't follow his leading (i.e. Islam more or less)
-- Religions that mention Jesus Christ but accord him no particular place in their practice and belief
-- Religions that share the same background as Christians but not the part about Jesus (Jewish branches of all sorts)
-- Religions that share very different scriptures about Jesus or exclude him (e.g. Kabalists and Gnostics)
-- Religions who dismiss Christianity and any of its scriptures as irrelevant
-- Religions which are vehemently opposed to anything Christian.

It would be difficult to even get anything more than a rough consensus from the people here as to where each of the above would belong on a continum.

So then when we talk about "Other religions" a definition or at least a discussion of "Other" seems necessary.
Last edited by Bare_Truth on Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Petros » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:17 am

Logically, one begins by refining / defining Christianity. Agreement on which across the spectrum of what God thinks of as THE church has arguably used more ink and breath than all of mathematics with arguably less consensus than the study of art.


I should myself br inclined to leave both open and flexlble.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Desert Hiker » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:26 am

It depends greatly on the context of the usage of the term, but I believe that the term "other religions" when compared to Christian, is generally pretty self explanatory. In most cases, the use of the word 'Christian', is an almost generic term to describe all religions that generally recognize the diety of Jesus. Almost all religions have an opinion about who Jesus was/is, but few actually recognize Him as God.

Even some so-called Christian religions diminish the authority, or diety of Jesus--namely Jehovah's Witness do not believe in the trinity, or the diety of Jesus. They are willing to only refer to Him as a god (small g), and insist that only God the Father (Jehovah) is the ONLY God--no Holy Spirit either. in spite of these major differences in basic theology, they are often still referred to as Christian.

Some forms that dare ask/poll you for this personal data will often only have 2-4 choices--and one being "Other". There are quite literally thousands of religions in the world. Christian may be the most popular, and is even claimed by many that do not even know what the term means, but did not want to mark down other--as that would require thought, and explaining their version of "other"
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby floridabill » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:38 pm

In most cases, the use of the word 'Christian', is an almost generic term to describe all religions that generally recognize the diety of Jesus. Almost all religions have an opinion about who Jesus was/is, but few actually recognize Him as God.
Amen!

Christian means - one who holds Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph as divine, and the saviour.

Islam does not.
Jehovahs Witnesses do not.
Mormons do not.

Acknowledging the historical fact of there being a Jesus and acknowledging his Divinity are two very different things.

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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Ramblinman » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:31 pm

Sorry to quibble, but saying that "Jesus is divine" is not the same as saying he is Deity.

Neither are we in communion with those who deny the Holy Trinity, offering variations on Oneness and Unitarian doctrines. At first glance it seems immaterial, but if some religious group teaches some other Jesus than is revealed in scripture, then we are not worshiping the same god, just talking past one another by using the same terminology to mean two different things.

In many areas of Latin America, Jesus is a popular first name, with no irreverence intended. I remember my shock on the occasion of my first trip south of the border to see an auto shop with the name "Jesus Delgado" prominently displayed.

So whenever I hear "just believe in Jesus", I am now tempted to think of that mechanic in Mexico. Jesus is a good mechanic, but he's not the Jesus I worship as God almighty!
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby floridabill » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:56 pm

My Failure.
You are 100% correct.

I'll rephase: "Acknowledging the historical facts of Jesus from Nazareth is not the same as accepting that this same Jesus is God."



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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby jimmy » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:26 pm

Bill said it correctly. The full meaning of Christian simply means you believe in Christ as God, you have asked for forgivness of your sins, and you have accepted Christ's promises of eternal life. Remember the two diagnostic questions, (1) If you were to die tonight would you go to heaven? and (2) If you did die and found yourself face to face with God and He asked you, "(your name", why should I let you into my heaven?" What would your answers be?


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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:31 am

jimmy wrote:Remember the two diagnostic questions, (1) If you were to die tonight would you go to heaven? and (2) If you did die and found yourself face to face with God and He asked you, "(your name", why should I let you into my heaven?" What would your answers be?



I am going to get some criticism (or make myself a target) when I say the but...

Interesting thought (and fairly "evangelical" in nature). I struggle to find these as "litmus tests" in the Bible.

For example, the parable of the sheep and the goats seem to contradict #2 and #1 seems to depend on #2.

I do agree, the key is to "follow Christ". What does that mean, maybe that should be up for discussion. One thought is to look at Romans 10:9. Not look at is as many of us understand it today but as it would have been understood in the 1st century.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:42 am

Ramblinman wrote:Sorry to quibble, but saying that "Jesus is divine" is not the same as saying he is Deity.
Neither are we in communion with those who deny the Holy Trinity, offering variations on Oneness and Unitarian doctrines.

Thank you Ramblingman. You have brought out the point I was trying to get discussed.

The scope of the question is broader than just the trinity doctrine but since you raise that, let me use it as an more detailed example. Among those who claim Christ as their inspiration / savior / leader / master / and God, there are some that do not hold to the trinity doctrine. For a detailed example see the Wikipedia binitarianism article

Among those who might be classified as binitarian, there appear to be variations, with some basically regarding God the Father and Jesus Christ in the same way as trinitarians do, but holding the notion that the holy spirit is being something "of" god but is quite different from Jesus or God the Father, while others still have a slightly different christology.

Then there are those who put forth an argument (which is not baseless) that Melchisadek has a nature like Jesus Christ rather than being an "christophany" and I suppose that means that they could be trinitarian or quadratarian or other, depending on how they regard the holy spirit.

There are those who do non "downgrade" the status of Christ from what trinitarians teach as the Jehova's Witnesses do, yet what they believe or teach on the topic of "who of what is God" is "other" than what is taught by trinitarians.

So what I am getting at in my question about "just how other is other ?" comes down to a matter of doctrine. There are many commonly held doctrines of which the trinity doctrine is but one. Is the failure to correctly and precisely grasp any one or a group of doctrines critical to whether or not one is "saved" and a Christian. If you or anyone answers "yes", then what is or are those doctrine(s) and what makes these to be "super doctrines" rather than just regular doctrines. I suppose that one could ask what "false doctrines" make someone other than Christian, however I also suppose that that list would be endless and therefore not worth exploring beyond a few egregious examples.

As a "for instance" the working of miracles by Christ is a matter taught in most "christian" denominations (hence that is a doctrine) there are others who believe that at least some of the miracles did not really happen that way. Does this invalidate their salvation?

The trinity . transubstantiation, divorce, and adult vs infant baptism are widely known examples for which people have been killed or tortured or excommunicated for teaching. Are these really so important as to be critical beliefs that define who is and is not a Christian. And then depending on how someone else does or does not believe these, do we embrace them as a brother in Christ.

Just how "other" is "other" Just what is really important to understand correctly? How do we sort this out and arrive at a matter of dealing with the challenges presented here and now. I know of some who would claim me as a Christian brother, but I believe their doctrine to be so heterodox or pernicious that I cannot see them as a Christian.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:48 am

bn2bnude,
Apparently you were posting at the same time I was writing my last post. I believe that your post is right on target, however I would be interested to see how you contrast the 1st century with 21st century understandings of Rom 10:9
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:11 am

Bare_Truth wrote:bn2bnude,
Apparently you were posting at the same time I was writing my last post. I believe that your post is right on target, however I would be interested to see how you contrast the 1st century with 21st century understandings of Rom 10:9



It is not my contrast exactly but others who I have been influenced by...

Rom 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth that "Jesus is Lord" and declare in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


This is is probably closer than to what the 1st century Christians would have understood. The way I remember it is "believe in your heart".

I think we have 'watered down" the word believe. I believe electricity works. I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. The word believe is really trust, in other words, bet your life on that fact.

The other part of this phrase that I don't believe gets the import it deserves is the "Jesus is Lord", at least not in the western church. In the first century, if I said "Jesus is Lord" it meant that Caesar was not. If Caesar is not lord, I am marked for death.

We have watered this down so much that we have an unofficial doctrine in many churches of a 2 stage conversion -- first I believe and become saved, then, some point down the line, I claim Christ as Lord.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Petros » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:15 pm

All of this is why we have the creeds - and why, as I pointed out, the creeds wind up not simnply defining but also dividing Christians.


I feel strongly that to Christ it matters very little who is in communion with whom [for which the creeds are useful to the churches], very much who is in communion with HIM - which is what defines the CHURCH.



Too often belief is a matter of human analysis or rote learning. There are stories [most of them, I hope, fiction] where two people marry and live a life of love and trust. Then one day one spouse finds out he or she is not married to Leslie Wickes but to Jean Valjean. Instantly recoils in horror.



I ask - having lived with this person and come to KNOW this person, how does a name change or you who the person is?



The churches - the human organizations need creeds and passwords and loyalty oaths.



But I have met people who were clearly brothers in Christ who would talk different doctrines, and I have met others who agreed with me on the Eucharist who were not recognizable as brethren
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby natman » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:24 pm

Referring to Romans 10:9, I believe that there are two key words.


One is the word "believe". As already pointed out, we no longer give this word the same strength it initially carried. To believe in something or someone is to trust implicitly that that thing or person is what and who it has been described to be. I "believe" the chair I am sitting in will hold me up. Therefore I do not even hesitate in placing my bottom and all of my weight upon it. I believe that gravity will continue to draw me toward the planet we live on and therefore do not fear walking around untethered for fear of flying off into space.

The other word is "Jesus". It is as important to know in Whom it is that we believe, that He is capable of providing salvation and that He has promised to do so if we but trust in Him and Him alone. It is important to KNOW that He is both Son of God and God Himself and not merelyl another mortal man such as we are.
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby Bare_Truth » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:34 pm

natman wrote: .....The other word is "Jesus". It is as important to know in Whom it is that we believe, that He is capable of providing salvation and that He has promised to do so if we but trust in Him and Him alone. It is important to KNOW that He is both Son of God and God Himself and not merelyl another mortal man such as we are.

Natman, I think you are onto a key point here, however it calls to mind:
2nd Corinthians 11:4
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus,
whom we have not preached,
or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received,
or another gospel, which ye have not accepted,
ye might well bear with him.

It would appear that by the time Paul wrote this , circa 60 AD, all things necessary to know the real Jesus from any false ones had been preached, (at least to the Corinthians) In contrast, however; much of the Christology accepted today comes from much later, by hundreds of years or more, (e.g. council of Nicea 325 AD and later sources) It would seem then that if we confine ourselves to what was preached earlier, we would have sufficient understanding to define who and what the real Jesus was. Is there any reason to believe that there was any Christology preached circa 60 AD and earlier that we do not find in the scriptures. Is there Christology that had to generated by all these later councils and theologians, that is truly necessary to comprehending the Jesus whom we claim as "... My Lord and my God.", (Apostle Thomas to the risen Christ John 20:2) ?

If it is the case that the Corinthians has received the necessary and sufficient understanding about Christ, it would seem that anyone who holds to whatever Christology was preached up to that time can be regarded as not being "other", and all the rest of creeds is superfluous and can be disregarded in matters of fellowship.

The only reason for accepting any doctinal points of later origin as critical would be if we could conclude that those points had indeed been preached to the Corinthians and subsequently lost. But does anyone really believe that any substantial knowledge has been lost from the gospels that is critical to the declaration "My Lord and My God" ?

As for the behavior of those claiming to be Christians, we would have to look to things like Luke 6:46
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
and do not the things which I say?
Certainly this would have been preached to the Corinthians. And certainly our actions do declare the true intent of our heart. Of course we may fall into sin and have to be recovered, but if our persistent behavior is that of sinning then we have not really accepted Him as Lord, and we fall into that group to which he says "I never knew you".
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Re: Just how other is other ?

Postby jimmy » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:18 am

Using the term “saved” to mean someone who has put their faith in Jesus’ promises of eternal life in heaven with Him the two diagnostic questions I mentioned earlier has the following purpose.

First, question one is usually answered as, “I hope so,” “I think so,” etc by someone who is not saved. Question two is answered as, “I have been a good person, I don’t lie or steal, and I haven’t murdered anyone.” In other words, a list of good works. Good works alone will not save anyone. After answering question two giving the Good News, you can know for sure that you are going to heaven is the opening to sharing the Gospel and leading the individual to Christ.

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