Post by abcolson on Aug 31, 2016 1:55:09 GMT -5
I have appreciated the opportunity to discuss various topics related to faith. Honest debate and discussion, and even confrontation done in love, is essential to growth. In some ways, I thrive on this both as a means of personal growth and being effective and influential in the lives of others. But such discussions and debate need to be productive and done in love...
Joe and Eric, I value you as Christian brothers in Christ who have an earnest desire to serve our Lord. You are both passionate in this purpose and intelligent and articulate. I have benefitted from our exchange. However, this will be my last post. I was graciously invited to discuss employment and the work philosophy in its practical and theological aspects. It seems to me that the natural course of this conversation has exhausted itself as we apparently have moved on into the theological debates of Catholicism versus Protestantism. Frankly, I am too busy trying to walk in my faith than to engage in the futility of endless talk in an internet forum. I did not come here to be apostylized or to apostylize or to label those with whom I disagree as "foolish" or "anti-Christian". We are all happy in our faith and I feel it is best to leave it at that. In parting, I do have some last comments of clarification and in the spirit of error being void of rights. It was stated that the topics of freedom and Free Enterprise could not be discussed without referencing faith as a Catholic. Fair enough. But that also means that I get to counter and offer my perspectives as a Protestant.
For the record: I am Lutheran and was brought up in a conservative Lutheran household; although, I do have Catholic relatives. In my adult life I have sought to understand God's design for the universe, human existence and my life in particular. I have attended various Christian churches including Lutheran, Catholic, Presbyterian, Orthodox and Non-Denominational to name a few. I do not believe in relativism as it pertains to God's will and truth and that the understanding of His truth is a lifelong quest to be guided and revealed by the Holy Spirit. I just finished a 3-year term as a member of my church's executive board and spent 1.5 years prior to that successfully leading a capital campaign to raise money and build a new addition to our church for the youth. I have also studied the Bible and engaged in many discussions pertaining to faith and God's will through Christ. These things don't speak directly to my beliefs or faith but I do think it indicates where my heart has been and how I have walked.
Where my faith walk has lead me thus far is to conclude in part that we know nothing. That our physical brains are wired to be linear and self-consistent and to process external input to perceive and believe. That none of us has a wire coming out of our heads connecting us to absolute truth for if we did we would not need faith. And that because of this God has sent the Holy Spirit to make known to us His truth as Jesus replied to Peter after his confession, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:17)
Consider that without God's intervention we know nothing. Even that which we call natural laws are not laws at all but rather codified faith statements of which even the most ardent atheist is compelled into religious acceptance. Consider the Law of Gravity which we all profess as true, the claim of which we are not qualified to make. Our scientists are bestowed the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) not doctors of truth or absoluteness. For they, like us, are creatures of limited minds and abilities. A scientist drops a ball and watches it fall and notes a pattern and forms a hypothesis. But for this hypothesis to be true it would have to be tested an infinite amount of times in an infinite amount of scenarios with infinite variables, infinite testers, infinite points in time, infinite, infinite, infinite...effectively, infinity to the infinity power. Since we are finite beings we can only make a finite number of tests, be it 100, 1,000, 100,000, 1,000,000 or more; in any event, the number of finite tests is infinitesimally small with respect to infinity (and wholly insignificant in that regard) so we extrapolate our observations and make a religious leap of faith to absolute truth. (Practically, this can serve us well most of the time; I do not profess that I doubt that if I step off a high-rise that I will most likely fall to my death.) For to make such a claim legitimately we would need to have omnipotent capabilities which, of course, we do not. Yet, we exist with holes in our heart that only God can fill and we seek to fill those holes with certainty via intellect and making up stories about our observations to the point where we are willing to defend our stories to the death. It is in our nature.
Consider the fable about the boy and the snake. A boy walks along a river looking for a place to cross. When he finds a suitable place a snake approaches the boy and asks "Please, kind boy. I am a snake and cannot swim but need to get to the other side of the river. If you would please pick me up and carry me to the other side I would be eternally grateful.". The boy responds, "But how do I know you will not bite me?". The snake responds, "Young boy, if you would do me this kindness I will not bite you.". So, the boy bends down, picks up the snake and crosses the river. Upon bending down to release the snake the snake slithers out of his hand and bites him. "Snake!" cries they boy. "You said you would not bite me. Why have you bitten me?". The snake answers "Truly, truly I am very sorry. I said I would not bite you but I had no choice. It is in my nature." The moral? That even though we may strive for ideals we can not escape our nature (without Christ) of extrapolating truth merely from our own observations, perceptions and beliefs. And to claim otherwise is tantamount to blasphemy by putting us on an equal footing with God and His omnipotence. To be so sure of ourselves in this regard is born out of the same sin of Pride which caused Lucifer to fall.
It is also my belief that Jesus did not come for the purpose of drafting a new religion; rather, He was a good Jewish boy who came to fulfill God's promise and testify to the good news. It was imperfect Man who institutionalized and consequently perverted the good news. Historically speaking, one of the biggest criticisms of the Catholic church is that it co-mingled and conspired with the governments to use theology to control people politically and become very wealthy. St. Paul asserts that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4), and "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17). From the posts on this thread it appears that the idea of it being God's will that we submit to government and political authority is still alive and well for some Catholics, something which I do not believe is God's will. I just need to cite Exodus or from the New Testament the seeming paradox "Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all" (1 Cor. 9:19), and "Owe no man anything, but to love one another" (Rom. 13:8) which according to my understanding is that we are beholden to no man or political power by mandate but, that as civil and saved individuals, it is wise, nay, righteous to voluntarily choose to be a servant as Christ was a servant.
The definition of faith was provided:
I have to pause at what seems like a self-serving definition of faith by Catholic dogma for nowhere in the Bible that I know of does it define faith as relating to or being predicated upon Catholicism. I have to wonder, therefore, at the motivation behind this definition. Similarly for the Catholic prayer called the Act of Faith which you provided:
The statement was also made:
My question is who decides if an authority is appointed by God? You? A priest? The Pope? Or maybe some other manmade institution of church? Ecclesiastical leaders are promoted through the ranks by men, not by the decree of angels. And presuming that these men are more than men is in my understanding antithetical to Christ's teachings. Matthew 23:8-9 states "But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven." yet how often is this violated to provide titles and raise some men above other men in attempts to control them politically and theologically? The notion that God would do this after Christ's resurrection is contrary to Christ's teaching and seems at best odd to me so yes, I do reject that the clergy and government officials are better than other people and deserving of homage as someone who is fundamentally more "excellent".
The truth is, God doesn't need churches. Churches need God and God would verily abandon them if/when they become corrupt and cease to live His Word and would move on to work His will with others who are more true and faithful. I only need to cite Christ's messages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. God is too big to be constrained to the boxes created by the personal convictions, minds and institutions of Men (aka churches). No human on earth is qualified to insist that his personal understanding and faith is the absolute truth for God is omnipotent and operates outside the limitations of human thinking and awareness. It is my position that convictions such as this are representative of small and feeble minds, insecure, arrogant and childish and needing victory by out-shouting their opponents. I have now been called anti-Christian by people at both ends of the theological spectrum. Isn't it amazing that everybody can be right and nobody can be right all at the same time? To me, this is the tool of the Devil, to take good but fallen people and pervert them away from God by way of their own pride and self-assuredness. Sorry to be so blunt, but I am only abiding by the tenet of this forum that "error" has no rights. Are you angry yet? Do you find yourself hot under the collar exclaiming that I am the one who is wrong? Maybe I am. But how can you be so sure of yourself?
To clarify some of the things I previously said:
I believe my statement about collars and priests being shackled was misunderstood and interpreted negatively. It is my understanding that the collar represents the shackle of God like the brand on a steer; that just like the brand indicates who owns the steer and protects steers from being stolen that the shackle (like a slave) signifies that the wearer belongs to God and protects against being stolen by the evil one. And that the price to wear the collar (at least in the Catholic church) is to take oaths of celibacy and poverty in order to be more Christ-like. St. Paul states "Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:1).
It was also stated:
Yes, I was trying to be polite but I also meant what I said. I have already explained my position above in regards to Matthew 16:17. Also as Pentecost is recounted in Acts 2:1-4. This is supposed to be a central tenet of the Christian faith that we are enabled via the Holy Spirit. Is this not the Catholic point of view? I don't know how this qualifies as transcendentalism.
Regarding Free Enterprise:
Free Enterprise is essentially owning and controlling your own means of creating fruit in your life. A job is working in someone else's free enterprise and is the lowest form of creating gain. Any child can do the bidding of another and get paid for it. However, this is also the most limiting and dangerous. There is a place for jobs, especially in acute situations or for a young person to learn and get experience. People who choose jobs as a permanent life choice generally value security, benefits and a steady pay check and seek simplicity by outsourcing purpose and direction to another. They usually identify with tactics and the 'what'. The next level up is being self employed like a plumber, doctor or lawyer. True, these people can work longer and harder hours than an employee but generally speaking the reward is higher income, enough to bring a mother/wife home from work. People who are self-employed generally have a lot of pride in what they do and say things like "If you want something done right, do it yourself". They are still driven by the 'what' but also start to embrace strategies and the 'how' and are sometimes visionary. This is the first step in personal Free Enterprise. But even so, while the money may be better and technically you own the business, in practice the job owns you and you still turn your body into a human machine to generate income. The next level up is working in a business system or big business. People here value systems to produce and say things like "I'll find the smartest people to work in my enterprise". They understand leverage and are visionaries. They deal in the 'why' more so than the 'what' and 'how'. Because systems and leverage are used their fruits are passive. Although they still may choose to participate materially in some way their time is generally their own and they are more free. The last step is to have investments producing cash flow. People here generally say things like "I don't work for money; money works for me." They use their assets to build more assets. Generally their material participation is non-existent except for sitting on boards, etc.
The statements were made:
I humbly disagree. This supposition seems all to logical but is a fallacy upon deeper consideration as it does not take into account the continuity of time, the progressive realization of results, diversity, creativity, personal ambition or the person one becomes during the journey. At any one point in time the 10:1 ratio example would be essentially correct. However, people are in all different stages of life and financial situation. Business owners and employees alike invest and save along the way into retirement or investment accounts. Or they can diversify in other ways to enjoy passive income. Some people retire while others graduate from school. Some branch out from employment while others fall back into employment. Imagine, for example, that people graduate and work for 10 years to learn and accumulate seed capital. Then they give their job to a new graduate and open a business creating 10 new jobs. If everyone did this we would have an employment problem not an unemployment problem. We all know this would probably never happen because people are too romanced by creature comforts and getting the most reward for the least effort. But that doesn't take away from the nature, characteristics or benefits from passive income and being free. Does God not exist because some people are atheists and don't pursue God? Are the standards and ideals of leading a Christ-like life rendered null and void simply because we are imperfect beings and most [all] people will fall short of these standards? Neither then do the benefits and better nature of freedom not exist because people choose not to pursue it. I have stated that I believe the optimal human experience (aside from being a child of God) comes from being free, politically and economically. Does this nature of freedom not exist because people make a choice not to pursue it? I have also stated that a large part of the reward is who you become during the process irrespective of the amount of money you make; therefore, ANY PERSON stands to benefit from venturing out to leave the world of dependence and existing to serve the ambitions of others. In terms of a real example, I can speak to what I know regarding the aforementioned Network Marketing where everyone is in a different but progressing economic state with passive income: Some only make enough to go out to dinner once a month, others a car payment, others bringing a mother home from work while others have more but each is in a state of transition, promoting and progressing in Free Enterprise. And the personal growth associated with the Godly principle of helping others to succeed before you succeed grooms and prepares the mind to properly and responsibly live in a state of Godly freedom. While anyone CAN achieve these things not everyone will but this sad truth still doesn't negate my [spiritual] beliefs about the nature and benefits of pursuing and attaining freedom. The higher ideal is still there like Christ knocking on the door. Or people can rationalize, stay in debt, live in dearth of time and money, sacrifice the great for the good in their relationships and spiritual life and put their wives to work so that they can claim piety while watching television or playing sports. The choice is there for each individual to make.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to share. Joe, thank you for reaching out to me and seeing value in the information I have to offer. Eric, thank you for your well thought out arguments and engaging me en pointe. I know I have grown in this experience and I hope and pray I was able to facilitate the same in you. If you are ever in San Diego, look me up.
Your brother in Christ,