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Old 01-09-2011, 09:46 AM   #1
adamqd
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Can you be a Christian, and not believe in God?

Just seen a debate show on TV, which had a segment about some people (One an Anglican Priest) who claimed to be Christian but do not believe god exists.

Through Theory and or fact regarding Evolution, anthropology, carbon dating etc clashing with the Bibles teachings, these people believe that Religion/Monotheism should be taken as a metaphor for the human ideal; love, peace, etc. As such they follow the teaching of Jesus without the part that assumes god is real...

Is this not Just like Edward Norton's Character in Fight Club? who attends support groups for Problems he doesn't actually have, Just feel part of a Group and make him feel better about himself?

can you be a Christian, and not believe in god?

(This is open for debate for other Religions to, its just the subject was between Christians and the Presenter)


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Old 01-09-2011, 10:02 AM   #2
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Through Theory and or fact regarding Evolution, anthropology, carbon dating etc clashing with the Bibles teachings,


I'm not sure what you mean with that. That's what fundamentalists say, which prefer to ignore the source of books such as the Genesis, and why they are in the Bible.



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Old 01-09-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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I'm not a Christian but, I'm pretty Sure evolution isn't mentioned But thats not my Point nor my Opinion, just an example as to why these people think this way.



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Old 01-09-2011, 11:16 AM   #4
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My guess is that it would all come down to how you parse the meaning of Christian. Do you mean following Jesus example as a way of living your life? Since Christ is "the Son of God", it seems like a package deal. Might as well say you believe in marxism, but you aren't a marxist.


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Old 01-09-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
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My thoughts exactly, I mean I dont know how much of a debate you could get out of this.. It just seemed like a Strange thing for a Priest to say.


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Old 01-09-2011, 12:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamqd View Post
Through Theory and or fact regarding Evolution, anthropology, carbon dating etc clashing with the Bibles teachings, these people believe that Religion/Monotheism should be taken as a metaphor for the human ideal; love, peace, etc. As such they follow the teaching of Jesus without the part that assumes god is real...
I don't think it evolution is incompatible with Christianity. The interpretation given by Fundamentalists baffles me all the time: they are like the Pharisians of our time (for an interesting perspective, see Hans Kung.

As for my belief in god, Voltaire said it all: "L'univers m'embarrasse, et je ne puis songer que cette horloge existe et n'ait point d'horloger." ("The universe puzzles me, I cannot believe that this clock exists, and has no clockmaker."- I think it is also in line with the interview linked to, above)
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:28 PM   #7
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I'm not a Christian but, I'm pretty Sure evolution isn't mentioned
It's not, but it doesn't clash with anything the Bible teaches.

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Originally Posted by Darth333 View Post
I don't think it evolution is incompatible with Christianity. The interpretation given by Fundamentalists baffles me all the time: they are like the Pharisians of our time (for an interesting perspective, see Hans Kung.

As for my belief in god, Voltaire said it all: "L'univers m'embarrasse, et je ne puis songer que cette horloge existe et n'ait point d'horloger." ("The universe puzzles me, I cannot believe that this clock exists, and has no clockmaker."- I think it is also in line with the interview linked to, above)
I pretty much agree with you. I don't see science as an "enemy" of religion. To me, they both complement each other.

As for the topic, Totenkopf as already said it: It's all about the definition of Christian.



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Old 01-09-2011, 04:09 PM   #8
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I don't think Christianity and evolution necessarily are incompatible. IIRC we had a thread where we pretty much all came to a conclusion that evolution and Christianity are compatible--that evolution is a tool of creation.

My father being a revrend/ordained wedding minister believes this. It's important to note he represents the black sheep of his side of the family: the rest are highly religious regardless of their various individual political leanings. So conversations about this kind of thing with the rest of the family escalate to very nearly accusations of blasphemy.

As it stands... I suppose someone could call him/her own self a christian despite not believing in God. Deluded, wayward or lost. Intention and where their head is at is important. If they are unknowing about it, then they only need to learn.
This is an interesting (perhaps amusing) difference and at least people in this category are willing to admit it.

People who claim to believe in God but then forsake God and their beliefs in the way that they live at the least need some reconciling.

If they are consciously aware of this on the other hand, and think they're getting by with an exploit (Sin, repent, pass go and collect $200, repeat) then they are not being completely honest about themselves (I suspect someone else is unhappy as well, hint hint).

That drove me away from faith for a time. Something this disingenuous (as I believe Evil Q put it) is the workshop of the devil masquerading as an institution of God.

While critical thinking negated some things in the bible taken literally, nobody has provided me any evidence that the critical can't also be faithful in the absolute sense.


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Old 01-09-2011, 04:50 PM   #9
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I really need to learn to be direct with my Threads/posts hehe as people tend to go straight for my ill informed banter rather than the subject line if you catch my drift, the Evolution business was a direct quote from the TV Host, I neither fully understand the Christian teachings nor Science to Argue for either. I think my main reason for bringing this up is that I have a Hard time with some of the decisions/actions that are made/taken because of religion... Death, cultural separation, War, Intolerance (of course there are numerous Positives) Why spend Sunday in a Church, Praying to someone who you dont believe exists? There seems to be no valid reason for this thinking other than you need to feel a part of a community, or your a few Bricks short of a Maisonette.

(edit)
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Originally Posted by GTA:SWcity View Post
(I suspect someone else is unhappy as well, hint hint).
Are you referring to me? For the record I am quite Happy at the Moment, I have recently started a New position at work with better salary, better work hours and opportunities, and have also reconnected with a lot of old school Friends and I'm having a Blast This Subject Just jumped out at me (My Mother is a Christian, but very uninterested in the details of Christianity, but very spiritual, I suppose the polar opposite of these People on the TV Show)



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Old 01-09-2011, 05:00 PM   #10
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Not possible to not believe in the savior - the son of God (or what some consider an incarnation of God himself) - Jesus and be a Christian. It's the central part of the religion and the only reason why Christianity exists at all beyond Judaism.

Some of the metaphorical teachings within Christianity may mirror things of other "godless" religions, and I understand where you're coming from, but you can't honestly call yourself a Christian if you don't believe in the central figure.



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Old 01-09-2011, 05:28 PM   #11
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I think my main reason for bringing this up is that I have a Hard time with some of the decisions/actions that are made/taken because of religion... Death, cultural separation, War, Intolerance (of course there are numerous Positives)
Those decisions are made by men. I don't recall any religion that promotes that (I can be wrong though).

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Why spend Sunday in a Church, Praying to someone who you dont believe exists?
That's the thing. Those who do that are the ones who believe.



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Old 01-09-2011, 05:51 PM   #12
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Those decisions are made by men. I don't recall any religion that promotes that (I can be wrong though).
Of Course you are right, But these decisions are made in the name of god, whether he teaches it or not.


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Old 01-09-2011, 05:54 PM   #13
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Of Course you are right, But these decisions are made in the name of god, whether he teaches it or not.
If I kill someone in your name, is it my fault or yours?



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Old 01-09-2011, 05:58 PM   #14
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If I were a Christian who didn't believe in God.....

(*looks in the mirror*)

I have been this person. urluckyday is strictly speaking correct, you could not call yourself a Christian as it is commonly defined, a believer in the Christ as the Son of God.

The early Christians were not necessarily looking at Christ in this way... certainly not all of them, as there is a wide variety and interpretation of the lifetime and events of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, Jesus, could have just been a cool dude that had great ideas. That is how the Buddha is seen.... and how some people choose to look at Jesus. There are many Buddhists who will also claim to be Christian (to an extent), because they believe that Jesus lived and made a great example - like the Buddha. Of course, many Buddhists practice religion quite differently than western minds are accustomed to - it is called syncretism, IIRC.

So, there could be a case of an agnostic individual who nevertheless likes good moral examples of living, and chose to model her life following Jesus' example and loving and following the life of Jesus, and still never for a day believe that Heaven is the reward.

Actually, come to think of it, that is my kind of Christian!


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Old 01-09-2011, 06:15 PM   #15
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If I kill someone in your name, is it my fault or yours?
not Comparable, God isn't able to answer for himself, People make decisions based upon their interpretation of their Faith, But Interpreting Peace on earth and Love thy Neighbor as Kill these Soulless heathens isn't a good thing IMO, but we are going off Topic.


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Old 01-09-2011, 06:31 PM   #16
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The priest is probably a Tillichian-style believer. It's mainly borrowed Heideggerian existentialism at work. It's possible to believe in God, yet not think he exists. It's a problem of using the word "exists"-- if you believed that God is what supports all of existence and laid the groundwork of reality, you wouldn't think he exists either. "I am who am" and all that. So.


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Old 01-09-2011, 08:58 PM   #17
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I think God plays a pretty big part in the Christian scene but I am Atheist/Agnostic so what do I know?


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Old 01-10-2011, 12:00 AM   #18
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Quote:
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The early Christians were not necessarily looking at Christ in this way... certainly not all of them, as there is a wide variety and interpretation of the lifetime and events of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, Jesus, could have just been a cool dude that had great ideas.
There were no Christians in the time of Jesus' life. They were all Jewish (Jesus himself was Jewish). The difference between the two religions is that Jewish people believe Jesus to be a prophet and Christians believe that Jesus was the messiah after his death. This is simply because the basis of the religion is believing that Jesus died for all of our sins (not trying to be preachy...just the truth). It's just not possible to be a Christian if you don't believe in God.



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Old 01-10-2011, 09:33 AM   #19
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On topic, you cannot be a Christian and not believe in God, unless you want to change the meaning of words, which would render all languages redundant. Simply put a Christian is an individual who thinks Jesus was the Son of God, and is his follower, as such to believe there is no God means you are not a Christian.

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I'm not a Christian but, I'm pretty Sure evolution isn't mentioned But thats not my Point nor my Opinion, just an example as to why these people think this way. (Sura 2:191-193)
As a devout Christian and an individual who teaches groups on Philosophy, Theology and Science, both evolution and big bang theory are facts. Those beliefs are entirely compatible with God and Christianity, infact (although I am not a Catholic) the Roman Catholic Church accepted both the Big Bang Theory into its doctrine in 1947 and its unofficial position on evolution, is theistic evolution.

As Saint Augustine said along time ago; "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself".

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Those decisions are made by men. I don't recall any religion that promotes that (I can be wrong though).
Some verses in The Qur'an can be interpreted that way, such as...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qur'an
"And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution (of Muslims) is worse than slaughter (of non-believers) and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qur'an
"O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."( Sura 9:123)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qur'an
"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves" (Sura 48:29)
Peaceful religion? Depends on how you read their Holy Book, having read the whole Qur'an trust me when I say I could have a whole page of not at all peaceful quotes....



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Old 01-10-2011, 10:41 AM   #20
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Some verses in The Qur'an can be interpreted that way, such as...

Peaceful religion? Depends on how you read their Holy Book, having read the whole Qur'an trust me when I say I could have a whole page of not at all peaceful quotes....
As I said, I could be wrong.



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Old 01-10-2011, 11:58 PM   #21
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There were no Christians in the time of Jesus' life. They were all Jewish (Jesus himself was Jewish). The difference between the two religions is that Jewish people believe Jesus to be a prophet and Christians believe that Jesus was the messiah after his death. This is simply because the basis of the religion is believing that Jesus died for all of our sins (not trying to be preachy...just the truth). It's just not possible to be a Christian if you don't believe in God.
Uh.... have we met?

urluckyday, I am well aware of the distinction between Judaism and Christianity. I am thinking it is safe to say that I have studied both religions (and several others) as much as you have, and quite possibly a great deal more, as it was a study of mine in college. I graduated with a degree in Philosophy, with a minor in Religion and English.

I was referring to the followers of Jesus, in his day, who were many of them Jewish, but were proto-Christians in that they were responsible for telling the many Gospels. There were many more accounts of Jesus' life than were recorded in your Christian bible, if you are not aware. The Gospels of Mary and Judas are two of many important stories that exist... What I was trying to say, is that there can be interpreted a wide distinction in what it means to be Christian.

I apologize if I come off preachy, but I thought you knew me better than that...


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Old 01-11-2011, 02:14 PM   #22
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Why on earth would you want to be a Christian and not believe in God? The only thing that makes belonging to a religion excusable is faith, misguided or not. To voluntarily induct yourself despite that would be.... bizarre. Like attending alcoholics anonymous when you're addicted to caffeine.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:44 PM   #23
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Uh.... have we met?

urluckyday, I am well aware of the distinction between Judaism and Christianity. I am thinking it is safe to say that I have studied both religions (and several others) as much as you have, and quite possibly a great deal more, as it was a study of mine in college. I graduated with a degree in Philosophy, with a minor in Religion and English.

I was referring to the followers of Jesus, in his day, who were many of them Jewish, but were proto-Christians in that they were responsible for telling the many Gospels. There were many more accounts of Jesus' life than were recorded in your Christian bible, if you are not aware. The Gospels of Mary and Judas are two of many important stories that exist... What I was trying to say, is that there can be interpreted a wide distinction in what it means to be Christian.

I apologize if I come off preachy, but I thought you knew me better than that...
I forgot, my fault.



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Old 01-11-2011, 11:26 PM   #24
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Why on earth would you want to be a Christian and not believe in God? The only thing that makes belonging to a religion excusable is faith, misguided or not. To voluntarily induct yourself despite that would be.... bizarre. Like attending alcoholics anonymous when you're addicted to caffeine.
QFE

Though I'd make the analogy "like attending alcoholics anonymous when you act like you're addicted to alcohol, but don't actually drink"


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Old 01-11-2011, 11:53 PM   #25
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Peaceful religion? Depends on how you read their Holy Book, having read the whole Qur'an trust me when I say I could have a whole page of not at all peaceful quotes....
Compared to what, exactly? The Hebrews weren't known for pacifistic humanism either.

Every time a violence-laden narrative from any scripture is interpreted through a modern-day lens, two conclusions are met: either it's "See! This proves that [religious adherents] are nothing but [moral ill]-ers!", or it's "No, no, no; you're looking at it in the wrong light! Real [religious tradition] is against that entirely!" Naturally, I'd wager that both of these explanations are equally deluded and idealistic in form.
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:05 AM   #26
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I really need to learn to be direct with my Threads/posts hehe as people tend to go straight for my ill informed banter rather than the subject line if you catch my drift, the Evolution business was a direct quote from the TV Host, I neither fully understand the Christian teachings nor Science to Argue for either. I think my main reason for bringing this up is that I have a Hard time with some of the decisions/actions that are made/taken because of religion... Death, cultural separation, War, Intolerance (of course there are numerous Positives) Why spend Sunday in a Church, Praying to someone who you dont believe exists? There seems to be no valid reason for this thinking other than you need to feel a part of a community, or your a few Bricks short of a Maisonette.
In general, I think people who continue to go to service might be trying to work the system, that don't believe.

Now, if you're phrasing that in such a way that is to say faith has no place in society because it cannot be proven, I have to simply disagree.

Just because some don't see any meaning in it doesn't mean they have to go crapping on other people. That gets you nowhere. In some ways, though, likewise the opposite is true for faithful: while actively professing beliefs is something the faithful should do, there comes a point at which you're just pushing it on others.

When it's a case like my lesbian/bi cousin, same age as me, I can understand that she doesn't believe and even partially even why not. Still, I do wish she would choose to live a better life and simply do it. Unfortunately she will live the way she chooses, I'm just not going to continue to be part of it, and consequently she doesn't come around anymore either.

EDIT: To clarify, she is an alcoholic and seems to think that family is a free taxicab or crashing pad when she gets kicked out of an apartment. I love her but this habitual freeloader stuff has put a strain on our relationship. Plus it is creepy how she still has not stopped cutting and burning herself./edit

When it is a case where someone's beliefs are different, that's fine as well.

I don't typically go there unless someone asks TBH. If they ask, though, they got themselves into it. If their beliefs are like liberties that compromise the way of life/liberty for others, then I make it my business.


Quote:
Are you referring to me?
No I was referring to the big guy. Watching as those who are in "His system" claim to believe in him but really act more like it's some business and that the message of self improvement only applies to those who don't work in His system.

Quote:
For the record I am quite Happy at the Moment, I have recently started a New position at work with better salary, better work hours and opportunities, and have also reconnected with a lot of old school Friends and I'm having a Blast This Subject Just jumped out at me (My Mother is a Christian, but very uninterested in the details of Christianity, but very spiritual, I suppose the polar opposite of these People on the TV Show)
Well I suppose then your mother is like many others.

EDIT: Here we are talking about mothers again.


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Old 01-12-2011, 01:43 PM   #27
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Moms are everywhere lately... My buddy Greg and I need to fire up our cover band again, "Mom Seeger". AKA "Mom Zombie", "Elton Mom" and "Mom Jovi". If you haven't been to a "Mom Seeger" show, you don't really love Mom's like Greg and I do (This is a RL band, no jokes, done a couple shows.... It is not what you expect....)
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Just because some don't see any meaning in it doesn't mean they have to go crapping on other people. That gets you nowhere. In some ways, though, likewise the opposite is true for faithful: while actively professing beliefs is something the faithful should do, there comes a point at which you're just pushing it on others.
Well said, QFT

@urluckyday: no worries, sorry if I came off cross


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Old 01-12-2011, 03:42 PM   #28
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Compared to what, exactly? The Hebrews weren't known for pacifistic humanism either.

Every time a violence-laden narrative from any scripture is interpreted through a modern-day lens, two conclusions are met: either it's "See! This proves that [religious adherents] are nothing but [moral ill]-ers!", or it's "No, no, no; you're looking at it in the wrong light! Real [religious tradition] is against that entirely!" Naturally, I'd wager that both of these explanations are equally deluded and idealistic in form.
Did you actually read my sentence? >.>

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Peaceful religion? Depends on how you read their Holy Book, having read the whole Qur'an trust me when I say I could have a whole page of not at all peaceful quotes....



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"Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth." - Kahlil Gibran
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:44 AM   #29
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Moms are everywhere lately... My buddy Greg and I need to fire up our cover band again, "Mom Seeger". AKA "Mom Zombie", "Elton Mom" and "Mom Jovi". If you haven't been to a "Mom Seeger" show, you don't really love Mom's like Greg and I do (This is a RL band, no jokes, done a couple shows.... It is not what you expect....)
While not a band with "mom" in it, I know of a band called AC/D-she which has/had a mom as a band member. I do believe the women were all Christians.


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Old 01-14-2011, 10:42 AM   #30
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QFE

Though I'd make the analogy "like attending alcoholics anonymous when you act like you're addicted to alcohol, but don't actually drink"
'Tis a fair cop.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:37 AM   #31
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Voted no because under the definition of Christian I subscribe to you must consider Christ to be the son of God to be a Christian, but to each his own.


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Old 01-14-2011, 01:00 PM   #32
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Voted no because under the definition of Christian I subscribe to you must consider Christ to be the son of God to be a Christian, but to each his own.
How dare you disagree with and infringe upon my right to be delusional!!!!11!!!!!1!!!


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Old 01-14-2011, 01:14 PM   #33
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I'd say that to be an actual Christian you would have to believe in God, because the Christian doctrine repeatedly states that you must believe in Him as the Son of God. By definition if you don't believe in God you are not a Christian. HOWEVER you can follow the teachings of Christ(minus the whole "Whosoever believeth in me" part) and share values with Jesus, but then you could just be Buddhist and not realize it.


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Old 01-14-2011, 09:18 PM   #34
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My sister would say that in order to be a true Christian, you would a) have to believe that God exists; b) that Jesus Christ is His Son, and c) that Jesus is your Savior/He died to pay the penalty for all of your sins. However, in my view, it all depends on how you define the word "Christian".

It seems to be true, though, at least in American culture, that if you call yourself a Christian, you believe more along my sister's line of thinking than mine (meaning that someone who follows the non-theistic teachings of Jesus can call themselves Christian). Who is right? I don't honestly know.

Question: Is it better to believe so staunchly and fervently in something that (in your mind) you are 100% certain you're right, OR is it better to allow for the possibility that you might be wrong, and admit it? By "better", I mean "better for humanity", whatever that means. Mumble-mumble-mumble!
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Old 01-29-2011, 11:18 AM   #35
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Interesting topic. I am one of the few here to have voted yes, so let me explain my reasoning here.

To be a Christian means to follow the teachings of Christ. Some of you say that it is also necessary to believe he is the son of God, but that is a bit difficult if you don't believe in God. And I don't think that's necessary at all. I think the most important part of Jesus's teachings wasn't "believe in God," it was "be a good person," and you can do that without believing in God. And if I remember correctly, in some of the early, non-canon gospels, Jesus was, in fact, not considered to be the son of God, but I don't have a source on that.
There have been various schisms within Christianity, and there are many different variations of it based on different interpretations of the Bible. Many supernatural events are often taken to be allegorical, for example, the creation of Earth. Taking God as an allegory for an ideal is just one step further.

I do not consider myself a Christian, by the way.
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Old 01-29-2011, 12:09 PM   #36
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Interesting topic. I am one of the few here to have voted yes, so let me explain my reasoning here.

To be a Christian means to follow the teachings of Christ. Some of you say that it is also necessary to believe he is the son of God, but that is a bit difficult if you don't believe in God. And I don't think that's necessary at all. I think the most important part of Jesus's teachings wasn't "believe in God," it was "be a good person," and you can do that without believing in God. And if I remember correctly, in some of the early, non-canon gospels, Jesus was, in fact, not considered to be the son of God, but I don't have a source on that.
There have been various schisms within Christianity, and there are many different variations of it based on different interpretations of the Bible. Many supernatural events are often taken to be allegorical, for example, the creation of Earth. Taking God as an allegory for an ideal is just one step further.

I do not consider myself a Christian, by the way.
I voted yes for much the same way, and was steamrolled by the Christian waves to quick to quote verse rather than think critically or study history.

A Christian is a follower of Christ, regardless how a Church defines it... really, quite regardless of how the Bible defines it, as Christ came well before that book and had nothing to do with writing it.


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Old 01-29-2011, 12:56 PM   #37
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A Christian is a follower of Christ, regardless how a Church defines it... really, quite regardless of how the Bible defines it, as Christ came well before that book and had nothing to do with writing it.
The main source for Christ and his teachings are written down in the Bible. If you're going to separate the two and disregard the Bible, then what's left? What can possibly be said about Christ and his teachings that has independently from the Bible been mentioned in other sources? In my opinion (with a limited knowledge on the matter, I admit), the teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from the Bible.

Straying from the specific rules of Christianity doesn't make you more Christian than, let's say, a Buddhist. For example, the Golden Rule (basically "do to others what you would want them to do to you") could by some be seen as the essence of Christ's teachings. However, the Golden Rule can be applied to a dozen or more religions.


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Old 03-21-2011, 06:26 PM   #38
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If you don't believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you're not a Christian, because Christianity is not some nebulous belief system. It's an organized religion - admittedly, one with more sects than *Dirty Joke*, but still an organized religion. So if you follow the teachings of Christ except for all the ones that involve God, him being God, and so on, what are you? I don't know, really. I've heard of Christian Agnosticism, but I don't think that fits.


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Old 03-22-2011, 08:43 AM   #39
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I voted no, for simply this reason: To be Christian is to follow/trust in/believe the teachings of Christ. Christ taught that He is God. To believe that teaching, you must agree that [a] God exists.
Therefore, one cannot be a Christian, and not believe in God.



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Old 04-25-2011, 11:33 AM   #40
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I voted no, for simply this reason: To be Christian is to follow/trust in/believe the teachings of Christ. Christ taught that He is God. To believe that teaching, you must agree that [a] God exists.
Therefore, one cannot be a Christian, and not believe in God.
I was gonna post this, but then I realised he already did

Therefore, my answer is, this


Yes
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