Sermon on God and Politics

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I went to a politicans forum here organized by the young democrats and young republicans and listened to 16 politicians, dems and repubs, men and women, for offices ranging from city councilmen to US representatives,  and all of these people except one began and ended their debates/speeches with a statement about how God had told them to pursue this office for the greater good of mankind.
Two of these guys, in fact, were ministers.  One was a democrat-episcopalian, and the other a republican-baptist. 
What they probably all are is bad readers.  I can't see how you can read the New Testament and walk away thinking that Jesus wants you to go into politics, or for that matter, thinking that Jesus wants you to join a church. 
I read a book called What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills--and his take on all of this (and he's a catholic) is that there is almost nothing in the NT (at least in the 4 gospels) that would have you honestly joining a church.  And I've read bible scholars who have pretty much said the said thing (Elaine Pagels/Karen Armstrong).  If Jesus wants you to do anything, he wants you to be good and help people.  See the Sermon on the Mount.  You don't need a church for that.  If anything, a church gets in the way, and also sets up a structure that is more about structure and power and politics and maintaining power than it is about anything that has to do with the soul.
I was brought up a catholic and I look back on the things I was taught and it's amazing how little of it came from the teachings of Jesus.  If jesus is point A, and the catholic church or any church is point Z, I don't think you can explain by either reason or faith how the one led to the other. 
Jesus says in the sermon on the mount, as plain as plain can be: if they strike you in the face, turn the other cheek. 
I don't think any of these preachers or politicians is advocating that.  In fact, I think what all of them are advocating is a rejection of Jesus's teachings and an acceptance of a sort of vision of the marriage of politics and religion that you get in the old testament.  America as a sort of Israel, a warrior state with a god who's angry at other nations. 
One of the preacher/politicans at this political forum said something very interesting.  He said that where there is faith there is no need for fear.  I thought: that's wisdom.  I don't think Jesus ever teaches fear.  And those politicians and preachers (what bruce springsteen in one song calls "those soul sucking preachers") who get you worked up with fear to be afraid of other people and other countries are probably doing the devil's work.
End of sermon.
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Dino Manalis Added Aug 3, 2017 - 5:18pm
 I have no problem with talking about God, but they should at least be honest, and not say God told them to enter politics.  They're joking and don't deserve our vote!
George N Romey Added Aug 3, 2017 - 7:25pm
Very good article John.  We seem to forget about what Jesus taught.
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 3, 2017 - 8:35pm
A few random thoughts...
Who is Garry Wills, and why would we be interested in his take on anything?  As a Catholic, if he knew his faith, his personal belief has to line up with what the Church teaches.  The Divine Revelation was handed to the Apostles, and their successors, the bishops.  Not individuals rendering their own personal opinions about what it meant.  (See 2 Peter 1:20)
With regard to "joining a church," one would have to define what one means by "church."  If one means the same thing St. Paul did, i.e., the Body of Christ, believers would feel compelled to join, in order to be united to Christ.  BTW, there is but one "church," because Jesus had only one Body.   Man-made Protestant denominations are, technically, not churches in the theological sense.  The word denomination,  itself, means "from the name of" meaning, it came from something else.  In this case they splintered off of the Church founded by Christ to have things their way, rather than His.
With regard to the NT telling anyone to go into politics, that's probably correct.  It's also correct that it didn't tell them not to go into politics, either.  The Word of God is more than the Bible, and the Bible is certainly not the Word of God if you interpret it to mean anything different than the authors meant it to say.  That means one needs an authoritative and authentic interpreter to get the message right.  
Patrick Writes Added Aug 3, 2017 - 9:00pm
You're making half a point. But if you want to help build houses for the poor, do you knock on doors asking people if you can build them a home by yourself? Or do you just join Habitat for Humanity? 
There are really good churches out there and really bad ones. Just choose a good one. (My personal opinion is the good Catholic churches out there are indistinguishable from good Protestant ones. There a lot of ancient "rules" and doctrines in Catholicism on the books which are bizarre and not in accordance with anything in the Bible and the Catholic churches which disregard these are the best ones. The message of the New Testament is Grace not fear--of hell--which seems to have been the traditional method of compliance in Catholicism.)
Patrick Writes Added Aug 3, 2017 - 9:01pm
ha, funny, my comment and Steve's ahead of mine directly contradict each other. ha.ha.
john guzlowski Added Aug 3, 2017 - 9:08pm
Steve, Wills is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. 
Garry Wills (born May 22, 1934)[2] is an American author, journalist, and historian, specializing in American history, politics, and religion, especially the history of the Catholic Church. He won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1993.
john guzlowski Added Aug 3, 2017 - 9:11pm
Patrick, there are good churches and bad ones. My Catholic Church was a bad one. 3 pedophilic priests.
Presently, I'm a member of a good one, a Unitarian one. 
But that's not the issue really.  
I want to see church and state separated. 
Patrick Writes Added Aug 3, 2017 - 9:32pm
Doesn't the New Testament say that God has called some to be teachers, pastors, bishops, elders, deacons, etc...? 
And not everyone in the body (of Christ) can be a eye or an ear or a hand? Why couldn't a person believe God called them to go into politics? Even if they are wrong, I don't see that as being necessarily against what Christianity says. 
I'd agree that Jesus wasn't the slightest bit interested in politics, or in the best form of government. And generally we don't need to enact morality or cultural mores into law (laws against interracial marriage, laws against this or that on Sunday, or even consensual homosexual acts). Trying to use the law to force people to act in compliance with religious practices. It's almost never necessary (or not anymore, if it ever was necessary). 
And this 'America is a Christian nation' mantra. How does this help anyone? Is it? Was it ever? It's certainly not today. One look at Hollywood or what people watch on TV or the behavior many of the big cities will shatter that illusion. So if this is what you're talking about, then I'd agree it's not helpful. This insistence of politicians to unnecessarily inject religiosity into their public speech (when they've got their politician hat on), into laws, into their mantras. 
Reagan did a bit of this but I don't have a problem with what he did. But Bush tried to imitate Reagan and it was dangerous when Bush did it. 
"Rid the world of evil" talk by Bush after 9/11. This was crazy talk. 
"Axis of Evil" speech was probably the worst speech in U.S. history as it related to foreign policy. It likely led to the election of Ahmadinejad in Iran (because Iran was actually compliant with us in the invasion of Afghanistan at the time, and softening toward the U.S. but that speech handed Iran to the hardliners, of the right wing, who started up it's nuclear program). 
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 7:09am
It seems to me people want to use Christianity as a hammer in Politics. This goes way back to the puritans and pilgrims, the early Christian settlers who were always ready to banish or arrest people who didn't see morality the way they did.
I see that that hasn't changed much.
Donna Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:02pm
Hi John,
This is my first commandment- There is more than one Goddess and God, respect each individuals right to honor the Goddess or God they chose.
2nd- All things are created equal,and each thing is created in an image of all. 
3rd-Do not speak ill of the Goddess, or Gods, for each thing that happens ,happens for a reason, or purpose that we may not be privy to know yet.
As you must guess i am not a Christian nor Catholic, however i like the article. )0(
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:04pm
Donna, God/Goddess/Gods/Goddesses make sense to me in ways that no tradition religion does.  
Donna Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:08pm
I am glad someone else is aware that traditional religions are  not all there is, i was taught by my grandmother and great Aunts. Old family traditions. Dad was Catholic, mom was a Sunday School teacher. For the Methodist church, said choose your own path, i followed my grams.. Found it more to my liking, and natural ability. Just makes more sense to me than other religions. )0(
Autumn Cote Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:24pm
Please note, I took down your recent submission because it's against the rules to post more than one article within a 48-hour period.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat!
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 4:52pm
Autumn, thanks.  I'll submit it tomorrow.  No problem.
Doug Plumb Added Aug 4, 2017 - 5:02pm
Its amazing what Christians think compared to the teachings. Its more amazing to read what atheists think vs the teachings. I read Kant to learn Christianity and recently did a movie called Dialectic to explain the rational aspect of Christianity and to help people put the evolutionary debate into clear context as well as to explain what is different about Christianity from all other religions using rational argument. I did another movie called Law, The Light Of Reason And Conscience to do the same thing but on a political angle. My first book, "Power Outage" is also about finding Christ and is on Smashwords, free.
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 6:09pm
Doug, I'll check out your book!  
EXPAT Added Aug 4, 2017 - 6:50pm
john. Your declaration that
"If Jesus wants you to do anything, he wants you to be good and help people."
Leads me to conclude that you do not think politicians want to help people, and that none of them are good.
In this you agree with President Trump who said: . "One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government."
If you support this idea, and also believe that all men are evil, then  only totalitarianism will work as a form of government.
But USA was founded on the precept  of participatory government.?
Religeon and politics are in separable.
They hold prayer breakfasts, mandatory church attendance, for  POYUS Family.
The Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives is one of the officers of the United States House of Representatives. The House cites the first half of Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 in the United States Constitution as giving it the authority to elect a Chaplain, "The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers".[1
So the only conclusion I can draw from your article, is that the Government of the USA are false Christians!  And that we are doomed to fail! Was that your intent?
On another post you spoke of your Jewish heritage. Here you say you were brought up Catholic. I am becoming suspicious!!!!
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 8:27pm
I'm suspicious of all religions.  Religions are man-made.  I believe in God but don't believe that he tells one man he should start such and such a religion and another man that he should start another sort of religion.  I don't believe in religion but I believe that religions do serve a purpose.  As Isaac Bashevis Singer --a non-believer-- said, without religion the chaos and evil in the world would be worse. 
My Jewish or Christian heritage?
My parents were both Christians, Catholics to be exact.  I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools for 12 years, thought about being a priest for a long time.
My father "looked" Jewish to the Germans who took him to a concentration camp and enslaved him.  They demanded to see his penis before they decided not to kill him, just enslave him.
My mother was raised Catholic, but she had two aunts who married Jewish boys.  The aunts and their husbands died in Auschwitz.
This is what I say here and elsewhere.  Please show me where I didn't say this.
My father was a believer all his life.  My mother's faith was destroyed by what she saw in the camps.
Here's a poem about my father's faith.  Garrison Keillor, an American radio personality, read it on his program.
What My Father Believed 

He didn't know about the Rock of Ages
or bringing in the sheaves or Jacob's ladder
or gathering at the beautiful river
that flows beneath the throne of God.
He'd never heard of the Baltimore Catechism
either, and didn't know the purpose of life
was to love and honor and serve God.

He'd been to the village church as a boy
in Poland, and knew he was Catholic
because his mother and father were buried
in a cemetery under wooden crosses.
His sister Catherine was buried there too.

The day their mother died Catherine took
to the kitchen corner where the stove sat,
and cried. She wouldn't eat or drink, just cried
until she died there, died of a broken heart.
She was three or four years old, he was five.

What he knew about the nature of God
and religion came from the sermons
the priests told at mass, and this got mixed up
with his own life. He knew living was hard,
and that even children are meant to suffer.
Sometimes, when he was drinking he'd ask,
"Didn't God send his own son here to suffer?"

My father believed we are here to lift logs
that can't be lifted, to hammer steel nails
so bent they crack when we hit them.
In the slave labor camps in Germany,
He'd seen men try the impossible and fail.

He believed life is hard, and we should
help each other. If you see someone
on a cross, his weight pulling him down
and breaking his muscles, you should try
to lift him, even if only for a minute,
even though you know lifting won't save him.
john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 8:30pm
Do politicians want to help people?
I've known politicians personally.  In Chicago, in Kentucky, in Georgia, and here in Virginia.
The majority seemed committed to helping themselves and the people who backed them.  They had little concern for the people who didn't.  
That seems to be true now and true to American history.   
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 4, 2017 - 9:22pm
Patrick, you are making an assumption that doesn't hold up.  Not everything Christ taught and did is in the Bible.  (See John 21:25).  Yet, Jesus commanded the Apostles (and, by extension, their successors, the bishops), to teach all that He had taught. (See Matt. 25:20.)  The Catholic Church, alone, received the deposit of faith from Christ.  If one was Christian for the first 1000 years of Christianity, one was Catholic.  There was nothing else.  In 1054 A.D., the Orthodox separated, but kept Apostolic succession.  Not until 1517 A.D. did Protestantism begin, and it has been splintering ever since, into tens of thousands of man-made denominations based on personal interpretation of Scripture. (against 2 Peter 1:20, BTW)  The Catholic Church alone, it seems, does not claim the authority to change what Christ taught, and has never changed a doctrine in 2000 years.  So, if you think the Catholic Church has a doctrine that goes against your interpretation of the Bible, then you can rest assured that your interpretation is in error.  It's just that simple.  Jesus didn't write a Bible to spread His truths.  He created a Church to spread His truths.  The Church wrote SOME of that down in what we call the New Testament today.  But it is the Church that is the "pillar and foundation of truth" according to 2 Tim 3:15.  Not the individual, personally interpreting his translated version of the Bible.  One has only to look at the results of that approach, with Protestantism's tens of thousands of doctrinally disagreeing denominations.  
Jeff Jackson Added Aug 4, 2017 - 10:39pm
The Catholic church and the monarchs of Europe were inseparable for centuries.Henry VIII got tired of the Catholics and seized their wealth in England and established his own form of religion.
The founders of the United States wanted nothing to do with the incestuous relationship between church and state, which is why "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion." Whatever religion you choose was fine with the founders, they just wanted to church/state rulers to go away. We are now seeing laws that come from the holy scriptures of certain religions to be incompatible with the rights and freedoms that our country holds sacred. Feel free to practice your religion, just do not attempt to impose it upon others, at least not here in the U.S. 
EXPAT Added Aug 5, 2017 - 1:39am
john. I said: "On another post you spoke of your Jewish heritage. Here you say you were brought up Catholic. I am becoming suspicious!!!! "
Based on your declaration:

john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 2:14pm

My father was a prisoner in Buchenwald.  He saw his friends castrated, hanged, beaten to death, starved.  But it wasn't a death camp.  It was -- as he said many times -- a slow death camp.
About 1 out of 4 prisoners died each year.  
These are the official statistics.  
Auschwitz?  If only a handful of people died at the resort you describe, my Polish Catholic aunts were two of them.

john guzlowski Added Aug 4, 2017 - 2:45pm

Tom, my dad didn't get reparations.  The krauts lost his paper work.  They only found it after his death.
My mom received her reparations.  1500 bucks for 3 years in the camps.  And 30 bucks or so a month for the rest of her life.
She used to say that the krauts gave her 1500 bucks as if that could pay her back for the death of her mom and her aunt and her aunt's baby (kicked to death by a German).  
If you want to read about her reparations, here's a piece I wrote about it.  
Why are you so defensive?
My parents were both Christians, Catholics to be exact.  I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools for 12 years, thought about being a priest for a long time.
My father "looked" Jewish to the Germans who took him to a concentration camp and enslaved him.  They demanded to see his penis before they decided not to kill him, just enslave him.
My mother was raised Catholic, but she had two aunts who married Jewish boys.  The aunts and their husbands died in Auschwitz.
This is what I say here and elsewhere.  Please show me where I didn't say this.
A simple statement to clarify, is all that was needed!
Defensive people usually have something to hide!

john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:15am
Expat, I said my dad was in Buchenwald.  You didn't have to be Jewish to be there.  Most of the prisoners in fact were not Jewish.  
My dad said it was like the united nations there.  He met people (Catholic, Jewish, even Muslim there) from all countries.
In fact about 2 million Non Jewish Poles where slave laborers in Germany.  
People assume that you had to be Jewish to be in a concentration camp.  Not true.
Even Auschwitz had a substantial non-Jewish group of prisoners.
I recommend a book called This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish Catholic writer who was sentenced to Auschwitz.
Dave Volek Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:08am
America is far from true participatory government. See Political Parties Create an Exclusive Club.  
BTW, I read John's comments on the Auschwitz post(s). While I came to certain assumptions as well as you, I didn't see any conflict with what he had said here and there. He just provided more information to change assumptions.
Excellent article. It's interesting that you found your way to the Unitarians. They have a unique theology.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:26am
Sums up what I feel about the hypocrisy that goes on with religion. Those politicians were using religion. The church and all its popes, cardinals, bishops and priests have used it.
Great article John.
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 11:37am
Expat, I like unitarians.  They come from Whitman and Thoreau and Emerson -- men that are my true Jesus.  
But thought I lean toward the UUs, I'm fundamentally a loner when it comes to faith and the spirit and god.  
I go to their meetings (we talk about books or social activism) but I don't stick around for the services, the sermons. 
They always make me feel like I'm in a small space with too many frightened people.
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 11:38am
Thanks, Opher.  Power corrupts.  
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 11:39am
sure does.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 1:00pm
I'm curious if anyone can clear this up. In John's Gospel when asked who is superior him or Moses Jesus says" The God that Moses worshipped, I am that God".
    Thus Jesus said he was Jehovah. The Gospel also says he ascended to Heaven, so he was a God.
   But, what Jesus wanted more than anything was the approval of his Father. He says" Eloha, Eloha, lemma sabachtani" or " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me".
     If Jesus was Jehovah, then how can he be his own Father?
Dave Volek Added Aug 5, 2017 - 6:04pm
This is the mystery of the Holy Scriptures. It's hard to know when God or the Prophets are talking literally or metaphorically. If metaphorically, then what is the metaphor. I've tried reading the Koran, and it too is full of mysterious language. 
I'm always amazed when certain religionists believe they have interpreted God's words, thus attaining the correct theology.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 6:42pm
Barath the gospels were written a long time after the deaths of all the Disciples. Nobody knows who wrote them. They are not going to be very good records of what was said or what wasn't.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 6:44pm
Dave - Constantine chucked out all the major conflicting stories in the Bible. What we have is a mish-mash of bits. Who knows what Jesus thought, believed or said? Nobody should take any of it literally. We do not even know who the authors were.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 7:04pm
I've got a theory on that. Jesus was Jehovah. Shiva was his Father, but Jesus was adopted.
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:42pm
The believers have faith that what they see is what is there.  The skeptics, like me, see the writing and say, it could mean this or that.  We don't have the "benefit" of faith to pull the spider webs from our eyes.  
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:43pm
Jeff, FYI...
    Henry VIII wasn't "tired of Catholics."  He requested from Rome that he be given an annulment so he could marry again.  The Church refused, and he appointed himself as supreme head of the Church in England.  The Pope then excommunicated him.  Despite being excommunicated, Henry remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings.
   With regard to the founding fathers, their concern was not protecting the government from the church, but protecting the church from the government.  Today's "interpretation" of this issue is backwards, which to me, is really no big surprise.  
     I'm unaware of anyone trying to "force" their religion on anyone in the U.S., with the possible exception of the Muslims.  Christians "propose" the faith, not "impose" the faith.  
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:54pm
Steve, Christians are trying to impose their beliefs on abortion, homosexuality, and health care.  When I talk to Christian Trump supporters that's what they see Trump doing, and why they supported him.  
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 9:18pm
  I'm sometimes similar, I accept what the Lord shows me, if I can't disprove it, then I say Spiritual miracles might be true, but then I'm a man and I want to live in the mortal world, so I still want most of the same things I wanted when I was younger and didn't believe in Spiritual things.
In any case you're intelligent, if you don't have faith follow reason, it will lead you to faith. There is more to reality even then what you can see, though if you see, you will begin to believe, and when you believe then there is no limit to how far you can go.To what you can know.
The World could be better, if people knew that the reality that they cling to is often a very harsh one, and that the Lord can even bring a little bit of Heaven to earth or to your backyard.
If I were a kid I'd want to live in Disneyland everyday. But most people only get to visit for a day or two. The Lord is the best reality possible, imagine the authorities tried to place you in a dungeon or hell on earth, but Lord turned it into a beautiful garden with songbirds, fresh herbs, flowers and caring animals. Imagine the best world we can have and that's what the Lord's reality is. That's really the way the world should be.
The government invented GPS, and global surveillance, they thought it was advanced technology. The Lord could outsmart and out strategize them with squirrels. Nature has awesome GPS, global tracking, radar, communication systems.
Sounds funny, but why fight God?
John Lennon said Imagine there's no Heaven, I say Imagine that there is.
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 9:42pm
I can imagine God and Heaven and a wizard named Harry Potter.  I can imagine a world where everyone greets everyone with a kiss and a hug, and differences that cause me to kill other men are completely unimportant.  
Like Gandhi, I want a world where Hindu and Muslim live together, where Jews and Christians live together.
Tell me how I can get there. 
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:03pm
Learn the history of how we are all related, every culture and religion which has been buried under the attempt to show there is only One true God or religion.
The answers are all around you, in all branches of study and in all professions. Our interconectedness and shared history is more a reality than how we are divided and separate.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:09pm
In Hebrew the Cardinal and ordinal numeral for 7 is:
7 ז‎ (shiv'a) שִׁבְעָה (sheva') שֶׁבַע
john guzlowski Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:10pm
Yes, absolutely, I agree with you.  
How owe do we show this, teach this to others?
Our religions and governments don't teach it?
They teach the opposite.  
God sees men working together to build a tower and he forces them to speak a billion different languages! 
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 10:10pm
It's not just an accident.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 12:29am
Put sugar in your coffee everyday, Say a prayer first to bless the coffee,
The Lord will show you the rest.
Make sure it's pure cane sugar.
Mircea Negres Added Aug 6, 2017 - 2:54am
Whenever somebody claims to have been told by God or Yeshua bar Yosef to do or say something, this quote from the movie Dogma comes in handy:
Metatron: Metatron acts as the voice of God. Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims God has spoken to them, they're speaking to me. Or they're talking to themselves.
Next time I hear a politician say such nonsense, I'll ask "Excuse me sir/ma'am, but have you ever been checked for schizophrenia, delusions of grandeur, the Messiah complex and Jerusalem Syndrome?" Nice post.
john guzlowski Added Aug 6, 2017 - 7:07am
Barath, I will bless the coffee and listen for the lord.
john guzlowski Added Aug 6, 2017 - 7:10am
Mircea, thank you for the post.  The lord does not speak to me.  
Beauty, kindness, peace, love, humor, misery, death, life speak to me.
They tell me to hope.
Hope is our mother.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 7:31am
But let faith brings us strength,let strength bring us hope, let hope brings us love.
Variation on Into the Fire, lyric Bruce Springsteen 
I've hoped for many things in my life, most of us have, often was disappointed, but the when I had faith things that I always hoped for began to come to me.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 8:02am
      God has all kinds of ways of communicating to people, through music, scripture, history, nature. The Lord has innumerable weapons of salvation.
      I know I've seen Elmer Gantry. But, I just do the work allotted to me. I take care of my property; vote, study, write, write music, publish, pray, participate.
      I'm always surprised when the Lord shows me something new. I say wow, I didn't believe in that, that's a wonder.
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 6, 2017 - 8:19am
I guess we have to define what we mean by "impose," then.  When I think of the word impose, I think of me standing there with a gun telling you, 'Become Christian or I'll blow you away!"  Not merely trying to influence you, or make propositions that you become Christian.
With regard to political issues, Christians are citizens and have every right to influence the political process as you do, for whatever reason they or you choose.  Yes?  Or are you saying that Christians don't have an equal right to influence the laws of this land?   
The laws of this country have, from the beginning, been based on Judeo-Christian values/morals.  The anti-Christian influence is from Karl Marx, and is nothing more than a tool to undermine the morality of a country in order to make it easier to enslave its citizens under Communism.  It really has absolutely nothing, at its root, to do with freedom.
The moral demise of a nation always precedes its ultimate demise.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 9:12am
People with good intentions have tried to help me, they saw me go through things human beings shouldn't have to go through and thought Christianity would save me from more suffering.
My Landlord was not ill intentioned.  Maybe any religion could have saved me, or maybe I chose the one that is best for me, but my path is difficult, filled with dangers.
     Christians are the majority religion, good people just want them to be fair and good when they are involved in politics, I actually appreciate when people stand up for being good, honest, fair, and if we have freedom it is only because the lord is merciful.
   Paraphrasing:  Out of the misfortune of crucifixion, a new thing has come, a free man and a free country. The United States of America, and when the whips of the oppressors are broken and their names forgotten, free men will be walking and talking under a free star.
    We have said a man shall own his own soul.
      Yes we have planted freedom in the soil like wheat.
That comes from a movie.
Patrick Writes Added Aug 6, 2017 - 8:56pm
@Steve - Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic church for, pretty much, speaking out against 1 teaching of the Catholic Church. The sale of indulgences. Buying preemptive forgiveness for sins. Is that in line with Jesus's teaching? They built St. Peter's Basilica in Rome off the sale of these . 
Luther never wanted to break away from the Catholic Church but had no choice. He raised an issue about something he thought they were doing wrong and they kicked him out (and that, in those days was akin to a death sentence). 
The amount of time spent on how churches should be organized in the New Testament was very small (and mainly focuses on the roles of pastor, overseerer / bishop, and deacon). That's it. No preeminence of the 'bishop of Rome' / Pope, no apostolic succession. Nothing about secret knowledge being passed to the future popes. 
Do you believe the call to 1st crusade by the Pope and those who died in battle would go straight to heaven as being sanctioned by Christ?  Did Jesus ever talk about dying in battle getting you a ticket straight to heaven? 
Patrick Writes Added Aug 6, 2017 - 9:04pm
@Steve - Furthermore, if God looks at the heart, what does he care about Christians in North America and Christians in Brazil calling themselves different (Denominational) names if they are following his teaching and have the Holy Spirit? 
I don't see the presence of denominations being a problem, personally. These days it's popular for startup churches to be completely non-denominational. They're just Christian, nothing more. I don't see a problem with that. 
If you want to point fingers a major problems in a church body, surely with the priest scandals of recent years in Catholicism around the world, you'd want to just 'not go there'. 
Only the Catholic Church got all of Jesus's teaching? This is self-evidently wrong. The New Testament says Peter was married for instance (but was the "first Pope"). How do you reconcile this (since "church teaching" says priests can't marry)? 
Or that Jesus had brothers (listed in something like 3 places in the New Testament AND in the writings of Josephus). But the "church teaching" says Mary was a perpetual virgin. How do you reconcile this? 
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 9:37pm
Jesus didn't say to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the United States did it anyway. General Eisenhower, President Truman, weren't Christian  and the United States wasn't a Christian country?
Well, tell me how they went to Heaven?
Patrick Writes Added Aug 7, 2017 - 2:00am
My point is not to start a Catholics v. Protestant debate except to say that there are a LOT of weird utterances of Popes during the centuries, especially during Medieval times which we all can agree could be set aside and disregarded. Otherwise, why don't you buy some indulgences now? It's a sweet deal, right? Buy some, then go have an affair, it's already forgiven?
That's in the Sermon on the Mount, right? 

Blessed are they that buy preemptive forgiveness from the future 'Bishop of Rome' (aka the Pope) and then go commit some sins? They shall inherit the earth alongside the meek? 
Blessed are they that choose to invade Jerusalem and slaughter all those within, Jew and Muslim alike so the streets run red with blood, heaven shall be theirs? 

Woe to them who live under a king that the Pope puts under Papal Interdict to evoke compliance to church law. They shall suffer in purgatory? 
Come on man, surely you can concede a few Popes got something wrong here and there. I could go on. 
Purgatory??? This is on the books in Catholicism. Never mentioned in scripture. 
Mary????? Praying to her is idolatry. 
(Another: The concept of a priest is a go-between for the divine and man. But the Bible says Jesus is our High Priest, our go-between. You don't need an earthly "priest" to act as a go between yourself and God. Because you already have one in Jesus. You can, all by your lonesome, approach the throne of God in prayer boldly in the name of Jesus and ask him for whatever you want--if it's not line with God's plan, you probably won't get it, but God tells you to ask away. His parables stress that he likes to be asked. He wants to be part of your daily life. The same way you probably like to be part of your adult children's lives, and those of your grandkids. Same with God and you.
You can even ask for miracles in your own life, lay hands on the sick--YOU can, you have authority from God in Jesus name. It's in scripture, even those who didn't believe performed miracles imitating Paul and casting out demons.) 
Patrick Writes Added Aug 7, 2017 - 2:18am
Since I never convey my points properly it seems, and getting back to my original comment here, some Catholic churches out there are probably fine. Those that disregard some of the stranger, Medieval doctrines on the books, and stick to what's in scripture are probably fine enough churches to attend. That was my original point which I stand by.
Apostolic succession is never really established in my reading of the New Testament so I don't acknowledge it. The passages Steve has offered, if read in context, are not talking about Apostolic succession or bishops (2 Peter 1:20 is talking about the disciplines sharing and writing down their testimony of Jesus, stressing they they saw his glory with their eyes and their written testimony comes from the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit established their testimony through the miracles they performed, and this makes their testimony trustworthy). 
john guzlowski Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:46am
Patrick, I would love to see a document actually written by an apostle about what he saw and heard.
it would be like nothing else in The New Testament. 
john guzlowski Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:50am
I remember 12 years of Catholic education. When we asked about whether the church or the New Testament was to be followed, the nuns and priests always said follow the church.  The church understands what Jesus meant in ways we would never be able to.  
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 7, 2017 - 2:36pm
Hey, Patrick!  Happy Monday!
   The answers to your issues would take far to much to print on a forum, but I can touch on some of them, and provide some  light.
With regard to Martin Luther and the Church, the Catholic Church has never had a doctrine on the "sale of indulgences," whatsoever, at any time. This was an error on the part of some individuals.  
   A little background may be helpfulful.   I'll try to give the shortened, Reader's Digest version.   At some point in history, Europe suffered the plague, which killed about 1/3 of the population.  It was terrible!  Since all Christians were Catholics back in those days, when you became seriously ill, one of the first things you did was you called for the priest to get the Sacrament of the Sick.   The priests would come over, anoint the dying, etc., as requested.  But, in so doing, the majority of priests contracted the plague, and died, too.  The Church more or less panicked, and decided they had to have more priests right away!  So, they began ordaining young men, teaching them the basics of how to say Mass, hear Confessions, etc., without the theological background that had always been required.  They also neglected to spiritually form these young men, something equally as important.  So, what you ended up with was a lot of worldly people who didn't know the faith, operating as priests.
   With regard to the office of Pope, it is not by his own power that he has authority, but by Christ's.  A careful reading of Matt. 16:18-19, in light of Isaiah 22:22, shows that Jesus created a position of authority on earth similar to the position of second-in-command in kingdoms of that day.  When the king was unavailable (off to war, sick, visiting another kingdom, etc.), the royal steward (2nd in charge) governed the kingdom with the authority of the king.  Whatever he "bound" or "loosed" while the king was away, the king upheld when he returned.  Likewise, Jesus established such an office and installed St. Peter as the first one to hold that office.  Holding an office does not, in any way, guarantee that you will be a perfect administrator.  In this case, though, Jesus guaranteed that whoever held that office would never make a doctrinal error.   There have been some very scandalous popes, but they never declared erroneous doctrines (too busy being bad? LOL).
    With regard to Purgatory, IF you know how to read the Bible, the concept is certainly there.  Read 2 Macc. 12:46 for starters. Let me know if you want the rest of the references. (You may not have that book, since Martin Luther changed the cannon of the Bible, on his own authority, to use the Hebrew version of Scriptures rather than the Septuagent version.  Scripture scholars say that about 80% of the references in the New Testament to the Old Testament come from the Septuagent version, BTW.)
    Even Martin Luther and John Calvin had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary, and prayed to her.  Read the Gospel of Luke where Mary says all generations will call her blessed.
    Let me encourage you to read writings of the Early Church Fathers, the first Christians, and see how they believed and worshiped.  They are clearly in line with Catholic beliefs and practices.  (Let me know if you don't know who they are, and I can point you in the right direction.)
Patrick Writes Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:39pm
Patrick Writes Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:39pm
From link above:
"Nevertheless, we do hold to the doctrine of indulgences and to the practice of granting them.  Perhaps motivated by doubts and confusion over indulgences after Vatican Council II, Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences (1967) stated, “They would appear to be solidly founded on divine Revelation, handed down from the Apostles.”  Even the Catechism has a section on indulgences."
George N Romey Added Aug 7, 2017 - 8:58pm
A comment on Trump.  I think Trump will say what he will say to get support.  The birther comments and the "walk back" are a perfect example.  Its Marketing 101.  Relate to your audience.
As far as politicians.  Most probably have good intentions but the realities of fundraising the expected return on investment means that the $100K check writer's interest will come first.  Publicly financed elections and the riddance of PACs could change that, at least to a certain degree. 
john guzlowski Added Aug 7, 2017 - 9:22pm
Steve seems to be one of those that feels the church is right about everything the church says.  
And we can understand what the church means if we read the New Testament carefully, i.e., the way that the church wants.  
The fact is that not everyone reads the NT the way the Catholic Church wants it read. 
As a result there are about 35,000 different Christian sects.  
I don't know what this finally means.
That Christ's message is so ambiguous that nobody except the pope can figure it out? 
Patrick Writes Added Aug 8, 2017 - 2:21am
@John - I'd argue it's partly that and partly just cultural issues. 
There are endless divisions on what is going on in Communion and baptism and how to administer these sacraments. Fine. 
Most theologians are basically lawyers (Luther and Calvin were educated as lawyers) who break things down in legal language so there is no confusion. If theologian A broke things down is subtly different language than theologian B, two different denominations. 
Today there are disagreements about women as pastors, homosexuals as members, as pastors, about the theory of evolution, abortion, gay marriage, miracles, the status of Jews and Israel, the Rapture, millennialism, amillennialism, the list goes on. 
I don't see the different numbers of denominations as a problem. These days for new churches, you see communities coming together to start a church and choosing to be non-denominational. That's maybe the best because dwelling on these tiny, tiny differences at some point becomes unhelpful. It doesn't seem weird to me but that's maybe because I'm used to it. 
Don Added Aug 9, 2017 - 11:41am
Jesus helping the poor and the marginalized is a childrens’ Sunday school version. Jesus modeled the real behavior He expected. He then commissioned the disciples and us to go do it. He gave them and us power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness Matt 10:1, Matt 10:8, Luke 9:9. After His death, the early Christians followed His instructions. Those who don’t know the Bible is about the supernatural will never really understand it.
john guzlowski Added Aug 9, 2017 - 1:05pm
Don, so what happened?  The church is what happened.  
Religion became a business, became about power and money.
Whip the money lenders!  
Whip them till they leave the place of worship!
Steve Bergeron Added Aug 10, 2017 - 2:21pm
   The Church isn't right about everything it says, nor does it claim to be.  It is right, however, about its doctrines, which it received from Christ, and hasn't changed for 2000 years.  Why?  Because it does not claim to have the authority to change Christ's teaching.  It has a responsibility to hand on the deposit of faith given it through Divine Revelation.
    IF Christ intended His teachings to be spread solely by a book, then He would have said so.  That would have been very impractical, though, since until the last century or so, the vast majority of humanity were illiterate.  He taught orally when He walked the earth.  He wrote no books, nor did He tell anyone else to.  He trained 12 men for about three years, and established a (one) Church, as the instrument of choice to spread His truths.  This one Church has done so now for about 2000 years.  Does this Church have sinners in its midst?  Absolutely!  It was so from the beginning.  Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, betrayed Him.  Peter, the one He chose to first run His Church, denied Him three times.  The rest, except for St. John, deserted Him like cowards during His hour of need.  Yet, He still chose them and gave them, and their successors, His authority to teach and preach.  He didn't give that to the masses.  He didn't hand out King James bibles and tell the Apostles, "Go make as many copies of this as you can and give them out to everyone, telling them that whatever they imagine it says, is true."  Yet, we have 35,000 denominations who act like it.  Anytime anyone tells you that they have read the Bible and come up with some "new" revelation, run.  There is no new Divine Revelation.  That stopped with the death of the last Apostle.  
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 11, 2017 - 11:06am
John: I don't if it helps but I always liked this U2 lyric from The Joshua Tree album:
And in the world a heart of darkness
A fire zone
Where poets speak their heart
Then bleed for it
Jara sang, his song a weapon
In the hands of One
You know his blood still cries
From the ground
I don't believe in painted roses
Or bleeding hearts
While bullets rape the night of the merciful
I'll see you again
When the stars fall from the sky
And the moon has turned red
Over One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill, U2
john guzlowski Added Aug 12, 2017 - 12:48pm
Dennis, enjoyed your comment about God on Twitter.  Interestingly, I wrote a series of Twitter poems that try to re imagine Genesis! 

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