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Discussion of Christianity, the Church, and theology

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John 3:16 KJV: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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Thread for discussing and sharing literature relevant to the Christian faith.

I bought a copy of The Pilgrim's Progress, I read it years ago in high school and I really wanted to go through it again without staring at a PDF, and it makes for good reading before bed. I had no idea there was a part two in the story as well, where after Christian makes it to the Celestial City his wife and children go on their own journey to it as well. Apparently in high school we only ever read part one.

What have you been reading lately?
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Methodist literature has been interesting.

The separation has led me to seek out historical works, biographies and sermons. "The Garden of American Methodism" was a very nice book on methodism's start alongside the Church of England and how they shaped America after the Revolutionary War. 

I have the "Autobiography of Peter Cartwright" on my computer but have to carve out the time to begin.
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I finished recently the first two volumes of the Book of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe. My first read through so I felt like I was beat over the head having to stop every other sentence to google all the obscure words Wolfe uses. I will definitely get the Lexicon to use for the next read through. I picked this up because I had heard that Wolfe injected his Christian devotion into the work in a similar manner as Tolkien. Great story thus far but a difficult read through on the first go unless you are a vocabulary savant.  
35 sec Lore video
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I've been reading a whole bunch of stuff, mainly Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, but besides that, a lot of Bavinck, Kierkegaard, and Luther. One passage in the Institutes of Christian Religion which really made me think recently, was one where Calvin once again quotes Augustine (he quotes him every other page) speaking about predestination and grace, and he related it to the man Christ, rather than the God Christ. It made me realize that I don't consider Jesus a man enough, and regardless of whether or not I understand that he is fully man and fully divine, it's tough for me to hear someone speak of the manhood of Christ without having an initial negative reaction, even though I know there's nothing wrong with recognizing his manhood. But rather than lessening my respect for Jesus Christ, I discovered that thinking more upon his fully human nature only amplified how I already felt about him. It is good to know he is fully man and fully divine, but I think it's something entirely different, and something I haven't attained to yet, to truly understand what that means.

>We must devote an additional Chapter to the solution of this question. For there are some men, more subtle than orthodox, who, though they confess that Christ obtained salvation for us, yet cannot bear the word merit, by which they suppose the grace of God is obscured. So they maintain that Christ is only the instrument or minister, not, as he is called by Peter, the Author, or Leader, and “Prince of life.” I grant, indeed, if any man would oppose Christ simply and alone to the judgment of God, there would be no room for merit; because it is impossible to find in man any excellence which can merit the favour of God; nay, as Augustine most truly observes, “The brightest illustration of predestination and grace is the Saviour himself, the man Christ Jesus, who has acquired this character in his human nature, without any previous merit either of works or of faith. Let any one tell me, how that man merited the honour of being assumed into one person with the Word, who is coëternal with the Father, and so becoming the only begotten Son of God. Thus the fountain of grace appears in our Head, and from him diffuses its streams through all his members according to their respective capacities. Every one, from the commencement of his faith, is made a Christian, by the same grace, by which this man, from the commencement of his existence, was made the Christ.” Again, in another treatise, Augustine says, “There is not a more illustrious example of predestination than the Mediator himself. For he who made of the seed of David this righteous man, so that he never was unrighteous, without any previous merit of his will, converts unrighteous persons into righteous ones, and makes them members of that Head,” &c. When we speak of the merit of Christ, therefore, we do not consider him as the origin of it, but we ascend to the ordination of God, which is the first cause; because it was of his mere good pleasure, that God appointed him Mediator to procure salvation for us. And thus it betrays ignorance to oppose the merit of Christ to the mercy of God. For it is a common maxim, that between two things, of which one succeeds or is subordinate to the other, there can be no opposition. There is no reason, therefore, why the justification of men should not be gratuitous from the mere mercy of God, and why at the same time the merit of Christ should not intervene, which is subservient to the mercy of God. But to our works are directly and equally opposed the gratuitous favour of God and the obedience of Christ, each in its respective place. For Christ could merit nothing except by the good pleasure of God, by which he had been predestinated to appease the Divine wrath by his sacrifice, and to abolish our transgressions by his obedience. To conclude, since the merit of Christ depends solely on the grace of God, which appointed this method of salvation for us, therefore his merit and that grace are with equal propriety opposed to all the righteousnesses of men.
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Finished the first part of Pilgrim's Progress. A very good portrayal of the many challenges we will encounter during our journey to Christ. I would have to go over the last argument between Christian and Ignorant though, some of the old English makes it a bit hard to determine what is being argued.
Now onto part two, which I never knew existed.
Since Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary he is a the Son of Man
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>is a the
is the*
im not Italian
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I've been reading some Puritans, mostly Jonathan Edwards, and man is this guy harsh. I can't help but agree with him in many places, but still. This quote is from his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", but if I were to recommend anyone to read just one work by him, it'd be The Religious Affections.
>The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet ’tis nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment: ’Tis to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to Hell the last night; that you were suffer’d to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep: and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into Hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up: There is no other reason to be given why you han’t gone to Hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship: Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into Hell.
I just read the whole sermon after reading your quote. Terrifying stuff. I remember this sermon was required reading in public school, but we never got around to it. Same with the KJV Bible, which was on the list for English class, yet we never opened it in class or received any reading assignments in it.

I was disappointed that he did not give the Gospel after a sermon like that (it's possible that he did and it's not in the transcript). I hope whoever heard that sermon was told what he needed to do to be saved. It's what Christ has done, alone, that saves. One only needs to believe that he did that for me. 
>"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Romans 4:5 KJV
we talked about his sermons at my school, his congregation would be begging, crying, and screaming at the end of it for mercy, so it did get the message across. however i don't think the "believe in God or you'll go to hell" message works today, you shouldn't be believing just out of fear of what he'd do to you. that's arguably worse than pascal's wager. you don't want people to believe, you want them to want to believe.
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I understand where you're coming from, but it's possible that there's no other way around it for most. If you preach to someone that he must be saved, without making him ponder the answer to the question: "saved from what?", what kind of a response can you expect? I once gave the Gospel to an old retired man near the end of his life who told me he "doesn't see any need for God". How would you answer him?

>"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom..." Proverbs 9:10 KJV

>"22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And 'others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire'; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Jude 1:22-23 KJV

The lyric from Amazing Grace comes to mind:
 >’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
  And grace my fears relieved;
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I have heard good things about Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose but i have not read it yet.
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I've never successfully converted an old man or anyone for that matter but I've come from the hard atheist nihilism out into a light of sorts. God-fearing is amongst several other concepts that I haven't adopted because I anticipate no hate at all from God. Scripture that commands my death for being a degenerate is just something I consider to be an old semi-deprecated lesson for those more primitive and more depraved, because the only alternative is to either embrace the Old Testament's levels of spite that appeared worse than imperfect man's, (an internal inconsistency worse than merely being scriptually neglectful) or to be left with dropping away again from religion entirely as God's hatred of me was before my awareness of wrongdoing and will never be sated unless I reach a level of belief comparable to that of a martyred saint which I might never attain.

The reason I'm happy with my explanation is not merely because I'm able to get some desired thing I want from it (ex. pro-homo bishops when they ignore all scripture damning sodomy) but because it sews up this contradiction that I wasn't okay with; that it makes no sense for a God that is all-loving to, in a simultaniousness moment, maintain a state of all-hating also. Even with understanding the idea of having no temporal separation or start/end it is a hard concept to admit to a Father who loves his children.

These may seem like stupid flaky Protestant problems to you, but consider coming from a point of no-faith being the default rather than it being overly superstitious Middle-Ages. Why is God holding a grotesque spider over some flames when even I would move said spider? If I am hardly as forgiving as God is?

The old man example ought to be one where you explain that God provides wholesome aims and a purpose for man which would otherwise lead to materiel worship and purposeless apathy. The apathy and it's consequences you've already seen. The materiel worship and it's fleeting blip of faux happiness you've already seen. I'd then go into examples of the health service which doesn't work because nobody cares, or the police service which doesn't work because nobody cares, which specifically attract evil people because these industries see things like sloth and lust and greed as self-serving virtues to be regularly affirmed and supported. If it's pointed out that they would work if they had secular training or more money, point out that they receive an abundance of training and money and that lack of shared moral purpose is why they're the way they are. I'd expect an old man to understand as his health is increasingly dependent on a machine headed by Godless bean pushers.

I think whatever motives the thread started over doctrinally matter less to me than whoever genuinely gives a damn (to which Paul had something similar to say) but that my opinions on Catholics and Orthodox are both in higher regard than where I'm from (Protestant) because we've been co-opted into a world of pain for which we might never get out, and maybe that's why doctrinal adherence has to be emphasised as our own losing sight of it was a mistake. It's just since it's presumably hard to fit a playing card between the two doctrinally, that you get a subjective yard stick for whose practice loves more or who preaches better/more effectively or whose adherence is less spotty.
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>God's hatred of me was before my awareness of wrongdoing and will never be sated unless I reach a level of belief comparable to that of a martyred saint which I might never attain.
The whole reason the Father sent Jesus was to accomplish the work to save us that we could never do. Don't think of faith/belief as a level or amount. The only amount of faith you need is this: If you die and God asks "why should I let you into Heaven?", your answer is: "I don't deserve it, I deserve Hell, but Jesus promised that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. His life, death, and resurrection was for me. He paid my way." A practical tip: you can make your trust in Jesus stronger by tentatively considering how you would stand up to the final judgment if you were to be judged on your works alone (answering to a God who demands perfect rightousness). I know that I wouldn't stand a chance, so it makes me think: "I'm trusting that Jesus paid it all, because if it turns out that doesn't work, I never stood a chance anyway". When you realize you have nothing to offer God, you realize what good news the Gospel really is: God loves you so much he did absolutely everything needed for you to be saved. You just have to take him at his word.

>it makes no sense for a God that is all-loving to, in a simultaniousness moment, maintain a state of all-hating also
It's possible for a person to love one thing and hate another at the same time. It's not a contradiction. God is merciful and loving, but God is also just. Justice demands a penalty for rebellion, and God loved us enough to make that payment for us - by sending Jesus to live the life of obedience we couldn't live, die the death we deserve, and rise from the dead to prove God accepted the payment.

>The old man example ought to be one where you explain that God provides wholesome aims and a purpose...
But this is probably what he believed already. I got the sense that he was contented with his secular life, and the state of society, and probably thought religion is just a way to stop people from committing crimes and to give them false hope to make them feel better about death. If that's what I believed, I wouldn't spend a second of my life trying to convert anyone. Hell is a real place, and Jesus talked about it in the New Testament more than I ever remember it being referenced in the Old. Read Luke 16:19-31.
Replies: >>25738
Your explanation of the old man is an interesting one. I only have my understanding because I grew up with the world being the mess it is in now. If I were born in another time or in a different way I may not be a religious man at all. I may not even be an objectionist or contrarian at all. I may have gone along with the child sacrificing idol worship as long as times were seemingly good. It doesn't bear thinking about but also, it seems slightly unfair for the boomer since the moment in time they were given was not conducive for lessons required. It is hard to accept it's seeming arbitrary appearance.

I've also got a boomer grandparent with the exact attitude and I'm not sure he believes in anything. 

>Read Luke 16:19-31
Thanks for the reference, I think I'll have to go looking for further references to hell in the New Testament. Because my interpretation of hell was merely an absence of communion and not a hellscape of burning fires or anything. I imagined a vast emptiness full of the vices and distractions that provide for a synthetic, hollow sort of happiness. Again I don't imagine God hating anyone. It's not something I would do to send men's souls to a crowded land where they worship the devil. That's with my level of forgiveness not even matching that of a God mind you.

I just don't want to diverge from New Testament doctrinally if I can help it.
Its dated, but  a good primer against what we know about agenda 2030 stuff. You can't blame him for not being able to foretell the advent of ai, cbdc and the surveillance panopticon of today.
Marmaduke Stephenson, William Robinson, William Leddra, Mary Dyer
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Based Marmaduke
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I never heard of these people, so I decided to read something from Marmaduke Stephenson based on your recommendation. I don't know anything about Puritan doctrine or history, so I can't speak to the correctness of that sect (at any rate, I don't think they should be executing people for this).
>"A call from death to life and out of the dark wayes and worships of the world where the seed is held in bondage under the merchants of Babylon"

It accuses New England's priests/pastors of being after material gain, suing inhabitants for unpaid tithes. There is a lengthy appeal to cease from your sins, misapplying scriptures, implicitly promoting a works-based salvation (without saying it in those words).
>"they must be regenerate and born again, 'and know a dying to sin', and that which they have delighted in before they witnesse a living to Righteousnesse, the Old man must be put off with his deeds before the new man be put on".
This is a reference to Ephesians 4, which is admonishing believers who are already saved to put off the old man. It's not written to unbelievers in order to get them saved.
>"So dear hearts, do not sleight the day of your visitation nor the tenders of Gods love which is yet held forth to you, least you be taken away in your sins, and die in your iniquities, and then I know your portion will be sad; Therefore do I warn you in Bowels of tender love, and in pity to the Captive in you, that you run no longer in your former vanities"
There's no call here to believe in Jesus Christ. Just repeated calls to cease from sin. I have nothing against striving to cease from sin - the reasons to do so are numerous. But cleaning up your life is not what saves you. Jesus paid it all. You're saved because of what he did for you... and if you trust in Him (i.e.: that he paid it all), you will be saved. "Born again" is the repeated scriptural analogy for eternal salvation. Did you work and strive for years to become born?

tl;dr: Marmaduke says to cease from sin or go to Hell. He never mentions the Gospel (what Jesus did for us).
Finished part 2 of Pilgrim's Progress, not as interesting as the first and a bit cliche, as they just retread Christian's steps and generally bypass, ignore, or destroy all the obstacles he had to face head-to-head with very little effort. Part one is very good though and a must-read for any Christian.
Would like suggestions for what to start next. I tried The Silmarillion a couple years ago but there are so many names and stories to keep track of that I was completely lost by the time I was halfway throught it.
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>>25498 (OP) 
This has been a pretty good reference book for me: The Story of Christianity: Volume Number 1
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>Would like suggestions for what to start next
I am just about to finish book 3 The Sword of the Lictor of the Book of New Sun series. It is a masterful series, the Christian themes are there but not in your face like the Chronicles of Narnia series, and are probably hidden a bit more than even The Lord of the Rings. Some elements do stand right out such as a lot of the characters throughout the story are named after early Christian martyrs and saints. So if you want a challenge I would definitely recommend this series but pair it with the Alzabo Soup podcast.

Another suggestion that I highly recommend is the book Laurus picrel. Russian author so it is heavy with Orthodox themes but it is such a wonderful read.
Just bought a copy, I'll review it once it gets here in a couple weeks
Came in the mail today, was not expecting it to be a textbook. I also ordered the first edition from 1999 that has volumes 1 and 2 combined, so I'll be reading this for a while. Maybe the scribbles and notes in it from whatever seminary student had to study from it 20 years ago will be helpful as well.
I finished this a couple weeks ago, volumes 1 and 2 (one of the earlier prints from the 90s with both versions combined into one). It's very good, gives a very detailed overview of Christiainity throughout the ages. Shame that it stops in the early 90s though (my version at least, with the stained glass cover) but still a very good resource.
Currently on another non-religious book from John Taylor Gatto on the issues with modern schooling, then looking into something new and Christian-focused. I might try reading The Silmarillion again but there are so many names and races to keep track of it got really hard to memorize and I quit not even halfway through.
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