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Offline Matthew777

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Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« on: November 05, 2006, 05:21:08 PM »
This is a brief essay that I wrote for Philosophy of Religion that relates to this discussion:

I understand that religious recruitment is a rather divisive and complex issue and therefore I will attempt to approach this question in as sensitive a manner as possible.

I am a member of the Christian faith. I believe that Christianity is an exclusivist religion based on what Jesus of Nazareth said about himself, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6), what he said concerning those who disbelieve, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:18), and what the Apostles taught concerning him, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

As a spiritual seeker, I read the Bhagavad-Gita, the Dao De Ching, much of the Koran, and some great insight from Siddhartha Gautama. Even though my limited study of the world's religious traditions may not have performed justice to them all, I found none of them to be both spiritually fulfilling and historically verifiable. I concluded that if I am to have faith in anything, there must be a solid bedrock of evidence to base my faith upon.

The Christian faith teaches that through the resurrection of Christ, we are assured of his godhood and our own future resurrection. Thus, the Christian faith stands or falls on the reliability of historical testimony. If we were able to verify that the testimony of the Apostles concerning the resurrection of Christ is trustworthy, then it would be reasonable to believe that we are saved through faith in him.

Not only do I believe the Gospel to be historically reliable, but also I find Christ to be the precise solution to the problem of the human condition. As Blaise Pascal wrote, "The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness produces pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without the knowledge of God produces despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ forms the middle point; for there we find both God and our wretchedness."

If humans are atoned of their own wretchedness through the blood of Christ, and are brought to everlasting life through the resurrection, then it would be unfortunate to not share this gift to the world.

In an increasingly pluralistic society, the spreading of the Gospel message is often disparaged as mere proselytization. To the Christian, however, this is nothing more than the fulfillment of Jesus' commission to the Apostles: "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mt. 28:18-20)

One may disagree with the ultimate truth claims of the Gospel, but it would be hard to defend the position that the Christian community is without the right to share the faith. The question should not be whether or not religious recruitment is intellectually defensible but which method of recruitment is intellectually justifiable.

One need not stand on a street corner, shouting threats of eternal damnation and hellfire in order to gain converts. Neither do we have the right to conquer aboriginal cultures, rob them of their identity, and force the Gospel message into their hearts and minds. True conversion is a free-will choice and one mustn't be brought to the faith by compulsion.

It is the responsibility of the Christian community to live a life of holiness so that the world may be attracted to the Church by our acts of righteousness. As Jesus taught, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) We are not to be prideful and boastful on account of our good works but we are to be humble and congenial.

When people come to us in order to learn about the source of our good works, we are to answer in as civil a way as possible, "And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God desire, than to suffer for doing evil!" (1 Peter 3:15-17)

Evangelization should never be an excuse to spread intolerance and hate in the name of Christ. In performing missionary work in foreign countries, the focus should be on relieving their peoples of illness and hunger. By acts of good will and compassion, they should be attracted to the Gospel voluntarily. One should not seek to wipe out their customs and mores but to provide them with whatever spiritual enrichment they choose to receive. If they choose not to believe then so be it, for a good deed is its own reward.

Our love and service to humanity should never be contingent on humanity's willingness to believe. We are to feed the hungry if they are willing to be fed, remedy the sick if they are willing to be remedied, and only then can we share the Gospel if they are willing to listen.

As Saint Francis of Assisi insisted, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words."

Peace.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2006, 05:32:12 PM »
This is a brief essay that I wrote for Philosophy of Religion that relates to this discussion:

No it doesn't.
It is vague and nebulous in relation to the topic of this thread. And including it was just an excercise in self-indulgence.
Keep this thread on track or I will close it.
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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2006, 05:41:37 PM »
It is vague and nebulous in relation to the topic of this thread.
Please refer to Chris' posts, on how the best way to share the message is by actually living it.

This timeline should be helpful in explaining church history to Protestants:


Peace.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2006, 05:48:07 PM by Matthew777 »
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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2006, 05:54:34 PM »
Rather strange in creating a new thread, George. If you actually read both my essay and Chris' posts, you'd see how they relate to each other. If I had replaced "Christian faith" with "Orthodox faith" and "the Church" with "The Orthodox Church," perhaps you would have seen the relation.

Peace.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2006, 06:02:21 PM by Matthew777 »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2006, 06:01:13 PM »
If you actually read both my essay and Chris' posts, you'd see how they relate to each other.
I have. They don't.
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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2006, 06:04:06 PM »
I have. They don't.

It's not my fault if you don't see the relation. What Chris and I agree on, that you've apparently missed, is that the best way to share the faith is to live it out.

Now that you've created an entirely new thread for my essay, do you have anything to discuss concerning it?  ???

Peace.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2006, 06:08:13 PM by Matthew777 »
He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2006, 06:07:58 PM »
Quote
...do you have anything to discuss concerning it, or do you just like being a mod?

I would report you to the mod for, but in this case...don't have to.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2006, 06:46:00 PM »
Now that you've created an entirely new thread for my essay, do you have anything to discuss concerning it?  ???

Well, since you asked me, like I said before I moved it, I think your "essay" is vague, nebulous and self-indulgent, and I think it is unworthy of a tertiary educated adult and of absolutely no use or value other than a journal entry in your personal diary. I give it 2/10. But that's just my opinion. Others may disagree with me.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2006, 06:46:51 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Veniamin

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2006, 06:52:18 PM »
Well, since you asked me, like I said before I moved it, I think your "essay" is vague, nebulous and self-indulgent, and I think it is unworthy of a tertiary educated adult and of absolutely no use or value other than a journal entry in your personal diary. I give it 2/10. But that's just my opinion. Others may disagree with me.

No, that pretty much sums it up.  I'm a little surprised that was considered sufficient for a college class, though.  In spots it seems that Matthew's going to provide reasons to support his conclusions, but instead, the essay just turns into a tease.  In one spot, he goes from "if the Gospel is accurate" to deciding that it is accurate within two sentences.  While it's the right conclusion, the lack of anything to support that conclusion makes it absurd. 
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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2006, 02:24:11 AM »
The essay was part of a point-counterpoint. I wrote this in favor of evangilization and exclusivism, my apponent wrote one against, and the class then debated our main points. That more flies are caught with honey than vinegar is what I intended to illustrate. I didn't intend to prove the Gospel, but that we have the right to teach it, if done so kindly and respectfully.

That I didn't get more in depth was because this was for the average student to easily understand. That I spoke rather "vaguely" was because this is what one is encouraged to do when speaking in the public square with people who aren't already in agreement with your theology.

I was appreciated, especially by the instructor, as one of the most insightful, well read students of the class. He also commended my ability as a writer, especially in my hypothetical dialogue between C.S. Lewis and Soren Kierkegaard. I don't mean to brag, but I would appreciate a little acknowledgment of my intelligence from time to time, which seems to be a rare occurrence among certain members of this forum. I'm not the childish tomfool you may think I am.

Peace.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 02:56:25 AM by Matthew777 »
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Offline Panagiotis

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2006, 02:28:46 AM »
Matthew,
One pont that somehow shows up missing, if I may critique, is the Hly Spirit when in reference to free-will involving evangelization. One variable I have noticed with, well to be honest, every convert to Orthodoxy I know will always tell me there was a quiet and calming "pull of their essence" which brought them in to the Church. From that point on, once entering they became sncere to the openness of Christ in the Body of Believers.

What was the topic you had to write on? Your essay seems to be subjective to your own personal level and not a critique.

Christ is in our midst,
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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2006, 02:34:25 AM »
What was the topic you had to write on? Your essay seems to be subjective to your own personal level and not a critique.

Please see Reply #9. If I had gotten too in depth, or given too much detail of Orthodox theology, it would have either turned off or confused those who weren't already familiar with Christian theology.

Peace.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 02:35:17 AM by Matthew777 »
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Offline Panagiotis

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2006, 02:36:52 AM »
LOL We posted roughly at the same time, so-
Thank you for responding, sir. And also clarifying.
How did you do on the result of the inquiry/debate?

Blessings,
Panagiotis

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Offline Matthew777

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2006, 02:40:55 AM »
LOL We posted roughly at the same time, so-
Thank you for responding, sir. And also clarifying.
How did you do on the result of the inquiry/debate?

Most people agreed that you have to practice what you preach, in performing good works and treating others kindly, before you deserve the attention of potential converts, and that the truth can never be found by force. 

Peace.
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Online Asteriktos

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2011, 02:14:18 AM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2011, 07:15:47 AM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST!!! :o
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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2011, 11:17:01 AM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST!!! :o

Anything to get you to come out of retirement, George, even if just for one post  ;D ;D ;D

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2011, 11:55:38 AM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST!!! :o

Anything to get you to come out of retirement, George, even if just for one post  ;D ;D ;D
He's BAAAAAACK!!!!
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2011, 05:39:47 PM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST!!! :o

Anything to get you to come out of retirement, George, even if just for one post  ;D ;D ;D

Make that two posts.
:[ )  Go the Mo!
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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2011, 06:01:00 PM »
You guys were always too hard on Matthew. Shame on you!

AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! IT'S THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST!!! :o

Anything to get you to come out of retirement, George, even if just for one post  ;D ;D ;D
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Offline Irish Melkite

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2011, 06:21:37 PM »
Ah, a thread with posts from both my dear friend and Aussie brother, George, and the poster child for church-shopping, Matthew.  Does that combo bring back memories (and the need for medication :D )

Can't believe you left FB long enough to post, old friend, altho after that contribution to the swear jar at work, you probably felt the need to retreat to a more spiritual atmosphere, if only briefly.

Many years,

Neil
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 06:22:17 PM by Irish Melkite »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2011, 06:50:59 PM »
Ah, a thread with posts from both my dear friend and Aussie brother, George, and the poster child for church-shopping, Matthew.  Does that combo bring back memories (and the need for medication :D )
The past is a foreign country. Everyone behaves differently there (including Matthew).
Getting old is hard work, but it isn't easy being young either. Asterkitos is correct, I was very harsh with Matthew who, like so many young people, was in a sincere an honest search for truth. I hope he has found it (I think he has from what I hear), and I hope that he will pray for this old sinner's forgiveness.
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Re: Matthew777's Philosophy of Religion Essay
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2011, 07:22:57 PM »

George! 
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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