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Author Topic: Anything you can say to increase your faith?  (Read 2026 times) Average Rating: 0
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erracht
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« on: October 02, 2005, 03:49:41 PM »

I am a rather troubled person, not least with regards to my faith. After a childhood of atheism, I started believing when I was 12. However, I must say that to this day (I am almost 26), my faith is not solid. There are reasons why I would say Orthodoxy and what it teaches are correct, but there is part of me that thinks maybe I am wrong. I don't feel I have absolute proof, just significant signs that Orthodox Christianity is the true religion (mainly other people's reports of miracles, including my grandmother's, observations in my life that suggest God is leading it, and certain apologetic ideas indicating that if any Christian faith is true, it must be Orthodoxy. My question is not whether Orthodoxy is true, for I believe it must be the purest Christianity, but I am not unequivocably convinced that Christianity is true, though I do admit there are strong signs it is) . I need to have reasons to believe, not just believe because someone said so.

Of those people on these boards who believe firmly and unequivocably that the our Orthodox Christian faith is the true one, please try to convince me that it is. I need some apologetics here, I.E. proofs why the religion is true, not just information about why you think the church is "cool". What I mean is, for example, I have read about a Russian monk or someone like that who, when asked why he was Orthodox, had basically said that he saw his hare krishna friends and how silly they were, then on another occasion, had decided to visit a mosque, and was chased out with clubs, so he decided that the Orthodox Church was a good place. Okay, but that doesn't prove that the faith is true, just that he was more impressed and accepted by it than by other faiths. It's one thing to belong to the Church because you like it (if that produces real faith, great, but that in itself is not convincing evidence/proof to me) and another to join it because you come to believe for this or that substantial reason that what it teaches is the truth. Similarly, some Christians might say that their faith is true "because the Bible says so". But this too is not evidence or proof of their faith being true. One needs to give real reasons why the Bible has authority, why I should believe that book and not another.

I hope you see what I need, what I'm getting at. Okay, your turn: those of you who believe solidly in Orthodoxy, convince me why I should not doubt, "apologize" the Faith to me. What will make me go to bed with a clear mind, believing, just like I believe the sky is blue, that birds fly, that Russia is the largest country in the world that Vaclav Klaus is the president of the Czech Republic and all other things I believe as facts, that likewise, what Christianity teaches is true?  Smiley Huh
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2005, 04:09:14 PM »

There are many people better than I who post apologetics and other information; my suggestion is to review and pray and then go to the  websites and information they will refer you to.

Of more importance to me, though, is that you are looking for apologetics. This is a good thing, because in searching for these defenses you will grow in your faith, and then help teach others who may be asking the same questions.

So, you may not realize it now, but someday you will look atthis uncomfortable time in your life as marking the start of something that shaped you into what you will become.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2005, 05:31:00 AM »

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Of those people on these boards who believe firmly and unequivocably that the our Orthodox Christian faith is the true one, please try to convince me that it is. I need some apologetics here, I.E. proofs why the religion is true, not just information about why you think the church is "cool".

Well, what you're asking is a difficult thing to answer! I think you could open a whole can of epistemological worms here... but that wouldn't lead you anywhere productive. On the other hand, if you don't open that can, how do you know that you are going about things correctly? Similarly, how do you know that I am right in whatever I say? Or if you reject what I say, how do you know that I'm wrong? Against what truths, or using what methodology, would you judge me?ÂÂ  I don't mean to be questioning you my friend, I'm asking rhetorically. I'm just trying to preface my post here with a few wandering thoughts, about how difficult such questions are, how much of a tangled web we can sometimes intellectually weave. I'm not going to bore you (and do you no good) with all that stuff; I'll try to speak plainly. In speaking that way, I'll probably come off sounding triumphalistic, arrogant, etc. I don't know what to say other than, these are just my thoughts, and I don't begrudge someone having contradictory thoughts, this is just what I believe, this is the type of stuff that convinced me that Orthodoxy was where God wanted me. It is also what makes me stay, even when I have immense doubts about just about everything in life. I guess the best way I can explain it is just to give the logical progression of my thoughts... when I have major doubts arise, I question myself, I interrogate myself, really. These are what the answers are like...

I believe that there is a God, and I am not him.

I believe that the Christian Bible's version of God is truthful and accurate. (I don't like the word version, but I'm not sure how else to put it).

I believe the early Church's view of God, Jesus, etc. is accurate. That means that Jesus is God, and yet was a man as well.

I believe that the Bible can be trusted in matters of faith.

I believe that God founded a Church, because He (ie. Jesus) said He did, and Paul confirmed it with many intersting metaphors.

I believe that this Church is visible, hierarchal, worshipful, prayerful, etc., because the Scripture says it is, and this describes the early Christians.

I believe that chaos and sin can enter the Church, even must enter it (according to St. Paul), and that this is to be expected.

I believe that the Orthodox Church most closely matches the Church that I see in Scripture, the early Church history, and the early Fathers.

I believe that the Orthodox Church teaches what the early Church taught, to a great extent.

I believe that where the OC and early Church differ in teachings and practices, these teachings and practices are secondary and liable to change from time to time (e.g. Liturgy).

I believe that the Orthodox bishops, whatever their faults, are successors to the Apostles, and that the concept of Apostolic succession is present from the beginning in the Church.

I believe that there are no other options. Anglicanism, Catholicism, and some others have many good points, but I don't consider them options for many important reasons.

So if I believe all this, where can I turn? Not to agnosticism. Not to another Christian Church. Not to a non-Christian Church. Thus, I continue on, as best I can (which isn't very good many times!)  ÃƒÆ’‚ And eventually God allows me to leave the valley and get a nice view of Orthodoxy from the mountain-top, and it is then that I remember, at least for a moment, what it is truly like to be Orthodox. I spend most of my time in the valleys, but I hope to someday spend most of my days in the mountains. Until then, I just continue on as best I can.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2005, 05:31:35 AM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2005, 06:54:10 AM »

Erracht,

Allow me to ridiculously oversimplify why it is that I personally believe Christianity (and then specifically Orthodox Christianity) to be the true faith:

Since I believe in the historical reliability and accuracy of the New Testament documents, *then I must believe that Christ rose from the dead; if I believe that Christ rose from the dead, *then I must believe in Christ, and believe that His claims are true; if Christ’s claims are true, *then I must believe His faithful Apostles; if I believe His faithful Apostles, *then I must believe the Apostolic tradition; if I believe the Apostolic tradition, *then I must believe the Church Tradition; if I believe the Church Tradition, then I must live the Church Tradition; if I live the Church Tradition, then I must be an Orthodox Christian.

*by the words “then I must believe…”, i do not mean to imply that the belief that follows from the preceding premise, follows as if a necessary logical consequence, but rather that it follows beyond reasonable doubt, on the balance of probabilities; the only thing 100% certain and absolute in my life as an Orthodox Christian is the Holy Spirit Who witnesses to, testifies to, and convicts me.

Peace.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2005, 06:57:16 AM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2005, 09:33:42 AM »

I am a rather troubled person, not least with regards to my faith. After a childhood of atheism, I started believing when I was 12. However, I must say that to this day (I am almost 26), my faith is not solid. There are reasons why I would say Orthodoxy and what it teaches are correct, but there is part of me that thinks maybe I am wrong.

erracht,

Ditto.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2005, 02:22:02 PM »

Hello,

I am a follower of this site, even though I read alot and almost never write. However, reading this question, I feel that I should chip in with my thoughts.

First of all, to me an absolute proof that christ is God and he rose from the dead is the fact that all of his apostles (the 12) were martyred and died preaching his message. This proves that they indeed saw christ after his death and it proves that they saw all his miracles and that every word he spoke to them is true, otherwise why would they all die for him.

The second absolute proof that christianity is true is that God is still with us and he shows himself to us thought many miracles that are witnessed and felt by many. Without going into them, I will only mention one unquestionable reality that my own father had witnessed and that is the apparitions of St Mary at Zeitoun in Egypt (http://www.zeitun-eg.org). Thousand of people saw her, not only in a hallow of light, but she was also moving and blessing the crowds.

Would this be possible if christianity was not true?

May God bless you and lead you to him. One thing I truly believe is that if you seek God with all your heart, he will show himself to you. You sound like you are seeking him, keep at it and he will reveal himself and strenghten your faith.
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erracht
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2005, 03:11:00 PM »

Asteriktos, could you tell us how you came to those conclusions?
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2005, 09:55:37 PM »

Are you looking for a short post explaining my thoughts, or some type of in-depth review with all sorts of quotations and whatnot? One would take a lot more time than the other! Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2005, 02:01:47 PM »

If you can give even a simple reasoning that justifies the positions you listed Asteriktos, it would be appreciated.
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2005, 06:16:27 PM »

Ok, let me think about it for a couple days? The Bible one is a tough one and is more about a bunch of evidence rather than one or two things that absolutely prove it's authenticity. Be back in a few days... . .
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2005, 04:50:55 PM »

Any other thoughts, anyone?
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2005, 11:57:43 PM »

I've just been reading a book called "The Mountain of Silence".  In it the author converses with an Athonite monk about this very sort of thing, the knowledge of God.

There are three ways we humans have to discover knowledge.  The first is through empirical, scientific means, using our 5 senses.  The next is through logical reasoning and philosophy.  The third is with the spirit, the nous, the heart.  The true knowledge OF God only comes this way.  Both of the others may only tell us ABOUT God but they cannot lead us to Him.  Further, in order to really believe in God and have "proof" of His existence is to encounter Him personally and know Him personally.  This happens with the heart.  Neither science nor reasoning can prove God to us.

The good news, of course, is that it is entirely possible to encounter God in our heart.  Unfortunately for us westerners, our mindset has tended to emphasize the first two methods of knowledge to the exclusion of the third, to our very great detriment.  Hence why many people look for spiritual depth in Eastern religions, because their adherents have tended to pay much more attention to the third way than we have.

God never ignores the soul who seeks Him in sincerity.  Read the above-mentioned book, it's pretty good.
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2005, 05:36:11 AM »

Brother you must be convicted that Christ is the son of God and came down to this earth to save man. God will give you this faith, we do not generate it. We can do nothing on our own, and even our choice to follow Christ is a result of the enabling power of God and without this no man would choose God. Yet we must choose to accept after we are enabled by the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. We can say yes or no. Our part in salvation is to say yes...and yes every day until we die.

I encourage you to watch The Passion of Christ but ask God to convict you in regard to Jesus. Without a doubt history proves that there was a man named Jesus that lives in Palestine at this time and he did cause quite a "stir". BUT.....was he really the son of God...did he really come down from Heaven....was he really 100% man and 100% God and most importantly did he die for you. No man can watch this movie with an open mind and not experience conviction. You will feel it brother and this is is the proof you are looking for.

The Passion is all about Christs blood sacrifice. It is very "western" in that approach and only had 20 seconds on the resurrection but remember brother the resurrection is the most important element of the atonement. Because Christ defeated death through his resurrection is why you can experience his life today through faith. In his life you will find peace and salvation brother.

To experience the Holy spirit and the grace of God you also need to read the Bible and go to church. You need to talk to other Christians in person.




And remember this erracht.........the church does not save you. Nor does belonging to the "true church". What saves you is your relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ, it's as simple as that bro.
Do not think that because you belong to the church of Christ as a  baptised "member" that you will be saved. Many are members but not all are walking with God in faith.
But if you are REALLY a member of Christs body, the church, then you are on the path to Heaven.
Also brother, do not get too theoretical. What counts the most and what you should really seek out is experiencing Christianity......as you do this God will calm your mind and reveal many truths to you.

I am not orthodox, however, I do believe that within the orthodox church there are LOTS of real Christians and that there is much truth to be found within orthodoxy. Since part of your family is orthodox I do encourage you to seek Christ solely within the orthodox church

Lets say that orthodoxy is the true church, then you have a sure path to Heaven....and lets say that it isn't, that it is somewhat corrupted by time....you still have a path to Heaven bro. Many traditions of Christianity have enough truth to see you through to the end.

Brother I am certain that if we do make it to Heaven we will see many that we thought shouldn't have made it. God is merciful beyond what we can fathom, yet it serves us best to be watchful over our minds.

But always remember this ...do not look at the people within to prove your faith because we are all sinners. If you look to the people you are setting yourself up for big disappointment. That doesn't mean that you should not seek a spiritual father and I encourage you to do just that, however, your eyes must always be on Jesus and not his sheep.

Talk to a priest or spiritual father figure brother.

For one of the best web site in regard to orthodox theology, that can be easily understood, go to
www.orthodoxconvert.info



« Last Edit: December 18, 2005, 06:13:04 AM by TruthSeeker » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2005, 06:01:30 AM »

And remember this erracht.........the church does not save you. Nor does belonging to the "true church". What saves you is your relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ, it's as simple as that bro.

Be careful when creating such a dichotmoy between Christ and the Church. Remember that the Church is Christ's Body. The relatiuonship you speak of with Christ is none other than being in His Body, ie His Church. Of course, we cannot for certain say a person is surely outside of it, but that has little/no bearing on the ecclesiology in question.
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2005, 06:12:07 AM »

Be careful when creating such a dichotmoy between Christ and the Church. Remember that the Church is Christ's Body. The relationship you speak of with Christ is none other than being in His Body, ie His Church. Of course, we cannot for certain say a person is surely outside of it, but that has little/no bearing on the ecclesiology in question.


Good point...what I meant is do not think that because you belong to the church of Christ as a  baptised "member" that you will be saved. Many are members but not all are walking with God in faith. 
But if you are REALLY a member of Christs body, the church, then you are on the path to Heaven.

I will correct my previous post now.


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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2005, 06:18:30 AM »

Good point...what I meant is do not think that because you belong to the church of Christ as aÂÂ  baptised "member" that you will be saved. Many are members but not all are walking with God in faith.ÂÂ  
But if you are REALLY a member of Christs body, the church, then you are on the path to Heaven.

Definately. There are baptized members of Orthodoxy who fall away, become lukewarm or cool, etc.ÂÂ  So certainly we can't say that every baptized Orthodox Christian is automatically going to Heaven.

However, things are a bit different in dealing with those outside the Orthodox Church. Just as we can't say that some persons outside Orthodoxy won't be saved, so also we cannot say that some outside of Orthodoxy will. We just don't know.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2005, 06:19:38 AM by Bizzlebin » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2005, 03:17:28 AM »

Definitely. There are baptized members of Orthodoxy who fall away, become lukewarm or cool, etc.  So certainly we can't say that every baptized Orthodox Christian is automatically going to Heaven.

However, things are a bit different in dealing with those outside the Orthodox Church. Just as we can't say that some persons outside Orthodoxy won't be saved, so also we cannot say that some outside of Orthodoxy will. We just don't know.


Well nobody knows who will be saved or not saved except God but I have seen some people in non orthodox churches that seem that they are on the right tract.....and the record of some that have died speaks for them too. I think we can have a fairly good idea though...."you shall know them by their works". Mother Teresa comes to mind as does the  fairly "eastern" protestant reformer "John Wesley" and some people I know and have known personally.

Perhaps this is a good reply byTheophan the Recluse.  "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins"

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« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2005, 03:28:51 AM »

Perhaps this is a good reply byTheophan the Recluse.  "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins"

Good quote. We really shouldn't "be burdened with such a concern." As I hinted at earlier, I try to stay away from even an affirmative proclamation of a person's salvation.
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« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2005, 03:37:54 AM »

Perhaps this is a good reply byTheophan the Recluse.  "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins"   

AMEN.
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« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2006, 11:19:19 PM »

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If you can give even a simple reasoning that justifies the positions you listed Asteriktos, it would be appreciated.

After considerable thought, I cannot give a justification for the positions I listed. I could rehash apologetics I've heard over the years, but to be honest I don't find them to be persuasive. When I asked Orthodox Christians on this forum (under a guise) for help in evidence for Christianity's truthfulness, no persuasive answer was given, or really attempted. Sincere answers were given, yes, but not persuasive ones. Not if you start from someone standing outside of Christianity looking in. I have been thinking about a lot of things for many months, but I've not yet found any real answers. And at this point I refuse to simply mouth the standard Orthodox answers as I understand them, because to be completely honest I think (at this very moment anyway) that they're 1/3 wishful thinking, 1/3 insightful thought, and 1/3 hogwash. I wish you well in your spiritual journey, and I hope you can find the answers, and some degree of assurance, which has hitherto escaped me.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2006, 11:23:00 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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