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prisonchaplain

So many religions--why is yours right?

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I considered putting this in the LDS Gospel section, because it could fit. However, my answer is broad, encompassing all Christian faith groups--so, here is my thought.

In today's world the only kind of God that might be relevant would be a single, universal one. Why?

If there are many gods, then they are not all-powerful. They are some kind of species or creature, and I can likely leave them to battle each other.

So, if there is only one God, and He cares to relate with his creation, this God would likely make himself known throughout his world. He would not, over time, limit himself to one people or language.

Yet, of the large monothesistic religions, only Christianity fits this mold. Judaism self-identifies as a religion for its tribe. Rabbis are actually instructed to initially dissuade proselytes three times. Islam, while it can be "missionary," can only be well understood in Arabic. One of the first tasks of a sincere convert to Islam would be to learn the language, so s/he could read the actual Qur'an. All "translations" are deemed paraphrases, and not considered actual scripture.

Yes, there are thousands of religions, and multiple thousands of sects and denominations. However, because of the its monotheism and its universal, missionary appeal, I quickly conclude that Christianity is the most likely expression of the Creator's appeal to his creation.

Thoughts?

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Respectfully, there are only two churches upon the face of the earth.

1 Nephi 14

10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

Here's the shocker for many LDS: Not all who are LDS (I say this because this is an LDS forum) are members of the church of the Lamb of God. Being baptized into the "true" church does not guarantee anyone entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

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Some here have further argued that not all who have not been baptized into the LDS faith will necessarily be considered outside the small-c church of the Lamb of God.

So...while a discussion of what, within Christianity, constitutes worthy and well placed worship might be interesting, I'm curious if there are flaws in my broad reasoning for the persuasiveness of Christianity in general.

I remember a few years back, in Miami, I had a shirt on that said, "God so loved the world." This message was repeated in about a dozen languages. What could be more non-offensive than that, right?

Well, this fellow comes up to me and says, "Why does it have to be one God? Why does it have to be your God? After, Hinduism is much more ancient than Christianity or Judaism. I've been to India, and they are some of the most wonderful people."

Ironically, he came across as rather angry and ridiculous. Nevertheless, his question was worth asking--why Christianity, and not Hinduism, Islam, etc.?

That was the question my OP was attempting to address.

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...Well, this fellow comes up to me and says, "Why does it have to be one God? Why does it have to be your God? After, Hinduism is much more ancient than Christianity or Judaism. I've been to India, and they are some of the most wonderful people."

Ironically, he came across as rather angry and ridiculous. Nevertheless, his question was worth asking--why Christianity, and not Hinduism, Islam, etc.?

That was the question my OP was attempting to address.

Again, I will cite from the Book of Mormon for anyone to answer for himself or herself:

1 Nephi 15

8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?

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But how do you get to the place of inquiring of the Lord?

On rare occasions the missionaries show up, and the householder says, "Huh...never really thought about if there was a God or not. But, let me pray this prayer you are talking about. Why yes, now I see. Okay, let's do the studies and get my baptism scheduled."

More often people either grow up in their religion, or at some point, have a period of searching for spiritual truth. Some idea captures their thought. They may be impressed with friends or acquaintances, or by a book or movie or poem. It might be a fresh look at nature which makes them think of the divine.

Then what? To get to the place of asking of the Lord, they must first have the idea that there probably is one. My OP addresses the idea of why there is most likely only one God, and why Christianty would seem to be a compelling representation of that God.

Of course, that is not enough. But perhaps my line of thought might lead one to inquire of the Lord.

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PC, thank you for your genuineness and humility in your posts.

Alma 22:18 is but one example. A young missionary by the name of Aaron went before a mighty king, who had previously offered Aaron's brother, Ammon, half of his kingdom if Ammon would spare his life (the king has threatened his own son and Ammon, both their lives). He was a powerful king over many kings in the land. After Aaron had taught the king about the existence of a God and that this was the one true God, and after Aaron had taught him that he could be saved, here is what happened:

14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

17 And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.

The commonality in all people who "get to that place" is humbling themselves before the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. When someone is truly ready to undergo a mighty change of heart and align his will with God's, when he is truly ready to follow Jesus Christ, then is he truly ready to be guided by Him. And only then will God, after testing him, answer him so that he may then follow.

Furthermore, many in the Book of Mormon, and in the Bible, prayed mightily and fasted much, wrestling with the Lord. We ought to not simply say a quick prayer as we would call a friend, but rather, as many did, spend hours and days in prayer and fasting until we have opened the lines of communication. Alma prayed and fasted for many days. Even Jesus Christ, the Son of God fasted for 40 days.

Moroni 7

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Moroni 10

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Edited by skalenfehl

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I think that to begin to address the question of the OP we, as Christians, must go back to a very simple, but profound truth. When Adam and Eve left the Garden there were no false gods. There were no misconceptions of God. There were no disputes about His character or attributes. None. God was known to man as man knows himself. It was only as men began to serve the "prince of this world" that God's true identity began to be lost. In other words, while God cannot be truly known except as what He truly is, the gods that men have come to serve—at least those gods in the precepts of religion of whom it can truly be said are greater to some degree in knowledge, power, and morality than man himself—are themselves partial images of the God of Adam and Eve. For there is nothing good that does not come from Christ—and ultimately, therefore, the Father. (Moro 7:16) And to punctuate the all-inclusiveness of that doctrine, "we may know with a 'perfect knowledge'" that the good in the varied gods worshiped by man is no more or less than an actual glimpse of the identity of the true God.

That said, it would seem that our task as human beings, which beings are driven from birth by an inner light to reach for and reclaim perfect knowledge of our eternal Parentage, would be to never be satisfied until we knew without doubt that we had, in fact, reclaimed that knowledge of Him. For that is why were are here—to obtain eternal life, which is to know (again) the Father, and his Son. (John 17:3)

So while, on a certain level, I am inclined to agree that the God of Christianity (as understood generally) fits the mold of an all-interested and widely-known God better than any other in the religious world, that image of God—that knowledge of God—yet falls short of that which God desires for us. It is not enough—for Him or for us—that we satisfy ourselves with what is generally known of Him which, while significantly more than the knowledge of Him offered by many other religions, is still but an incomplete portrait of the God known by the first of men. That is one purpose, above all, of the Restored Gospel—to reintroduce man to the full knowledge of God. (D&C 84:19) For we are saved no faster than we acquire this knowledge (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings, p. 217) and we are saved only to the degree that we possess it (D&C 131:6) and are faithful to it (Mosiah 4;12).

That is why LDS missionaries preach the Restored Gospel. If it didn't matter...if what the world—even the Christian world—knows of God were good enough, God wouldn't send them.

Edited by SightByFaith

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I think that to begin to address the question of the OP we, as Christians, must go back to a very simple, but profound truth. When Adam and Eve left the Garden there were no false gods. There were no misconceptions of God. There were no disputes about His character or attributes. None.

Not to nitpick, but I suggest that this is untrue. False gods have been before mankind since the very beginning. You could make a strong argument that false gods existed before the foundation of the world, resulting in the premortal destruction of Satan and his angels. Adam and Eve had a veritable procession of false gods paraded before their eyes from the very moment of their fall. False gods are what this life is all about. From the moment we are born, we are exposed to one false god after another. Will we find and choose to follow the true and living God? That's what we're finding out.

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Not to nitpick, but I suggest that this is untrue. False gods have been before mankind since the very beginning. You could make a strong argument that false gods existed before the foundation of the world, resulting in the premortal destruction of Satan and his angels. Adam and Eve had a veritable procession of false gods paraded before their eyes from the very moment of their fall. False gods are what this life is all about. From the moment we are born, we are exposed to one false god after another. Will we find and choose to follow the true and living God? That's what we're finding out.

In saying that there were no false gods, I am not suggesting that absolutely no false gods of any kind existed for, as you point out, mortality is full of them—luxury, comfort, possessions, even man himself. But in the context of the OP, I am suggesting that after the Fall, Adam and Eve knew and knew of but one God—the one whose voice they heard "from the way toward the Garden of Eden," and unto whom they built an altar and made sacrifice. (Moses 5:4-5) To them there was no Buddha. No Allah. No Ra. These were future fabrications of man—by-products of man's eventual straining to see through the spiritual veil separating him from his Creator, which veil is made more opaque through sin. These gods are constructs made from remnants of the God Adam and Eve knew—the pieces which man could yet recall. That and bits and pieces of his own imagination. And they are gods which would not be known in the individual or collective human mind for centuries or millennia from Adam's day, although there were, no doubt, earlier false gods among men than these, Satan himself being the first (Moses 5:13,18,28).

But in addition to knowing the true God, Adam and Eve were taught the way back to Him (Moses 5:6-11) and they, in turn, taught it to their children (Moses 5:12). So not only was the true God known, but His true Gospel as well. It was not until man began to sin against God that he began to lose his knowledge of God. (Moses 5:13-16) And hence we have Cain saying, "Who is the Lord that I should know him?" (Moses 5:16) And many men have groped in darkness as to the knowledge of God, to one degree or another, ever since.

So my point is only that when Adam and Eve fell, there was no confusion on the earth on the subject of who or what God was. He was known, and man knew no other god. All the false gods which followed came to be as man sought for that knowledge which he had originally possessed, but which had been lost through sin. (Alma 12:10-11)

Edited by SightByFaith

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Thanks for your clarifications. I appreciate it. It makes discussion much clearer.

So my point is only that when Adam and Eve fell, there was no confusion on the earth on the subject of who or what God was. He was known, and man knew no other god. All the false gods which followed came to be as man sought for that knowledge which he had originally possessed, but which had been lost through sin. (Alma 12:10-11)

And it is exactly this point, which you have expressed so clearly, with which I disagree. There was confusion on earth from the very beginning. I realize that you are talking about from the literal moment of Adam's and Eve's Fall, but since we know almost nothing about what that event entailed or the timeline involved, I don't think it's a very profitable area for discussion or speculation. But we do know the short-term conditions after the Fall of Adam.

Moses 5 details how Adam sacrificed according to God's commandment for "many days" before an angel appeared to him to give him more teachings. At that time, the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, and he and Eve rejoiced in the fact of the Fall. At THAT point -- note, this is WELL AFTER Adam and Eve had already had many children -- they "made all things known unto their sons and their daughters." And immediately -- that is, from the very moment that Adam and Eve taught their children the revelations of God -- Satan came among them spreading false gods and deceptions. It appears that few or none of their children received the word of God.

It was after this point that Cain was born, to much rejoicing, where his mother exclaimed, "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words." But Cain had other ideas, eventually leading him to murder his younger brother Abel. Afterward was born Seth, the father of the faithful. It is of Cain's and Seth's lines that we read, and we may assume that Abel's progeny went along with righteous Seth's. But of the previous children of Adam and Eve and of their descendants, we read nothing more. Our scriptures tell us only of the descendants of those who came after the lies of Satan were well spread throughout the earth.

Maybe I'm saying this in the wrong forum. This is for non-LDS Christian beliefs, so my notes may be misplaced here. My point is not to criticize, but to clarify by providing my understanding of some LDS doctrines. If I am coming across as critical, or if my musings are out of place here, please forgive me.

In saying that there were no false gods, I am not suggesting that absolutely no false gods of any kind existed for, as you point out, mortality is full of them—luxury, comfort, possessions, even man himself. But in the context of the OP, I am suggesting that after the Fall, Adam and Eve knew and knew of but one God—the one whose voice they heard "from the way toward the Garden of Eden," and unto whom they built an altar and made sacrifice. (Moses 5:4-5) To them there was no Buddha. No Allah. No Ra. These were future fabrications of man—by-products of man's eventual straining to see through the spiritual veil separating him from his Creator, which veil is made more opaque through sin.

Let me point out here that Allah (الله) is just an Arabic word meaning "God". I see no reason to believe that the God worshiped by the Muslims is not the same God that I worship. And I believe that Buddhists do not worship the Buddha, but view him somewhat like Latter-day Saints view prophets. Hugh Nibley has suggested that even Ra and Set and other Egyptian gods, as well as European gods such as in the Greek and Roman pantheons, might be misunderstandings of the true God -- though in that case I would agree with you that they are false gods. I would not say that Ra or Zeus are representations of the true God in any meaningful sense, the way I maintain that Islam's Allah is an attempt to worship the true God.

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Thanks for your clarifications. I appreciate it. It makes discussion much clearer.

And it is exactly this point, which you have expressed so clearly, with which I disagree. There was confusion on earth from the very beginning. I realize that you are talking about from the literal moment of Adam's and Eve's Fall, but since we know almost nothing about what that event entailed or the timeline involved, I don't think it's a very profitable area for discussion or speculation. But we do know the short-term conditions after the Fall of Adam.

Moses 5 details how Adam sacrificed according to God's commandment for "many days" before an angel appeared to him to give him more teachings. At that time, the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, and he and Eve rejoiced in the fact of the Fall. At THAT point -- note, this is WELL AFTER Adam and Eve had already had many children -- they "made all things known unto their sons and their daughters." And immediately -- that is, from the very moment that Adam and Eve taught their children the revelations of God -- Satan came among them spreading false gods and deceptions. It appears that few or none of their children received the word of God.

It was after this point that Cain was born, to much rejoicing, where his mother exclaimed, "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words." But Cain had other ideas, eventually leading him to murder his younger brother Abel. Afterward was born Seth, the father of the faithful. It is of Cain's and Seth's lines that we read, and we may assume that Abel's progeny went along with righteous Seth's. But of the previous children of Adam and Eve and of their descendants, we read nothing more. Our scriptures tell us only of the descendants of those who came after the lies of Satan were well spread throughout the earth.

Maybe I'm saying this in the wrong forum. This is for non-LDS Christian beliefs, so my notes may be misplaced here. My point is not to criticize, but to clarify by providing my understanding of some LDS doctrines. If I am coming across as critical, or if my musings are out of place here, please forgive me.

Let me point out here that Allah (الله) is just an Arabic word meaning "God". I see no reason to believe that the God worshiped by the Muslims is not the same God that I worship. And I believe that Buddhists do not worship the Buddha, but view him somewhat like Latter-day Saints view prophets. Hugh Nibley has suggested that even Ra and Set and other Egyptian gods, as well as European gods such as in the Greek and Roman pantheons, might be misunderstandings of the true God -- though in that case I would agree with you that they are false gods. I would not say that Ra or Zeus are representations of the true God in any meaningful sense, the way I maintain that Islam's Allah is an attempt to worship the true God.

I understand both your points, and I am in agreement that confusion must have immediately resulted from the Fall. And I agree that it is pointless to speculate on the matter of how many false gods were imagined by men in the early years. Perhaps it would simply have sufficed for me to say that at some point (perhaps in the Garden before Satan first approached Adam and Eve) there was in the mind of man but one God—the true God—whose identity, character, and attributes were not convoluted to him. This is the crux—in the beginning man knew the true God, and as sin entered the scene, man began to lose that clear knowledge of Him.

And your last point is synonymous with the first main point I was getting at—that the gods worshiped in other religions are, to one degree or another, aspects of the true God—the God Adam and Eve knew in the Garden. And the second main point was that, to God and man, this falls short of what God desires for us—hence the Restoration. It is from this standpoint that I would like my original post to be viewed. I was not aiming to steer the discussion to one of identifying when various understandings of God came into being.

And I don't think either your or my comments are out of place. LDS cannot be expected to participate in this discussion with other Chrisitans if we are disallowed to share our beliefs.

Edited by SightByFaith

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Unto every one is given a measure of faith. That is enough. All they have to do is exercise it and let it lead them to the truth. Taste and see that the Lord is good. For all things to show that there is a God. If a person wants to sin away their time here on earth, that is a poor choice, but their choice.

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So while, on a certain level, I am inclined to agree that the God of Christianity (as understood generally) fits the mold of an all-interested and widely-known God better than any other in the religious world, that image of God—that knowledge of God—yet falls short of that which God desires for us. It is not enough—for Him or for us—that we satisfy ourselves with what is generally known of Him which, while significantly more than the knowledge of Him offered by many other religions, is still but an incomplete portrait of the God known by the first of men. That is one purpose, above all, of the Restored Gospel—to reintroduce man to the full knowledge of God. (D&C 84:19) For we are saved no faster than we acquire this knowledge (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings, p. 217) and we are saved only to the degree that we possess it (D&C 131:6) and are faithful to it (Mosiah 4;12).

That is why LDS missionaries preach the Restored Gospel. If it didn't matter...if what the world—even the Christian world—knows of God were good enough, God wouldn't send them.

You speak as one who has found great joy in a specific Christian community of faith (LDS). My concern is that if Jesus came for the lost, then there may be precious few remaining who can be found. Why? They do not know and often will not accept that they are lost. In a post-modern worldview, there is not absolute truth, and so no accountability beyond oneself. In fact, if there is any unpardonable sin in today's society, it would be to proclaim my standards (and religion) are better than yours.

BTW, I'm not agreeing with post-modernism, just suggesting that Christians of all stripes battle this latest philosophy of men, because we dare to declare the seeminly arrogant truth that Jesus is the only way.

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You speak as one who has found great joy in a specific Christian community of faith (LDS). My concern is that if Jesus came for the lost, then there may be precious few remaining who can be found. Why? They do not know and often will not accept that they are lost. In a post-modern worldview, there is not absolute truth, and so no accountability beyond oneself. In fact, if there is any unpardonable sin in today's society, it would be to proclaim my standards (and religion) are better than yours.

I agree that the world is disinterested in "absolute truth." I'm just not sure that I would go so far as to say that so few can still be found, or "reclaimed" as I would put it. Granted, it is probably due to the doctrines I believe that I view it this way, but I do not understand that God's reach to His children is limited to this world. There are some who will not be reclaimed here, be the reasons what they may, but who will be in the next phase of existence.

And as the darkness grows blacker in our world, the contrast between the light of absolute truth and spiritual darkness gets ever more stark, even to the point that it may finally sway those who right now may be blinded by the post-modern worldview. Who knows what events lie ahead which may serve to upset their indifference, complacency, or spiritually-starved contentedness...

BTW, I'm not agreeing with post-modernism, just suggesting that Christians of all stripes battle this latest philosophy of men, because we dare to declare the seeminly arrogant truth that Jesus is the only way.

Thanks. That is what I had understood you to be saying. Edited by SightByFaith

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I considered putting this in the LDS Gospel section, because it could fit. However, my answer is broad, encompassing all Christian faith groups--so, here is my thought.

In today's world the only kind of God that might be relevant would be a single, universal one. Why?

If there are many gods, then they are not all-powerful. They are some kind of species or creature, and I can likely leave them to battle each other.

So, if there is only one God, and He cares to relate with his creation, this God would likely make himself known throughout his world. He would not, over time, limit himself to one people or language.

Yet, of the large monothesistic religions, only Christianity fits this mold. Judaism self-identifies as a religion for its tribe. Rabbis are actually instructed to initially dissuade proselytes three times. Islam, while it can be "missionary," can only be well understood in Arabic. One of the first tasks of a sincere convert to Islam would be to learn the language, so s/he could read the actual Qur'an. All "translations" are deemed paraphrases, and not considered actual scripture.

Yes, there are thousands of religions, and multiple thousands of sects and denominations. However, because of the its monotheism and its universal, missionary appeal, I quickly conclude that Christianity is the most likely expression of the Creator's appeal to his creation.

Thoughts?

The God that answered my prayers assured to me the existence and Love of both He and our Savior. And also let me know that Joseph smith was their servant and that it was by their hand that the Book of mormon was brought forth.

There may be other gods, many, but to me there is only one.

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Yet, of the large monothesistic religions, only Christianity fits this mold. Judaism self-identifies as a religion for its tribe. Rabbis are actually instructed to initially dissuade proselytes three times. Islam, while it can be "missionary," can only be well understood in Arabic. One of the first tasks of a sincere convert to Islam would be to learn the language, so s/he could read the actual Qur'an. All "translations" are deemed paraphrases, and not considered actual scripture.

I think it is prudent to point out that for over a thousand years, Christianity had the same caveat that Islam does now: one had to learn the language to understand. In this case, Latin.

The Bible was solely in Latin for hundreds of years (minus the Aramaic origin of a few of the texts) and in the sole possession of the Catholic church. Comparatively speaking it has only recently been translated into other languages. Islam is about 700 years younger than Christianity.

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So far I offered a rather philosophical or rationale line of thinking. Others have suggested prayer, feeling the Spirit, judging the fruits of a religion, acting upon whatever faith one has...all good answers. On the other hand, how do we avoid being deceived by any of these approaches. Rational thinking has led people away from God. Many testify to feeling good spiritual vibes after speaking with psychics (or drugs...aka the 1960s). Throughout most of its history, the People's Temple was well respected for its good works and interracial makeup (the group ended up committing mass suicide in the late 70s).

One suggested the scriptures. Which ones? How do we get to the place of examining the right scriptues?

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I think it is prudent to point out that for over a thousand years, Christianity had the same caveat that Islam does now: one had to learn the language to understand. In this case, Latin.

The Bible was solely in Latin for hundreds of years (minus the Aramaic origin of a few of the texts) and in the sole possession of the Catholic church. Comparatively speaking it has only recently been translated into other languages. Islam is about 700 years younger than Christianity.

And yet, the original New Testament manuscripts were penned in Koine Greek--a simplified dialect, almost a Greek for internationals (similar to ESL translations today).

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You speak as one who has found great joy in a specific Christian community of faith (LDS). My concern is that if Jesus came for the lost, then there may be precious few remaining who can be found. Why? They do not know and often will not accept that they are lost. In a post-modern worldview, there is not absolute truth, and so no accountability beyond oneself. In fact, if there is any unpardonable sin in today's society, it would be to proclaim my standards (and religion) are better than yours.

BTW, I'm not agreeing with post-modernism, just suggesting that Christians of all stripes battle this latest philosophy of men, because we dare to declare the seeminly arrogant truth that Jesus is the only way.

You are absolutely, one hundred percent correct PC. If there is a truth, and I believe there is, then it means we should search for that.

This search is hard. There are only a few things that are possible:

1) Existence is an absurdity, a brief blink of impossibly bright colors, love and pain covered by an endless yawning chasm of eternal blackness both before and after.

2) Existence is eternal.

Both bear thinking about. The first means existence is more like a bleak punchline in an eternal joke and we become cognizant only long enough to comprehend our insignificance and the horror of our inevitable demise. Not pleasant, but possible. The second implies an eternal existence. If it's the first, then life has no meaning. If it's the second, then meaning is vital. Figuring out that meaning would be vital.

The first is simple enough, and the preferred belief of most Atheists because it's easy enough to describe and doesn't require any further understanding. It is the most succinct(Not simplest) explanation for existence.

The second makes us ask: Do we reincarnate? Is there a heaven? A hell? Is there a God? What is his or her nature? Are there many gods? What is our purpose? How can we discover it?

Buddhists believe one thing, Hinduists another, various folk religions another, Islamists another, many Christian faiths another.

Why is it so difficult to find the truth? Why are we all so lost that there is no single majority religion in the world? Why do religions tend to follow ethnic and regional lines if there is a universal truth?

These questions must be faced in order to proclaim a true religion. The truth will answer all these questions.

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According to Biblical scholars from all fields there are 17 Signs of the True Faith

17 Points of the True Church of Christ

Christ organized the Church (Eph 4:11-14)

The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23)

The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:19-20)

The true church must have the same organization as Christ's Church (Eph 4:11-14)

The true church must claim divine authority (Heb 5:4-10)

The true church must have no paid ministry (1 Cor 9:16-18; Acts 20:33-34; John 10:11-13)

The true church must baptise by immersion (Matt 3:13-16)

The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17)

The true church must practice divine healing (Mark 3:14-15)

The true church must teach that God and Jesus are seperate and distinct individuals (John 17:11; 20:17)

The true church must teach that God and Jesus have bodies of flesh and bone (Luke 23:36-39; Acts 1:9-11; Heb 1:1-3)

The officers must be called by God (Heb 4:4; Ex 28:1; 40:13-16)

The true church must claim revelation from God (Amos 3:7)

The true church must be a missionary church (Matt 28:19-20)

The true church must be a restored church (Acts 3:19-20)

The true church must practice baptism for the dead (1Cor 15:16&29)

"By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt 7:20)

Therefore the LDS Church is the only True Church

That is why I was baptised into the LDS Church. I know that it is true.

.

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There are many strings on this site addressing these points. My own sense is that they have the scent of faith-affirming urban legend. It would be so easy for me to come up with a similar list that would point to the Assemblies of God as the one true church (though we make no such claim)...or the Lutherans...or the Jehovah's Witnesses for that matter. I would simply look to the favored church's version of the Articles of Faith, add a few extra scriptures to each point, and claim that "Bible scholars everywhere got together and determined that these were the crucial aspects pointing towards the true church/religion/sect, etc."

UPDATE: Sure enough, somebody decided to prove my point: Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!

Edited by prisonchaplain

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However, that list of 17 points is directly from the Bible.

We cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible we wish to take heed of and those that we don't.

Yet, that is what most churches do - except the LDS Church

Oh come now. I appreciate your satisfaction with the teachings of your church, and the confidence you have in its veracity...but do you really believe that most churches and denominations practice "cafeteria theology?"--picking and choosing what they like and discarding the rest? I think some individuals do--in every church. Maybe a few pastors choose to "tickle the ears," rather than teach the whole counsel of God. However, most Christians, including leaders, hunger after truth and righteousness. Where we fail, it's seldom out of intentional self-delusion.

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In her defence, we should give her the opportunity to prove her point, PC.

Jezebel - Quote source. Which biblical scholars from which fields have word for word agreed with what you're saying about the 17 points?

When we make sweeping, grand statements like you're making, we expect sweeping, grand proof to follow it. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."

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Back to the OP, I wonder if the characterization of polytheism is too caricatured.

My summary of your criteria (correct me if I'm missing something) of a worthwhile god is

1. omnipotence (prevents in-fighting among gods)

2. single-purposed (again, preventing in-fighting among gods)

3. self-advertising across the world (assuming he is no respecter of persons)

My understanding of the Hindu faith (I may need to chat with some friends to see how right I get this) is there is really 3 Gods - the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Destroyer. All other deities (including the local favorite) is really an avatar of one of these three. The 3 Gods work together causing balance in the universe. As a group, they have omnipotence. As a group, they are single-purposed - you might even say they are clearer in their relationships than the trinity. The same God who is all about love and wants to save the world required genocide and personally wiped out entire cities? The Hindus have a less internally conflicted sense of deity. You get the "advertising" through the avatars and reincarnation. Even if the religion stayed confined permanently in India, you would still eventually have the chance to learn all about it in one (or many) of your lives.

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