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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Cousin Hobbes the convert (Part I) (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Cousin Hobbes the convert (Part I)
Xavier
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http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=021473

The second post there was my first post here before I moved it. I felt that my post was much too personal for Hobbes' thread, and that it wasn't really in the same spirit either.

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pooka
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Trogdor is named Pat?
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dkw
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Pat, protestant churches do not believe that they have one person chosen/appointed to receive revelation for the whole church. We MOST DEFINITELY believe that God continues to guide/inspire/direct the church.
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Liquor and Fireworks
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Hatrack's logo is a tree?
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Liquor and Fireworks
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Oh no, I'm posting in the purposeful threads, I forgot about my "fluff only" policy.
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Trogdor the Burninator
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Ok, now I see it, although I'll leave it here so she'll see my response if she wants to.
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Trogdor the Burninator
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dkw --

See my new thread.

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JonnyNotSoBravo
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Congratulations Hobbes! I know I made the mistake of assuming you had already joined the LDS church a while back. This was probably exacerbated by references made to you going to church several times on outings with other hatrackers. I think I even asked what your conversion story was after I found out you weren't born into it. Hope I didn't put any pressure on you!

I guess I have just two questions about your story, Hobbes. Let me know if I pry too much into your beliefs.

quote:
I started off with things I knew to be immoral and tried to figure out why they were immoral, and thus understand the basis for morality and be able to come up with an at least semi-complete moral code.
Did you ever consider Kantian ethics (i.e. don't do anything to others that you wouldn't want done to you)? It ends up being what I use for morality, being the agnostic that I am. My older brother, a confirmed Catholic, asked me what the motivation was for Kantian ethics. I told him that it was more efficient. It's so much easier when you don't feel like you have to defend yourself against rape and murder all the time. Otherwise, we would all carry around guns and become even more isolationist than we are already. Of course, Christians have an extremely similar version of this from the New Testament - Jesus' new commandment. Kantian ethics is just sans God/religion.

quote:
The only solution I saw was to analyze myself in an effort to understand my emotions and be able to track them down.
I like this solution, but I don't think this would be the route for me. First, most psycholgists know that a person can't analyze themselves effectively. I can hide things from myself, I have no objectivity, I skew the results toward what I want to have happen, etc. Second, I couldn't be sure that feelings were connected to the possibilty of God. Third, feelings are so transitory and it's so easy to influence them with music, atmosphere and conditioning that it would be difficult to analyze where all of them came from, although some would be very easy to track down. So I guess the second question is, did you consider having a psychologist help you analyze your emotions? Or would that be out of the question because you think they might have a negative effect on the analysis?

I look forward to the second part of your story!

The rest of this is a remark on protestantism.

quote:
Tresopax wrote: Generally, the idea behind the main protestant churches are that the church itself should not be the focus of one's religion - God and His word itself should be the focus.
I agree with this. Martin Luther, who caused the Great Schism (well one of 'em anyway) when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door around 1500 AD, believed in reading and interpreting the Bible for himself. The Gutenberg press was invented around the same time which helped spread the idea (and literacy) around by printing Bibles for the people to read.

quote:
Pooka wrote:We have an interesting parable in the Book of Mormon, The Olive Tree that explains why God would let the church of his Son fall away and then bring back a competing church later. I think in the sense of that, LDS is also a protestant church.
I would say this is kind of off the mark. Luther's idea was not to set up a competing church. He didn't believe you really needed a church at all. The church is just there for a sense of community among the believers. You can stay at home and just pray and be a perfectly good protestant. No tithes, no rituals. Just you and God, speaking to each other. Some of the people that followed him may have steered protestantism back to something more churchlike, though.
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pooka
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I meant the LDS church, but that's okay.

I wonder sometimes why we have to put up with congregations, and I think it proves (in the crucible sense) our charity. It is easy to be charitable when you don't have to deal with people. [Wink] I thought Luther hoped to help the Catholic church see the errors in some of its ways (selling indulgences rings a bell). From what I recall in world history classes. But I don't actually know what the x-number of theses said.

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dkw
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quote:
He [Luther] didn't believe you really needed a church at all. The church is just there for a sense of community among the believers. You can stay at home and just pray and be a perfectly good protestant. No tithes, no rituals. Just you and God, speaking to each other.
Care to back that up with a citation from Luther’s writings?

Luther did not intend to either form a new church or abolish the old one. He intended to reform it. Hence The Protestant Reformation.

[ February 11, 2004, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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Narnia
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Hm. I don't think we've had an "explain the protestant religions" thread.

Hm. I guess we still don't. [Razz]

*******************

Hobbes, thanks for writing that all down. You'll be really grateful that you did. I was very happy to read it and hear a little more of your story.

Not to mention that the whole thing is really exciting!!! Congrats!

(this looks so cold on the screen, so I hope you realize that my wishes are extremely heartfelt and that I'm so happy for you.)

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JonnyNotSoBravo
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dkw-
Hmmm. Maybe I phrased that badly. By "He [Luther] didn't believe you really needed a church at all", I meant that he believed that observing arcane rituals, selling indulgences, interpreting the Bible only through the priesthood etc. interfered with people communicating with God. To communicate with God, he did not believe that a person needed to go through the church (i.e. Catholic church, which sold indulgences, interpreted the Bible only through the priesthood/monks/etc.) but only needed a Bible and the ability to read. So maybe that would read better if I changed it to "He didn't believe you needed the rituals of church to interpret the Bible." Would you agree with that?

Your comments in the other thread seem to support that idea. You each read the Bible, but come together to get a consensus about what you believe to be true interpretations. Really, Luther was most upset about indulgences, correct? His changes were far more radical than stopping indulgences, though, and it is surprising that he thought he could reform the church while abolishing some of its most cherished rituals.

"...as soon as a coin in the coffer clinks, a soul into heaven springs."

[ February 11, 2004, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: JonnyNotSoBravo ]

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Law Maker
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Lately I've slipped back into my old habit of lurking, but I guess I'll de-lurk enough to congratulate you, Hobbes.

Congratulations Hobbes!

To answer some people: My experience with spiritual guidence has been that it is usually a very small thing that is mixed up with my other thoughts and emotions; something very hard to isolate. I have had one experience, though, where that "Voice of the Spirt" or "Holy Ghost" or whatever you want to call it hit me like a freight train. I don't want to go into detail about the circumstances, but I could not think of a way that it could have come from myself. The experience left me without a doubt about who it was from and there's no way I could deny it and live with myself.

I'm not sure why it happened to me, nothing like it has happened since, and I don't know why it hasn't happened to everyone. I don't have any answers, but I do know that is possible for thoughts and feelings to come to you from outside yourself with a great deal of strength and certainty.

I don't really expect anyone to change their minds because of what has happened to me, just something to think about.

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Wendybird
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*high fives Hobbes*

That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your journey, I look forward to part II.

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Bokonon
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celia, I think posting what I did is rather apropos to my namesake. [Smile]

-Bok

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dkw
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JohnnyNSB, I think it would be a gross mischaracterization of the Roman Catholic Church to characterize the selling of indulgences as one “of its most cherished rituals.”

Edit: And where, exactly, did I say anything about reading the Bible? [Confused]

[ February 11, 2004, 10:16 PM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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A Rat Named Dog
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Peter said:

quote:
Am I a total geek because I raised my hand up to my monitor to accept the high five?
And I felt so clever and unique for doing that [Smile] Dang it all, I'm so derivative.

Anyway, congratulations, Hobbes, for crossing the oft-difficult boundary from agnosticism into faith. The current normally flows in the other direction, and an experience like yours is a rare and exciting thing for me to read about [Smile]

But more than that, thank you for writing up your experience for us. I recently got into a long discussion with a coworker about the Church. This coworker is dating a former Mormon — or a "recovering Mormon" as she likes to call herself — and his attitude toward the church is one of subtle, smug condescension. He's actually a really cool guy when we're discussing other subjects, but this one was getting to me because for some reason, it MATTERED to me that this guy respect my faith, and really, no matter what, he was going to think of it as something to be pitied or feared. It bothered me for days, really, that I had failed to really represent myself well to this guy, and I felt like I had lost something.

But reading your account has really built me back up, a lot. See, I already respected YOU a lot more than I respect my coworker, and it's really good to read an experience so similar to my own. I mean, despite the fact that I was raised religious, I was also raised very skeptical, and it's not hard for me to see the vulnerabilities inherent to faithful belief. But much like you, the feeling I have toward the truth of my faith and my moral outlook runs much deeper than my typical emotional responses, and I can't dismiss it the way I've always been able to dismiss forces like infatuation, fear, and anger when I needed to.

Someone here said that the major purpose of religion is being happy. That may be true to the extent that the purpose of LIFE is beeing happy, but I think that religion exists, even more, as a place where people of a common faith can support one another in pursuing a very difficult moral quest that any one of us might easily fail on our own.

So thank you for being there to help support me in mine [Smile]

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pooka
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quote:
Anyway, congratulations, Hobbes, for crossing the oft-difficult boundary from agnosticism into faith. The current normally flows in the other direction
That's just the way it looks when you're young, Dog. It's a big tidal thing-a-majig.
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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quote:
dkw wrote: JohnnyNSB, I think it would be a gross mischaracterization of the Roman Catholic Church to characterize the selling of indulgences as one "of its most cherished rituals."
And where, exactly did I say that the selling of indulgences was one of its most cherished rituals?

I was referring to the changes that "were far more radical than stopping indulgences," i.e. the idea that a person could interpret the Bible themselves instead of only letting the priesthood/monks/etc. do it, and having the priest interpret the word of God is indeed one of the Catholic Church's most cherished rituals.

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dkw
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::re-reads::

Sorry, my mistake. I took your "...as soon as a coin in the coffer clinks, a soul into heaven springs" as relating to your previous sentence about cherished rituals.

Perhaps we should take further discussion to another thread, so as not to disrupt Hobbes' party?

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pooka
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Just ask a dkw Here you go
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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quote:
At those conferences, we worship together, talk together, pray together, eat together, and listen for God together. And then we have a parliamentary-style process by which we attempt to agree on what it is God is saying to us.

My fault. I was transferring reading the Bible onto your "listening" for God. Does your sect of protestantism not do that same sort of "listening" while reading the Bible?

I think I may come off sounding snarky when I'm saying all these things, especially when I'm not an expert. I'm sorry if that's the case. You're a minister, right dkw? I acknowledge your superior knowledge in the area of protestantism! [Smile]

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dkw
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quote:
Does your sect of protestantism not do that same sort of "listening" while reading the Bible?
Certainly. But not exclusively while reading the Bible.
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larisse
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Hobbes, congratulations on your baptism. I loved reading your account of your induction into your faith and religion. I think it's wonderful how you took your own path, proving to yourself that it was right for you. I know that you did justice to yourself and the people who share your faith.

Personally, I think that whatever religion or belief system one has for themselves, it does have to bring them happiness and contentment in order to satisfy. I can't wait to read the rest of your account.

*Returns High Five* <-- I was gonna do that anyways, but glad to see I wasn't the only one.

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Zotto!
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Thanks for sharing that, Hobbes. [Smile]

(yeah, yeah, I did the high-five thing too... [Razz] )

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katharina
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I love conversion stories. They help my own faith, but I also love it because it's a spiritual high. This is great. *hugs Hobbes*

Have you told the original missionaries yet? You can get addresses from the mission office if you don't have them. They'd love to know that someone they tracted into got baptized. It's still totally your story, but really, you'll make their month. [Smile]

[ February 12, 2004, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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TomDavidson
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"They help my own faith, but I also love it because it's a spiritual high."

Do you like conversion stories from other faiths?

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katharina
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I don't know; I've never been there for one.

----

Tom, I need to post that Rules of Life thread again, because I have a theory that when you and I were around the same point in our respective lives, I found religion and you found love, and both are for some reason a little skeptical that the other phenomonon really exists while simultaneously longing for it.

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TomDavidson
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There's a conversion story to paganism on DaGoat's thread. Take a look.
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katharina
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No comment on my theory?
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TomDavidson
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It's a theory, but it's an unscientific one. Not only is it untestable, it's not predictive. [Smile]
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katharina
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Come on, you have to admit there are parallels...
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TomDavidson
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Yep. But -- and please, PLEASE don't take this the wrong way -- I can point to my wife and say, "See? She exists." It may be possible to continue to disbelieve that love actually exists, but it's rather hard to disbelieve in the object and products of that love. So while there's a parallel -- a longing for something intangible that other people say they've been able to experience -- I don't think it's as close of one as you're arguing.
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katharina
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I don't mean people, I mean love. I mean, there are a thousand other reasons someone might want to hang around me than love.

I can point to some very definite feelings inside - I know that God is there. I know the miracles exist. I'm much, much more sure of God's love than I am of people.

----

I'm not saying it's a one to one parallel. But your wistful tone when you talk about prayer and religion just sounds awfully familiar.

[ February 12, 2004, 11:49 AM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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TomDavidson
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Hm. Maybe there's another difference, then.

I don't KNOW that Christy loves me. I certainly don't know if there's some nebulous spiritual connection between us that will outlast our lives.

I know I love HER, by the definition of the word, and choose to take her promises at face value based on her behavior.

But I DON'T have some kind of spiritual certainty that capital-L "Love" is hovering around us and sprinkling us with confetti or something.

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peterh
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Tom I agree with Katharina about the spritual high thing and wanted to answer your question; at least from my perspective.

I do think any conversion story has power. When someone reaches a goal or a marking point on a journey, it is cause for celebration. That is what we like about stories in general. We can see ourselves in the hero. Or we hope that we can be like the hero, or whatever. In any case we can identify with the characters.

I will echo the idea, mentioned above, that any devout follower of a religion has gone through some conversion process. When it is a conversion to the same faith that you belong, it is that much more powerful because it is that much easier to identify with. Therefore, although conversion stories in general make me feel good, LDS conversion stories I find particulary enjoyable because they so easily ring true for me.

Personally, the only reason I started reading OSC is because he was a "quasi-famous" mormon author and I hadn't read any of his stuff before and that Ender's Game book was supposedly pretty good. (That was almost my verbatim thought process picking EG up from the library) I enjoyed it and have now read most everyting he's written. (it's taken a couple years, but I've only got 5-6 books to go) Particularly enjoyable for me are the Homecoming and Alvin series. Why? Because I'm LDS and I can appreciate the story lines a little bit more because I'm so familiar with the some of the inspiration for the stories. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be enjoyable for someone that isn't LDS as OSC is, just that it's more enjoyabe because of the shared background.

[ February 12, 2004, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: peterh ]

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TomDavidson
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"Therefore although conversion stories in general make me feel good."

But what if the conversion is to a faith you find particularly odious or dangerous? If someone says they've found true happiness in, say, Satanism or Voodoo, will you wish them well? What if they've linked up with Scientologists or Raelians?

Is it the act of choosing a path that's heartwarming, or is it the act of choosing a path you think is right?

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peterh
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If someone told me they had truly found happiness in cutting the heads off of chickens and drinking their blood straight from the neck, I'd have a hard time identifying with it. But, I'd be happy for the person and wish them well. That's my whole point. It resonates more when it's someone from the same faith. I'm still happy for someone when they're happy though.
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TomDavidson
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Hm. See, I'm not.
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peterh
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My only caveat would be if someone found happiness in doing something that I believed was destructive to others. If they enjoy destroying themself (in my opinion) then I'm okay with it. But if someone decided they wanted to follow the life of Jeffrey Dahmer as a religion, I'd have issues. But in general, that's not what we're talking about, I don't think.
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dkw
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I think I’m with Tom on this one. Several of the “conversion” stories on Da Goat’s thread made me sad. (The conversion to paganism, btw is on Leonide’s “Places of Worship” thread, not Da Goat’s conversion thread.) At least part of that sadness is from the way Christianity is described by those who have left it. It makes me want to cry out “but that’s NOT what Christianity teaches!” But, I know that it probably was what some church was teaching. [Frown]

Of course, recently the stories from people on Hatrack in my own denomination have made me rather sad too. Not that they chose it, but how they describe it.

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katharina
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*feels a need to offer dkw a hug* You doing okay?
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Hobbes
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First off, to those who though I was a member, I was vague about it and rather suspected that result, and besides which most of my Ward thought I was a member too. [Laugh] Second, thanks to everyone who congratulated me. [Big Grin] [Wave]

I wanted to make a few other comments. I talked about the Holy Ghost in my conversion, because that is the key factor. If He is not there than there is no conversion. However, other things did help me along the way, other people and other events (like the missionaries tracting into me so soon in my… quest so to speak).

Second is one the issue of faith required to gain faith. Just a quick thought, it is true that you must begin with faith, but it’s misunderstood what that faith is. My only beginning faith was that it was possible God existed. Before that though I did say I acknowledged the possibility, I really didn’t give it any thought. I needed faith that it could be true, not that it necessarily was.

Hmmm… reading through this thread I think I had about 9.3 full formed other thoughts and now I can’t even remember that 3/10ths of a thought so I guess that about sums it up. [Cool]

Hobbes [Smile]

[ February 12, 2004, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: Hobbes ]

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Ben
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Luther believed tithing was important. Luther believed a church body was important to strengthen ones faith. Luther believed we needed only 2 sacraments rather than Catholic church requiring 7. Holy Baptism, and Holy Communion were the two essential ingredients as far as rituals were concerned. but he didn't completely disregard the remaining 5. he just didn't think they were essential to one's faith.

just clearing up a few things of what Luther believed. and what at least the LUTHERAN church if not other protestant churches also hold true.

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JonnyNotSoBravo
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wow, thanks Ben! I was totally uninformed! Sorry to everyone to whom I might have spread that misinformation! Did Luther believe in transsubstantiation, Ben? And where did you find out so much about what Luther believed?
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Ben
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yes he believed in transubstantiation. but he came to his conclusion in a slightly different manner than the approach and method of reasoning catholics used. i would need to go back and do some qwuick research to tell you how or why he came to this conclusion.

i'm Lutheran. Was raised Lutheran. and was Confirmed Lutheran. we had to learn a good deal about the Lutheran church to be confirmed. sad to say i cheated through alot of it (my friends sister would come and read us the answers to tests when pastor was on the phone) butr have learned alot of it since. and I'm studying to be a Lutheran Minister.

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dkw
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Better learn the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation then. Luther believed the latter, not the former.

[ February 17, 2004, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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celia60
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Ben, I also went through the Lutheran confirmation process. Transubstatiation is not what we were taught. The interpretation of the sacraments wasn't that the ceremonies excluded were unimportant or less important, it was that each already included communion, and thus was not it's own sacrament. I think that's what your saying, I just didn't think it was clear.
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