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Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
Hmm, wow. Yeah, people tend to have strong feelings about church one way or another, especially when it comes to the type of people who attend or how the church handles money.

I guess you could try that place again one day but there's nothing wrong with trying a variety of places until something clicks.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,802
The Netherlands
Church (especially a large church) can be a very lonely place to go if you don't have family or friends there.
I've never been to a church with hundreds of people, so maybe that's an important detail, but I feel like in smaller churches, there's always a couple of people who are reaching out to people that are visiting for the first time, taking the time to talk to them, try to make them feel at home.

That said, I think it's been important for my personal faith that I have multiple groups of believers. It's easier to make new friends if you have old friends with you when you visit a new place, after all. So I have people from church in the city I live now, people from the church of my parents, as well as a Christian student group/association where I got to know a lot of people that are in a very similar position (Christian, same city, same age, same problems to face, etc). When you're older, it's obviously harder to find a group of believers outside your church, but I think it's really something to look into if you're younger.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,278
I've never been to a church with hundreds of people, so maybe that's an important detail, but I feel like in smaller churches, there's always a couple of people who are reaching out to people that are visiting for the first time, taking the time to talk to them, try to make them feel at home.

That said, I think it's been important for my personal faith that I have multiple groups of believers. It's easier to make new friends if you have old friends with you when you visit a new place, after all. So I have people from church in the city I live now, people from the church of my parents, as well as a Christian student group/association where I got to know a lot of people that are in a very similar position (Christian, same city, same age, same problems to face, etc). When you're older, it's obviously harder to find a group of believers outside your church, but I think it's really something to look into if you're younger.
Many churches organize various weekly Bible studies and other small group gatherings which you can hook up with and attend even if you don't attend that church's Sunday services. For those of us for whom student groups are no longer an option but who want more fellowship with other Christian believers, that's something I encourage looking into.
 

Ivellios

Member
Oct 27, 2017
394
I've never been to a church with hundreds of people, so maybe that's an important detail, but I feel like in smaller churches, there's always a couple of people who are reaching out to people that are visiting for the first time, taking the time to talk to them, try to make them feel at home.

That said, I think it's been important for my personal faith that I have multiple groups of believers. It's easier to make new friends if you have old friends with you when you visit a new place, after all. So I have people from church in the city I live now, people from the church of my parents, as well as a Christian student group/association where I got to know a lot of people that are in a very similar position (Christian, same city, same age, same problems to face, etc). When you're older, it's obviously harder to find a group of believers outside your church, but I think it's really something to look into if you're younger.
In smaller churches yes, they tend to be more welcoming to newcomers in my experience, but big churches is something i would never recommend going alone without at least knowing someone.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,802
The Netherlands
This is a post of duality:

Many churches organize various weekly Bible studies and other small group gatherings which you can hook up with and attend even if you don't attend that church's Sunday services. For those of us for whom student groups are no longer an option but who want more fellowship with other Christian believers, that's something I encourage looking into.
That sounds cool!

In smaller churches yes, they tend to be more welcoming to newcomers in my experience, but big churches is something i would never recommend going alone without at least knowing someone.
That's a real shame :(
 
Firefoxprime Welcome! :)
And pretty cool to see a converted Christian here!
Regarding politics, your pastor is right. I don't want to turn this thread into PoliERA, but to say one thing: the Bible tells us things would go downhill with the world. No political party nor political system will solve idealistic problems - mankind cannot stop hunger, poverty, hate, war, etc. It will never happen until Kingdom come (literally). Jesus will establish a kingdom of peace. However, until then, mankind will continue looking for "improvements" blah blah blah, but in the end, everything will collapse. That's still far away from us, so no worries now, and I don't want to discourage anyone to vote, but keep the above in mind and look forward to the second coming.
Welcome, welcome!

I'm not necessarily sure I agree with the conception of both sides having equal points (given that my two main Hangouts that I visit are Christianity and Socialism, in order of frequency, that'd figure) but I will say I agree with DarkDetective's view that human beings are fundamentally slated to fail until Jesus returns. I don't see this as a reason to stop trying to make things better, especially since any lasting improvement by its nature would seem to bring us closer to Christ, speaking logically (and since any lasting improvement would, by its nature, be edifying to everyone involved) but I still think our eventual failure is assured. I tend to think of it as, we get a lot of choice in how we, as a species, ultimately fail-- and we, as individuals, are afforded the chance to not follow in the failures of our society.
These are both from a while ago, but I wanted to address this interpretation of how Christians relate to the world.

Yes, we know that given enough time, the current earth and universe will eventually collapse and cease to exist.

However, I don't actually believe that humanity will progressively get worse over time, nor are we fated to live like that. Instead, I believe that Christians are supposed to bring the kingdom of God into the world and replenish it through living out the teachings of Jesus, not fade away from it. So, instead of things moving in a downward spiral, like many Christians I know believe, I think we as Christians are to be leaders of love and restoration, preparing an increasingly better earth until Christ comes back to establish the Kingdom.

I believe that the prophecies that most interpret to signal the end times are simply just a warning about what the world will always be, and to know that the world will never be perfect, but through all the troubles, we need to maintain and shine positivity.

Also, this better fits the reality of the current patterns of the world. Crime has decreased, severe poverty has decreased, wars have decreased. Despite all the everyday awfulness that we currently see, the bigger picture of modern times does not show a downward spiral (climate change excluded), but a progressive upward trend.

The only reason I feel obligated to point this out after all this time is because I grew up in a premileenial dispensationalist background, and the cynicism and hatred of the world many followers of this interpretation have is abhorrent. I never want to see anyone who claims to follow Jesus's teachings to live with that type of mindset, as it most certainly is not how followers of Christ are supposed to live out their purpose in this world.

Yes, interpretations vary, but I strongly encourage all who claim to be Christian to re-examine their mindset about whether humanity is improving or not and how strongly we are called to affect positive change through unconditional love, forgiveness, and a desire to restore the creativity and beauty God placed in His/Her creation.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
These are both from a while ago, but I wanted to address this interpretation of how Christians relate to the world.

Yes, we know that given enough time, the current earth and universe will eventually collapse and cease to exist.

However, I don't actually believe that humanity will progressively get worse over time, nor are we fated to live like that. Instead, I believe that Christians are supposed to bring the kingdom of God into the world and replenish it through living out the teachings of Jesus, not fade away from it. So, instead of things moving in a downward spiral, like many Christians I know believe, I think we as Christians are to be leaders of love and restoration, preparing an increasingly better earth until Christ comes back to establish the Kingdom.

I believe that the prophecies that most interpret to signal the end times are simply just a warning about what the world will always be, and to know that the world will never be perfect, but through all the troubles, we need to maintain and shine positivity.

Also, this better fits the reality of the current patterns of the world. Crime has decreased, severe poverty has decreased, wars have decreased. Despite all the everyday awfulness that we currently see, the bigger picture of modern times does not show a downward spiral (climate change excluded), but a progressive upward trend.

The only reason I feel obligated to point this out after all this time is because I grew up in a premileenial dispensationalist background, and the cynicism and hatred of the world many followers of this interpretation have is abhorrent. I never want to see anyone who claims to follow Jesus's teachings to live with that type of mindset, as it most certainly is not how followers of Christ are supposed to live out their purpose in this world.

Yes, interpretations vary, but I strongly encourage all who claim to be Christian to re-examine their mindset about whether humanity is improving or not and how strongly we are called to affect positive change through unconditional love, forgiveness, and a desire to restore the creativity and beauty God placed in His/Her creation.
I'll say I don't deny permanent improvement is wholly impossible-- it's my hypothesis, not my theory. I tend to take my view as more of a reason that we shouldn't really worry about whether we win or lose in our attempts to better the world in this life, because they are an end unto themselves. As I've stated, any lasting improvement in the world brings us closer to Christ, because any lasting improvement could not proceed apart from the will of Christ. Consequently it follows that any lasting improvement that we achieve is an achievement of Christ working through us... but if our improvements to the world were fleeting, we still edified the people we edified through it. We still helped others, helped Christ thereby, and thus helped ourselves. I more think of my specific view of human fallibility as a way to keep our eyes on the prize, as it were-- to remember that, because our works are impermanent and we're flawed, we shouldn't take for granted that the improvements we make on the world are to last forever. Consequently, we shouldn't be willing to sacrifice our principles to improve the world. So it's more about a deontological and existential framing of worldly endeavors, rather than an expression of hatred. Cynicism? Maybe there's a bit of that edging in with regards to how much we can accomplish; but my view is more of a present-centered focus on the good I can do right now.

Still, by that same token, I can't close myself to the possibility that we can bring a better world about until the Second Coming. After all, it's difficult to say how many of Christ's more apocalyptic prophecies directly refer to the Siege of Jerusalem in 70AD. We don't think on that historical moment but BOY does it have relevance to the Jewish people and the spiritual world thereafter. Nothing about that day made sense even to the people participating in it. It happened so long ago and there was so much Church stuff in the intervening period that we tend to forget just how terrible that day was, or subsequent violence in Judea particularly with regards to the Bar Kokhba uprising. There was plenty of material within those subsequent decades to fulfill the prophecies as laid out, and Jesus would have a vested interest in trying to keep as many people as possible alive through those tribulations since plenty of people would still be alive by then. It could be we're fortunate enough not to be bound by such a future. I can't know, so I have to keep that possibility open and take a hopeful outlook with regards to life.

I appreciate the call to remain hopeful. I will point out you can't really rely on poverty statistics, and climate change is a huge looming threat-- but that doesn't mean we don't still have an obligation and a call to stewardship. I believe we do.
 

Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
Great points, Glimlocker . I think this is exactly why none of us our meant to know when Jesus will return (as mentioned in Mark 13:32).

We are meant to continue doing the Lord's work and taking the gospel to all nations for as long as we live. I believe this includes working for the good of society and the people in it. The fact that we don't know when Jesus will returns essentially means we shouldn't give up as he may not return for a long time.
 
I'll say I don't deny permanent improvement is wholly impossible-- it's my hypothesis, not my theory. I tend to take my view as more of a reason that we shouldn't really worry about whether we win or lose in our attempts to better the world in this life, because they are an end unto themselves. As I've stated, any lasting improvement in the world brings us closer to Christ, because any lasting improvement could not proceed apart from the will of Christ. Consequently it follows that any lasting improvement that we achieve is an achievement of Christ working through us... but if our improvements to the world were fleeting, we still edified the people we edified through it. We still helped others, helped Christ thereby, and thus helped ourselves. I more think of my specific view of human fallibility as a way to keep our eyes on the prize, as it were-- to remember that, because our works are impermanent and we're flawed, we shouldn't take for granted that the improvements we make on the world are to last forever. Consequently, we shouldn't be willing to sacrifice our principles to improve the world. So it's more about a deontological and existential framing of worldly endeavors, rather than an expression of hatred. Cynicism? Maybe there's a bit of that edging in with regards to how much we can accomplish; but my view is more of a present-centered focus on the good I can do right now.

Still, by that same token, I can't close myself to the possibility that we can bring a better world about until the Second Coming. After all, it's difficult to say how many of Christ's more apocalyptic prophecies directly refer to the Siege of Jerusalem in 70AD. We don't think on that historical moment but BOY does it have relevance to the Jewish people and the spiritual world thereafter. Nothing about that day made sense even to the people participating in it. It happened so long ago and there was so much Church stuff in the intervening period that we tend to forget just how terrible that day was, or subsequent violence in Judea particularly with regards to the Bar Kokhba uprising. There was plenty of material within those subsequent decades to fulfill the prophecies as laid out, and Jesus would have a vested interest in trying to keep as many people as possible alive through those tribulations since plenty of people would still be alive by then. It could be we're fortunate enough not to be bound by such a future. I can't know, so I have to keep that possibility open and take a hopeful outlook with regards to life.

I appreciate the call to remain hopeful. I will point out you can't really rely on poverty statistics, and climate change is a huge looming threat-- but that doesn't mean we don't still have an obligation and a call to stewardship. I believe we do.
This isn’t a reply (yet) but I feel obligated to say that I feel bad about pointing out any particular person in this, especially when you had already alluded to some of the points I am trying to show, and all the more when I don’t know the individual tenants of each persons beliefs!

Hopefully no one felt their beliefs attacked, as I know it probably came off like that.

It’s just a very sensitive topic for me, and one I feel leads to a more productive, proactive life that allows Christians to engage in their own way throughout every facet of life.

Heh, again, definitely not trying to say anyone is NOT living a productive, proactive life!

When I “switched” theologies from a belief system that saw the world as decaying to one that is progressively, though not seamlessly, improving, it really helped me follow the teachings of Jesus in a more holistic manner.

Anyways, thank you for replying in such a thoughtful manner!
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
This isn’t a reply (yet) but I feel obligated to say that I feel bad about pointing out any particular person in this, especially when you had already alluded to some of the points I am trying to show, and all the more when I don’t know the individual tenants of each persons beliefs!

Hopefully no one felt their beliefs attacked, as I know it probably came off like that.

It’s just a very sensitive topic for me, and one I feel leads to a more productive, proactive life that allows Christians to engage in their own way throughout every facet of life.

Heh, again, definitely not trying to say anyone is NOT living a productive, proactive life!

When I “switched” theologies from a belief system that saw the world as decaying to one that is progressively, though not seamlessly, improving, it really helped me follow the teachings of Jesus in a more holistic manner.

Anyways, thank you for replying in such a thoughtful manner!
Not a problem, and I want you to know I didn't feel attacked or offended. I feel like you had a pretty respectful response and that it was probably good that I ended up clarifying and organizing my thoughts. I'm glad your faith has managed to be refined in a way that helps you and it's probably very positive that it gives you such strong feelings about making sure your fellow Christians remain hopeful. Reading the epistles, it seems to be a very strong component of the faith, especially when we're challenged. And God knows, even in an improving world, there'll always be challenges to face that we'll need help to pull through.
 
Great points, Glimlocker . I think this is exactly why none of us our meant to know when Jesus will return (as mentioned in Mark 13:32).

We are meant to continue doing the Lord's work and taking the gospel to all nations for as long as we live. I believe this includes working for the good of society and the people in it. The fact that we don't know when Jesus will returns essentially means we shouldn't give up as he may not return for a long time.
Yes, I definitely believe this is true, as well. I actually visited a church once where the pastor claimed that Jesus was DEFINITELY coming back in our lifetimes, probably in the next ten-twenty years. I noped out of there and never went back.

Interestingly enough, you can take amillenialism to it's logical end, and make a case that Jesus's return is non-literal and will be fulfilled when humans reach a state of harmony and progression (my simplified understanding of it). Thus, His return is simply alluding to an ever increasing state of harmony on earth.

I don't personally believe there's any scriptural support for this, at least that I can find, but it's an interesting thought.

Still, by that same token, I can't close myself to the possibility that we can bring a better world about until the Second Coming. After all, it's difficult to say how many of Christ's more apocalyptic prophecies directly refer to the Siege of Jerusalem in 70AD. We don't think on that historical moment but BOY does it have relevance to the Jewish people and the spiritual world thereafter. Nothing about that day made sense even to the people participating in it. It happened so long ago and there was so much Church stuff in the intervening period that we tend to forget just how terrible that day was, or subsequent violence in Judea particularly with regards to the Bar Kokhba uprising. There was plenty of material within those subsequent decades to fulfill the prophecies as laid out, and Jesus would have a vested interest in trying to keep as many people as possible alive through those tribulations since plenty of people would still be alive by then. It could be we're fortunate enough not to be bound by such a future. I can't know, so I have to keep that possibility open and take a hopeful outlook with regards to life.

I appreciate the call to remain hopeful. I will point out you can't really rely on poverty statistics, and climate change is a huge looming threat-- but that doesn't mean we don't still have an obligation and a call to stewardship. I believe we do.
As I'm mostly amillenial (hence how my beliefs can work together), I do tend to believe that the vast majority, if not all, of those respective prophecies refer to the Siege of Jerusalem. But, the fact that there is some vagueness as to whether or not the prophecies were fulfilled leaves other possibilities open.

Some days, I do wish I was a seminarian or Bible scholar, so I could actually respond with some semblance of knowledge about the deeper matters.
 

LuxCommander

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
517
Los Angeles, CA
Hey friends, sorry for disappearing for the past month, I decided to take advantage of the Endgame event to take an extended break from Era for a bit. Glad that I did it, as it has shown that I really need to start moving away from reading Off-Topic as much as I do; it hasn't helped me much with my already jaded disposition due to my job.

Speaking of the job, last time I posted I had mentioned a job interview in Los Angeles. The interview apparently went pretty well, but they decided that I wasn't quite the right fit for the role I has applied for. It took them a while to get back to me about that, but the recruiter informed me that the reason for the wait was due to them saying I would be an excellent candidate for a different role that they just put up last week. They invited me to apply for it, so I am feeling confident in this one, and feel like its actually a better fit for me. The job I applied for would have been a heavy-duty animation pipeline development job, whereas this role gets me closer to the creative process, which is what I have wanted for a good while now.

On that note, my pastor and his wife have connections out in the LA/San Fernando Valley area, and have suggested a church to me and my Fiance to try to get connected with. I'm super pumped to go check it out if things work out.

Anyways, life update aside, I would like to weigh in a bit on the current conversation on our role as believers in the world just a bit. Bear in mind that I am coming from a pretribulation, premillennial perspective. I do believe that the prophesies of the end times guarantee that the world will get worse, but I firmly believe that it comes as a result of the church growing more apathetic and disengaging with the world. It is our duty as believers to share the good news, love others unconditionally as Jesus first loved us, and to be good stewards of the resources that we have been graded with (especially our planet). I can say with a certain level of authority that this is something that the American church in particular has struggled with for years, and has only gotten worse about due to the way that it has shifted from being a dominant force in the culture to one that has less weight in our communities.

TL;DR, any opinions on the end times should motivate us to make the world better, not lock up and let the inevitable happen.
 

Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
Good to hear about the job developments, LuxCommander . Very nice of them to redirect you to a better job rather than just pass over you for the other one.

Also, side note, I totally agree with taking some time off from the off-topic forums. I've been struggling with Era for the past 6 months just because off-topic can have a lot of irritating, frustrating, and negative discussions. It wasn't good for my daily mindset. I eventually just saved some of the community threads (like this one) and that's all I browse, now. It's been a much better experience.
 

BrokenFiction

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,113
ATL
I don't know if anyone read her work, but author Rachel Held Evans passed away yesterday after seizures brought on by a bad reaction to antibiotics for the flu. She was placed into a coma to try to calm the seizures but in the end she succumbed to them. There's a hashtag on Twitter #becauseofRHE that has people memorializing what she meant to them.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
Wondering if any Catholics here have done serious discernment about vocation (religious or otherwise) and journeyed with a spiritual director before. Currently in the process of evaluating how to select a spiritual director. Any advice and personal experiences would be greatly welcome!

Hope everyone had a meaningful Lent and are finding joy in the Eastertide season now. Christ is risen! :D
 
I have some thoughts I've been wanting to pass by you all.

It seems to me that most modern evangelical Christians (really, the only ones I know well enough to make this claim) have become more Pauline in moral belief than following Jesus Christ's teachings.

And I do believe that a more Pauline influenced faith is worse/damaging than a Christ-centered faith.
Let me try to explain in my non-eloquent, non-theological way.

Now, obviously, many Christians believe that we need to follow Paul's teachings with as much equal authority as Jesus's teachings.
I, however, believe that all of Paul's teachings need to pass through the lens of Jesus's teachings to be properly interpreted, and reject any theology that deviates from Jesus's very accepting, loving teachings.
In other words, I don't necessarily view Paul's teachings with inherent authority as Christ's teachings on their own merit.

So, when Paul initiates his own teachings on moral issues, as an addendum to Jesus's original teachings, Christians need to revert back to what the core tenants of Jesus's teachings say - essentially His Great Commandment and the related scripture - and ask if their interpretation of Paul's teachings align.

The reason I say this is because many modern Christians seem to overemphasize some of Paul's teachings, which happen to be related to some of our current political issues in the US, while explicitly ignoring many things that Jesus taught. The Christians I know don't interpret Paul's writings through the Gospels, but are content to Paul's writings stand on their own, without asking if they align with the teachings of Christ.

I will go as far to say that, taken simply on their own merit under the lens of our modern interpretations, that Paul's teachings can have some dangerous consequences for what it means to love one another equally, as Jesus loves us.

TLDR; many Modern American Christians tend to live a faith that judges others by using the teachings of Paul, rather than loving others by using the teachings of Jesus.

Please let me know your thoughts - I wanted to ask people who would let me know if I'm too far out with my beliefs or if some of these are reasonable points.
 

Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
I have some thoughts I've been wanting to pass by you all.

It seems to me that most modern evangelical Christians (really, the only ones I know well enough to make this claim) have become more Pauline in moral belief than following Jesus Christ's teachings.

And I do believe that a more Pauline influenced faith is worse/damaging than a Christ-centered faith.
Let me try to explain in my non-eloquent, non-theological way.

Now, obviously, many Christians believe that we need to follow Paul's teachings with as much equal authority as Jesus's teachings.
I, however, believe that all of Paul's teachings need to pass through the lens of Jesus's teachings to be properly interpreted, and reject any theology that deviates from Jesus's very accepting, loving teachings.
In other words, I don't necessarily view Paul's teachings with inherent authority as Christ's teachings on their own merit.

So, when Paul initiates his own teachings on moral issues, as an addendum to Jesus's original teachings, Christians need to revert back to what the core tenants of Jesus's teachings say - essentially His Great Commandment and the related scripture - and ask if their interpretation of Paul's teachings align.

The reason I say this is because many modern Christians seem to overemphasize some of Paul's teachings, which happen to be related to some of our current political issues in the US, while explicitly ignoring many things that Jesus taught. The Christians I know don't interpret Paul's writings through the Gospels, but are content to Paul's writings stand on their own, without asking if they align with the teachings of Christ.

I will go as far to say that, taken simply on their own merit under the lens of our modern interpretations, that Paul's teachings can have some dangerous consequences for what it means to love one another equally, as Jesus loves us.

TLDR; many Modern American Christians tend to live a faith that judges others by using the teachings of Paul, rather than loving others by using the teachings of Jesus.

Please let me know your thoughts - I wanted to ask people who would let me know if I'm too far out with my beliefs or if some of these are reasonable points.
Simply put, I agree with the idea that we should only view Paul's teachings through the lens of Jesus and his authority and teachings. Paul was a great man of faith but shouldn't have any authority over our lives. He's not God. He's not Jesus. He's not the Holy Spirit. He was just a man.

For people that consider themselves followers of Christ, everything you need to know is in that title. You are trying to follow Christ. His teachings and authority are to be the focus.

I personally believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and, thus, if you find something in the Bible that clashes with the teachings of Jesus, I think you are probably not interpretting it correctly or you may be misunderstanding how that passage fits into the larger narrative of the Bible. That's a much larger discussion, though.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
I'm split on the inerrancy of the Bible, but I suppose that comes with the uncertainty of which Bible is the original.

I have noticed something about Paul. The Lord never seemed to meet a worldly authority He didn't in some way criticize (unless it was a person in a position of worldly authority He was directly helping, like the centurion with the sick "servant" or that one... socially high up guy with the dead-but-sleeping daughter). Paul, when he speaks about worldly authorities, tends to reinforce them. Jesus certainly never preached illegalism, but as Lord of the Sabbath He permitted His disciples to pluck heads of grain from the fields when He no doubt knew it would draw criticisms from the priestly class. He describes Herod Antipas as a fox (which is not a compliment to his cleverness within the context of the Jewish Second Temple era). He says to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's, which could be read as a tacit endorsement of Roman authority but seems more like a rejection of a pressing need to revolutionary violence to me. This is especially reinforced by His refusal to answer Pilate's questions regarding His trial-- and obviously, His trial at the Sanhedrin hardly reinforced faith in that institution either.

I find this dissonance fascinating and think about it often. I understand, from a practical perspective, why Paul would exhort his brethren to follow the Roman laws. Being a dissident element in the Empire would be contradictory to the Great Commission in a broad sense and in a practical sense, outright hostility to the Empire would have resulted in a brutal crackdown. Jewish revolts led to the Dispersion-- early Christians simply would have been crushed utterly. It was the spread among the Gentiles that permitted the religion to flourish, and within that context obeying Imperial rule except in cases where that led to breaking the laws of God was the smart choice.

That being said...

...When Paul talks about bondservants doing their best to obey their masters, when Paul talks about women doing the best to obey their husbands, when Paul talks about children doing their best to obey their parents... I can't help but notice he almost always starts with telling the party with the least amount of power in a relationship to behave before exorting the party with more power to not be bad. And, yunno what? I gotta say, when we look at the way the Evangelical movement in the US treats women, minorities, and children I can't help but think there might be a connection. When I think about Paul telling a slave to go back to his master that he ran away from... I can't help but not like that.

Being uncertain about questions of inerrancy, it's hard to say what to do with that discomfort and that dislike. But I have to say, there's very few parts of the Gospel teaching proper that make me feel that distinct discomfort in the way the Epistles do-- and I tend to feel like those instances of discomfort with regard to the Gospels tend to come more from a lack of personal confidence, like I might not live up to the ideals presented. The Epistles, by comparison? I don't feel that way much at all. I'm still working through them all, of course, so bear that in mind. But I'm still disquieted by that every now and then.
 
Thank you both for your excellent responses. Both were helpful!

Simply put, I agree with the idea that we should only view Paul's teachings through the lens of Jesus and his authority and teachings. Paul was a great man of faith but shouldn't have any authority over our lives. He's not God. He's not Jesus. He's not the Holy Spirit. He was just a man.

For people that consider themselves followers of Christ, everything you need to know is in that title. You are trying to follow Christ. His teachings and authority are to be the focus.

I personally believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and, thus, if you find something in the Bible that clashes with the teachings of Jesus, I think you are probably not interpretting it correctly or you may be misunderstanding how that passage fits into the larger narrative of the Bible. That's a much larger discussion, though.
Ok - your point on correct interpretation is why I would say many Christians need to understand Paul's audience and intentions incredibly in-depth before using his words to make moral judgements on others.

I would say I believe in inerrancy insofar as I interpret the scripture to contain inerrant information - I would have to study the scripture much more before saying that the scriptures have no errors - but does inerrancy refer to the original writings being free from grammatical errors or does it refer to the Bible not conflicting within itself?

I'm split on the inerrancy of the Bible, but I suppose that comes with the uncertainty of which Bible is the original.

I have noticed something about Paul. The Lord never seemed to meet a worldly authority He didn't in some way criticize (unless it was a person in a position of worldly authority He was directly helping, like the centurion with the sick "servant" or that one... socially high up guy with the dead-but-sleeping daughter). Paul, when he speaks about worldly authorities, tends to reinforce them. Jesus certainly never preached illegalism, but as Lord of the Sabbath He permitted His disciples to pluck heads of grain from the fields when He no doubt knew it would draw criticisms from the priestly class. He describes Herod Antipas as a fox (which is not a compliment to his cleverness within the context of the Jewish Second Temple era). He says to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's, which could be read as a tacit endorsement of Roman authority but seems more like a rejection of a pressing need to revolutionary violence to me. This is especially reinforced by His refusal to answer Pilate's questions regarding His trial-- and obviously, His trial at the Sanhedrin hardly reinforced faith in that institution either.

I find this dissonance fascinating and think about it often. I understand, from a practical perspective, why Paul would exhort his brethren to follow the Roman laws. Being a dissident element in the Empire would be contradictory to the Great Commission in a broad sense and in a practical sense, outright hostility to the Empire would have resulted in a brutal crackdown. Jewish revolts led to the Dispersion-- early Christians simply would have been crushed utterly. It was the spread among the Gentiles that permitted the religion to flourish, and within that context obeying Imperial rule except in cases where that led to breaking the laws of God was the smart choice.

That being said...

...When Paul talks about bondservants doing their best to obey their masters, when Paul talks about women doing the best to obey their husbands, when Paul talks about children doing their best to obey their parents... I can't help but notice he almost always starts with telling the party with the least amount of power in a relationship to behave before exorting the party with more power to not be bad. And, yunno what? I gotta say, when we look at the way the Evangelical movement in the US treats women, minorities, and children I can't help but think there might be a connection. When I think about Paul telling a slave to go back to his master that he ran away from... I can't help but not like that.

Being uncertain about questions of inerrancy, it's hard to say what to do with that discomfort and that dislike. But I have to say, there's very few parts of the Gospel teaching proper that make me feel that distinct discomfort in the way the Epistles do-- and I tend to feel like those instances of discomfort with regard to the Gospels tend to come more from a lack of personal confidence, like I might not live up to the ideals presented. The Epistles, by comparison? I don't feel that way much at all. I'm still working through them all, of course, so bear that in mind. But I'm still disquieted by that every now and then.
Super interesting points you bring up on the subject of the dissonance between the two teachings - and I think that captures my concern with how modern Western(?) protestants place priority on what Paul said rather than asking, is this the ideal vision that Jesus intended?

And we can see from the points that you mentioned that Protestants have used some of Paul's teachings to justify some truly horrific behavior. Edit: which is NOT exclusive to Christianity, I think it's just a way of dogmatizing specific examples of a religious text to justify the behavior of those in power - I think it occurs in all religions / belief systems, deistic or otherwise.

And I think the continued overemphasis of Paul's teachings without checking it thoroughly against Jesus's teachings creates a lot of the disgust toward Christians that we see from those who are not Christian - and why wouldn't it?

In all honesty, I've become disconnected from modern Protestant American teachings because of their attitudes towards those that need love the most in this world. I still definitely would consider myself Protestant, but due to my interpretations and beliefs of scripture, it can be a lonely road that few others I know seem to walk on.
 

Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
I would say I believe in inerrancy insofar as I interpret the scripture to contain inerrant information - I would have to study the scripture much more before saying that the scriptures have no errors - but does inerrancy refer to the original writings being free from grammatical errors or does it refer to the Bible not conflicting within itself?
Inerrancy typically refers to the Bible not conflicting with itself when it comes to the ideas and teachings that ere explained. I don't believe grammar is considered since that more has to do with the translation.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,278
I have some thoughts I've been wanting to pass by you all.

It seems to me that most modern evangelical Christians (really, the only ones I know well enough to make this claim) have become more Pauline in moral belief than following Jesus Christ's teachings.

And I do believe that a more Pauline influenced faith is worse/damaging than a Christ-centered faith.
Let me try to explain in my non-eloquent, non-theological way.

Now, obviously, many Christians believe that we need to follow Paul's teachings with as much equal authority as Jesus's teachings.
I, however, believe that all of Paul's teachings need to pass through the lens of Jesus's teachings to be properly interpreted, and reject any theology that deviates from Jesus's very accepting, loving teachings.
In other words, I don't necessarily view Paul's teachings with inherent authority as Christ's teachings on their own merit.

So, when Paul initiates his own teachings on moral issues, as an addendum to Jesus's original teachings, Christians need to revert back to what the core tenants of Jesus's teachings say - essentially His Great Commandment and the related scripture - and ask if their interpretation of Paul's teachings align.

The reason I say this is because many modern Christians seem to overemphasize some of Paul's teachings, which happen to be related to some of our current political issues in the US, while explicitly ignoring many things that Jesus taught. The Christians I know don't interpret Paul's writings through the Gospels, but are content to Paul's writings stand on their own, without asking if they align with the teachings of Christ.

I will go as far to say that, taken simply on their own merit under the lens of our modern interpretations, that Paul's teachings can have some dangerous consequences for what it means to love one another equally, as Jesus loves us.

TLDR; many Modern American Christians tend to live a faith that judges others by using the teachings of Paul, rather than loving others by using the teachings of Jesus.

Please let me know your thoughts - I wanted to ask people who would let me know if I'm too far out with my beliefs or if some of these are reasonable points.
Given the central, linked importance of both the gospels and the Pauline epistles in forming and shaping Christian belief and practice throughout the whole history of Christianity, I'm not sure how Paul's epistles can be deemed untrustworthy without also deeming the gospels untrustworthy as well. There is no doubt that Paul, as a mere man, "the least of the apostles", "the worst of sinners", is subordinate to Christ, as he himself writes, but his writings can't be easily dismissed without calling into question the entire Christian faith.

Paul's epistles certainly contain a number of difficult passages to deal with. But the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels contain at least as many similarly difficult passages. To describe them as "very accepting, loving," at least as those words are typically used, requires a selective extraction of a few frequently referenced quotes while ignoring the vast number of more uncomfortable things Jesus is recorded as saying. The Sermon on the Mount alone contains a number of sayings which are difficult to square with the image of gentle love it is often referenced to support. To quote some excerpts from Matthew 5:

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Jesus calls his audience not to do less than the legalistic Pharisees do, but to do all of that and more.

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Have you felt lust for someone else? According to Jesus, you're already a rapist.

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than your whole body be thrown into hell." - Jesus advocating self-mutilation?

"But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." - This pretty clearly flies in the face of how most people today, whether Christian or non-Christian, treat divorce.

"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - This is a wild note to end the chapter on. Who among us can claim to be perfect? Yet here Jesus is saying you need to be perfect, just as perfect as God Himself. In the context of the preceding verses, such as "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?", Jesus seems to be arguing that anything less than perfection will not merit any kind of praise or reward. Who can stand under such harsh words?

This doesn't even get into other harsh words of Jesus such as, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34) I can understand why people shy away from seriously reckoning with Jesus' own words; I myself still recoil at their force. But it's necessary for me to truly reckon with them, and the hard parts elsewhere in Scripture, if I am actually determined to worship a God bigger than myself rather than a god of my own creation. (And I am convinced that no god of my own creation can be truly worthy of worship.) If I am not willing to reckon with them - not necessarily being able to come to clear, precise understandings of all their meaning, but at least wrestling with them as expressions of God's proclaimed truth rather than simply dismissing them as incompatible with what I want to believe - can I really go on calling myself a follower of Christ?

(I do want to add that I believe most Christians, now and likely throughout all of history, whatever Christian subgroup they fall into, have been all too willing to ignore whatever parts of Jesus don't line up with what they want to believe.)
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,802
The Netherlands
I don't see what's wrong with Paul's letters. Of course Jesus is the highest authority and Paul is 'just an apostle', but the gospels and the letters line up (they're all inspired by the same source, which is the Holy Spirit). Paul goes into a lot of detail in his letters, which makes them a very suitable source of practical information. The letters don't contradict the gospels and the teachings of Jesus though. (There are a lot of difficult topics, and they're not as black and white as they sometimes seem to be when you read only a specific part of one of Paul's letters. But that's not the point here.)
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
See, the things with the difficulties that Jesus presents in His writings? Those are all on my moral failings as a human. I don't... like, what Jesus is getting at with lusting after a woman being the same as committing adultery with her in your heart is pretty sensical. The structure of the Sermon and those passages makes it pretty clear that Jesus' broader lesson is that the impulse that leads to the sin is itself as bad as the sin. The anger that leads to the murder is as bad as the murder. The lust that leads to the adultery is as bad as the adultery. The oath that leads to the oathbreaking is as bad as the oathbreaking. And so on and so on. That makes sense to me. It also squares up with Jesus' later exhortations in the sermon not to judge and to remove the plank in your own eye. It's difficult for me to live up to that ideal, but it's not difficult for me to accept that ideal, if that makes any sense. The nature of striving for perfection makes sense. The challenge of loving your enemies and blessing those who curse you and doing good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you is not appreciably less difficult than that level of self-control. And the problem with righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees is that Jesus' doctrine is built not just on legalism but explicitly on forgiveness. What that level of perfection truly implies, therefore, is more difficult to come to grips with, especially in the face of the Acts and Council of Jerusalem. When you get to something like divorce, it's true, I get a little bit more antsy-- but at the same time, I see the logic that Jesus lays out, especially with regards to legalistic writings in Second Temple era Judaism. In that time divorce was extremely common among the priestly and scribe classes, which had knock-on effects for the women in those relationships. Compare Christ's censure of divorce to His behavior towards the Samaritan woman at the well. Sure, I'm not certain my view of divorce squares up 100% with the Lord's, and that's a failing on my part, not His-- but on that I feel like the right thing to do is hope for forgiveness and mercy, you know?

Whereas my issues with Paul are much more concrete-- his discussion about the role of women in the church and how he won't let them speak. Him putting women as subordinate to their husbands. Him insisting that bondservants serve their masters diligently and then telling the masters to not tempt their slaves. Things of that nature are jarring though they make sense within the context of the Great Commission at the time.

Then there's the whole discussion to be had about what parts of the Bible were edited later on, and that becomes an absolute MESS. Because a few of the passages from Paul that are difficult reads for me are suggested to have been edited or added later, and that's... well, you know, talking about the mere idea of the Bible having been edited ex post facto can get messy for believers.

Put another way-- I feel bad when I don't manage to forgive my enemies. I feel like I did something wrong when I get angry at my brethren. I have concerns about being lustful, and I worry about matters of divorce when it comes to my own family. I frame these things within the context of Christ's forgiveness but try not to dismiss them outright because for me that's a personal failing. When it comes to Paul I'm at odds with the idea that my future partner, if they're a woman, would have to be subordinate to me. I'm at odds with the idea that you can ask for slaves to obey their masters first. I'm at odds with exhorting children to obey their parents as a rule. I'm a little bit at odds with the idea of obeying the laws that are placed before you by ruling powers but that was clearly as situational for Paul as it is for me what with the martyrdom. And the feeling of being at odds with those things is not the feeling I get from failing to live up to Christ's teachings. I fully accept that could be my problem, but it's something that comes back to me time and again.

That's not to say I think the Pauline epistles are useless. That'd be a bridge too far. I do find them to be genuinely helpful primers, especially when they focus on the concept of edification.They themselves say that everything is pure to one who is pure and drill down on this concept again and again. I wonder if my difficulties aren't fundamentally resolved by this conceit. I believe that Paul's ideas on, for example, the armor of God, make a lot of sense. I don't see Paul's epistles as a perversion of the Gospel-- far from it. They clearly were very important to the spread of the faith, and demonstrate a level of care within the early Christian community that I think is important to preserve as an example for future generations, which is why keeping their format as letters makes sense. But there's particular declarative statements that I have a difficult time reconciling myself to, and that difficulty is distinct from the difficulty I face living up to Christ's teachings as presented in the Gospels themselves.

More to the point, however-- speaking to the excesses and failures of the modern church, it is difficult to trace their origins back to perversions of Gospel teaching. If you see the excesses and failures of the modern church as stemming from perversions of the Epistles, there's a bit more there to work with. The sexism and authoritarianism exhibited by many churches can often find their justification in the Epistles, even if I freely admit that's not what Paul meant. Consequently, it does seem to me that the way to avoid this particular misinterpretation comes by subordinating the Epistles to Gospel teaching, where the significant emphasis on self-correction over the correction of others provides proper illumination towards Paul's focus on rebuke of your brethren. This, then, shows how churches that espouse hate are neither living up to Gospel teaching nor Epistle teaching. Christ's emphasis on service and forsaking the material acts as the primary theme, where then Paul's discussion of donation to the church and contribution takes on the appropriate cast of community building, as was more likely intended. This, then, removes the support that corrupt churches try to hide behind for their wealth-hoarding practices.

Ultimately, beyond my difficulties with the text, I recognize that the Epistles are a worthwhile text and that those churches and institutions that hide behind them to justify corrupt behavior are WRONG. Full-stop. The solution I see to this problem is the primacy of Gospel teaching-- and frequently, my reason for this is because Christ's criticism of almost all power structures He encountered serves as the necessary context for Paul's writing in the epistles which frequently supports and reinforces traditional power structures. My difficulties with the text are my own-- that doesn't mean the texts themselves support the behavior which churches attempt to justify through the epistles.

(Also, as a personal aside, I always tend to think of the plucking your eye out passage in Matthew 5 as being about the "I couldn't help it" defense. If you really couldn't help it, if you can't control your hand or eye... cut 'em off. There are very few self-mutilated saints or holy people if any, so the meaning seems clear to me. It's a statement of radical commitment to purity and self-control.)
 

shnurgleton

Member
Oct 27, 2017
11,042
Boston
Hello

I have appeared in this thread before but not engaged too much in it. But now I am in a relationship, we've been together a couple months, things are heating up, and she last night told me she is waiting til marriage. We're both Christian and volunteers at our respective churches so this was not a surprise. This was sort of a relief to me because I semi consciously have been as well. We're both hovering around out late 20s and I just want to know how we navigate this honeymoon period when we are both very, very into each other, and I don't want this to be a barrier between us, because I am serious about us
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
Hello

I have appeared in this thread before but not engaged too much in it. But now I am in a relationship, we've been together a couple months, things are heating up, and she last night told me she is waiting til marriage. We're both Christian and volunteers at our respective churches so this was not a surprise. This was sort of a relief to me because I semi consciously have been as well. We're both hovering around out late 20s and I just want to know how we navigate this honeymoon period when we are both very, very into each other, and I don't want this to be a barrier between us, because I am serious about us
Well, welcome back to the thread! It sounds like you're doing this thing where you're not sure you want to be married with her yet, but you feel like it's a very adequate possibility. I mean, the immediate solution to your problem is just get married and go to town, but it sounds like you're not taking that option. That's reasonable, and I agree with that course of action. So, in the meantime, you have a relationship that's steaming up, but you also share a barrier you don't want to cross. That's good! Make sure that you communicate that to her. Make sure that you two talk about what boundaries you feel need to be established in pursuit of that goal, and be as honest as possible about your feelings while you're doing it. You should make sure that while those boundaries you set up make you both feel comfortable, that they don't blunt your ability to share affection with each other. After all, if the goal is marriage, closing yourselves up to each other sets that up on the wrong foot. All relationships in life, romantic or otherwise, that aren't built of pure necessity should have strong foundations of mutual respect, honesty, and love.

Once you've established those boundaries, follow them. In the meantime, when you're with her, take some time to observe your own feelings towards her without judgment. Just kind of get used to how you feel and get comfortable with living in that moment. If you can accept how you feel, you can keep yourself from receding or pushing away from this person inadvertently.

That's my advice. I hope it helps!
 

LuxCommander

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
517
Los Angeles, CA
Whereas my issues with Paul are much more concrete-- his discussion about the role of women in the church and how he won't let them speak. Him putting women as subordinate to their husbands. Him insisting that bondservants serve their masters diligently and then telling the masters to not tempt their slaves. Things of that nature are jarring though they make sense within the context of the Great Commission at the time.
Hey Deffers, you might want to take some time to look into the context in which Paul's letters were written; in no way are his teachings meant to be taken in the way that you seem to believe they are presented. A great example of this is on women's roles in the church according to Paul's epiatles.

Paul actually speaks highly of Women teaching and leading in the church, and actually points them out by name in his letters. He even uses the same term used for Deacons when referring to Phoebe in Romans in the original greek. There are only places where he singles out Women as teachers, and both come with caviots. The first is in 1st Corinthians 14:33-35, speaking specifically to a church that was having issues in relation to order. Church members were praying/shouting over each other in tongues without an interpreter. By and large, biblical scholars agree that this directive was unique to the situation at the church of Corinth, and not a general directive for how Women out to behave in the church as a whole. This is further supported by Paul mentioning in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 that Women absolutely have a role in prophesy and speaking in tongues in church. The most likely situation that was going on that would cause Paul to recommend silence on the wives behalf is due to speaking over inspired speech or asking questions over the inspired speech. (For what it's worth, the inspired speech was likely to be ancient Hebrew, and they were not doing a good job at interpreting the meaning of the word. Paul calls this out and suggests that they should focus on teaching in language that the congregation is more familiar with)

The second is of course in 1 Timothy 2:9-15, which is also directed towards a specific church, this time the church at Ephesus. This passage is admittedly a loaded gun in regards to different denomination's opinions on it, but the general thought is that it is in relation to pastoral/clergy status. It's important to remember that Ephesus was a Gnostic stronghold, so it is likely another context-specific teaching. Also remember that that particular letter was written to a specific individual, not a congregation at large. This makes context all the more important.

Going into the whole Husband/Wife submission situation would be a mega-post in and of itself, but every time Paul tells wibes to submit to their husbands, he follows it up with instructions for husbands to love their wives. Ideally, Marriage is supposed to reflect our relationship with Christ, so while the phrasing suggests male-dominance, the actual image is complementarian, as each partner should be concerned with the needs of the other first, just as Christ first loved us.

I get where you are coming from though; Paul's teachings have been distorted for years, even when they were contemporary. See 2 Peter 3:15-16.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that Paul's words are the be all, end all, just that what you are seeing is the exact reason that God inspired Peter to put those words to paper. Paul's ministry was of great impact, but is also loaded with a need for context, lest religion take us back down the dark path we are saved from.

Hello

I have appeared in this thread before but not engaged too much in it. But now I am in a relationship, we've been together a couple months, things are heating up, and she last night told me she is waiting til marriage. We're both Christian and volunteers at our respective churches so this was not a surprise. This was sort of a relief to me because I semi consciously have been as well. We're both hovering around out late 20s and I just want to know how we navigate this honeymoon period when we are both very, very into each other, and I don't want this to be a barrier between us, because I am serious about us
Hey shnurgleton, welcome back! That's awesome to hear that you are both pursuing Christ, that makes everything much easier in terms of building healthy boundaries. I've been with my fiance for 4 years now and we are finally getting married in three months, and we were/are also adamant about waiting until the wedding day as well. We totally went through that phase early on where we had to establish our physical boundaries. Don't be afraid to just outright talk to each other about that aspect. Tell her when things are getting uncomfortable on your end and be open to her telling you the same. We had to do that multiple times during that first 6 months. Things didn't loosen until I popped the question, and even then we are still cognizant of where we are due to habbit and wanting to see out commitment through to the end so as to not compromise out witness. As things start to get more serious, my recommendation is to get plugged into serving together, as that really does help in providing built-in accountability from the people you are serving with. Yet another thing that did wonders for us.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
Hey Deffers, you might want to take some time to look into the context in which Paul's letters were written; in no way are his teachings meant to be taken in the way that you seem to believe they are presented. A great example of this is on women's roles in the church according to Paul's epiatles.

Paul actually speaks highly of Women teaching and leading in the church, and actually points them out by name in his letters. He even uses the same term used for Deacons when referring to Phoebe in Romans in the original greek. There are only places where he singles out Women as teachers, and both come with caviots. The first is in 1st Corinthians 14:33-35, speaking specifically to a church that was having issues in relation to order. Church members were praying/shouting over each other in tongues without an interpreter. By and large, biblical scholars agree that this directive was unique to the situation at the church of Corinth, and not a general directive for how Women out to behave in the church as a whole. This is further supported by Paul mentioning in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 that Women absolutely have a role in prophesy and speaking in tongues in church. The most likely situation that was going on that would cause Paul to recommend silence on the wives behalf is due to speaking over inspired speech or asking questions over the inspired speech. (For what it's worth, the inspired speech was likely to be ancient Hebrew, and they were not doing a good job at interpreting the meaning of the word. Paul calls this out and suggests that they should focus on teaching in language that the congregation is more familiar with)

The second is of course in 1 Timothy 2:9-15, which is also directed towards a specific church, this time the church at Ephesus. This passage is admittedly a loaded gun in regards to different denomination's opinions on it, but the general thought is that it is in relation to pastoral/clergy status. It's important to remember that Ephesus was a Gnostic stronghold, so it is likely another context-specific teaching. Also remember that that particular letter was written to a specific individual, not a congregation at large. This makes context all the more important.

Going into the whole Husband/Wife submission situation would be a mega-post in and of itself, but every time Paul tells wibes to submit to their husbands, he follows it up with instructions for husbands to love their wives. Ideally, Marriage is supposed to reflect our relationship with Christ, so while the phrasing suggests male-dominance, the actual image is complementarian, as each partner should be concerned with the needs of the other first, just as Christ first loved us.

I get where you are coming from though; Paul's teachings have been distorted for years, even when they were contemporary. See 2 Peter 3:15-16.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that Paul's words are the be all, end all, just that what you are seeing is the exact reason that God inspired Peter to put those words to paper. Paul's ministry was of great impact, but is also loaded with a need for context, lest religion take us back down the dark path we are saved from.
Yeah, I figured that was some of the context I was broadly speaking missing. Thank you for giving some context with that respect.

Though I will point out I referenced Paul following up the obedience thing with men treating their wives properly, actually-- the main issue with that is the ordering of those two statements seems to, in the minds of some, put supremacy in the former over the latter. That's unlikely to have been the intended effect, and switching the order of those two statements around probably wouldn't change a darn thing, but there's a primacy given to existing power structures implied in the order of emphasizing obedience to power first, then describing power's responsibility to the powerless, which is the standard form in which Paul delivers these edicts. Whether that is an intended thing or a gloss that other people have since put on it is hard to say, but it's a consistent structure within his statements regarding masters and bondservants as well as parents and children. Like I said-- I tend to think Paul's ideas are important, and I figure that context does have an effect on things. I've heard the whole deal about husbands having responsibility to their wives before. I get it. And yet in many churches, emphasis gets placed such that it reflects male-dominance frequently. There's also the fact that while marriage might be symbolic of Christ's relationship with us, two individuals on their own individual spiritual journeys with their own individual relationships with Christ enter into that sacred compact. Each has distinct needs and every relationship will then be unique. If the stated goal is complementarian, and that complementarianism arises through a perception as equals, is that outcome then invalid? I doubt that it is and I doubt that was Paul's intended statement, of course. But that's part of the problem. This whole conversation didn't come about as a description of how Paul was bad or how Paul's word wasn't canon-- it was about how extreme denominations come to justify toxic practices through misreading of the Epistles. Misreadings that make no sense when held up against Jesus' words in the Gospels. As your quotation of Peter shows, distortions were beginning to arise within the early church. It's not Paul's fault at all-- people are going to do that no matter what, it seems. What I got from the previous statements in this discussion was an advocacy of reading the Epistles from a framework guided by the primacy of Gospel teaching.

It seems that, especially in the 21st century, the nature of corrupt churches is becoming more and more relevant to our faith. How we approach that reality and demonstrate to others the teachings of Christ in their pure form (and how we adapt to show the worth and harmony of Christianity to modern value systems, as Paul might indicate we should do when he exhorts us to be all things to all people) against the background of such practices is of tremendous relevance to us. It's always going to lead to complex discussions and it's always going to cause us to grapple with our interpretation of the faith. But I think that's maybe part of the struggle. If distortions and corruption and people loving the things of the world over the church were present within the first and second centuries, it should come as no surprise that 1900+ years on we'd find our struggles magnified.

Again, though, thanks for your explanations. A lot of the time it's a bit difficult to get the context of the Epistles directly from the letters themselves. Particularly since it seems like sometimes Paul was replying to reports given to him by others, or word-of-mouth? It's difficult to say.
 
Happy Sunday for all you observing the sabbath today!

I just felt compelled to check in and let everyone know I'm spending this afternoon indulging in some DC Talk - Supernatural and Audio Adrenaline - Some Kind of Zombie albums. Maybe some of you can relate...

Anyways, hope you all are doing well recently - I still am having problems finding a church I feel compelled to participate in. It's so difficult to find a church that works well with my beliefs, unfortunately.
 

Mariolee

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,924
Happy Sunday for all you observing the sabbath today!

I just felt compelled to check in and let everyone know I'm spending this afternoon indulging in some DC Talk - Supernatural and Audio Adrenaline - Some Kind of Zombie albums. Maybe some of you can relate...

Anyways, hope you all are doing well recently - I still am having problems finding a church I feel compelled to participate in. It's so difficult to find a church that works well with my beliefs, unfortunately.
Happy Sunday! Always tricky finding a church but keep searching and praying on it and hopefully you'll get there.
 
Broad, open-ended question, but how long should it take to find a good church that you feel comfortable participating in?

Just curious to hear about various experiences in finding a community.

I honestly don't think a church that fits most of my beliefs exists in my area, so the challenge is balancing my beliefs with both the community and beliefs of the churches I visit. Has not worked well, so far.
 

shnurgleton

Member
Oct 27, 2017
11,042
Boston
Broad, open-ended question, but how long should it take to find a good church that you feel comfortable participating in?

Just curious to hear about various experiences in finding a community.

I honestly don't think a church that fits most of my beliefs exists in my area, so the challenge is balancing my beliefs with both the community and beliefs of the churches I visit. Has not worked well, so far.
What are your beliefs?
 
What are your beliefs?
Generally more "liberal" (aka non-fundamentalist) leaning interpretations, and a belief that can reconcile scientific beliefs and spiritual beliefs in separate contexts while also seeing how God works in both ways.

But, my core tenants are the same as the majority of Christians - namely that Jesus came to save and that we are to provide the love of Christ into the world through His gospel. However, most churches preach love, but also seems to exclude specific groups instead of loving them as they are.

That's the issue I struggle with the most.

However, when I find a church that does offer that, the congregation is not really in my age-group/life experience, generally skewing older. Or sometimes not offering enough social connections to be satisfying.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
Hrm. I want to let you know that I don't have a church either, and haven't had one for years. Sometimes it's like that for a little bit, and you probably shouldn't feel down about it. Just don't give up hope that it's possible and keep at it.

It sounds like you'll probably want to look for a non-denominational church. Or not even a church-as-in-building, but maybe a prayer group or a Bible study that's religious in nature (most of them are). Typically, the churches that skew younger are the churches with the kind of experience that you're looking for right now.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,278
Generally more "liberal" (aka non-fundamentalist) leaning interpretations, and a belief that can reconcile scientific beliefs and spiritual beliefs in separate contexts while also seeing how God works in both ways.

But, my core tenants are the same as the majority of Christians - namely that Jesus came to save and that we are to provide the love of Christ into the world through His gospel. However, most churches preach love, but also seems to exclude specific groups instead of loving them as they are.
I can agree on a broad level with those words, but the questions I would have there are "Who did Jesus come to save, and what did he come to save those people from?" and "What is the love of Christ?" With respect to your last sentence, which certainly echoes a not uncommon sentiment, I think loving people "as they are" does not mean that you believe they have no flaws. The love of Christ is certainly available to all those who are willing to accept it, but his love can be a painful thing, as I have personally experienced, as it seeks to transform its recipients into his own image, bit by bit, rather than simply affirming that they're already perfect. The word "love" is often used to mean a much weaker, paler thing than the actual love God shows to us.

However, when I find a church that does offer that, the congregation is not really in my age-group/life experience, generally skewing older. Or sometimes not offering enough social connections to be satisfying.
I will say there's no perfect church out there - just as there's no perfect community, period - and so it's unlikely that you'll be able to find everything you want all in one place. If you want a community, you're probably going to have to accept some compromises somewhere, whether in the age range of the congregation (something a lot of American/Western churches are struggling with), or in the church not aligning exactly with all of your personal beliefs.

That actually goes back to what I was saying about the love of Christ - just as Christ, in order to have a relationship with us as humans, loves us despite our imperfections, so we, if we are going to have relationships with anyone else, must love people (and collections of people) despite their imperfections.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
I can't speak for the American demographic and can't really provide any recommendation or insight on the selection of a church unfortunately. But I do want to address the idea of finding "a church that works well with my beliefs" because this sounds to me like something that's a bit backwards.

As Christians we are called to Christ through community. Regardless of how liberal our beliefs are or what interpretations we might have of certain aspects of faith, we need to recognise first and foremost that in Scripture we are called to community - togetherness, and that our worship of God is not an individualistic act of faith. With this in mind, it can be rather dangerous to approach our Christian faith by looking for something that specifically fits our individual belief-system at this time. We need to acknowledge that we as humans are fallible, just as other people in a church are fallible. Which means our own individual interpretations of the Bible are not necessarily completely accurate and there are aspects and perspectives we lack without a community to share it with. We learn from others, and others learn from us.

Christianity as a church was founded at Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit which united people from all over, from different backgrounds, languages, etc. Unity in diversity is one of the most important foundations of our faith organization. Regardless of whether you are Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, any of the denominations or even non-denominational, we can see the power of diversity within a church body - different races, genders, age groups, professionals, all with different charisms and gifts working together to do God's work in different ways. That is what we are called to do with our faith - find others and grow together spiritually. It's a life-long journey.

So I would invite you to consider taking it to prayer and asking the Lord to give you guidance to lead to you a community first and foremost if you don't know where to start. Then from there take an active leap of faith - look for simple signs or promptings - it can be from something you read, someone you talk to, something you see, if something draws you just give it a try. The courage to take that step is important. We don't know where He is leading us but if we don't try and we don't trust, we go nowhere. Using your intellect alone to try to decide which place best matches your individual belief system is a very secular concept that isn't a great approach when you really believe in God.

I absolutely agree that comfort and belonging is important though, so if you really find a place uncomfortable and think it is a bad fit, it is okay to move on and continue the search. You are probably not called to be there if you feel discomfort. But if you find yourself in a place where you are in peace but are maybe unhappy or not convinced of certain doctrines or interpretations, and are unsure if you can reconcile those things in yourself, then it would be good to do more self-examination, talk to other people in the community about it, and be open to seeing something that you might not have seen before. Sometimes others will see what we have to say and change because of that, and sometimes we change because we see in others what we didn't see before.

I hope this is helpful for your discernment in seeking a place to belong and to practice your faith. It is so important and valuable to have other brothers and sisters in Christ to journey with, especially in person. I will pray for you as you continue your search.
 

Auros01

Avenger
Nov 17, 2017
1,913
Broad, open-ended question, but how long should it take to find a good church that you feel comfortable participating in?

Just curious to hear about various experiences in finding a community.

I honestly don't think a church that fits most of my beliefs exists in my area, so the challenge is balancing my beliefs with both the community and beliefs of the churches I visit. Has not worked well, so far.
Sorry - I'm a bit late on this but I would like to add that it might help to identify what you believe are the core beliefs you have in regards to your faith or your interpretation of the Bible. I know that my brother had recently changed churches sometime in the last few years and he was very open with me that he completely disagreed with some of the things the church taught. However, he considered those particular ideas to be minor and, thus, he decided to stay at the church.

I think this was a pretty profound approach on his part because it's basically a law of nature that, the longer you stay at a single church, the more likely you are to see the flaws or take issue with the teachings. It's really not much different than being in a relationship with someone. You have to find a place that matches up with your core/critical beliefs as well as somewhere that has the type of community you are looking for.
 

NoirSuede

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
414
As a Christian is it sinful to masturbate? Especially since upon even a cursory look the verse that is supposed to condemn masturbation (Genesis 38) is actually about cock-blocking and not masturbation at all.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,802
The Netherlands
As a Christian is it sinful to masturbate? Especially since upon even a cursory look the verse that is supposed to condemn masturbation (Genesis 38) is actually about cock-blocking and not masturbation at all.
Cock-blocking? He had sex with her, and decided himself to spill his stuff instead of inseminating her. When someone masturbates, there's no sex involved, so I'm not sure if it's the exact same thing, but in the end, it's about loss of life. I think it's a bad thing in the eyes of God.
But I'm weak, so yeah...
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
As a Christian is it sinful to masturbate? Especially since upon even a cursory look the verse that is supposed to condemn masturbation (Genesis 38) is actually about cock-blocking and not masturbation at all.
I used to say no and my defence was the same thing you pointed out - that the verse popularly used to condemn masturbation is not really about the act of masturbation itself being sinful, but rather (no it's not cock-blocking either) about disobedience and deceit.

But ultimately, yes masturbation is a sin because if we really want to be honest about it, what masturbation is, is an artificial stimulation to derive sexual pleasure.

So if we acknowledge the following:
- lustful thoughts are sinful
- encouraging lustful thoughts and exploring them further in our minds is sinful
- lack of self-control when we know better is sinful
- seeking sexual pleasure outside the bounds of proper love is sinful

Then it is hard to see how masturbation is not a sin. The physical act of jacking off or the release of semen itself might not be sinful things in a void, but everything that leads up to what a typical act of masturbation is, are undeniably sinful. You're going to look at porn, or read something that makes you horny, or think of something erotic, or think of someone you know in a sexual way, etc. And then you start to engage in the act and bring it to completion while letting all those things make you feel physically good and artificially fulfilled, temporarily.

Gen 4:6-7
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

So that's something to consider. Don't think of sin as "something the Bible said not to do, and if we do it, it is a sin". Rather know that God knows what is in our hearts and minds, and he warns us that if we know that sin is being conceived in our mind, we can still exercise the control to not act on it. If we do act on it, and then start to wonder if it's really a sin and justify it without looking at what led to that act, we're not being honest with ourselves and not being honest with God.
 

NoirSuede

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
414
I used to say no and my defence was the same thing you pointed out - that the verse popularly used to condemn masturbation is not really about the act of masturbation itself being sinful, but rather (no it's not cock-blocking either) about disobedience and deceit.

But ultimately, yes masturbation is a sin because if we really want to be honest about it, what masturbation is, is an artificial stimulation to derive sexual pleasure.

So if we acknowledge the following:
- lustful thoughts are sinful
- encouraging lustful thoughts and exploring them further in our minds is sinful
- lack of self-control when we know better is sinful
- seeking sexual pleasure outside the bounds of proper love is sinful

Then it is hard to see how masturbation is not a sin. The physical act of jacking off or the release of semen itself might not be sinful things in a void, but everything that leads up to what a typical act of masturbation is, are undeniably sinful. You're going to look at porn, or read something that makes you horny, or think of something erotic, or think of someone you know in a sexual way, etc. And then you start to engage in the act and bring it to completion while letting all those things make you feel physically good and artificially fulfilled, temporarily.

Gen 4:6-7
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

So that's something to consider. Don't think of sin as "something the Bible said not to do, and if we do it, it is a sin". Rather know that God knows what is in our hearts and minds, and he warns us that if we know that sin is being conceived in our mind, we can still exercise the control to not act on it. If we do act on it, and then start to wonder if it's really a sin and justify it without looking at what led to that act, we're not being honest with ourselves and not being honest with God.
Thanks for the explanation!
My fetish is simply the notion of adulthood, both physically through growth sprouts/puberty or exercise to improve your body, and mentally through for example becoming more responsible or learning how to manage time.
This is an extremely dangerous fetish because it doesn't need any porn to arouse me, and it's a process that I myself is going through so it can even lead into lusting over myself for becoming more mature (no joke, when I first entered uni I ended up fapping at myself because earlier that day I managed to figure out how to socialize to someone for the first time

Now for a kind of a related topic, is it a sin for a Christian to have a waifu? Especially since they could very easily lead to a path of idolatry as seen with dakimakuras.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
Now for a kind of a related topic, is it a sin for a Christian to have a waifu? Especially since they could very easily lead to a path of idolatry as seen with dakimakuras.
Okay so, this is hard to take seriously because....yeah. Lmao. But I will try to answer this in an honest and charitable way. As an anime community and internet anime fans in general, we joke around a lot with "waifu" stuff. Most of it seems harmless and the majority of people saying it don't think of them as actual wives or anything. I don't think idolatry is the sin that people should be worried about here, although it can get to that point. The most casual issue is, in my opinion, how the joke undermines the value and sanctity of marriage which is already struggling in a secular perspective. Things we say can affect how we think, especially over time, and when a joke becomes a habit it can be harmful culturally. By the time we see the impact it has on us, it can be really hard to get rid of such mindsets. Those are my two cents.
 

NoirSuede

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
414
Okay so, this is hard to take seriously because....yeah. Lmao. But I will try to answer this in an honest and charitable way. As an anime community and internet anime fans in general, we joke around a lot with "waifu" stuff. Most of it seems harmless and the majority of people saying it don't think of them as actual wives or anything. I don't think idolatry is the sin that people should be worried about here, although it can get to that point. The most casual issue is, in my opinion, how the joke undermines the value and sanctity of marriage which is already struggling in a secular perspective. Things we say can affect how we think, especially over time, and when a joke becomes a habit it can be harmful culturally. By the time we see the impact it has on us, it can be really hard to get rid of such mindsets. Those are my two cents.
I'm genuinely relieved by your answer here, because I never could find anyone who had a Christian view on the problem before since they either don't watch anime... or didn't take it seriously.

Over the past year or so I've been tormented with the slow, slow realization I'm in love with a character from an anime game even though by that point I had swore myself to never watch anime again after all the atrocities I've seen growing up with the 2010s anime fandom, and because of my own history with fictional media and OCD (one time I faked stealing a Beyblade just so I could buy it behind my mom's back, when i showed my "stolen" Beyblade to the cashier to purchase it she got so panicked that she called the cops) I know that she would lead me to a path of idolizing my waifu to the point I prioritize her over God.

EDIT: I know that the path that God has led me throughout my life here has been so bizarre that only He himself can help me answer what I should do with them, I apologize for pestering you with weird questions for more than nessecary.
 
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NoirSuede

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
414
btw does this OT have a Discord server? It would be great to have a Discord server that talks about Christian life, because I've never been able to find one.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
I don't think so. Not sure tho. I think it's always good to reflect on how our direction and plan of life is going and where our spirituality is. Relating it to our hobbies is normal if our hobbies are a big part of our lives. In my case I have recently identified that I am struggling with self-control with regards to covetousness, and I see it reflected on how I've been buying more and more Gunpla kits in the last 2 months before even receiving most of the orders yet. I've actually tried to stop myself when ordering more after a point, but realised I found it hard to stop as long as I could afford them and really like how they look. One step I took after this realisation, is talking to friends in my church community about this, and my cell group leader. Being able to share this and acknowledge that I think it's a problem allows me to take ownership of the vice, and start to build some accountability against it by letting others know. Struggling alone with a sin that we feel prick our conscience but talking to others about it means we are more likely to suppress it or justify it in our head, and fall deeper into it.
 

NoirSuede

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
414
Man i wish I could leave my current church;

One of the preachers there basically lied during his sermon by saying that the Large Hadron Collider broke down due to divine intervention (even though it's just turned off) in order to support his idea that God wants to stop humanity from unravelling reality with the LHC,

Another always does this stunt every sermon where he keeps trying to "guess" that one of the audience is having some sort of illness just so that he can pull off an on-stage healing on them, 99% of the time he tries it no one actually has the illness he called out on.

Also, I'm just not comfortable with their emphasis on the Holy Spirit and the Azuza Street Revival (literally every sermon they mention it), one time I prayed at the front two of the ushers there tried to cause me to fall down "by the power of the Holy Spirit" like what you see happen to people all the time in footages of Charismatic church prayers by physically pushing my chest.
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
Ugh. That sounds rough. I'll be praying for you to find a better church soon. Any reason you can't leave?
 

Deffers

Member
Mar 4, 2018
1,945
Bc thats the church my parents go to, and tbh my behavior when I was younger was the whole reason that my parents were driven to go to that church
I don't think you should beat yourself up too bad over your behavior when you were younger, whatever it would be. You still deserve a place committed to the Truth, because Christianity is about the Truth. This sort of environment just sounds bad. I'm not sure you can fake charismatic miracles 'till you make it.

I'm glad at least people aren't playing along.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,802
The Netherlands
Thanks for your awesome explanations, duckroll :D

btw does this OT have a Discord server? It would be great to have a Discord server that talks about Christian life, because I've never been able to find one.
I think there isn't one, but one could always be created. If people want it, I could create one.

edit: tagged the wrong person, but you are both cool people! :)
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,850
Singapore
So, previously I shared a bit about how we should be careful not to let our own judgement prevent us from going to a church because it doesn't fit perfectly with the theological interpretations we want to subscribe to. But this other issue here is absolutely toxic:

One of the preachers there basically lied during his sermon by saying that the Large Hadron Collider broke down due to divine intervention (even though it's just turned off) in order to support his idea that God wants to stop humanity from unravelling reality with the LHC,
This is bad. I think that we should be charitable and respectful when it comes to pastors and priests, but that does not excuse nonsense. Now, it is possible that sometimes with regards to scientific (or even political) details, a man of God might be misinformed or mistaken without malice. That in itself is not something we should judge too harshly. But we should definitely be very wary of people who use God's message with manipulation of the truth, to serve a message they want to make which might not be from God at all.

Another always does this stunt every sermon where he keeps trying to "guess" that one of the audience is having some sort of illness just so that he can pull off an on-stage healing on them, 99% of the time he tries it no one actually has the illness he called out on.
Yeah erm. Yeah. Very bad. The power of healing through prayer is real, but it's definitely not about showmanship. Anyone making a show of healing should be very suspect.

Also, I'm just not comfortable with their emphasis on the Holy Spirit and the Azuza Street Revival (literally every sermon they mention it), one time I prayed at the front two of the ushers there tried to cause me to fall down "by the power of the Holy Spirit" like what you see happen to people all the time in footages of Charismatic church prayers by physically pushing my chest.
Okay, so I'm involved with the Charismatic Renewal movement in the Catholic Church. It can be an intimidating thing for sure when you're not convinced of the Charismatic movement either in a given church or in general. It's understandable. But the power of the Holy Spirit is real, it's been working through churches across denominations since the Revival, and as Christians, we need to be aware of that and not be fearful of it. But this is also not something that we force. Baptism in the Spirit, being slain, receiving the gifts, praying in tongues, and any sort of manifestation cannot and must not be encouraged artificially or engineered. It is not from the power of a pastor or priest, it is not from the power of the people praying over a person, it is the Holy Spirit and God's power alone. We are just instruments there to guide a process and what happens to people who are open to the Spirit and their encounters with God are not for us to dictate. Someone not being slain is not a sign of failure or a lack of God's power, someone not praying in tongues is not a failing in the person or an indication of a lack of the Spirit in them. With Charismatic spirituality, first a person has to be open to it and ready for it. Preparing people to understand how and why we do these things is important. Accepting that we don't anticipate how God acts is also important. Comfort is paramount. Putting people in distress is not God's will. I can say a lot more about this but I don't think most of it is relevant here. I just want to reinforce that the Charismatic movement is not just a bunch of bullocks, even though there can be bad experiences.

So yeah, what to do when we suspect something is fishy? When we try to discern if something or someone is from God and truly doing God's will, one helpful thing for me has been to ask myself if I see love at the center of it all. I try not to be judgemental at all and disconnect from my logic and intellect. I observe things as they are, and contemplate on how they unfold from beginning, middle, and end. Is it motivated by love? (Is the act or message in line with obeying God and loving God, and does it respect the other human party as an equal?) Is it executed in love? (Does it respect the dignity of the human person? Is it free from pride and self-serving nature?) Does it result in love? (Does the process bear fruit? Is there more love coming out of it in the end? Does it help the other person love others and God better?)

Sometimes things happen in church that we don't like. People might say things we don't want to hear. People might do things we disagree with. But even in those moments I think sometimes we are well aware that there is love at the heart of it, maybe not perfectly expressed but it is there. It is the times where we don't see the love at all in any of the stages that we should be careful and consider what we need to do next. Awareness is the first step here, and when we know something is not right, take it to prayer. From prayer we can gain clarity and when we know we need to act, we have to complete that step too. Sometimes we pray and don't feel totally confident about doing what we know we need to do, and fail to act after. That's the hard part.

Hope that's somewhat helpful. Know that you being uncomfortable with the church you're in could also be God's way to speaking to you. It's a prompting, you just need to make sure it's not personal insecurities or bias clouding it.