A few questions about Christianity

(18 Posts)
OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 08:51:55

Would anyone be able to help me with a few questions that I struggle with?

1. One of the ten commandments is that you shall not worship false idols yes? Does this not mean that Christians believe all Buddhists, Moslems, Sikhs etc etc are going to hell?

2. Where do Christians believe that babies who die before they have been exposed to any religious teaching or baptism go?

3. Just because someone goes to Church and calls themself a Christian, doesn't mean they are guaranteed a place in heaven does it?

CuriousMama Fri 05-Oct-12 08:55:06

I can answer the third one in that imo you need to live a life of Christian values. Its nothing to do with a label. That would be ridiculous.

Oh and I'm not a Christian anymore, am a Spiritualist. I couldn't cope with the dogma. Plus my questions were never answered.

OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 09:00:38

Thanks so much for replying Curious.

CuriousMama Fri 05-Oct-12 09:04:32

Do you have any faith/belief op?

OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 09:33:17

I really want to. I look around the countryside on my long dogwalks and every day I'm struck by this beautiful planet, how could this possibly be here by chance? But I struggle to accept that it must have been created by God. This planet could be an experiment in some superpower's laboratory just as easily.

I've met several 'Christians' over the years who I think are serious hypocrites. And that includes our vicar.

My father was a 'proper' Christian in my eyes, led the most basic of existences, not remotely interested in anything material, lived his life in service to others, moved to a country in the developing world and started a charity to teach local people to read and write. I might not have shared his faith, but had enormous respect for how he lived his life.

CuriousMama Fri 05-Oct-12 09:37:24

As long as you lead a good life and treat others well then you're doing something right. Who needs a label? I only go to my church because it helps me develop my mediumship plus I have some good friends there with similar beliefs. But I think any belief or faith is individual. We should make our own minds up.

In all religions/churches there are hypocrites. There are in mine but I just concentrate on the positive but it does get difficult sometimes. But then again we're only human.

OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 09:48:06

I concur 100 per cent Curious. But if that is the case why do Christians constantly try to ram their beliefs down your throat and get you to sign up for Exploring Christianity courses at the church? I've always thought they were on a mission to spread the word and save non-Christians from damnation. They definitely want to label people and our vicar definitely has me on his heathen list! I am far too polite to tell him that I think the huge rectory the Church gives him and his family live in, their smart cars, children's private education etc are not my version of Christianity.

niminypiminy Fri 05-Oct-12 09:48:35

There are lots of different ways of being a Christian, OP. Your dad sounds amazing, but you can live out a life of Christian faith in all sorts of ways.

There are lots of different answers to your questions, because Christianity isn't monolithic - there are loads of different Christian opinions, and different readings of the scriptures.

As far as my own views are concerned, I think that all the faiths you mention are ways that people know know and worship the one God. I do not think followers of other religions will go to hell. Hell is apartness from God, and God's saving, redeeming love wants to gather us all to him - that is what heaven is.
I think it is a crude and frightening idea that the unbaptised will go to hell, and that you have to be a practising Christian to go to heaven. God's grace and mercy are much wider than that.

CuriousMama Fri 05-Oct-12 09:57:47

When I changed religion, one of the 'big' names in my old church visited me. During the conversation she mentioned that 'she wishes she could burn down that place every time she passes it' That place was my new Church. And this is someone very involved in the parish. I won't tell you what I said and how fast she left my home wink

OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 10:09:35

Thanks niminy. I had always believed that the ten commandments were the basis of Christianity though. Is there really a recognised version of the religion that believes as you do (you sound so humane, tolerant and lovely to my ears) and does away with the commandments?

niminypiminy Fri 05-Oct-12 10:22:19

The gospels are the basis of Christianity. The central thing is the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Tuo Fri 05-Oct-12 13:27:15

I basically agree with everything Niminy says, but just to add my two-penn'orth!

1. One of the ten commandments is that you shall not worship false idols yes? Does this not mean that Christians believe all Buddhists, Moslems, Sikhs etc etc are going to hell?

I don't believe that, no. I would tend to read 'false idols' in terms of 'earthly goods', like the golden calf of Exodus 32. In other words, they are 'false' because they are not 'godly' at all, rather than alternative conceptions of a/the god(s). 'False idols', then, are all the things we replace God with - concern only with ourselves and those closest to us, or the desire for money or status or power...

2. Where do Christians believe that babies who die before they have been exposed to any religious teaching or baptism go?

I don't tend to think of eternity in terms of 'places' where one 'goes' after death, but rather as an eternal state of either oneness with God or apartness from God. I also believe that those in the latter category have put themselves in that category rather than having been put there by God. In other words, I believe that we reject God; God doesn't reject us. Since a baby cannot have rejected God, then there is no reason why God should reject her/him. (Incidentally, even the Catholic Church, which until a few years ago still had the idea of Limbo as a kind of 'neither-in-nor-out' place for unbaptised infants, has now moved away from the idea of Limbo. Like Niminy, the idea that God would refuse to admit to his presence a baby on the basis of lack of baptism seems barbarous to me.)

3. Just because someone goes to Church and calls themself a Christian, doesn't mean they are guaranteed a place in heaven does it?

Jesus himself says that not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7. 21). In a way this is a version of the way that I read the 'false idols' in your first question. People who go to Church and make a big thing of being a Christian while behaving in an un-Christian way are making an idol of the earthly concept of religion (of 'religiosity' if you want), and putting that before the truth of God.

However, I also believe that it's not for us to say who may or may not be saved... I may see someone behaving in a way that is shockingly unacceptable and committing all kinds of crimes or sins, but it's of no comfort to me to think 'Well, never mind she'll get her comeuppance when she burns in Hell' (I've already said I don't believe in that kind of a Hell, so that's just a manner of speaking!). It goes back to letting the one who's without sin cast the first stone. I've done no end of stuff in my life that I'm not proud of. I've caused hurt to others. I've been selfish and proud and greedy. Yet I hope and trust that God loves me enough to forgive me, to believe that I am sorry, and to accept me. It would be anachronistic to believe that for myself and not for others. I guess this is the point, for me, of being told to love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute me... If I don't, what hope is there for me when I behave towards others as I were their enemy?

I don't think that any of this constitutes 'doing away with' the commandments. Interpreting, sure; but not abandoning. And I try to remember what Jesus said were the greatest commandments: first love God, and secondly love your neighbour as yourself.

Sorry to have gone on and on. Really interesting questions. Hope my ramblings help.

OctaviaBrennan Fri 05-Oct-12 18:34:27

Many thanks Tuo for your response.

But what about the commandment "thou shalt have no other Gods before me"? That sounds pretty clear to me. If you don't believe in the Christian version of God, you're out. I just can't understand how people can 'interpret' the commandments to suit themselves. Surely you're either a Christian or you're not.

Our vicar is so keen to get me in to his congregation but Why????? If you don't need to believe in God to go to heaven, why on earth is he apparently so bothered?

Knowsabitabouteducation Fri 05-Oct-12 19:55:59

1. One of the ten commandments is that you shall not worship false idols yes? Does this not mean that Christians believe all Buddhists, Moslems, Sikhs etc etc are going to hell?

Worshipping a false idol is sinful, but God is a merciful God. He forgives our sins. We don't know about the salvation of non-Christians. All we really know is what the bible tells us about those who have heard of Jesus and respond to his teachings. Hell means separation from God, so is it a big problem for those who do not follow God to be officially separated from him?

2. Where do Christians believe that babies who die before they have been exposed to any religious teaching or baptism go?

They do not need to be baptised or taught anything to go to heaven. Jesus said, "let the little children to come to me, do not hinder them, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". That seems pretty clear and encouraging to me.

3. Just because someone goes to Church and calls themself a Christian, doesn't mean they are guaranteed a place in heaven does it?

We don't know what will happen to one individual. They are saved by the grace of God, through faith. Only God can judge their faith. We are not saved by works, so going to church and calling yourself a Christian is irrevent. It is an effect of faith rather than a cause of it.

Tuo Fri 05-Oct-12 20:20:18

Hi Octavia. I'd say the exact opposite. I can't understand how people can not interpret. I don't believe that the world was created in 6 days. I don't follow OT food laws. I don't honestly think that what I have said constitutes 'bending the commandments to suit myself' (though some fundamentalists would probably say it does... but then they would say the same about the 6-day Creation). I am absolutely not saying that a belief in God is unimportant. On the contrary, I think it's of the utmost importance to recognise and worship and love God.

What I was trying to say was that I don't think that it's for me to judge who does and doesn't get to experience God in eternity. And when I read and reflect on (and, yes, interpret, if you like) the Gospels, I see a God (in the person of Christ) who embraces flexibility rather than rigidity, inclusion rather than exclusion, forgiveness rather than judgement, a giver of second (and third, fourth, n-th) chances rather than a hander-down of 'thou shalt not's (with the implication that if you do you're eternally screwed), a God of love not a God of fear, one who understands human weakness rather than expecting superhuman perfection. Which is not to say that it doesn't matter how you live; of course it does. But I suppose I just believe that God's ability and willingess to forgive is infinitely greater even than our ability to mess up, and that he will always accept us if we accept him.

I'm not a theologian, but I don't think I've said anything desperately unorthodox there. Why don't you take your vicar up on his offer and either ask him these questions, or simply join the congregation for a while and see what happens? It sounds to me as if you have a very 'hell-fire and damnation' image of Christianity which might well be overturned by the reality if you give it a chance. I wish you luck with your questioning, and I'm sorry if I haven't really been able to give you the answers that you're looking for.

Tuo Fri 05-Oct-12 20:31:56

Ah, I missed your earlier sceptical comments about your vicar... Maybe try a different church, then? (I have to say, I've never known a vicar able to afford private education or smart cars - though I did once see a shade-wearing Italian priest driving a Porsche! - but my experience is not extensive.)

OctaviaBrennan Sat 06-Oct-12 10:21:17

Thanks so much Tuo for all this info. Really appreciate the time you've taken to respond so fully.

Tuo Sat 06-Oct-12 10:33:24

smile

Sounds like you've been put off, but maybe you need to 'shop around' and find a church that suits you better. And maybe also look again at the Gospels, more than the OT, as a starting-point. Good luck.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now