Ok guys, here are my two main posts from Jenn's discussion, please repost at minimum your latest reply to me when you join...Thanks!
Congratulations to you and your husband!
I am new to this thread and I admit that I did not read all of the comments up to this point, but if it is not too late, I would like to encourage you in you rrelationship with Rachel.
First, a little bit about me: I grew up in the south and the traditional church and rejected Christianity around the age of 12. I spent the next ~ 10 years pursuing Atheism in the sense of being a LaVeyan Satanist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism#LaVeyan_Satanism (as are many Athiests whether they know it or not) until I was almost 22. I was completely anti-christ and anti-religion. I sold drugs and threw parties...among other things. After wandering through spiritual darkness for many years I had come to realize that I was in a place Jesus called Hell. I made some spiritual decisions and decided that I was rejecting Christianity even though I knew so much about it having grown up in it, but there was something I felt like I was missing. Something I did not understand and to me, the highest form of ignorance is rejecting that which I do not understand. I decided to submit myself to the teachings of Jesus Christ and that is what I did. I came to realize that what He teaches is so far from what the church as a whole teaches. Over the last 8 years since I gave my life to the mystery of the Christ within us and found my place as a Son of the Most High God, who is simply Life and Love. Now, I am a registered nurse and will be a doctor in less than two years :) In the last 8 years of studying scripture, seeking wisdom, and serving and loving people through the anointing (literally: the Christ) in me, I have come to learn many things. A few of those things, I would like to share because I think they might help.
1) The teachings of the church and many of the dogmatic doctrinal ideas of most Christians are not what Jesus taught. They are fueled by the demonic spirit called Religion and they keep our Father's children from truly entering into a relationship with Him. Jesus taught us simply 1) to love God (God = Love, Love= God, God = Life, Life = God, etc) and 2) to love others as we love ourself. He commands us to heal people, to feed people and to simply serve others in selfless love. He DOES NOT command us to build his church or to convince others to become Christians. He does tell us to spead the word of the Kingdom of heaven which He says twice in scripture is a spiritual place here among us right now. This means to let people know that they are truly all children of the Most High God, children of Life and children of Love. We are commanded to tell them that they can, in fact, have a personal relationship with the force of Life that permeates the entire universe. I say this all to point out that your friend Rachel is probably sick of religion as are many people. This is key to understand. Jesus tried to minister to the "Christians" of His day...they were called the Pharisees. He soon came to turn the focus His ministry on the "Atheists" of the day...the Gentiles. My point is that Jesus didn't push religion...he didn't even like religion...He pushed Love and Freedom and Service and Healing etc, etc...
2) I have been in ministry (service) for the last 8 years and I can tell you that it was a while before I came to realize that, although I know many awesome christian brothers and sisters that really do love me, I have many people in my life that are atheists, wiccans, hindus, etc that have loved me regardless of my life path and have always been there for me. These are my true family. I share this to point out that it is your love for Rachel and your acceptance of her no matter what and this attitude is what is going to win her and keep her as your close friend in this situation. You well know that the manifestation of the Spirit of God in and through you will reveal itself as love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, self-control in your relationship with her. This is what we are called to sister...not religious ideas and dogmas. To point, would any of those (love, joy, peace, etc) push Rachel away if you expressed them to her? No. Would religious ideas about Jesus? Yes. The religion would, but the true Spirit of Christ will not push away or destroy relationships...even more evidence that religion is not what Jesus is about for He would never push any away from Himself. With that said, my friends know that I love our Father and have found my path via the teachings of Christ and I do have opportunities to talk about those teachings on rare occasions, but only when they bring it up. The church tells us that we have to beat people up with evangelism, but I am here to tell you to NOT feel guilty for not pushing Jesus (the religious Jesus) on her. I have come to understand that for me to say I have to "convince" someone to become a Christian, is to say that I do not have any confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to do His job. It is the presence of the a pure Spirit of Love in one's life that brings them to repentance, not clever arguments and convincing. Loving her is more powerful than any sort of convincing that your words could ever do...this is the presence of the Spirit within you operating in her life. (I do understand that you will miss the fellowship with her and that is expected, but do not give up hope and control yourself when the urge comes to discuss Jesus-stuff with her. I actually, have learned many ways to talk about spiritual things with those that despise Jesus including words that are non-offensive etc. It is nice to be able to have an entire conversation about Jesus and important spiritual things without saying "Jesus" or other trigger words. If you are interested and think it might be useful to you, I would be happy to share some of that with you :)
3) I want to briefly address the Hell issue. I don't know about heaven or hell after this life and I am sure you have your own ideas. However, I want to encourage you to not concern yourself with whether or not Rachel will go to hell when she dies, but rather be concerned that she may find it here on Earth before then. Continue to be a source of grace and mercy and unrelenting love to her and your light in her life will be a constant beacon if she should begin to find herself traversing into the deeper layers of the underworld. I have seen the depths of hell...maybe even as deep as Tartaros and I can say that the only way I found my way into the kingdom, into complete freedom, was because I had faithful people in my life daily praying for me and loving me regardless. Pray constantly and faithfully.
4) I did see at the beginning of this thread where you said that you had many Christians telling you that to continuing a relationship with her would mean being "unevenly yoked". I bet you have also heard the one about "what fellowship can light have with darkness?" or something to that effect. Let me tell you now that those people, while having good intentions, are wrong, IMO. The pharisees only hung out with other pharisees and religious christians hang out with other christians. Jesus tried to hang out with the "religious christians" of His day and soon got sick of it. So, He decided to hang out with the godless and the druggies and the crazies and the rejects, etc, etc. He loved those that were free from religion and offered love and acceptance to those among them who could find it no where else. By pursuing her, you are following the example of Christ more than most Christians are and will begin to see Him in places and understand His love in ways that most Christians will never know. So, you keep it up and don't listen to that demonic religious spirit that will try to convince you through others (many of whom you trust and probably have the deepest respect for) to leave her alone. (As an aside, I would love to hear of any other arguments "christians" may try to throw at you in an attempt to get you to abandon her...)
Well, I could ramble on and on as I am rather long-winded, but that addresses most of the main points that I wanted to touch on. Forgive me for the deepness in some areas and some of the spiritual ambiguity in others. I was hesitant about posting such an openly christian response in this forum...thought about sending it privately instead, but I guess the response shall be interesting if nothing else. I am looking forward to hearing how things go and will pray that you and Rachel may both continue to find freedom from religion while at the same time, growing and strengthening your relationship with the Father of all of creation, whose Son is Jesus Christ and whose children are Rachel and Jenn (among others as well ;)
I am not sure how it is you can suppose to know me well enough to attack me so based on a single post of mine. I will briefly address your concerns, however, if you would like to continue this discussion, maybe you could start a new thread so as to not clog up thread with unrelated conversation.
1) "you're religious, wrong and turning the so called bible upside down, you're sure that gentiles were atheists!" - Ummm...yes, I am sure. The word "Gentile" is derived from the latin word "gens" originally meaning "clan or family". It is translated in the English Bible from the Hebrew texts as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Hebrew word "goy" and from the Greek texts of the New Testament usually as "Gentile, heathen, nation or people" from the Greek word "ethnos". The usage of the word "Gentile" in the greek and hebrew texts refers to people who are non-Jews and typically carries the connotation of a broad sense of the all of the people of the time who did not believe in the God of the Jews (i.e. - non-Jews). There are specific scriptures that carry the particular connotation of a person who is god-less (ie - an Atheist: from "-theist) meaning one who believes in a god and the prefix "A-" negating the following suffix) and likens these "atheist" as Gentiles. It's ok if you didn't know this. One really has to study this stuff for oneself to really pick up on these sorts of things.
2) "Atheism is not satanism" You are correct in that Atheis is not satanism. I never said it was. I understand how someone reading quickly through my post might have misinterpretted this idea. What I said was that many Atheist cleanly fit the criteria for LeVeyan Satanism. Have you read the Satanic Bible written by Anton LaVey? There are many shades of Satanism and there are many Atheists who do not fit anywhere within the a-theistic ideas conveyed by LeVey, but there are many who do...I was one of them. www.religioustolerance.org explains LaVeyan Satanism as a "small religious group that is unrelated to any other faith, and whose members feel free to satisfy their urges responsibly, exhibit kindness to their friends, and attack their enemies." Read the Satanic Bible...you can find a free copy here: www.thesatanicbiblefree.com "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
3) "and I was called antichrist but I didn't have anything to do with the devil" I am sorry you were called anti-christ. One can be against (anti-) Christ and not be Satanic or have anything to do with the devil. I believe you. There are many names for spirits that are against Christ...one is Satan, which literally defined, means "the false accuser" Have you ever been accused falsely? If so, then you experienced a Satanic spirit operating through whoever was falsely accusing you. I have encountered him on more than one occasion...even recently I might add :)
4) "and you must have a ton of latent guilt from religion because you're so called wild demonic trip is having fun maybe too much which is constrained by religion and you went to what you know as repenting." I see how you might assume these things, though I can assure you that I am completely free from all guilt. I have been forgiven for everyone I have hurt and every offense I have ever committed. In fact, I have found a place where I live under a pouring rain of perpetual or constant forgiveness. In staying in this place, it allows me to immediately forgive others when they offend or hurt me :) Proof = The fact that I forgive you because your response to my attempt to encourage Jenn was a little hurtful but it is ok, I still love you and would do anything for you and I don't even know you :)
5) "Prove to me you know squat about you're old atheistic ways and state great points that turned you into an atheist." If you would like further proof, please start a new thread and we can discuss it as much as you like. It might be good to give the others who will assuredly attack me a ready avenue to do so without clogging Jenn's thread. Looking forward to talking with you more :)
"I challenge you to bring me one scripture where Jesus tells us to go out and build his church for him." How does this story from Luke 5 tell us that we are supposed to build the church? Fishing for people has commonly been misconstrued as a reference to "make christians" out of people and organize them into our current church structure schemes. I think that is a gross misinterpretation of the essence of what Jesus was conveying. This is more accurately interpreted as a commission to those who follow the teachings of Jesus to go out and invest in people and teach them to love others and invest in others. I could easily point to parallels in the business world where people are taught to invest in their employees and teaching people to be effective leaders of men. Actually, I think better scripture for your argument would be one of the times Jesus is directly commissioning his students to go out and spread the gospel of the kingdom. Your best verse would probably be the one that is commonly known as "The Great Commission"...which I would be more than happy to show you how that one isn't talking about building the church either. So, once again, in the Luke passage, Jesus is not directly telling us to go out and build his church, we have just been taught that is what it means so we infer that from the passage.
"I already said I don’t deny your experience. What I fully and whole heartedly deny though is the holy spirit" <= This may just be semantics, but holy just means pure.
My goal is to learn about atheism and to meet people. If you challenge me on something I say, I will more than happily show you why I see things the way I see them.
You are right about being an attention whore...you got me figured out. <= sarcasm
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
By inference Peter is told to build the church.
John 21:17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.
Feed my sheep was to spread the word the church.
I would like to point out one thing. While a few references where made to what Jesus said, no actual chapter and verse citations where given. While I don't doubt that these ideas came from no small amount of thought, I don't think it came from serious exegetical study.
I have not been formally trained at a bible college (thankfully ;) however, I have had personal teachers that have shown me how to properly study scripture. I do not look up every thing in the hebrew or greek, however, I do look up a lot of stuff. I have spent many years studying the vast amounts of texts, in and out of the canonized Bible, as well as researching the origins of the texts and I try to be very careful not to make assumptions and especially to not convey information that I am not sure of. So, formal research, no...proper research, yes. I am in med school and I know how to research properly.
With that said, I also agree to the importance of citing references and you are correct in that I didn't. I should be studying and I feel very distracted and pressed for time at the moment so I neglected the citations which is poor form on my part. If you want references, I will be more than happy to supply them. Just tell me which assertions I have made that you would like for me to reference for you and I will be more than happy to provide them! :)
Chicago format please.
you say you have not studied the bible but have spent a lot of time studying outside of the bible. as a christian you must be aware that the bible should be the final authority on all of your 'learning' as it says here http://bible.cc/revelation/22-18.htm - I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book'
since you claim to know how to properly research, all we can ask is that your writings reflect your beliefs. if you are trying to convert us to your flavor of christianity, you need to show us our errors in thinking by providing why you believe what you believe, that is in the bible. the people here will not believe much of what you say without proof of how you came to such conclusion.
IF you do not base your christianity on the bible, you must be aware that you are not a christian in the truest sense of that word. you can not believe jesus is the son of god, lived as a man, died, was resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of the god, you must follow what his book says, not what some 'other' writers have decided christianity should be. http://bible.cc/2_timothy/2-15.htm Paul exhorts young timothy here to study the word of god that he had access to at the time, which was pretty much only the old testament as much of the new testament was written after paul's death.
there are not many 'weak' atheists here, so if you plan on holding a debate, you should actually read what the bible says about your pantheistic 'god in us' theory...