Corinthians chapter 14 verse 34, “Let your women keep
silence in the churches.” Please tell me what this
this verse, along with some others, has been used to require
male leadership in churches and to deny women an active
voice in church affairs, the modern analysis is that Paul
was referring to a specific group of gossipy women and was
telling that group to be quiet. He wasn’t promulgating
a doctrine for church hierarchy, but addressing a specific
problem of a specific congregation.
it true that “organized religions,” such as
Catholicism, Protestantism, or even Judaism are man-made?
In other words, are the practices, rituals and rules devised
by mortals (as opposed to Divine intervention)? If so, should
it matter where one chooses to practice one’s faith
as long as one follows the most important precepts taught
by Christ: Love God above all things and love one another
as we would ourselves? I feel I’m getting too caught
up in the “form” in detriment of the “substance”
of my faith.
is a very important question and not one about which all
believers agree. I think it’s fair to say that the
major branches of the Abrahamic religion—Judaism,
Christianity and Islam—all believe that their basic
religious practices were revealed by God in religious history
and in the form of each faith’s holy book. Thus, Judaism
observes the Sabbath because God told them to observe the
Sabbath. Christians observe the Last Supper (Eucharist)
because Jesus told them to “do this in remembrance
of me.” Christians baptize because Jesus was baptized
and he told his followers to baptize others.
a certain fundamental level, religious practices seem less
grounded in divine revelation and more grounded in human
preference. Such human preference shouldn’t be discounted,
because it is an earnest response to God’s initiative.
But it is in these human preferences that denominations
often diverge and frequently become hostile to one another.
example, the Gospels suggest that Jesus had no intention
of forming an institution, certainly not one with hierarchies
of power, guided solely by men, occupying buildings and
conferring privileges on ordained clergy. Orders of ministry
emerged during the conflicts of the early Church, and were
defined and codified after the Biblical era. The movement
into buildings (initially converted Roman pagan temples)
began after the persecution ended and Christianity became
an established power-center in the Roman world. Doctrines
and creeds were developed after the Biblical era and are
still being formulated. Meanwhile, the Eastern and Western
churches divided over disagreements concerning Christology,
and the Western church divided over the Pope’s authority
and the emergence of secular kings and nationalism.
United States has well over 300 distinct Protestant denominations,
each of which promotes its version of religious understanding.
my opinion, the point of faith isn’t to find the perfect
religion, but to love God and to serve in God’s name.
Any denomination and any congregation will entail some compromises,
because they are human institutions. But it is possible
to find a venue where you feel loved, where people seem
to be serving God eagerly and self-sacrificially, and where
you find your better self being called forth.
it is true that the four Gospels in the New Testament were
written 100 years after the events described took place?
How could anyone know exactly what was said by the principals
so that their words could go in quotes? You mention in Just
Wondering, Jesus, that the Gospel writers each had
a political agenda. Were they putting their words in Jesus'
The books of the New Testament
are generally dated from 47 AD (First Thessalonians) to
150 AD (Epistle of James.) Scholars estimate the four gospels
were written between 70 AD and around 100 AD.
The NT books, as preserved
in manuscripts of varying quality, were written in Greek
and in all-capital letters called “uncials,”
with no spaces between words. One job of the early translator,
therefore, was to determine how to separate the letters
into words. No quotation marks. Once translators agreed
on the Greek text in recognizable format, the translators
then had to translate so-called “Koine Greek”
(common Greek, as opposed to the classical Greek of, say,
Plato) into the desired language (Latin, English, German,
Jesus himself spoke Aramaic,
not Greek, and the Bible he knew was in Hebrew. So at no
point are we receiving the words that Jesus actually spoke,
except in a few instances, such as “talitha cumi”
Each of the four gospels was
written for a different audience and for different purposes.
Those purposes, in turn, reflected the theological and political
issues facing the particular audience, as well as the author’s
sense of what needed to be heard. Thus, Matthew places the
great teaching of Jesus in a “Sermon on the Mount,”
whereas Luke places the same teachings in a “Sermon
on the Plain.” If you examine each story, the way
the author positions the disciples and where Jesus sits
or stands, you can discern each author’s unique intention.
Did the evangelists place words
in Jesus’ mouth? They had no other choice. None of
them actually heard Jesus teach, except possibly Mark. They
received oral tradition, filtered through many years, many
telling and retellings, through the movement of Christianity
from a handful in Jerusalem to a series of independent churches
around the Mediterranean. It is highly unlikely, for example,
that Jesus spoke in the philosophical Greek style of John’s
larger question isn’t whether Jesus said exactly what
Matthew presents or Luke’s somewhat different version,
but do these stories, taken separately and taken together,
reveal Jesus as Messiah? Can you read these four accounts
and come to a life-changing understanding of who Jesus was
and what your life is about? That was the evangelists’
intent. They weren’t writing biographies. They were
trying to convince their audience, and now you, that Jesus
was the Son of God and that you will have life in his Name.
want to have an amazing relationship with God, but I don't
know how. I feel like there is a wall in-between God and
me, and I want to break it down so badly but I can't. I
have always prided myself on being an honest person and
treating others how you want to be treated, but I never
seem to get the same back. I have just lost my best friend
and boyfriend of four years and it hurts so badly. I try
to turn to God, but I don't feel any peace. I have been
so sad for weeks now and I can't snap out of it. I feel
like turning to God is the only way. Can you please help
is clearly a lot going on in your life right now. My first
suggestion is that you be patient with yourself and not
expect everything to come right quickly. A lost relationship,
for example, could take months or years to get over. The
journey of self-discovery can take a lifetime. We hear stories
of rapid conversions in faith, and they do happen. But we
also hear of faith journeys that go up and down, extend
over long periods, and still feel unfulfilled. We are complex
creatures, and life is a complex business.
If you can decide to be patient, my next suggestion is that
you undertake a simple spiritual discipline, like a regular
time of morning prayer, or an end-of-day prayer time, or,
as I follow, a morning time of prayer, reading and journaling.
It could be saying the Lord’s Prayer and then sitting
in silence. Or praying for other people and for yourself.
Or using a prayer guide like the Episcopal Book of Common
Prayer. There is no one right way to seek a relationship
with God. The main thing is to try and to trust God to respond.
Third, I suggest that you ground your faith journey in the
community of a healthy church. It helps to have Christian
friends, a pastor, worship, and opportunities to serve.
questions, in terms of a spiritual inventory, can a believer
utilize to be more mindful and responsible toward their
relationship to God and not be misled or self-deceived?
In particular, when the believer, unknowingly through their
speech, deed, thought or opinions, magnifies and/or glorifies
their own egotistical tendencies or others’ egotism,
they diminish the greatness and hallowedness of God. Hopefully
those questions would better the believer's personal relationship
with God , and maybe, they would guard against egotistical
tendencies that mess up individuals, families and communities.
seems to me Jesus gave us a clear way of assessing our lives.
Did we love God? Did we love our neighbor? We can parse
those two standards into myriad regulations and expectations.
But the point is always, in what I said and did today, did
I show a love of God? Did I show a love of neighbor? All
else follows from those two commandments.