FANTASIES, FABLES AND TRADITIONS
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
It is you or me if we decide to attend that church, because whoever attends that church becomes the "we" that the articles of faith are speaking of.
"Um, ah, I'm not sure. Let me go ask my pastor."
Do you think this is the kind of "Belief" that Jesus was referring to that will entitle you to Eternal Life?
You would think so. But it just ain't so.
There are many different Articles of Faith throughout the church systems. In the Catholic, the Anglican and the Episcopalian churches they believe in what is called the Nicene Creed and the shorter Apostles' Creed, the longer of which is recited frequently in order to make sure church members remember full well what they believe, if they remember nothing else.
Of course you could read the Bible and learn what God says, but that very likely will not help much in learning what your particular church teaches.
And lets say you happened to be out of town for a week or two, and your denomination does not have a church in that location. So you attend a church that seems similar to yours instead. And you learn from them a doctrine or two. Chances are you will look like a real dummy and a dreadful sinner when you get back to your own church and spout off what you learned during your vacation.
Articles of Faith.
What are Articles of Faith anyway? And why are they needed in the second place? Let's look at some Articles of Faith.
A difference in Doctrine.
It is difficult to look at a particular church's Articles of Faith to see if is a cult or not. Most Articles of Faith are almost identical. In fact, often if you don't read them carefully, they will appear to be just the same.
For instance, if you take a look at the Articles of Faith of the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) they appear to be the same as the Fundamentalist's, only more precise. The major difference being their acceptance of extra-Scriptural books such as the Book of Mormon.
In fact, if you were to read the Articles of Faith of Islam you might think they belonged to a Christian church. In brief, they are: 1.One God; 2. Angels; 3. Prophets; 4. Scriptures; 5. Predestination; and 6. The Day of Judgment and the Akhirah or afterlife.
[Prophets refer to Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jacob, David, Salomon and so on all the way until Jesus and Muhammad. The word "scriptures" refers to the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Qur'an.]
But remember - these Articles of Faith are but labels on the front door of the church, or banner hanging over a vendor at a circus identifying what they claim to sell. Once you are in the building, you are likely to discover that you have only seen the clean, unpainted face of a clown.
Much like beholding the face of your lovely bride in contrast to her morning-after look ten years later.
For instance, where one church might allow a person to sin all they want and still make it to the Pearly Gates; another may likely condemn you to hell if you smoke, drink sodas or coffee, or watch TV. In fact, if you try real hard, you can even find those who will shun you or cast you out if you or a family member gets sick or dies because illness is a sign of not having faith.
Let's see if that is so. Let's take a look at the Fundamentalist's Articles of Faith.
But before we do, let's look at what a Fundamental church is.
The term "Fundamentalism" has been used as a definition for a group of churches that seem to be different from the others that are not called Fundamental. For example, one church might be considered as Fundamental, and another Evangelical. But really the division lines between the two are blurred to the point of being nonexistent. Or consider the division between the Methodists and the Baptists, or the Pentecostal. There are differences, to be sure; but the differences are minute in comparison to their similarities.
Then came along a group that parodied the Beetles called the Monkeys. Again, either you were a fan of the Monkeys or you were not. But the likelihood of your being a fan of both of these groups is very remote.
Both of these groups were very similar. Yet there was no way you could confuse them, either in their singing or their acting. They were the same, yet very different.
My point is, though all of these churches may go under a different title, they all hold to the Fundamentalist's Creed unless they have ventured off the path so far as to be called a cult.
2. There is one God manifest in three persons, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity received a corporeal body, was born of a virgin [Mary didn't remain a virgin, she was married and had other children. This is sometimes added to differentiate a church from Catholicism], he lived a sinless life, performed miracles, was crucified, he was resurrected from the dead. He was seen by many over the next 30 days, then ascended into heaven.
3. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, He indwells a person who, of his/her own free will accepts the freely offered gift of salvation, that is, payment for their sin (Jesus' death satisfies the requirement of a righteous God for a perfect blood sacrifice for sins committed).
4. The resurrection of Jesus prefigures the resurrection of the believer after Jesus' return.
5. Very often you will find an added statement indicating that because of Jesus' death on the cross, all who repent of their sins, and call upon the Lord are saved with nothing more to be added. This is termed "saved by Grace Alone, and not by works." Most Fundamental churches have this, but not all.
Let's say you are, for the sake of the continuance of this study; at least concerning the first 4 points, because from here it gets tricky.
Now, as a Fundamentalist you have to decide if you are a Calvinist or an Arminianist; the primary difference between the two is a belief in "Grace Alone," or Grace plus Works; as well as Predestination, which is basically if God knows ahead of time who will and who will not be saved.
That is putting the difference into a very tight nutshell. In actuality there have been so many break-offs and shades of gray established that an artist would go insane trying to find the blurry dividing lines. Yet these impossible dividing lines are what keeps one church from being a part of, or accepting that which another church teaches.
"Of course not! I'm a (Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, Christian Scientist, Bahai, etc, etc, ad nauseam)."
According to "Oxford" (whoever that is, I don't have Webster handy) a cult is; Cult - 1. Ritualistic religious system. 2. A devotion to a person or thing.
Hmmm. Not quite what I had expected. How about you? "A religious system." That sounds like every church and every religion I have ever heard of. And I suppose that a religion without a religious system wouldn't be a religion at all. Would it?
And as for a "devotion to an individual," I should suppose that a church without a devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ wouldn't be much of a Christian church at all. Would it?
I guess I belong to a cult. How about you?
Strange how churches and, preachers and theologians have a way of taking a word and giving it a meaning it really doesn't have merely by flooding it with words of their own. Isn't it?
It used to be, long ago, that the difference between one denomination and another was fairly easy to spot, almost as much so as entering the door of a Catholic church and making the sign of cross, and rolling on the floor in a Pentecostal church.
But any more the differences are so fine, yet so extreme, with churches splitting and moving into the world system of beliefs. It would be like trying to coral an army of ants being chased by an anteater. Churches range from those who praise the Lord to the sky and where the Spirit is felt on the streets outside, to those where a Bible is not even allowed in the door and praise is a singular, quiet affair.
I think such a job, that is defining church divisions, would require a person with nothing better to do than examine in minute detail that which is unnecessary and only confuses at best.
I will leave that to the Theologians.
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