Purpose

For Believers

This collection of articles includes an enormous amount of information. It will probably always be a work - in - progress, continually being refined and upgraded. At the time this entry is being written, about 4500 hours have been spent on it (over 2 man - years), with more to do! It currently includes over 600,000 words, nearly the size of the Bible! With all this background information on the various religious terms, concepts, subjects and denominations, it is hoped that you might learn some things about words and concepts that always seemed confusing, about subjects that intrigue you, and about your own church and its history and beliefs. You are likely to find that some of YOUR beliefs are based on the Apostles' Creed or the Thirty - Nine Articles or Arminianism or the many other primary sources of our modern religious beliefs. It's quite fascinating and informative.

Since it is interactive, you only need to spend time on the subject or subjects that are important to you, bypassing the huge database about all other subjects.

In researching other belief systems, you may discover a new way of explaining to believers of them In Terms They Would Understand, why your method of praising the Lord is superior. This could help your efforts in spreading the Word. When a Christian testifies to a non - believer or a believer in some other belief - system, the likelihood of getting that person to open up their mind to new beliefs is greatly dependent on your credibility. If you have a reasonable understanding of what they currently believe and why, your presentation will come across better. You will gain their respect, and be able to discuss their current beliefs from a position of knowledge, developing a foundation for presenting your beliefs.

In this regard, I have seen many Christians effectively witnessing to someone up until they make a statement such as " . . . but you believe that. . ." Often the Christian is not fully knowledgeable in the other person's belief - system, and unintentionally makes a statement that is seen as biased, condescending or outright stupid! The possible recipient's mind slams shut at that moment. He or she concludes that you don't actually understand the value he sees in his current beliefs, and that you are therefore not in any position to help him find a better path. By starting out with ". . . I understand why you believe such - and - such . ." a much better bridge can be built to help that person come to understand your side. This information base is meant to help you prepare for such encounters.

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We humans seem pre - disposed to finding and emphasizing differences and disagreements in much of our existence. We seem to overlook and to not pursue the similarities and agreements with others. This aspect of human nature has spawned countless wars, caused innumerable murders and is the source of most social friction between individuals, tribes, nations, sects, and races. I am convinced that if we would ever make as much effort to 'get along' as we do at riling others up, the world would be a place our Lord could be very proud of. There is an analogy that I have used for several years which suggests this situation:

A big, old, red barn sits in a field. One man sits in a lawn chair near the side of it. Another man sits in another lawn chair near a different side (the end.) (They are 50 feet apart) Neither can see the wall the other can see. Last year, the owner of the barn (a third man) had replaced the entire end with green metal siding.

As each of the two men comment on the barn, the other is always mystified by what he says, and questions his perception (or sanity!) The 'side' man sees that it is very old, red, wooden and in bad repair. The 'end' man sees clearly that it is new, shiny, metal, green, and in fine condition. Imagine how their discussions would go! Neither would engender any credibility with the other - after all, he can see it with his own eyes! Each would soon come to believe that the other is blind or stupid. Each could easily come to believe that the other is trying to deceive him, creating anger and confrontation. Bad results are almost certain. Each would come to mistrust and eventually ignore the other.

Now consider this sort of situation regarding a subject that is not solid and observable like a barn, but ethereal like philosophical or spiritual belief. It would be much harder for each man to fully recognize, understand, and describe his own perspective, and even MORE difficult for the other to come to accept it. Again, animosity can (and does) easily develop and grow.

In each case, if the two men discussed their subject with open minds and in the spirit of cooperation, better communication would result, and both would develop a more comprehensive view of their subject. The 'barn' men may eventually realize that they ARE looking at the same edifice that just looked different from their differing perspectives. Each could come to have a more complete understanding of the structure of the barn.

They would eventually come to realize that the do not see the SAME vision of the barn, but that their two perspectives may be COMPATIBLE with each other.

The same situation (and opportunity) exists with the religious and philosophical discussants. If BOTH had open minds about trying to understand what the other was saying, they might both grow and improve their perspective and insight. They would not likely ever agree that their views were the SAME! But, hopefully, they would see that their very different views might be COMPATIBLE with each other!

Meaningful discussions would be possible and might become quite productive. Eventually, even war and fighting might eventually disappear. (HEY! It could happen!)

In the immediate, this environment of communication and mutual understanding would allow substantive religious conversations. YOUR best chance of getting someone else to understand and accept your religious beliefs is in this manner. A foundation of knowledge helps make the religious re - birth of your converts more solid and enduring.

In the ultimate, hopefully world peace may benefit from such communication. It has long mystified me that Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Moslems generally seem to hate each other and look for opportunities to hurt or kill each other, in the name of the Lord, whom they all believe in! The SAME Lord!

I know that my Lord is a lot smarter than any of us. Maybe He has allowed us to each see only certain perspectives regarding Him, and that we really ARE worshipping the SAME Lord. (The Babel phenomenon?) Maybe he wants us to some day study together to see the mutual compatibilities of these apparently disparate world religions, so that we have an opportunity to learn to get along with each other. Maybe someday, He will let us in on a bigger perspective that clarifies what we now consider insurmountable differences between our various beliefs. If that is ever to happen, we must each have substantial understanding of as many of the available perspectives as possible, in order to get the bigger picture. This information source is meant to help in that regard.

For Pastors, Ministers, Priests and others

As a reference source, you should be able to confirm facts about a broad variety of subjects in developing your messages. In addition, you can broaden your understanding of your own or other denominations in order to present the most effective message to your congregation about such subjects. Many of the subject presentations include sophisticated aspects that you don't normally find in books for general readership. We can include such material here because the interactive nature of this format allows the user to 'bail out' of a subject if it gets too complicated or un - interesting. Most imortant subject presentations include a general discussion first, followed by a deeper presentation.

Additionally, extensive bibliographical references are given for most subject presentations so that you can delve even further into those subjects. We all want accurate messages to be spread about our Lord and hopefully this will aid you in your efforts in that regard.

For New Seekers

Many people nowadays feel an 'emptiness' in their lives. Often, this is associated with their not having close personal relationships with their Lord.

So they seek.

However, finding an environment for one's personal spiritual growth is often easier said than done.

If you're lucky, a friend suggests a Church. This probably means that that Church is beneficial For HIM, but it may not be for YOU. So then what?? Where do you go to explore a relationship with God?

The subtle (and not so subtle) differences in beliefs or procedures or environments between denominations are often not known until you've attended for several months.

This process can be slow and frustrating.

This information source is intended to help you pre-screen denominations to find a productive, compatible environment FOR YOU. You should be able to identify religions or denominations which are most likely to benefit YOU.

Hopefully, this can help you bypass some ineffectual efforts and quickly zero in on the right Church for you.

How to Help Us

Christians often want to tithe or send money when they receive something of spiritual value. That's wonderful. If you feel motivated in this way, we ask that you do something a little different. Rather than sending US any money, why not go to your local computer supply store and buy some blank diskettes. Then use the Housekeeping - Copy Diskette entry (in the down-loadable program) to make duplicates of this information base on diskettes. Give them out to anyone you believe might benefit from the diskette's contents.

If you really have to give some money, please give it to a local Church (of your choice).

The final way you can help us is by feedback. If you find any typographical errors, let us know. If we have neglected some subject that you feel should be included, or included some subject that you think should be left out, please let us know.

We have tried very hard to eliminate serious biases from all the subject presentations. We think that clearly slanted articles have been avoided. We want to include only honest, accurate information.

As you explore the various articles, if you sense a serious bias, we'd like to know about it. Obviously, most authors are highly interested in their subjects, and therefore prone to have a positive attitude about it. Such enthusiasm is understandable and acceptable. Hype is not. Nor is strongly putting down some opposing belief system. We would appreciate your feedback on such matters.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html