We think that He would wish all people to have access to and understanding of accurate and honest information on all religious subjects. Christians believe that He has installed an Indwelling Holy Spirit in each person such that the person then has Divine assistance regarding Discerning what is correct regarding the best way of Worshipping the One True Lord. Religious systems tend to try to force followers to accept only what they Teach them, and to be deaf or even adversarial to things anyone else might say. There is nothing wrong with Trusting and following your religious leader, and indeed, it is important to do so. But there also needs to be some system of checks and balances where the Lord's True Message might not be distorted.
We have recently realized that if Jesus Himself would arrive at any of many thousands of Christian Churches, in His robe and with His long hair and general appearance, He would certainly be denied admission to the Church! What does that say about our modern understanding of what He tried to Teach us?
The different religions and Denominations each absolutely insist that their interpretation is superior to all others. Isn't that Arrogance, something that the Lord Wished us to avoid? Didn't He Try to Teach us Humility and Tolerance of others? It seems to us that if a religion chooses to refer to the One True God by a somewhat confusing collection of Three Different Names (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) or to see Him as very Harsh (Jewish) or Loving (Christianity), does it necessarily mean that HE is any Different? Probably not. It probably simply indicates that we humans are not nearly as smart as we often want to claim, and that there are many, many things that we only vaguely comprehend. There actually seems a credible possibility that we are all actually "speaking the same language of Love and Adoration for the One True God of Abraham" but simply do not (yet) realize it!
Each religion encourages Passion regarding believing what they believe. Fine. But that commonly then includes hatred for strangers who believe differently than themselves. That cannot be what the Lord had in Mind! Especially when those strangers happen to also be trying to Worship the very same Lord! It is sad that thousands of different groups of Christians read English translations of the exact same Original Ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, and interpret what they read differently than the Church down the street, and then find causes to develop insults and hatred for neighbors who attend that Church. How is it possible that we are so shallow to fall into such things? And that other Church Teaches the same Arrogance regarding this Church? Are either of those Churches right in such postures of superiority that can seem rather disgusting to observers? Didn't Jesus Teach Humility and not Arrogance?
A central reason for the existence of the BELIEVE resource is to try to provide the best such information that we could accumulate. Many of our subject presentations include (separate) articles written by Protestant Christian scholars, Catholic scholars, Jewish scholars, Orthodox scholars, Muslim scholars, etc, to try to provide the broadest possible view of a subject, by including perspectives from many different (scholarly) directions. We have also included excerpts from important Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and other religious texts, which often seem to show the same charity, kindness, patience and other characteristics which are familiar in nearly all religions.
Churches each interpret many different things to generate their own ideas about how a Church is supposed to be. An interesting example to ponder might be a few paragraphs from a respected Christian scholar's discussion regarding Jesus' "self awareness" during His earthly activities. That scholar notes that at NO time did Jesus ever refer to Himself as Son of God or as anything very different from terms used for Jewish Rabbis of the time, such as "my Lord". The Post-Easter Church, AFTER He had Died, developed nearly all of the titles by which we now refer to Jesus. For around twelve years AFTER the Crucifixion, the people we now call Christians did not call it "Christianity" but rather "The Way". It was only around 44 A.D., twelve years AFTER the Crucifixion, and a substantial distance away, in Antioch (then a very large city) that anyone seems to have started calling themselves "Christians". But modern Christians and modern Churches all believe that they were applied to Jesus while He was Alive on Earth. That was not the case. Jesus clearly realized that He had an unique and intimate relationship with the Lord, but He never implied that He felt it was as Son or as any other Divine Being! It IS possible that He made such comments as an assumption, based on the fact that each time that He requested a Miracle, it occurred! The reality that He Was the One True God of the Universe meant that such Miracles would occur because He wished them! But He did not realize all of that, and He believed that He had to request Miracles "from the Father"! Churches have Taught for centuries that those things were accurate and true statements, but they appear to have been primarily opinions of leaders of the Post-Easter Church as it was developing. (In the final few weeks of His life, the Bible gives evidence that Jesus began to fully realize just how unique He was!) (Until then, He felt the need to ask the Father for such things as Miracles, and as a result, both He and everyone else started referring to Him as Son.) We feel that the Lord Wishes us all to KNOW the actual Truth, and not necessarily just the opinions of that Truth held by Ministers of any specific Church. Doesn't that seem what He would Want?
BELIEVE is currently a collection of over 7,000 articles by respected scholars on around 2,300 religious subjects. Protestant Christian Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Church, all follow Faiths which involve hundreds of individual subjects, which are each thoroughly presented in BELIEVE. Many of these subjects are very important to Faith, like Eschatology, but which are seldom presented in Church Services or during Bible Study. Others are commonly known religious subjects, like Salvation, or Baptism, that we just present more thoroughly than is usually available.
Proverbs 4:5: Get wisdom, get understanding, forget it not.|
Proverbs 1:7: Fear/Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
John 5:39: Search the scriptures
1 Thess. 5:21: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (all KJAV)
Also Prov. 2:3-5; Prov. 3:13; Prov. 15:14; Prov. 23:23; and 2Peter 1:5.
Saint Clement of Alexandria may have described this most fully, (around 200 AD), in the Stromata, Book VIII, Chapter I.
We think you might find it refreshing that we have no intention of pushing you toward any specific attitudes or positions. We also have no intention of trying to get you to like or dislike any specific group or Denomination or Faith. (We DO hope that you will pursue SOME Faith and some method of Worshipping God!) Our intent is only to present you with enough accurate, unbiased information such that you can make your own thoughtful conclusion about any particular subject. If you have Doubts about God, Christianity, Religion or questions, concerns, doubts, skepticism, you're probably in the right place to get actual information on which to form your own conclusions. We have tried hard NOT to include opinions or unsupported logic. Our attitude is that YOU must find your own conclusions (as long as you have accurate information to work with) and it is not our place to try to drag you anywhere!
A concept that we have tried to keep in mind in assembling BELIEVE is:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men. (Col. 3: 23) (NIV)
In that regard, we have added nearly 4,000 complete texts of Early Christian Manuscripts (translated into English). We think that cynics might be surprised in browsing through some of them, as, for example, the single presentation on the Diatessaron of Tatian includes over 3,800 footnotes! People may be interested in reading Tertullian's article "On the Apparel of Women" which he wrote around 202 AD.
An access to the entire assemblage is at: 4,000 Early Christian Manuscripts The level of intellectual care and attention to accuracy is really impressive!
To cite a presentation or article in BELIEVE.
It seems that most people have an enormous misunderstanding regarding what a "scholarly text" actually is! A good example might be our presentation on Arguments for the Existence of God. If most people tried to compose that presentation, including virtually any Church or its personnel, they would assemble it in the "obvious" way. And that would not possibly qualify for being a "scholarly work" no matter how brilliantly it was researched and presented! If you look at our presentation linked here, you will see a prominent distinction which qualifies it as being scholarly. Right after the initial presentation of the arguments FOR the Existence of God, that author has a section which discusses the arguments AGAINST the Existence of God! Most Christian Ministry seem to be viciously against including such things! Many have told me that I am certain to go to Hell for allowing such things to be included in BELIEVE! Amazing! They INSIST on only telling THEIR side of any stories or any issues, apparently deciding that THEY are each brilliant enough to determine what their Church Members should be allowed to hear and what their Church Members should be denied hearing! No actual scholar would ever do that! It is considered critically important to always present BOTH sides, ALL sides, of any issue, logically and fairly. Scholars then rarely actually extend that to forming conclusions, other than what is solidly based on the arguments and known facts. In contrast, we find it immensely frustrating that MOST Christian books, articles and speeches tend to ONLY provide SELECTIVE EVIDENCE which then appears to totally support whatever conclusions that the (Christian) writer or speaker wants to claim. We hope you see the distinction, as it really is very, very important. Regarding BELIEVE, we do not necessarily want to present thoughts or arguments which appear to oppose Christianity or some Church, but in an effort at presenting scholastic honesty, we feel that it is critically important that we ONLY present articles by scholar-authors which DO consider all sides of any issue. Virtually every argument and every group has wonderful assets but also a few warts! We think it would be potentially deceptive if we tried to ignore the existence of those warts! This text makes clear that we have great confidence in the brains and the personal Discernment of each reader, especially since we are confident that the Indwelling Holy Spirit will assist each person regarding that. So we have no concerns whatever regarding the fact that our scholar-authors sometimes discuss matters which might seem unsettling to Christians. We feel that this is far better than the only alternative that we are aware of, where WE would select a single viewpoint to try to present to all our visitors.
Several of the most important topics in BELIEVE have presentations that extend over 100 screenfuls of text! The presentation of the Roman Catholic Church is more than 30 screens in length. The one on God is about 150 screens in length. The one on Jesus as a Child is nearly 500 screens in length! Even a generally unfamiliar subject like Supralapsarianism is about five screens in length, with several links to other BELIEVE pages that are closely related to that subject. Some of the more obscure subjects are covered in just one or two screens.
There is certainly a multitude of Christian and other religious sites on the Internet. Many of them are informative, but they seem to generally present only their own view of whatever subjects they discuss. That might be valuable, but it can often cause an incomplete understanding of those subjects. How can a student of Christianity or any other religion truly understand any subject if he/she only has access to one narrow viewpoint? Yes, we realize that there might be value in sometimes presenting ONLY ONE approach, of NOT bringing up matters which might cause some Christians to become confused or uncertain. Fine.
Our Non-Denominational Christian Church thinks that in general it is wrong to consistently do that. How could a person develop a solid foundation for Faith if incomplete or inaccurate or distorted information is all that is available? What if your First Grade Teacher only decided to teach you her favorite letters of the alphabet and not all 26 of them? Our approach is to try to imagine how Jesus might have presented religious information. Would He have only presented some facts that supported a point He wanted to make? We doubt it! Would He have presented any statement that He did not truly believe to be true, or that was otherwise incomplete or inaccurate or misleading or deceptive? We doubt it! We think that He would have patiently sat down with anyone who had questions and He would have helped each person to fully understand the answers to those questions.
We often consider a real situation which existed in the Early Church. The full Bible as we know it was only finalized nearly 400 years after Jesus lived. We sometimes consider a passionate Christian of around 80 AD, who happened to NOT have an entire Bible but just a SINGLE SHEET from ONE LETTER of Paul. What could the Lord have expected of that person? A comprehensive understanding of all aspects of Christianity? That would not be possible for him! But he certainly would read that page every day and certainly memorize it. Whatever specifics that Paul might have discussed in that page, this man would have centered his life upon. And we feel that the Lord would be totally Pleased with him for that effort. Curiously, when I have brought this story up to several hundred other Ministers over the years, at least two hundred of those Christian Ministers immediately told me that that man went to Hell, for not having FULLY followed all the aspects of Christianity! I am always astounded at hearing Ministers say that, and it terrifies me regarding what they might be Teaching in their own Churches! They are either ignorant or overlook the fact that the complete Bible only was settled on around 390 AD, but they still demand that earlier Christians be knowledgeable regarding a Bible which did not then even exist! It seems to me that those modern Ministers believe that Christianity is totally Legalistic, where they must not have read the parts of the Bible that make clear Jesus' attitude about such things!
BELIEVE is here with the intent of permitting our visitors to access all the (credible) perspectives that we are aware of, with the intention of enabling DEEPER Devotion to the Lord.
Well, we have a disadvantage here! We are not Jesus! We do not have His Knowledge and Understanding! So, we just try the best we can to supply the most accurate, understandable and complete information we can, on each of these many subjects. That is basically the core reason for the BELIEVE Religious Information Source web-site. We try to not express opinions but only present the facts and all of the generally accepted attitudes on each subject.
These articles were written by many world-renowned scholars in their specific subjects. We felt that such scholars were the best available authorities in each of the many subjects. We are very aware that there have probably been millions of articles written by religious scholars over the centuries, and we have only been able (so far) to review a tiny fraction of them. That means that this BELIEVE site should forever be a work-in-progress, and it will hopefully forever get better and better! We sometimes say that in another thirty years, BELIEVE might start to resemble something that the Lord might be Pleased with!
In the process of selecting the 7,000+ articles that are currently included in BELIEVE, we examined over 50,000 articles that we did not include. If an article seemed biased or incomplete or not solidly based on accepted scholastic standards, we did not include it. It is our hope that the remaining articles are useful to the visitors to this site.
Whether your interest is casual curiosity or deep philosophical research, BELIEVE should certainly be helpful. Many of the subject presentations start with a General level presentation of the subject, which is often followed by very comprehensive Advanced presentation(s) for student and Ministry research. Actual Scripture from the Bible is generally not included, but many thousands of Scriptural references are included, as are extensive bibliographies (for most of the articles) for even further study.
Have you ever been a little unclear when your Minister refers to sanctification in a sermon? Or ultradispensationalism? Or Baptism? Or infralapsarianism? Or Salvation? Well, most Ministers aren't going to even mention two of these very important aspects of Christian Faith in their Sermons! But they would if they could! Or maybe you wanted to learn more about your friend's Methodism? Or about Amish beliefs? Or the history of The Lord's Prayer? Have you ever been curious about just how our modern beliefs in Jesus got refined to where they are today? Or you wanted deeper understanding of any of hundreds of other interesting religious topics?
These are some reasons where you may want to browse through BELIEVE!
As mentioned above, we have gone to considerable effort to eliminate bias from this collection of articles. It is reasonable for most authors to be enthusiastic for their subject, but if an author showed such an extreme attitude that possible distortion of facts might happen, WE LEFT SUCH AN ARTICLE OUT! BELIEVE is meant as an information source which has the most "level playing field" possible, so that readers can count on getting useful and fair and accurate information. There is only one substantial bias that was NOT removed, that against Satanists, Atheists, and similar groups. We considered including some of their own information, to balance some of the negative comments that some of our included authors make, but we decided that we did NOT want to encourage or publicize or support the activities or beliefs of such groups.
If you get the impression that any particular presentation in this library shows substantial bias for or against any group or belief system, please let us know by an E-mail message or a postal letter. We hope to forever improve BELIEVE, and you can help!
People regularly send in manuscripts and essays which they hope to have added to our BELIEVE site. Unfortunately, most of them cannot be used here. One characteristic we insist on is that ALL perspectives on a subject or issue be equally and fairly discussed, as is the case in any credible scholarly work. When most people feel motivated to write an essay, it is because they have very strong feelings regarding one particular viewpoint on the subject. In many places, there is nothing wrong with that, in "promoting" that particular perspective. It is even often a great way of encouraging people to accept that particular belief. But BELIEVE is meant to present ALL perspectives as equally as is possible, and so "sales pitches" for any one position are not generally desirable here. In many cases, such an essay could be fairly easily expanded to include the opposing viewpoints. There have been many wonderful manuscripts sent in, which could have been used with such a modification, but not otherwise.
The individual web-page presentations are all designed to display properly on any home computer. They are hopefully also compatible with the obsolete computers and browsers which Missionaries often have to use. (The files are each made absolutely as small as they can be so that such Missionaries can have shorter Internet access times and expenses.) BELIEVE doesn't contain banners or other images that might interfere with such use.
If someone thoroughly studied the entire contents of BELIEVE (equivalent to over 10,000 pages of typewritten text, over 30,000 screenfuls) and also the Bible, the resultant religious knowledge would be very close to that of a Divinity Degree from a Seminary! We realize that most people aren't going to use it that thoroughly! But if you keep the downloadable BELIEVE program on your computer's hard drive, or keep a bookmark for this web-site in your browser, its information will be rapidly accessible, faster than you could find it in a reference book!
BELIEVE has two parallel home pages, one with the subjects listed alphabetically and the other with more central subjects at the start of the list. (An abbreviated alphabetical list is to the right, and a link above it can get you to the other lists.) The way both subject lists are set up encourages browsing. You or your kids might have 15 minutes available one day. You COULD play some computer game! But if BELIEVE is there, you might just as well decide to learn a little about Arminianism or about Evangelicalism. You don't need to commit a huge block of time to it (but you could!)
Even very devout Christians will probably find many unfamiliar terms in the list at right. Many Protestant Christians do not realize that many things like the above mentioned Arminianism probably contributed (in one way or another) in a substantial way in the development of the beliefs of the Church they attend! Very few Christians seem to know that nearly all modern Christian Churches are Semi-Sabbatarian!
We have added foreign language translations of all of BELIEVE (not including the extensive Early Christian Manuscripts). It is our hope that the French version might assist Missionary efforts in many of the countries in Africa where French is a primary language. Similarly, we hope that the Spanish and Portuguese versions might be of help to Missionaries in South America. And we hope that, as Chinese people learn about the "outside world", some of them may find value in either Chinese version. We also have hopes that if Arabic people have access to accurate information on the world's various religions, they might learn that we are far more alike than we are different.
If you know of anyone that could
benefit from those versions, here are links:
For people who are Missionaries, or others who have difficult or
expensive access to the Internet, we also now provide most of these exact
same files which are often only 1/3 the file size, because they do not
include the interactive presentation of the English original text.
Here are those links:
The above languages should display properly with most modern computers, without having to add any additional fonts. They tend to use the UTF-8 encoding system, but some pages use either Western European or Windows. If your computer is really old, you may need to use Windows Control panel/ Add/Remove Programs/Windows Setup/Multilanguage Support, to be able to properly see the Russian or Polish pages.
The smaller files for Missionaries and others for these languages are at:
These following files do NOT include separate files for each subject presentation, as they depend on common automatic computer language translation. They have a common problem of only translating a certain number of words at the start of a file and not translating the later parts of long presentations.
These languages may require you to download Microsoft or other fonts to see the presentations properly. (You may see empty rectangles instead of characters above if your Browser does not contain the needed font). For Japanese, one file is ie_ja.exe (2.6 Mb) (an expanded MS Gothic font); for mainland (or Simplified) Chinese, one file is ie_zhc.exe (2.6 Mb) (MS Hei and MS Song fonts); for Taiwan (Traditional, or Big5) Chinese, one file is ie3lpktw.exe (4.1 Mb) (MingLiu Font); from the Microsoft web-site. If you do a web-search for that file name, you can find it quickly.
These are computerized, automated translations of the English language pages of BELIEVE, so they are nowhere near perfect. But, hopefully, they will allow the many BELIEVE pages to be available and useful to many more people. We also hope that volunteers will offer to "clean up" any especially poor automated translation of a page!
In 2007, roughly 70% of BELIEVE visitors accessed English language pages. Spanish was 13.4%; mainland Chinese was 4.8%; Russian was 2.8%; French was 2.4%; Japanese was 2.3%; German was 1.8%; Taiwanese was 1.7%; and Arabic was 0.8%. Italian, Portuguese, Swedish and Polish accesses were minimal due to really bad automated translations then!
In 2009, the total number of visitors was slightly more than double that of 2007. There was increase in the number of English language visitors, but the increases in the other languages were far greater. This effect caused the RELATIVE number of English language visitors to seem to have decreased! In 2009, 44.8% of BELIEVE visitors accessed English language pages. Spanish was 16.4%; mainland Chinese was 2.4%; Russian was 2.7%; French was 5.3%; Japanese was 3.9%; German was 3.8%; Taiwanese was 3.2%; and Arabic was 2.5%. Italian was 4.3%, Portuguese was 6.3%, Swedish was 1.2% and Polish was 3.3%.
In 2011, 37.5% of BELIEVE visitors accessed English language pages. Spanish was 26.2%; mainland Chinese was 2.4%; Russian was 2.7%; French was 5.0%; Japanese was 2.3%; German was 3.0%; Taiwanese was 2.7%; and Arabic was 2.1%. Italian was 4.2%, Portuguese was 9.3%, Swedish was 1.4% and Polish was 2.5%.
In 2012, 27% of BELIEVE visitors accessed English language pages. Spanish was 28%; mainland Chinese was 3%; Russian was 3%; French was 6%; Japanese was 2%; German was 3%; Taiwanese was 4%; and Arabic was 3%. Italian was 4%, Portuguese was 9%, Swedish was 2% and Polish was 2%.
In 2013, 23% of BELIEVE visitors accessed English language pages. Spanish was 29%; mainland Chinese was 5%; Russian was 3%; French was 6%; Japanese was 7%; German was 3%; Taiwanese was 5%; and Arabic was 4%. Italian was 4%, Portuguese was 9%, Swedish was 2% and Polish was 1%.
This has become a significant amount of traffic, where people around the world are apparently studying and learning a good deal of accurate religious information. Every day, around 400 million characters in Spanish are distributed! Every day, around 40 million characters in mainland Chinese and another 50 million characters in Taiwanese Chinese are sent around the world! We hope we are doing some good in getting accurate and thorough religious information to people who might not otherwise have had access to it.
Other reasons for the existence of BELIEVE are:
BELIEVE was first placed on the Internet in the Spring of 1997. Since then, there have been an amazing number of visitors to our site! It seems that most web-sites quickly brag about how much traffic comes to a site. Considering the content of this site, we feel that would be the wrong attitude. Large numbers are essentially irrelevant! Our interest is (hopefully!) always in each single visitor, with our efforts being to aid that person to better understand the Lord and religion and Christianity. If a person is able to get closer to a point of better committing to God (and Jesus), then our efforts are successful! So, as far as we are concerned, we have had ONE visitor, YOU! And, since you are important to God and Jesus, you are very important to us. We think that's the attitude Jesus would want us to have!
Also, we realize that you might be interested in knowing more about the organization that created and operates BELIEVE. Our Church, A Christ Walk Church is a relatively normal Protestant Christian Church. Our A Christ Walk Church - Statement of Faith is very similar to that of most Protestant Churches, although it might be more thoroughly presented! The most noticeable difference between our Church and other Protestant Churches is our special focus on always trying to figure out what Jesus might have said or done in each situation, and then act and speak appropriately. Basically, the result of this is that our Church seems to have much less dogma than many other Churches. Instead of applying any rigid formulation of response, we believe it is better to understand and respond to each situation of life individually. This statement should make the entire existence of BELIEVE a lot more logical, because it really fits in with the concept. Each visitor is an individual, unlike anyone else. It is our belief that if we provide sufficient accurate information, each visitor and his/her indwelling Holy Spirit will then be able to Discern the Truth for that person. We have another presentation which may be of interest, where the basic Meaning of Christianity is presented, as understood by our Church, at What Is Christianity, Anyway? http://mb-soft.com/public2/ourchris.html. We have noticed that recently, bumperstickers are beginning to appear with "WWJD" (What Would Jesus Do?) on them. We find that wonderful, very similar to what our Church has always tried to do and Teach.
We are certainly not perfect, and neither is BELIEVE. In this vein, it probably makes sense for us to admit to a significant "bias" that we know we have! BELIEVE currently does NOT contain a presentation on "Collection Plate" or "Donation" or "Mammon" because we are not sure we could "fairly" present such a topic. We have somewhat unusual attitudes toward that subject!
Shortly after the Editor of BELIEVE was Saved (at age 19), he was on vacation and attended a Church in Florida. "New" Christians are all especially enthusiastic, and that was true in this case. However, during an hour and a half Service, the Minister passed the Collection Plate FIVE times! They each were for reasonably valid reasons: the normal Collection; a collection to repair the Church parking lot and driveway; a collection for a building project toward having a Sunday School; a collection for a guest Minister; and a collection for a Christian music group that played during the Service. However, collectively, the experience was offensive to the Editor. Without being able to put a finger on exactly what was wrong, it just seemed like something was different from the way Jesus might have wanted it to be.
As a consequence of that experience, the Editor, and BELIEVE, have an intense attitude about keeping religious experience and learning as far as possible from money matters. Clearly, each Church MUST pay mortgages and utility bills and the staff's wages, so money must necessarily be present in the operation of each Church. But we have all seen examples where something has gone wrong and Ministry flies around in personal Learjets and rides around in chauffeured limousines. I guess our attitude is that we wish that the hour or two that we each share in the Lord's House each week, could be entirely focused on religious ideas, and that people would make their Offerings to their Churches without having to be "prodded" by the existence of a Collection Plate! But that's not realistic! We just hope that each Church uses good judgment (and consults their Holy Spirit!) regarding all subjects associated with money, in or out.
We see this as a pretty significant bias, and so we didn't feel we could fairly present a page on the subject! There are many reasons why your local Church NEEDS the funds from the Collection, so please be generous to them.
We have recently become aware of yet ANOTHER potential bias we might have!
We receive enormous amounts of e-mail, and some of it is critical mail from other Protestant Clergy members. In general, such mail attacks us for submitting our visitors to "wolves" (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29). Their position is that we should intensely and exclusively present OUR perspectives and beliefs on the many subjects included in BELIEVE, and we should NOT include "alternate" perspectives at all! They believe that we introduce the possibility of confusion in our visitors by presenting various (seemingly credible) approaches on subjects that are centrally important to Faith. They believe that we commit outright sacrilege by openly presenting Catholic and Orthodox and other beliefs!
Well, they might be right about that, so we cannot defend our actions directly to them! They often also tell us that we are destined for Hell as a result of this aspect of BELIEVE! We hope that they are wrong about that!
We also receive a lot of mail applauding us for our "Ecumenical" approach!
We tend to think that neither is quite accurate, but for an apparently unusual reason! BELIEVE was created and is presented by our non-Denominational Protestant Christian Church, which is named A Christ Walk Church. This appears to be important in this area. Our Church has a special emphasis on Christian behavior along with all the standard Christian Teachings. We feel that Jesus demonstrated and discussed many "proper behaviors" in addition to the words of His Teachings. As a consequence of this, our Church sees specific importance in the END RESULT of Christian Ministry, basically, the condition of the hearts of those who listen. In our view, virtually the ONLY essential question at the end is "Is your heart Devoutly committed to the Lord?" We believe that that is the single question Jesus would be interested in, at the point someone is at the Gates of Heaven. We see that as logical, and our Ministry sees ALL Ministry in that light. Of course, we want to believe that our methods of Teaching are valid, but we recognize that there might be many other ways a person's heart might be brought to Devotion in the Lord.
Of course, he might be right! We have no absolute way of proving him wrong! And, if Jesus really DOES run Heaven where many strict "rules of admission" are applied, then, yes, most of us will be "out of luck" in happening to have chosen the "wrong" Church to attend.
We see two major problems in that situation. First, it seems to imply that Jesus is rather "legalistic" in who is allowed into Heaven, and we know from when He was with us that He was violently against the Jews for being legalistic in applying the "Law" of the Old Testament (example: Luke 13:14). Second, and, we think, even more importantly, is another implication regarding Jesus. We all believe that Jesus IS Love and Compassion, essentially the very definition of the words! So, our Church, with its special focus on behavioral issues, asks "Would a Compassionate Jesus participate in a Heaven where extremely Devout people who spent a lifetime committed to Him would be denied entry to Heaven?" Our emphatic response is that He wouldn't and couldn't.
Yes, we Teach the Two Protestant Sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, and we Teach that Good Works spring FROM Christian Faith rather than being necessary to it, and we Baptize and have the other common beliefs of many Protestant Churches. But we think it would be very arrogant (therefore, non-Christian) to claim that WE alone knew how to prepare individuals for the Presence of the Lord. Therefore, we openly applaud ALL Churches that attempt to prepare the hearts of their followers for profound Devotion to the Lord, even when they follow methods which we might not agree with.
We do not have ANY good explanation as to how the Lord deals with this diversity in Heaven, only that, because of His Compassion, He does! So, a Devout Catholic, who was Taught a central importance in doing Good Works as a condition for Salvation (which we Protestants think is very wrong!) would still be welcomed with a Smile into Heaven, whether or not we understand why! Any other result would seem to imply a Lord whose Compassion is not what we want to believe it is.
Our conclusion from all this is that, prior to committing one's life to the Lord, a person may freely visit various Houses of Worship. Consider the deeper meaning of Baptism. Who did you intend to affect by being Baptized? We hope it was not for friends or family or a Church leadership. Our hope is that you (possibly even privately) became Saved (actually, we see that as being Baptized by the Spirit), committed to the Lord, and then were publicly (water) Baptized for only one purpose: To tell the Lord, "I am Yours, and I will forever demonstrate my Devotion TO YOU by strictly following the Rites and beliefs of THIS (your) Church." As of that moment, each believer has the strict responsibility to follow THAT Church. You have essentially told the Lord "Judge me by THIS standard." There is NO leeway. No room for interpretation on your part! If you happened to have chosen a Church that requires you to ask "How high?" when it tells you to jump, then you MUST, not for the Church, but to keep demonstrating to the Lord your total Obedience to Him. Just because a Church down the block does not require jumping, you have NO room to complain, and just better get good at jumping! Your Personal Promise to the Lord is on the line!
From the moment you are Baptized, IN A SPECIFIC CHURCH, then ONLY that Church's Christian Rites and beliefs have real meaning for you. Hopefully, your Church has valid beliefs and Rites. Beliefs and procedures in some other Church may be VERY different, and they may even seem incompatible with what you must follow. FOR YOU, it is irrelevant what the Christians in those other Churches must do. However, you should encourage them to be very Devout in their following of their own Church's Rites and beliefs. At the moment they were Baptized in those Churches, they made their own solemn Promise to the Lord to forever demonstrate their Faith to Him. (The exception to this are clearly aberrant groups that claim to be Churches.)
Some people have expressed concern about this regarding what would happen if they move or otherwise decide to attend a different Church, that these comments might seem to suggest that Salvation or Baptism would no longer have effect! No, that is not the concept we tried to describe here! We believe that in those situations, a simple and private conversation with the Lord would inform Him that you now wish to be evaluated by the new set of rules and behaviors of the new Church.
We might have another possible analogy to use here. When one gets married, one makes certainly commitments to another person, and we even then say "forever". However, there are some individuals that either immediately or later start thinking and behaving as though they had never made such a commitment, that they are somehow free to be "making up their own rules" to follow. That is clearly unacceptable. We feel that it is critically important that a person not have the freedom to "decide what rules must be followed regarding the Lord." So we insist that the existing set of rules regarding behaviors and attitudes of an existing Church be followed instead.
So, that is our concept, and our ONLY defense to those attackers who criticize us for being in league with the wolves! Many have directly implied that we might as well buy shovels now, as we will spend Eternity stoking the furnaces in Hell! And, again, we have no absolute way of knowing or proving that they are wrong, except our Faith in what WE believe the Lord to be, and that He IS Love and Compassion.
These few paragraphs might sound like a "commercial" on our part. They are not intended as such. But, we have received a number of such criticisms, and felt it necessary to allow readers to know both about the criticisms and our reasons for BELIEVE being the very "open" form that it is. In the event that this represents a "bias" we felt you should know about it!
One final comment about the "confusion" we might be causing and / or the "wolves" business: Another central belief of our Church is that the Holy Spirit is RIGHT THERE with EVERY visitor to BELIEVE, whether Christian, Seeker, or skeptic. Our belief is that that Holy Spirit will give guidance to each individual visitor, regarding the discernment of Truth. Therefore, we believe that, when we present various Christian scholars' broadly accepted views on our many subjects, the Holy Spirit will lead each visitor in finding the "correct" one for that person. This is why we don't have reservations about presenting positions that our Church happens to not agree with, and why we feel we can present such views fairly and honestly. And, as a responsibility to Jesus, we feel we are REQUIRED to do so!
So, if you should find anything in BELIEVE that appears to disagree with the Teachings of your Church, we recommend relying on those Teachings first, but possibly asking informed questions at the right time and in the right place. They probably have EXCELLENT reasons for their beliefs and Teachings!
Now, whether our approach represents an "Ecumenical" perspective, we do not know. The result is similar, of a tolerance and acceptance of other Churches, but we see it as being for a rather different reason than most Ecumenical efforts are initiated. And we don't see need for "conformance" to some common set of beliefs, but rather a recognition that the Lord Smiles on ALL of the diversity of Christian approaches. We acknowledge that God's Plan for us is far beyond our capability to completely understand.
Our impression is that Churches generally concentrate on the specific "means" toward becoming a Christian and we tend to concentrate more on the "end" of actually BEING a Devout Christian. We don't see that it means we disagree, but just that we do not see cause to argue among Churches in how they each accomplish it! Actually, we tend to see value in WHATEVER a Church feels it needs to do to prepare the hearts of its Congregation members, so we are actually a fan of (nearly) all of them!
We have a page with additional comments on our Simple Christian beliefs.
BELIEVE also includes thorough and fair presentations of all of the other major belief systems of the world. Again thinking of how Jesus might treat such subjects, we think that He would be open and honest, having Faith that Christianity can "hold its own" when honest and complete information is available about all options. We do not think that He would have been "secretive" in avoiding discussing other religions and their good and bad points. Therefore, we try to follow His lead in BELIEVE. We put those subjects down at the bottom of the list, separate from the Christian subjects.
You probably consider yourself to be one of the "children of God", don't you? More than that, a child of the One, True God, Whom Abraham worshipped and Who communicated with Moses to provide us with what we commonly call the Ten Commandments? There are a LOT of people who would make those statements! Protestant Christians carefully study the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) to learn how to Worship Him. Catholic Christians use a combination of the Bible and Traditions to do the same. Jews use only the Old Testament, which they call the Torah, in order to know how to Worship God. Muslims use a combination of part of that same Old Testament, which they call Taurah, along with their Koran, to learn how to Worship the very same God, Whom they call Allah. All of these people consider themselves to be "children of God", the One God of Abraham. Interesting? Yet many of these children of God absolutely insist that the others are all Devil worshippers and therefore sinful! Many Christians, who actually know virtually zilch regarding what Muslims believe, get ferociously vicious at ME for pointing out that Jesus, the Father, Jehovah, YHWH, Allah and many other Names ALL refer to the One True God Whom Abraham first Worshipped. They never have enough background to explain WHY or HOW the God of Abraham who WE Worship is somehow exactly opposite of the God of Abraham that Muslims worship many times every day!
Actually, we suspect that many Christians will be amazed to find that Muslims' Holy Koran tells the stories of Adam and Abraham and Israel and Moses and many others on whom our Faith is based. It seems that few Christians realize that their Allah is One and the Same God as Who the Jews call YHWH (Yahweh, or Jehovah) and Whom we Christians call Father. Certainly, their stories have differences from our Bible, but the many similarities are something to consider! Again, we know that Jesus would be absolutely confident that Christians would not have their Faith weakened by learning about such things, but it might assist all of us to learn to get along better together.
Actually, we note that God originally forbade anyone to even say His Name! It would probably be extremely healthy if we did that today. A Christian would then say that he/she Worships "the One, True God of Abraham, Moses and Adam." Which is EXACTLY the same thing that Jews and Muslims would say! The later appearance of that One True God walking the Earth as Jesus, tends to cause massive confusion, both in many Christians and in most non-Christians. Many Christians are so focused on Jesus that they forget that the First Commandment made very clear that there is actually One True God, which Jesus therefore has to also be! Non-Christians (Jews and Muslims) are more focused on Moses' Ten Commandments and therefore concentrate on the "One True God" aspect and think that Christians are Worshipping "somebody else" and therefore, very properly, find error in that as seeming to conflict with the First Commandment.
On this point, the Koran and Islam hold Jesus in very high esteem, considering Him a Prophet, and even expecting Him to some day Return! It is our suspicion that Muhammad (the initiator of Islam) misunderstood the Christian concept of the Trinity. At several places in their Koran, there are statements that clearly indicate that Muhammad thought that Christians considered Jesus to be a SECOND God, and Muhammad aggressively defended the First Commandment statement that there is One True God (which all Muslims repeat at least five times every single day). It is our suspicion that if Muhammad had fully understood the concept of the Trinity (One God), he would have realized that the One True God had Chosen to walk the earth six hundred years earlier as Jesus! With that adjustment, Christianity and Islam become surprisingly similar in basic beliefs!
Their belief system seems to have a number of errors in it regarding Christianity, such as the impression that the Christian Trinity is Father, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary! (Koran Sura 5.116) This is interesting, since Muslims believe that every word of the Koran is precisely accurate because it came directly from God (Allah) to Muhammad. Our point is that it is not nearly as "foreign" as many people think.
While we're on this tangent, we'd like to ask Christian readers why Muslims insist on facing Mecca for all their prayers! Do you know? It's because of a single thing, a building in Mecca, called the Kaaba. Muslims believe that Abraham (yup, OUR Abraham!) built the Kaaba, and they recognize Abraham as being the very first "true" believer, because he was willing to sacrifice his own son for the Lord. We find that interesting! Each person is free to interpret such things however they wish!
If this interests you, we have created a small presentation which is absolutely compatible with all Christian beliefs and is also completely compatible with all Muslim beliefs. It is at: Compatibility.
Obviously, these comments do not include the militant terrorist Muslims, who have grave errors in their understanding of their own Islam. They don't seem to be aware of the surprisingly peaceful tone of what Islam actually tries to teach. They seem to ignore the many times where their Koran emphasizes brotherhood with Jews and Christians, as brother "believers of the Book (the Torah, the first five Books of the Bible)". It is very sad that the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims are painted to seem so evil by the actions of a small number of extremely dangerous people. It is certainly true that we think that Muslims have many incorrect ideas and beliefs, particularly regarding Jesus, Mary and Christians. But it is interesting to note the many similarities, too.
Most of the BELIEVE entries are included in a downloadable package file. Click Here to download the BELIEVE Program.
You may also want to visit A Christ Walk Church, our Church's fully-functional, non-denominational Church presentation and Service on the Internet. The environment is meant to be as similar as possible to that in a conventional Church. There are weekly Services. Sounds and music are intended to be part of the experience, which will be meant to encourage singing along. After the Service, you could join the Pastor and others in the congregation in a (chat room) discussion group, to have a casual conversation about that week's topic or anything else on your mind. Private conversation is also possible.
Information about the Editor of BELIEVE.
This BELIEVE Home Page address: http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexa.html
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