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Old 11th May 2017, 03:12 PM   #1
Thor 2
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Christianity and Self Esteem

In my youth I studied at a senior technical college and at an end of year assembly the following was sung:

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

............


I was sitting next to my born again brother in the assembly who was writhing in his seat with discomfort on hearing the words.

My brother believed man is in essence sinful and unworthy, (sound familiar?), and will only achieve salvation by acknowledging this and accepting Jesus died for us. He could not entertain the idea that man would rise to a higher level on his own.

It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.
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Old 11th May 2017, 03:49 PM   #2
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Well, sort of. It's a little bit more complicated than that. I was one of those who believed (for a while) similar things to your brother. For me at least, self-esteem was wrapped up in a blanket of religion. I had self-esteem because I was religious. The two did not separate. Without religion, sure, it was low. Religion was my way of dealing with that. It was partly because of low self-esteem that I got into religion in the first place.

Of course, I learned other ways to deal with that over time. I'm not suggesting that this is universal, and that all religious people have low self-esteem. I don't know enough about them to make that kind of declaration. But it was true for me.
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Old 11th May 2017, 05:18 PM   #3
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Yes it is complex I suppose.

If you google Christianity / self esteem, you get presented with a bundle of Christian websites where the message is all positive, about how Christianity is the answer to overcoming low self esteem.

I find it all somewhat muddled however and from my exposure to Christians, I see them almost reveling in their unworthiness. If you consider the words of "Amazing Grace" it shows this clearly I think.
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Old 11th May 2017, 07:11 PM   #4
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Yes - it was certainly an aspect of what I was learning in the church. But as I think I mentioned to you once before, the act of rising above our unworthiness was itself a reason to feel good.
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Old 11th May 2017, 07:11 PM   #5
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It goes back to how Christianity is an abusive relationship with God. Sure, he despises you for all your flaws...but he pays attention to you 24/7. Every thought, word, and deed!

Are there any religions that aren't ultimately about dysfunctional parent/child relationships?
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Old 11th May 2017, 07:17 PM   #6
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They don't call the Abrahamic cults misery religions for nothing.
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Old 11th May 2017, 07:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
They don't call the Abrahamic cults misery religions for nothing.
Just think what Abraham tried to do to his kid!
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Old 11th May 2017, 07:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sackett View Post
They don't call the Abrahamic cults misery religions for nothing.

That rings a bell. One Joachim Kahl wrote a book titled "The Misery of Christianity" some years ago. Joachim lost his faith after studying theology I read, and makes the point that the way to atheism is to read of the history of Christianity.
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Old 12th May 2017, 02:24 AM   #9
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Go to christianforums.com and read some of the threads in the "Christans only" sections. No lack of self-esteem there from some of the "Trump is the best thing to happen to America"-style posters. Nope, they're very, very sure that they're going to heaven and that anybody who disagrees with them about anything is an agent of the devil, bringing us to the end times, so that they can glory by God's side and watch everybody else burning in a lake of fire.

It's simultaneously amusing, depressing, and frightening.
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Old 12th May 2017, 12:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
In my youth I studied at a senior technical college and at an end of year assembly the following was sung:

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

............


I was sitting next to my born again brother in the assembly who was writhing in his seat with discomfort on hearing the words.

My brother believed man is in essence sinful and unworthy, (sound familiar?), and will only achieve salvation by acknowledging this and accepting Jesus died for us. He could not entertain the idea that man would rise to a higher level on his own.

It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.
and well a large number of them should!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12th May 2017, 03:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Go to christianforums.com and read some of the threads in the "Christans only" sections. No lack of self-esteem there from some of the "Trump is the best thing to happen to America"-style posters. Nope, they're very, very sure that they're going to heaven and that anybody who disagrees with them about anything is an agent of the devil, bringing us to the end times, so that they can glory by God's side and watch everybody else burning in a lake of fire.

It's simultaneously amusing, depressing, and frightening.

How believers feel about themselves is a complex question. One sees them with smiles seemingly welded to their faces, as they speak of the joy their faith gives them. From the outside looking in I sense a lack of sincerity and wonder how much is for show. I often wonder how secure the believers feel about personal salvation.

Consider the new age Christians who are told they must be "born again" to be saved. Being born again means having some special experience as I understand it, so our devotees must believe they have. What if they are not sure, but are surrounded by others all claiming to have experienced it. Wouldn't they fake it so they are accepted as part of the group, while at the same time feeling insecure about their salvation?
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Old 12th May 2017, 04:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
How believers feel about themselves is a complex question. One sees them with smiles seemingly welded to their faces, as they speak of the joy their faith gives them. From the outside looking in I sense a lack of sincerity and wonder how much is for show. I often wonder how secure the believers feel about personal salvation.

Consider the new age Christians who are told they must be "born again" to be saved. Being born again means having some special experience as I understand it, so our devotees must believe they have. What if they are not sure, but are surrounded by others all claiming to have experienced it. Wouldn't they fake it so they are accepted as part of the group, while at the same time feeling insecure about their salvation?
No. At least, not in my experience. I was "born again", and it was a very intense experience. I certainly wasn't faking it, and I completely believe that no-one else around me was faking it either.

It seems to me like you're still thinking that Christianity is something that is tacked on - that is overlaid atop your existing personality like a blanket. That there is a personality under there that can simply be revealed by whipping off the blanket like a magician revealing an attractive assistant.

When I left the church, it was traumatic. I didn't know who I was any more. I didn't know what I believed or how I should react to things. It's why I went heavily into neopaganism. I had to basically rediscover who I was. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for someone who was brought up from early childhood in a highly religious environment.

I'm not suggesting that there is no-one anywhere who is faking it. There probably is. But I certainly don't think it's the norm. People are encouraged to go way deep - to give themselves wholeheartedly and without reservation to the church. It seems to me that anyone who fakes it just to feel like they belong wouldn't actually feel like they belong at all.
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Old 12th May 2017, 06:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No. At least, not in my experience. I was "born again", and it was a very intense experience. I certainly wasn't faking it, and I completely believe that no-one else around me was faking it either.

It seems to me like you're still thinking that Christianity is something that is tacked on - that is overlaid atop your existing personality like a blanket. That there is a personality under there that can simply be revealed by whipping off the blanket like a magician revealing an attractive assistant.

When I left the church, it was traumatic. I didn't know who I was any more. I didn't know what I believed or how I should react to things. It's why I went heavily into neopaganism. I had to basically rediscover who I was. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for someone who was brought up from early childhood in a highly religious environment.

I'm not suggesting that there is no-one anywhere who is faking it. There probably is. But I certainly don't think it's the norm. People are encouraged to go way deep - to give themselves wholeheartedly and without reservation to the church. It seems to me that anyone who fakes it just to feel like they belong wouldn't actually feel like they belong at all.

Thanks for your story art.

Interesting phenomena the born again thing. Christians think they own it but it occurs outside Christianity as this video shows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...ubz_souh0#t=27

Your story shows that you were well and truly in the fold so to speak, and would be a slap in the face for Christians who claim that once you have found Jesus that's it, and there's no turning back. One often hears from them that backsliders were just not doing it right.

Don't you think it strange however in these new age Christian groups that the born again thing happens seemingly to all the followers whereas in the older churches like Catholic it doesn't happen to anyone. This makes me think that some must be faking it, or at least wondering if they experienced the real thing.
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Old 12th May 2017, 08:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Don't you think it strange however in these new age Christian groups that the born again thing happens seemingly to all the followers whereas in the older churches like Catholic it doesn't happen to anyone. This makes me think that some must be faking it, or at least wondering if they experienced the real thing.
No, it's because of differences in doctrine.

In the Catholic church, for example, salvation is via the sacrements - specifically baptism and communion. So children get that very early. The Anglican church is basically a copy of Catholicism in that regard. The difference is in the newer evangelical churches, where a "personal relationship with God" is required. Catholics don't have that - the laity don't have a personal relationship with God; it's all mediated through the ecclesiastical heirarchy. You want to speak with God, you get a priest to do it for you. That's basically why saints exist. You can speak with saints, and they will speak with God on your behalf.

The evangelical Protestant emphasis on people having a direct relationship with God means that, essentially, you have to introduce yourself. Hi God, I'm arthwollipot. I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and saviour bla bla bla. You have to be an adult and capable of making your own decisions to do this. When you do, they baptise you (and no measly sprinkling either - they immerse you fully in water) and you start your new life.

That's why they call it being "born" again - because they disconnect you as much as they can from your previous sinful life. You're "reborn" into Christianity.

Catholicism (and Anglicanism) don't have this because the practice is to baptise infants and give them their first communion when they're children.

Again, this is speaking from my own experience only and other churches may do it differently.
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Old 13th May 2017, 02:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, it's because of differences in doctrine.

In the Catholic church, for example, salvation is via the sacrements - specifically baptism and communion. So children get that very early. The Anglican church is basically a copy of Catholicism in that regard. The difference is in the newer evangelical churches, where a "personal relationship with God" is required. Catholics don't have that - the laity don't have a personal relationship with God; it's all mediated through the ecclesiastical heirarchy. You want to speak with God, you get a priest to do it for you. That's basically why saints exist. You can speak with saints, and they will speak with God on your behalf.

The evangelical Protestant emphasis on people having a direct relationship with God means that, essentially, you have to introduce yourself. Hi God, I'm arthwollipot. I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and saviour bla bla bla. You have to be an adult and capable of making your own decisions to do this. When you do, they baptise you (and no measly sprinkling either - they immerse you fully in water) and you start your new life.

That's why they call it being "born" again - because they disconnect you as much as they can from your previous sinful life. You're "reborn" into Christianity.

Catholicism (and Anglicanism) don't have this because the practice is to baptise infants and give them their first communion when they're children.

Again, this is speaking from my own experience only and other churches may do it differently.

I do have a reasonable grasp on the different approaches of the more traditional churches and the new age ones, but thanks for your summary all the same.

I still find it a bit odd however that you don't hear of Catholics or Anglicans having a - "hallelujah God or Jesus spoke to me" - experience. I wonder if this usually happens in the churches of the new age faithful, and is the result of a generated atmosphere therein.
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Old 13th May 2017, 03:11 PM   #16
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Getting back to my original theme I do find it hard to blend the idea of high self esteem with self abuse - be it verbal such as calling yourself a miserable wretch and sinner, or physical as practiced by the Opus Dei for example.
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Old 13th May 2017, 05:14 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I still find it a bit odd however that you don't hear of Catholics or Anglicans having a - "hallelujah God or Jesus spoke to me" - experience.
I was raised Catholic. Such things were seen as gauche and tasteless. We were born into the correct faith, and all we had to do was continue following the proper traditions and we'd stay in God's best graces forever. No extra fireworks, no weird outbursts, no giant cries for attention required--or desired.

Catholicism, for many, is more like a culture or ethnicity than belief system. You do the things because you were taught them, no analysis necessary, no giant declarations of "yes, I agree to this", or anything. Protestants believe in Protestant Christianity, Catholics simply are Catholics. It's a state of being, and far less embarrassing than the ridiculous talk-talk-talk that other denominations do.

Heck, if God were to speak to a Catholic they'd be polite to Him, but wonder why He wasn't going through the accepted channels of saints talking to priests who then pass along whatever's necessary, at the proper time. Catholicism is in many ways a wonderful thing, but one needn't get all religious about it.

At least that was my experience of the faith that took itself so much for granted it never actually bothered to ask if I believed any of it at all. Heck, when I stopped going to church some expressed surprise because simply not believing in God wasn't really a reason to stop going!
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Old 13th May 2017, 06:38 PM   #18
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I knew a born-again Catholic back in the 80s. She was the mom of a guy I was hanging out with. She was so high on the Lord, she ran off the road.
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Old 13th May 2017, 08:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.

I don't think so. I think they've just offloaded their self-esteem onto an imaginary construct of a god. It's all still happening within their own mind, though. Whether they're strong because they believe in themselves or they believe god gives them strength, I see no difference.

So long as they don't mistake their way of thinking for the only acceptable way of thinking, none of it bothers me.
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Old 13th May 2017, 11:52 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Getting back to my original theme I do find it hard to blend the idea of high self esteem with self abuse - be it verbal such as calling yourself a miserable wretch and sinner, or physical as practiced by the Opus Dei for example.
You do realise that much of the self-abuse associated with Opus Dei is fiction, right?

Quote:
As a spirituality for ordinary people, Opus Dei focuses on performing sacrifices pertaining to normal duties and to its emphasis on charity and cheerfulness. Additionally, Opus Dei celibate members practice "corporal mortifications" such as sleeping without a pillow or sleeping on the floor, fasting or remaining silent for certain hours during the day.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_Dei#Mortification
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Old 13th May 2017, 11:57 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Carlotta View Post
I knew a born-again Catholic back in the 80s. She was the mom of a guy I was hanging out with. She was so high on the Lord, she ran off the road.

Wow! A born again Catholic - so they do exist!
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Old 14th May 2017, 12:05 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
You do realise that much of the self-abuse associated with Opus Dei is fiction, right?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_Dei#Mortification


Well yes I am sure some of the practices can be exaggerated by some, (such as Dan Brown for example), but it is the theme I am drawing attention to.
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Old 14th May 2017, 04:50 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I think they've just offloaded their self-esteem onto an imaginary construct of a god. It's all still happening within their own mind, though.
"God" is simply an alternative label they have for themselves.
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Old 14th May 2017, 02:40 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
You do realise that much of the self-abuse associated with Opus Dei is fiction, right?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opus_Dei#Mortification

Something else just comes to mind ......... purification!

Christians generally talk about purification through baptism and those that self flagellate express the need for purification as a motive also. Some of those dudes really do it for real on Good Friday in The Philippines.

One must wonder what it is like to feel so soiled that one is driven to do this kind of thing to feel clean.
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Old 14th May 2017, 02:53 PM   #25
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I'm a low miserable sinner, but I'm better than everyone else who doesn't think exactly like me!
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Old 14th May 2017, 03:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No. At least, not in my experience. I was "born again", and it was a very intense experience. I certainly wasn't faking it, and I completely believe that no-one else around me was faking it either.

Snip

Sorry if I am laboring the point art but I am interested in the "born again" experience and you may be able to fill me in on the details.

When you had your "intense experience" was it inside your church during a service and did others have one simultaneously? Was this generally the way it happened or did some have their experience by themselves?

This intrigues me as I wonder how much the atmosphere generated in the church contributes towards the priming of the mind to be receptive.

If anyone else has some input please share your thoughts.
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Old 14th May 2017, 03:28 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
I'm a low miserable sinner, but I'm better than everyone else who doesn't think exactly like me!

I reckon I am lower than you so am even better.
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Old 14th May 2017, 04:33 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
In my youth I studied at a senior technical college and at an end of year assembly the following was sung:

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

............


I was sitting next to my born again brother in the assembly who was writhing in his seat with discomfort on hearing the words.

My brother believed man is in essence sinful and unworthy, (sound familiar?), and will only achieve salvation by acknowledging this and accepting Jesus died for us. He could not entertain the idea that man would rise to a higher level on his own.

It seems to me Christians who believe as my brother did must have low self esteem.
I don't buy it. You have to keep in mind the teachings that have been drummed into Christians like your brother. They are taught that man is not worthy of God's love and what man has created is not because of man but what God allows us to know. All credit goes to almighty. It would be arrogant perhaps even blasphemous for us to believe man was responsible.

It's not that your brother doesn't believe in himself it's that he believes he is the product of God and is humbling himself before his Lord.

I grew up in a religious family but I can't say I ever was much of a believer. But you have no idea how many times I wished I was. It all just seemed to be a crock. I've said it hundreds of times to family members who want me back in the church. 'I can't believe in what I don't believe in'.
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Old 14th May 2017, 07:46 PM   #29
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I don't think he lacks faith in human kind.
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Old 14th May 2017, 07:50 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Sorry if I am laboring the point art but I am interested in the "born again" experience and you may be able to fill me in on the details.

When you had your "intense experience" was it inside your church during a service and did others have one simultaneously? Was this generally the way it happened or did some have their experience by themselves?

This intrigues me as I wonder how much the atmosphere generated in the church contributes towards the priming of the mind to be receptive.

If anyone else has some input please share your thoughts.
I had a full-immersion baptism. There were others who were also getting the same thing at "the same time", but it was serially, not simultaneously. Yes, it was in a church during a service that was expressly for the purpose of baptising a bunch of people.

It is certainly the case that there were people who had the experience by themselves, as a personal revelation.

My church described two separate baptisms - the baptism of water, which John performed in the River Jordan, and the baptism of fire. Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16. Some people had the baptism of fire without having had the baptism of water. For me, personally, they were simultaneous, inasmuch as they could be said to exist at all.

The baptism of fire is a bit complicated, but in essence it describes the moment when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit. That's when you are actually saved, and you can start demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, etc. 1 Corinthians 12:10.

The baptism of water was merely a symbolic gesture, and I don't think anyone in my church ever considered it any more than that. The baptism of fire was the important one. As far as I know the Catholics don't have anything resembling the baptism of fire, since they don't believe that a lay person has any kind of personal connection with the divine.
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Old 14th May 2017, 09:36 PM   #31
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In my Baptist childhood (before I became an Seventh-Day Adventist, which makes no difference to the matter), my grandmother would drag my sister and I up the sawdust trail every Sunday church service to ask forgiveness of our sins and so get back in good grace with God after a week of sin.

That was the way my Sunday School teacher said it worked. Repent, be forgiven, and go and sin no more, except everybody does, so you must come back and get rewashed by the blood of the Lamb.

So of course self esteem suffered, because God was always watching in Heaven and judging to condemnation the next time I did a naughty.

Then I became an SDA, which didn't help. There was more about God's Law and how we were being judged by it in the Investigative Judgement that began in 1844. Obey God's Law and Jesus will take you to him in his Second Advent. Disobey and you're toast.

Trouble was that I found that I really couldn't be up to standard in my obedience. The flesh was weak. Or rather the desires were strong. So I hit a crisis. I could only be toast.

I became depressed and dropped out of college.

I began looking for that fabled Christian secret of a sinless life, but found something else. In brief I discovered the Lutheran doctrine of Justification through Faith, alone. Something that Protestants are supposed to believe in, but for the most part remain in ignorance of. The Pauline epistles were very clear that in Faith one is not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:14). I realized the Law was not hanging over my head, and the Gospel wasn't about obedience to the Ten Commandments but mercy, compassion, and unconditional Love.

That lifted all the self incrimination, guilt, and shame. I could Love myself, because God loved me, unconditionally and consistently.

Of course as I came to understand grace for itself, I realized the religious middle man was more a prop than anything else and that grace was of the heart rather than religion.

In my maturity, I don't really make much of Self-Esteem, especially when it's just a pride based on accomplishments or the delusion of being a good person in contrast to "bad" people. In other words, any claim to superiority.
Instead I value self-compassion. I like to have mercy on myself and others.
Generally it goes: "I'm not OK, and You aren't OK, but that's OK!"
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Old 15th May 2017, 01:00 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
No, it's because of differences in doctrine.

In the Catholic church, for example, salvation is via the sacrements - specifically baptism and communion. So children get that very early. The Anglican church is basically a copy of Catholicism in that regard. The difference is in the newer evangelical churches, where a "personal relationship with God" is required. Catholics don't have that - the laity don't have a personal relationship with God; it's all mediated through the ecclesiastical heirarchy. You want to speak with God, you get a priest to do it for you. That's basically why saints exist. You can speak with saints, and they will speak with God on your behalf.

The evangelical Protestant emphasis on people having a direct relationship with God means that, essentially, you have to introduce yourself. Hi God, I'm arthwollipot. I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and saviour bla bla bla. You have to be an adult and capable of making your own decisions to do this. When you do, they baptise you (and no measly sprinkling either - they immerse you fully in water) and you start your new life.

That's why they call it being "born" again - because they disconnect you as much as they can from your previous sinful life. You're "reborn" into Christianity.

Catholicism (and Anglicanism) don't have this because the practice is to baptise infants and give them their first communion when they're children.

Again, this is speaking from my own experience only and other churches may do it differently.
You may have been taught this about Catholicism, but if so you were misinformed about Catholic beliefs (or maybe a pre-Vatican II understanding/misunderstanding by some priests?).

One doesn't have to ask Mary or any saint to pray for one. It's just that many people choose to, in the same way they might ask a friend or family member to pray for them (this is an imperfect analogy).

In fairness, some Catholics misunderstand this even today. And historically especially there have been (from the Catholic perspective) problems when people start to cross over into worshipping Mary or a saint (which they should not, only God should be worshipped - veneration different from worship).

Discussing sacraments more complicated, there's not as quick an analogy!
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Old 15th May 2017, 02:38 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I had a full-immersion baptism. There were others who were also getting the same thing at "the same time", but it was serially, not simultaneously. Yes, it was in a church during a service that was expressly for the purpose of baptising a bunch of people.

It is certainly the case that there were people who had the experience by themselves, as a personal revelation.

My church described two separate baptisms - the baptism of water, which John performed in the River Jordan, and the baptism of fire. Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16. Some people had the baptism of fire without having had the baptism of water. For me, personally, they were simultaneous, inasmuch as they could be said to exist at all.

The baptism of fire is a bit complicated, but in essence it describes the moment when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit. That's when you are actually saved, and you can start demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, etc. 1 Corinthians 12:10.

The baptism of water was merely a symbolic gesture, and I don't think anyone in my church ever considered it any more than that. The baptism of fire was the important one. As far as I know the Catholics don't have anything resembling the baptism of fire, since they don't believe that a lay person has any kind of personal connection with the divine.

Thanks for that art.

So you had your baptism of fire and felt you were filled with the Holy Spirit simultaneously with your immersion baptism if I understand you correctly.

Although as you say some had the baptism of fire thing at other private times, would it be correct to say that many others had the same simultaneous experience you did? So maybe the ceremony and hype are the catalysts for setting this off for many?

I recall seeing a video about Pentecostal Christianity in South Korea. Those people really throw themselves into this stuff...... rolling around on the floor and blathering gibberish. You can see the way the congregation are primed for it by the preacher.
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Old 15th May 2017, 02:57 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
In my Baptist childhood (before I became an Seventh-Day Adventist, which makes no difference to the matter), my grandmother would drag my sister and I up the sawdust trail every Sunday church service to ask forgiveness of our sins and so get back in good grace with God after a week of sin.

That was the way my Sunday School teacher said it worked. Repent, be forgiven, and go and sin no more, except everybody does, so you must come back and get rewashed by the blood of the Lamb.

So of course self esteem suffered, because God was always watching in Heaven and judging to condemnation the next time I did a naughty.

Then I became an SDA, which didn't help. There was more about God's Law and how we were being judged by it in the Investigative Judgement that began in 1844. Obey God's Law and Jesus will take you to him in his Second Advent. Disobey and you're toast.

Trouble was that I found that I really couldn't be up to standard in my obedience. The flesh was weak. Or rather the desires were strong. So I hit a crisis. I could only be toast.

I became depressed and dropped out of college.

I began looking for that fabled Christian secret of a sinless life, but found something else. In brief I discovered the Lutheran doctrine of Justification through Faith, alone. Something that Protestants are supposed to believe in, but for the most part remain in ignorance of. The Pauline epistles were very clear that in Faith one is not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:14). I realized the Law was not hanging over my head, and the Gospel wasn't about obedience to the Ten Commandments but mercy, compassion, and unconditional Love.

That lifted all the self incrimination, guilt, and shame. I could Love myself, because God loved me, unconditionally and consistently.

Of course as I came to understand grace for itself, I realized the religious middle man was more a prop than anything else and that grace was of the heart rather than religion.

In my maturity, I don't really make much of Self-Esteem, especially when it's just a pride based on accomplishments or the delusion of being a good person in contrast to "bad" people. In other words, any claim to superiority.
Instead I value self-compassion. I like to have mercy on myself and others.
Generally it goes: "I'm not OK, and You aren't OK, but that's OK!"

Thanks for your story Apathia, it is most moving.

It seems you certainly suffered a lack of self esteem in your early days but are in a more comfortable place now. Good luck to you.

Interesting that my brother entered the fold as a Lutheran when he had his "seeing the light" experience. He was baptized a Lutheran as a child so that made sense to him I suppose. That "justification through faith alone" was his stance also as I understood it. He accepted he was a miserable sinner, (as was everybody else), which he couldn't do anything about.
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Old 15th May 2017, 04:00 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Thanks for your story Apathia, it is most moving.

It seems you certainly suffered a lack of self esteem in your early days but are in a more comfortable place now. Good luck to you.

Interesting that my brother entered the fold as a Lutheran when he had his "seeing the light" experience. He was baptized a Lutheran as a child so that made sense to him I suppose. That "justification through faith alone" was his stance also as I understood it. He accepted he was a miserable sinner, (as was everybody else), which he couldn't do anything about.
As I understand it now, continuing to label oneself as a "miserable sinner" and writhing in self-loathing are not really Christian. So it doesn't necessarily follow that if a person is a Christian ze will suffer low self-esteem.

I will give the Apostle Paul, Soren Kierkegaard, Paul Tillich, and Martin Buber credit for writing things that resonated with my own heart. I've met "Christians" who vehemently resist this notion of Grace and insist that there must be consequences for breaking God's Law. I can only leave them to their misery.

I also give credit to the Buddhist authors I've read for expanding my sense of Compassion. But that would be a different thread.
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Old 15th May 2017, 05:34 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
You may have been taught this about Catholicism, but if so you were misinformed about Catholic beliefs (or maybe a pre-Vatican II understanding/misunderstanding by some priests?).

One doesn't have to ask Mary or any saint to pray for one. It's just that many people choose to, in the same way they might ask a friend or family member to pray for them (this is an imperfect analogy).

In fairness, some Catholics misunderstand this even today. And historically especially there have been (from the Catholic perspective) problems when people start to cross over into worshipping Mary or a saint (which they should not, only God should be worshipped - veneration different from worship).

Discussing sacraments more complicated, there's not as quick an analogy!
Yep, thanks for the clarification. I have no direct experience with Catholicism so if someone who does says that I've got something wrong, I'll tend to believe them.

Which is something that more lifelong atheists should do, just by the way.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Thanks for that art.

So you had your baptism of fire and felt you were filled with the Holy Spirit simultaneously with your immersion baptism if I understand you correctly.

Although as you say some had the baptism of fire thing at other private times, would it be correct to say that many others had the same simultaneous experience you did? So maybe the ceremony and hype are the catalysts for setting this off for many?
Yep, that's pretty much it.

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I recall seeing a video about Pentecostal Christianity in South Korea. Those people really throw themselves into this stuff...... rolling around on the floor and blathering gibberish. You can see the way the congregation are primed for it by the preacher.
My church was more happy-clappy than literal rolling-on-the-floor, but yeah. There's definitely an atmosphere that you can really only get as a participant, and not as an observer. And it's not just the preacher that's hyping it up. The participants are doing a lot of the hyping for themselves.
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Old 16th May 2017, 03:16 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
As I understand it now, continuing to label oneself as a "miserable sinner" and writhing in self-loathing are not really Christian. So it doesn't necessarily follow that if a person is a Christian ze will suffer low self-esteem.

I will give the Apostle Paul, Soren Kierkegaard, Paul Tillich, and Martin Buber credit for writing things that resonated with my own heart. I've met "Christians" who vehemently resist this notion of Grace and insist that there must be consequences for breaking God's Law. I can only leave them to their misery.

I also give credit to the Buddhist authors I've read for expanding my sense of Compassion. But that would be a different thread.

Sorry but I still have difficulty with the concept of accepting that you are not worthy on your own right, but can only get salvation as a result of another forgiving you for being unworthy, and somehow feeling good about the whole thing.

At my mother's funeral my brothers wife recited the words of Amazing Grace. She didn't want it sung as she thought the message was better emphasized if spoken. She really warmed to the task and it was obvious she took some delight in describing herself as a "poor wretch".
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Old 16th May 2017, 04:40 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Sorry but I still have difficulty with the concept of accepting that you are not worthy on your own right, but can only get salvation as a result of another forgiving you for being unworthy, and somehow feeling good about the whole thing.
Precisely what is giving you trouble with that idea?

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
At my mother's funeral my brothers wife recited the words of Amazing Grace. She didn't want it sung as she thought the message was better emphasized if spoken. She really warmed to the task and it was obvious she took some delight in describing herself as a "poor wretch".
Well sure - there will always be individuals at all points on the spectrum. It proves nothing.
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Old 16th May 2017, 05:48 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Sorry but I still have difficulty with the concept of accepting that you are not worthy on your own right, but can only get salvation as a result of another forgiving you for being unworthy, and somehow feeling good about the whole thing.
And yet this often happens interpersonally. We feel shame and beat ourselves up for something stupid we did. Then the person we wronged forgives us, and we feel loved. Not that we feel good about the stupid thing we did, and not that we feel that we are morally good, but we feel redeemed.

But it's possible we can forgive ourselves, even when others won't
However, if we are still holding it against the other for not forgiving us, we haven't actually forgiven ourselves, and to say we do is just a vain indulgence.

The whole morality thing brings with it a basket full of cruelty.
I'd rather think in terms of what is healthy for myself and others. Having to maintain myself and others as a "wretch," so we can apply for a special pardon come Sunday, is nasty.
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Old 16th May 2017, 06:13 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Precisely what is giving you trouble with that idea?

Well sure - there will always be individuals at all points on the spectrum. It proves nothing.

Well to me the lack of logic in the idea just screams at me.

Amazing Grace was a very popular number for a good while so it seems to me that it must have resonated with many.

Maybe you can see something I can't because you have been in the bubble. For me from the outside looking in it makes little sense.
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