Psycho-Babble Faith Thread 266053

Shown: posts 1 to 13 of 13. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Faith made me sick, and then it made me well

Posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 16:19:42

Leaping onto this board for the first time so let's see what happens. I have some spare time for a period of time so have been exploring various faith-related boards.

Quick synopsis of my situation -

I was raised nominally Methodist, but felt strongly in a higher power from my earliest childhood. In high school I got more interested in religion and joined a Lutheran church because that is where my friends attended.

In college I got mixed up with Campus Crusade for Christ and began attending a fundamentalist church that led me to believe that I had never actually been Christian because my church had liberal beliefs, and what's more, that everyone in my life that I loved and cared about were destined for eternal hell.

After realizing that I could not "save" them I fell into a deep depression and developed OCD symtoms around religion.

Quit going to church and obsessed about it for more than 10 years, but read everything I could get my hands on, trying to find the "right" religion. Eventually became suicidal over religious discernment and was hospitalized.

Met (of all people!) a minister on leave from the Eastern Orthodox Christian church and dated him, and got to know about the church. For many theological reasons I won't explain here (unless someone specifically asks), came to believe wholeheartedly. Married the fellow, and he went back to the active ministry (we have a small mission church).

Underwent Christian counseling and found the right combination of meds that lifted my depression and the OCD symptoms so I could beging to develop a legetimate faith. Now very thankful for my faith but respectful of those who are still struggling or have difficulty in deciding what to believe.

Faith made me sick, and then it made me well.

 

Re: Faith made me sick, and then it made me well Tovah

Posted by Dena on October 6, 2003, at 21:29:01

In reply to Faith made me sick, and then it made me well, posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 16:19:42

Dear Tovah -

I love your story! Mine is similar - grew up in a nominal Christian home (rarely attended church). My father (who was military) & my mother would imbibe a bit on Saturday nights, & in order to get us three girls out of the house on Sunday mornings (for quiet hangover sleeping), would arrange for us to be taken to the chapel's Sunday school. I don't remember too much of what I was taught, but I recall someone saying that it didn't matter what I did all of my life, as long as I asked Jesus to forgive me on my deathbed. I recall thinking, "I'd better be conscious on my deathbed!"

I developed an obsession with getting close to God when I was 10. I created a place to pray in my closet (I knew nothing of "prayer closets" then), putting a little cross made of palm leaves on my closet wall w/ a thumbtack & taped a little picture of Jesus above it (you know, the picture of him with perfectly-parted, combed shoulder-length hair?). I then memorized the Lord's Prayer, Psalm 23 & the Apostle's creed, but I didn't know what I was saying. I determined to read the Bible through, so naturally, I began with Genesis. I did ok until I got to Leviticus, & then quit. For a while, I attended a Lutheran church with my best friend, while she prepared for her confirmation, but I didn't feel as though I belonged there. I kept this hunger for God, but also a sense of being so unworthy of Him hidden in my heart for many years.

My father, having undergone his own personal crisis, came to faith in Christ when I was 14. He had to choose between seeing a military psychologist (& marring his perfect military record), or seeing a chaplain. He chose the chaplain, a man named Merlin Carruthers, who later wrote, "Prison to Praise" which was also made into a movie. This chaplain, knowing my father was an attorney, gave him the gospel of St. John & asked him to consider it a court record. He said, "The defendant, Jesus, claims to be the Son of God. Read this court record & prove Him wrong." My father read it, believing that although Jesus was a good man, a great teacher & a moral leader, He couldn't possibly really be the Son of God. By the time he was done reading, He was convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God - the long-awaited Messiah. He's never looked back since. My perspective at the time was, "Great, now my dad is a Jesus-freak!"

A year later, while involved in a chapel youth group (to please my father), we put on the play, "Godspell", a musical version of the book of St. Matthew. I played the "hooker". During the last scene, Jesus is crucified while we (his disciples) cling to a chain link fence, wailing & sobbing over His death. Something happened to me during that scene - it became real. I suddenly had an understanding of Jesus dying for me, suffering horribly for me so that I could live with Him forever. I sobbed for real. I cried all the way through the cast party (some folks thought that I was just a really good actress).

Between that experience & my father's witness of his own conversion, I became a follower of Jesus. I've attended a wide variety of Christian churches: Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Fundamental, Nondenominational Charismatic, Bible churches, Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. As long as Jesus was proclaimed as Lord, I could worship there.

I spent my years from 18 to 39 consumed with an addiction that became my god. The guilt would rise up, but I'd push it right back down with my "drug of choice" - I became an expert at numbing out. God blessed me with a good husband & seven wonderful children during this time - He protected them from me. I almost threw it all away many times over. "They" said I'd never recover. "They" said, "once a bulimic, always a bulimic." But God, in His sovereign mercy, completely healed me & gave me my life back. I'm no longer that self-destructive, hopeless, desperate woman. I'm a new creature, forever grateful to my Lord for His forgiveness, mercy & grace. After a two-year absence from church, I returned to the "mega" church my husband had been attending.

But over the years, God has planted a hunger in me to return to the Early Church - the Church that Jesus left to His Apostles. The Church that was intended to be Light & Salt in this world. I now belong to a church that is liturgical, evangelical & charismatic - it's based on the One Church that existed for the first thousand years of Christian history.

How wonderful that you found your home in the Orthodox church - I love the Orthodox church (I have two mothers in law; one is Jewish; one is Greek Orthodox). I'm drawn to the mystery, the ancient history, the chanting, the insence, the beautiful liturgy...

You wrote: For many theological reasons I won't explain here (unless someone specifically asks), came to believe wholeheartedly.

I'm specifically asking: tell me about the theological reasons that led you to believe wholeheartedly. I'd love to hear.

Shalom, Dena

 

Well, because you asked...

Posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 21:59:11

In reply to Re: Faith made me sick, and then it made me well Tovah, posted by Dena on October 6, 2003, at 21:29:01

The following is 1) my opinion and 2) based on actual church history, so please read with discernment. The theology below is representative of my particular religion and I am sharing it becasue I was asked to. Thanks. :)

For more than a decade I searched for "the right church," the one that belonging to would remove doubts (or at least that I would feel safe in). I had long regarded Christianity to be a sort of "Password" game...I figured there had to be interpretations, ways of worship and understandings that had been there all along, and so I was uncomfortable with post-Reformation theology, before I even knew there was such a thing as Orthodoxy. When I met my husband and discovered Orthodoxy, I realized I had discovered the first people in the line of "Password."

Here are some of the theological reasons I chose this faith:

- We worship exactly as the earliest Christians worshipped, liturgically (our liturgy that we follow every Sunday dates back to the 200s AD and our specific church can be traced to 52 AD!)

- There have been very few theological changes in our church since the first few centuries. Priests are married (as they were in the Catholic church until the 1000s AD). We perceive mankind to be "fallen," but do not hold to inherited original sin or the total depravity of man, theologies which did not develop until later (under Augustine).

- We read scripture as historical as well as symbolic and allegorical. We hold to original interpretations as set forth by the Early Chruch. Therefore we don't follow newer interpretations of scrupture such as the Rapture (which surfaced in the 1800s), etc. When we understand something we have some 2000 years of interpretation behind our understanding.

- Orthodoxy is very holistic, seeking to keep togehter the spirit and the material world, rather than being Gnostic by trying to make the material world into something evil.

- Although there is a range of opinion within Orthodoxy on this, it is accepted within the faith to undertand Christ's saving grace as inclusivistic (for all of mankind) vs. exclusivistic. In other words, we all go into the same state of being when we die. For those who lived a life of love and caring, they will find being with God to be blissful. For those who lived a life of hatred, they will find being with God to be hellish. However we will all be with God, and we are not "saved" or "damned" according to what theology we chose in life.

Hope this answers your questions as to why I chose Orthodoxy. I realise some people on the forum will not agree with what my church teaches - that's fine, but I hope that it is OK that I shared it.

 

Re: Well, because you asked... Tovah

Posted by Dena on October 6, 2003, at 22:07:48

In reply to Well, because you asked..., posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 21:59:11

Thanks Tovah. I appreciate your willingness to be transparent on this board.

I agree with you about post-Reformation ideas - I was born into them, & so I didn't question them until fairly recently.

I've also been fascinated with the differences between the West (Catholicism) & the East (Orthodoxy). All new to me as a recent believer of the Early Church.

This was the first time I'd heard of the following:
"Although there is a range of opinion within Orthodoxy on this, it is accepted within the faith to undertand Christ's saving grace as inclusivistic (for all of mankind) vs. exclusivistic. In other words, we all go into the same state of being when we die. For those who lived a life of love and caring, they will find being with God to be blissful. For those who lived a life of hatred, they will find being with God to be hellish. However we will all be with God, and we are not "saved" or "damned" according to what theology we chose in life."

Where did this doctrine originate? I'm curious, since I haven't read it in any of the Church Father's writings. Not wanting to start an argument here... just curious - I'm still learning.

Shalom, Dena

 

I can't tell you...

Posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 23:33:09

In reply to Re: Well, because you asked... Tovah, posted by Dena on October 6, 2003, at 22:07:48

...exactly where it originated, just that a number of the early Church fathers (and unfortunately I can't provide names here - my husband, a walking encyclopedia, could do it) had such ideas early-on and I've read reference to it a number of times. In Orthodox writings I have read several different beliefs concerning salvation, what happens after we die, etc. Some Orthodox writers do have a specific heaven-or-hell concept, but they tend to be the converts from Protestantism. "Cradle" (lifelong or ethnic) Orthodox have often written it more as I have described it.

 

Re: I can't tell you... Tovah

Posted by Tabitha on October 7, 2003, at 0:33:41

In reply to I can't tell you..., posted by Tovah on October 6, 2003, at 23:33:09

Hi Tovah. That paragraph jumped out at me, too. I've never heard that idea. I like it. I assume being with God would feel like receiving perfect love. I wonder what it would take to prepare for that-- getting to a place of feeling worthy? Self-forgiveness?

 

Well, from the POV of my church....

Posted by Tovah on October 7, 2003, at 7:25:38

In reply to Re: I can't tell you... Tovah, posted by Tabitha on October 7, 2003, at 0:33:41

...one would prepare for that by living in the Church, participating in the sacraments (baptism, Eucharist, etc. etc.), and striving to be like Christ. The Church is considered to be the closest thing to heaven on earth. Living a life of love for others would also be a way to prepare. For those who lived like Christ (loving, forgiving, etc.) whether knowingly or unknowingly, being surrounded by God's Love will be Lovely. By the same token, however, simply claiming to believe in Christ is not enough. If one is a "Christian" in name or belief, but treats others with hatred, an eternity of being with God won't be pleasant, because they will react to that love with hatred. One thing for sure in Orthodoxy: Salvation is not confused with Conversion. Salvation is not a one-time sudden event that happens in a moment and lasts forever. Instead, it is considered a lifelong process, a constant movement of becoming more and more like Christ and closer to God.

Because Orthodoxy pre-dates the concept of Original Sin, there is no belief that one is damned from birth. However it is believed that we are all sinners, but not that mankind is totally depraved. In Orthodoxy, the mission of life is not getting "saved" but Theosis, a oneness with God. HTL. :)

 

Re: Well, from the POV of my church.... Tovah

Posted by Elsa Pilder on October 9, 2003, at 9:59:44

In reply to Well, from the POV of my church...., posted by Tovah on October 7, 2003, at 7:25:38

Tovah,
You mentioned in your post the concept of Theosis. I am interested if you could say more about what you know about Theosis for I am interested in discussing about that concept. For instance, do you think that Theosis can be experianced by children?
Elsa Pilder

 

Ooooh, that's a tough one.

Posted by Tovah on October 9, 2003, at 16:04:09

In reply to Re: Well, from the POV of my church.... Tovah, posted by Elsa Pilder on October 9, 2003, at 9:59:44

Although "Theosis" and "Enlightenment" aren't the same thing, there is some parallel there in terms of both requiring a lifetime of work toward the goal and deep spiritual maturity. I for one haven't gone more than an inch on the path during my five years of being Orthodox. Anyway, probably the best thing for me to do is to provide a cut-and-paste from another writer, for I won't do it justice:
-------------------------------
Eastern Orthodox theological thought regarding humanity, sin, and redemption is closely linked and revolves around the concept of theosis. The doctrine is also called deification or divinization, and though it is a hallmark of Eastern Orthodoxy it is shrouded in mystery which the Orthodox are hesitant to analyze. Simply put, theosis means being deified or becoming like God. Theosis connotes participation in God's nature while maintaining a distinct human nature. Orthodox thinkers consistently deny that theosis is a pantheistic worldview on the grounds that theosis does not involve the destruction of the human nature as part of the process. Theosis is held by the Orthodox to be the chief end of Humanity. Humans were created for deification [11].
Eastern Orthodoxy's assertion that humanity's ultimate goal is theosis, or participation in the Divine life, has informed and shaped their doctrine of the Fall. Their understanding of original sin differs from that of Western theologians in that Adam and Eve are not responsible, through their sin, for universal guilt, but for universal mortality. Adam's personal sin did not bring condemnation upon all people, it brought death upon all people. The experience of mortality leads otherwise guiltless individuals to sinful acts [12], but the Orthodox maintain that each person's sin is the result of his or her own choice and not the choice of Adam [13].

Given this idea that humanity's basic problem is mortality, the Orthodox view of redemption is much broader than that of the Western church. Western theological tradition emphasizes the judicial aspect of salvation, asserting that in salvation, God is primarily concerned with the remission of sin [14]. The Orthodox view is that the gospel is not primarily the solution to man's problem with personal sin. It is God's provision of divine life in Christ, the beginning of theosis. A residual benefit of beginning the process of deification is the remission of sins. Baptism is the means by which the believer enters into this new life. John Meyendorff summarizes the idea of redemption in Eastern Orthodox theology well. He says,


Communion in the risen body of Christ; participation in divine life; sanctification through the energy of God, which penetrates the humanity and restores it to its "natural" state, rather than justification, or remission of inherited guilt--these are at the center of Byzantine understanding of the Christian Gospel [15].
------------------------------

If you want to read a lot aabout Theosis, there is tons on the web, but I would include the word "Orthodox" in your "Theosis" google because a lot of new and esoteric religions use the term and it's really not the same.

 

Re: Ooooh, that's a tough one. Tovah

Posted by Elsa Pilder on October 9, 2003, at 16:13:45

In reply to Ooooh, that's a tough one., posted by Tovah on October 9, 2003, at 16:04:09

Tovah,
Your response to my question will cause me to reread it and ponder over some of stimulating doctrins of your Eastern Orthodox Theology.
I hope to read more from you in the meantime. If you have more about Theosis, please go on.
Elsa

 

I can't say much in an intelligent way about it..

Posted by Tovah on October 9, 2003, at 17:10:44

In reply to Re: Ooooh, that's a tough one. Tovah, posted by Elsa Pilder on October 9, 2003, at 16:13:45

The concept is pretty deep and at five years in, I'm a real newbie :) One thing that I love about Orthodoxy IS the fact that one can choose to study it and study it and they will never run out of stuff to study. For me personally, when I was involved with "born again" evangelicalism, it was like, "OK, I accept JC as my savior...now what?" And to be frank, there wasn't much else there. I adore Orthodoxy for its simultanous simplicty and depth. One thing I've found on other boards...when I discuss the different thoughts Orthoxy has on things like salvation and original sin, a lot of people who have never even heard of it write things like, "Well that's what I believed all along!" so it does seem to reach back to sort of a basic inborn faith as well.

 

please stay and tell us more Tovah

Posted by rayww on October 10, 2003, at 7:34:24

In reply to I can't say much in an intelligent way about it.. , posted by Tovah on October 9, 2003, at 17:10:44

Truth edifies, and what you write seems like truth.

 

I'm here - what would you like to know? :) n/m

Posted by Tovah on October 11, 2003, at 1:26:56

In reply to please stay and tell us more Tovah, posted by rayww on October 10, 2003, at 7:34:24

n/m


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