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Inter-faith round table (karma: 1)
By moara Comments: 955, member since Thu Jun 24, 2004
On Wed Mar 14, 2007 08:46 PM
Made sticky by Lirit (28370) on 2007-03-14 22:12:35
Edited by hylndlas (107168) on 2007-03-15 11:05:50 Fixed UU for you. :-)
Bumped by hylndlas (107168) on 2007-10-05 06:30:18

For a while now, I've been thinking that it would really be neat if ddn had an interfaith round table; a kind of "panel of experts" representing various religions who would each give their opinion on various questions. I stopped just thinking about it, and actually tried to get it going, and this thread is the result.

How I'm hoping it will work is that a question will be posed to the panel, and a representative from each religion will give their response.

Here is the panel:

Judaism - Lirit
LDS - Tutus_N_Toes/punkgirl59
Catholicism - propergerm/brallerina
Conservative Christianity - Moara
Liberal Christianity - Pasdekat/PhiDeltFouette
Unitarian Universalism - Hylndlas
Agnosticism - weezy
Atheism - Arecibo
Paganism - Odessa

Questions would come from the ddn audience at large. It will work best if these are general questions (i.e. "What do you think happens after death?") and not specific to one religion (i.e. "Why doesn't the Catholic church believe in birth control?"). If you have a question you'd like to ask, please post it here, and I'll move them over one at a time, so they don't get all jumbled up with each other.

In the interests of readability, I would like to keep this a "closed" thread, with questions and answers only. If you have a question you would like to ask the panel, comments on the idea, or responses to some of the views presented, please post them on this thread. Please do not post rebuttals on this thread. If a topic comes up that you wish to debate, please start a new thread.


Disclaimer: the views expressed in this thread are the opinions of the poster only. Although every reasonable attempt will be made to reflect their faith's official stance, the posters are examples of their religion only, and not officially sanctioned representatives. Where there is no official position, the poster may give their own opinion, or their perception of the majority opinion, but will specify which aspect they are representing.


To get the ball rolling, here's the first question:

Please introduce yourself, and describe what you are representing.

25 Replies to Inter-faith round table

re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 2)
By VelvetRagamuffinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6013, member since Wed Nov 19, 2003
On Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:00 PM
I'm PhiDeltFouette, but you can call me Caleb. I am apparently representing the broad term of "liberal Christianity." Here are my basic core beliefs.

I believe in the lost nature of man.
I acknowledge the full divinity of Jesus Christ.
I believe that Jesus Christ is the sole pathway to righteousness and divinity.
I have asked Jesus to be my savior, allowing my soul coexistance with God (Heaven) instead of eternal separation from God (Hell).
I try to take the Bible as literally as possible, but I still read it with a skeptical lens (as in, what influenced the writer to say that?).
I believe that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and perfect.
I believe that Jesus has made two trips to Earth (the immaculate conception and then the resurrection). I believe He will return to restore the perfect kingdom.

Basically, my viewpoints are evangelistic in nature, although I consider myself a "recovering evangelical." Basically, I don't hold much credence to current church practices of mass evangelism (i.e. mission trips, door-to-door ministries, etc.). I believe that God is a God of peace, leading me to a viewpoint of nonviolence, not necessarily pacifism. A few of my spiritual mentors are Rob Bell, Anne Lamott, Brennan Manning, and Donald Miller. All of them are excellent writers. My favorite books of the Bible are Job, Proverbs, the Gospel of Luke, the epistles of Peter, and the Song of Solomon. My viewpoint of religion is that anything beyond the salvation of man is a moot point and Christians really shouldn't argue about them, especially in front of non-Christians. Put succinctly (by Rob Bell), "God has spoken, and the rest is just commentary."

I'm completing my undergraduate degree in English and sociology within the next few years or so (ha!). Upon completion, I plan on enrolling at Dallas Theological Seminary (yay, nondenominational!) to pursue a Th.M. (Masters of Theology) in Academic Ministries with concentrations in Systematic and Historical Theology and then furthering my education with a Ph.D. in Theology Studies. I hope to become a professor of theology at a Bible college or a seminary and teach special topics classes in apologetics, Bible as literature, and Bible as metaphor.

In a nutshell, I'm a sinner saved by grace and I would love it if other people were too! I take a non-judgmental approach to other religions. You might almost call me a pluralist in the sense that I believe that all religions hold a portion of God's truth, but I still believe that Christianity is the only "true" religion. However, I believe the message of love, redemption, compassion, and lostness has been bastardized by the Church, resulting in the immoral and unloving nature of many doctrines.

Any questions, just shoot me a PM!
re: Inter-faith round table
By Ticklemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2571, member since Fri Feb 15, 2002
On Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:24 PM
Hi! My name is Rebecca and I (along with Punkgirl59) will be representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Just to get a general idea of our Church's beliefs, here are the 13 Articles of Faith published by our church:

1 We abelieve in bGod, the Eternal Father, and in His cSon, Jesus Christ, and in the dHoly Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be apunished for their bown sins, and not for Adam’s ctransgression.
3 We believe that through the aAtonement of Christ, all bmankind may be csaved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and aordinances of the Gospel are: first, bFaith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, cRepentance; third, dBaptism by eimmersion for the fremission of sins; fourth, Laying on of ghands for the hgift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be acalled of God, by bprophecy, and by the laying on of chands by those who are in dauthority, to epreach the Gospel and administer in the fordinances thereof.
6 We believe in the same aorganization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, bprophets, cpastors, dteachers, eevangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the agift of btongues, cprophecy, drevelation, evisions, fhealing, ginterpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 We believe the aBible to be the bword of God as far as it is translated ccorrectly; we also believe the dBook of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has arevealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet breveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal agathering of Israel and in the restoration of the bTen Tribes; that cZion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will dreign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be erenewed and receive its fparadisiacal gglory.
11 We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being asubject to bkings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in cobeying, honoring, and sustaining the dlaw.
13 aWe believe in being bhonest, true, cchaste, dbenevolent, virtuous, and in doing egood to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we fhope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to gendure all things. If there is anything hvirtuous, ilovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.



For more info about our church, visit our official website: www.lds.org . . .

~Rebecca~
re: Inter-faith round table
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:39 PM
I'm, as I guess you can tell by my username, Lirit, but you can call me Jenny. I'm representing the modern Judaism. What that means is a little more complex than it sounds and isn't quite as new-fangled as you'd expect anything called modern to be. Not too unlike modern art.

Basically, Judaism as we know it today, is predominantly represented by three distinct movements, known as Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. This is a little imprecise, though, because in different parts of the world, as there is no central Jewish authority, Jews identify themselves more by their personal observance than by which liturgy their synagogue uses. And it's still less precise, because working within the confines of those three movements, there are other movements as well as shades of grey in between them all.

But to break it down, Orthodox Judaism is very traditional in its approach. Those who identify as such believe the entire Torah (both the written Torah - the first five books of the Bible - and the oral Torah which is the explanation and interpretation of the written Torah) is unchanged and true exactly as is, and was given to Moses, in full, at Mt. Sinai. Reformed Judaism, on the other side of the spectrum, is more secular in it's approach. It accepts and even encourages critical theory on the authorship of the Bible and believes that you can pick and choose what to practice, as long as the basic values and ethics of Judaism are maintained. Worth noting, I think (because I find it interesting and I'm on the soapbox here, so :P), is that the Reformed movement was founded at a time in history when antisemitism was huge and modern Orthodoxy hadn't evolved yet, and a Zionism was a huge issue. At the dawn of the Reformed movement, Reformed Jews were opposed to Zionism. The not unfounded belief was that because of the prevalence of antisemitic sentiment, a Jewish State would increase said attitudes. It wasn't until sometime in the late 1930's (I want to say 1937ish) that the Reformed Movement "officially" embraced Zionism. The Conservative movement in a middle ground, established mostly to settle the differences between Orthodoxy and Reform. If we want to break it down into more familiar, politically terms we Orthodoxy sits on the right and Reformed sits on the left, while Conservative would be your moderate lefty or righty depending on who you ask.

Personally, I approach Judaism with a very Reconstructionist (one of those shades of grey I mentioned) perspective. It falls somewhere between Conservative and Reformed. However, being too much a creature of habit, my practice is very much so more on the Reformed side of the spectrum. A few good reference points here would be The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and The Union for Reform Judaism. Another wonderful resource that I find myself consulting frequently is Judaism 101.

My own belief system is a bit more diverse. For years I've been a practicing Wiccan, and I still feel that the nature of the divine is more plural than Jewish scriptures acknowledge or accept. I don't feel it makes me too different than many other Jews, who tend to be more agnostic or even athiestic themselves. Above all else, Judaism is a religion of questioning. When questioning is so constantly encouraged, the natural human progression is to challenge or come to conclusions that disagree with the status quo. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if there is one G-d or many, as long as you're a considerate and compassionate person, which is what Judaism essentially expects, and I'm pretty comfy-cozy with that belief.

If you need any clarification, PM me. Or ask here. I don't bite, unless you're coated in powdered sugar, but to be fair, it's only because I'd be mistaking you for a donut. And I'm really craving donuts right now.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:14 AM
Agnosticism is probably one of the hardest ones to describe.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition;
<B>agno'stic</b> n. & a.
(adherent) of the view that nothing is or can be known of existence of God or any but material phenomenon.

Put simply, it's not that agnostics don't believe in God, just that we don't know if there is one or not, because we don't believe it can be proved.

This is where it gets a little more complicated, though. Agnostics don't have a 'text', or 'rules', or a defined set of beliefs. As such, each agnostic has a different definition of agnosticism. Hence, where I answer questions, it'll be personal opinion only. I've got no frame of reference - Christians have the Bible, Muslims have the Qu'ran etc - all I've got is my opinion. Here it is:

I am perfectly happy in the knowledge that I don't know what happens after death - and I consider it a waste of my energy to TRY and understand it. I would go so far as to say I don't CARE what happens after death - if there IS a God or some other sort of afterlife (reincarnation, transportation to another planet, parallel universe...?) then I'm pretty sure that, by abiding by the laws of my land and trying to be a 'good' person, whoever's in charge up there won't have too much of a problem with me. It's not as if I'm preaching death to religion or anything. And if there's nothing after death, and we just die and that's it? Well, then I won't know about it, because I'll be dead. No biggie.

In general I believe that trying to understand something that's beyond humankind takes away from the enjoyment of the life I'm living now. On the other hand I accept that that's not for everyone, and that if everyone stopped searching then no breakthroughs would be made - cliché alert - no-one would ever find a cure for cancer, etc. I therefore accept that one day the existence of a God MAY be proved - and if it is, then I'll believe.

My personal philosophy is one of "whatever gets you through the day" - if religion and belief in God completes your life and makes it easier for you to get through times of hardship, then so much the better. It's just not anything that has a place in MY life.

This is a hugely bad explanation and I apologise for it. Hopefully it'll become more clear once I start giving my opinion on actual topics, rather than just a broad "this is what I believe about everything" sort of thing.
re: Inter-faith round table
By hylndlasmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7170, member since Wed Sep 22, 2004
On Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:09 PM
Hi I’m Maggie and I’m going to try to explain what being a UU is all about.

Unitarian Universalism (UUism) is a “living tradition” of theologically liberal religious movement characterized by its support of a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." This principle permits Unitarian Universalists a wide range of beliefs and practices. Unitarian Universalist congregations and fellowships tend to retain some Christian traditions such as Sunday worship that includes a sermon and singing of hymns, but do not necessarily identify themselves as Christians, in fact some UU’S identify more with neo-Paganism, Buddhism, Taoism etc.


Both Unitarianism and Universalism can trace their roots back to Christian Protestantism.
While many UU’s appreciate the spiritual values of Christianity and Judaism, the extent of which the elements of any particular faith tradition are incorporated into one's personal spiritual practices is a matter of personal choice. All UU’s share a creedless, non dogmatic approach to religion. Because of this many UU’s value religious pluralism and respects diverse traditions, often within the same congregation you will find a plethora of religions beliefs and practices.

A UU’er can be many things ,many Unitarian Universalists consider themselves humanists, while others hold to Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, natural theist, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, or other beliefs. While some choose to attach no particular theological label to their own idiosyncratic combination of beliefs. Many UU congregations have study groups that examine the traditions and spiritual practices of Neopaganism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Pantheism, and other faiths. At least one UU minister, the Reverend James Ishmael Ford, has been acknowledged as a Zen master. There are Buddhist meditation teachers, Sufi teachers, as well as gnostic and episcopi vagantes clerics. Some view their Jewish heritage as primary, and others see the concept of God as unhelpful in their personal spiritual journeys. While Sunday services in most congregations tend to espouse a Christian-derived Humanism, it is not unusual for a part of a church's membership to attend pagan, Buddhist, or other spiritual study or worship groups as an alternative means of worship. This is truly a faith of many. :)


UU’s believe in a complete but responsible freedom of thought, speech, belief and faith.
We believe that each person is free to explore their own personal truth on issues like the issue of nature, life, creation a deity or deities and the afterlife. UU’s can come from many walks of life including different heritages, sexual orientation, or hold beliefs from a verity of cultures or religions.

Although we do not follow a creed or particular dogma most UU’s churches follow the 7 princliples and purposes voted by our Unitarian Univeralist Association.
The 7 principles are as follows.
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
• Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
• Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
• A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
• The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
• The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
• Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."


My personal UU faith is one that is rather complex (as most UU’s find)…..but I will do my best to explain.

My core believes are in a divine being (I call it God but I believe it goes by many names and is not necessarily male or female.) I believe this being is watchful but doesn’t necessarily interfere…and that it is responsible for starting the process of evolution or creation.

I believe that every creature on this planet is part of an intricate web….and when one part of the web is damaged it effects the balance of the rest of the web. Hence the reason why I have respect for the planet and life around me. (Or at least I try to.)

Here are some links to explain what being a UU entitles….as well as sources of where I my info from.
en.wikipedia.org . . .
www.uua.org


Here is a list of famous UU’s….including some of the founding fathers of the United States.
en.wikipedia.org . . .
re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 3)
By Pasdekatmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6900, member since Sat Dec 29, 2001
On Thu Mar 15, 2007 01:12 PM
Hi all. My name is Kat (short for Kathryn if you must know).
I'm co-representing Liberal Christianity with his-awesomeness Caleb. You will probably find me to be a little more "liberal" than he is sometimes.

A bit about my background:
I have always believed in God as far as I know, always kind of "felt" or instinctively known that a higher power was not only out there, but with me. I was raised a Christian, and still am one, but I have gone through times of questioning and am always seeking, learning, etc. When I say what I believe, I like to say it's what I believe NOW (something I've learned from my husband.)
I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church. I have an enormous amount of respect for the RC though I would no longer consider myself a Catholic. I don't know that I always will be a "protestant" (I don't know that I actually would consider myself one now.) Alot of my beliefs tend to be influenced by Catholicism in some ways, but alot of them differ from the RC too.
In college I went to a progressive church called Mars Hill (If you know who Rob Bell is, Caleb mentioned him, it's his church).
with my then-boyfriend and I learned alot of ideas that I didn't realize weren't "typical protestant stuff", but just general awesomeness. My boyfriend also sometimes attended another church which is Christian Reformed (though a more "contemporary" CR Church) and we went there too, mostly because it was close and he had friends there. After we broke up I kept going there because it was close. I actually met my husband (who was only there because his brother was the "worship leader" [not a fan of that term...] and my husband said he would help him out by playing piano). We went there until after we where married (we didn't know where else to get married or who else to have marry us.)Like the Roman Catholic Church I really do have alot of respect for the CRC and I like the direction they're heading in as a denomination)Afterwards we searched for a new church attending many different denominations. Going to an Episcopal church I realized that I missed the tradition and liturgy of my Youth. The
Episcopal church was just a bit too liturgical for my husband's liking (though he did like it OK) and there weren't alot of younger people there so we kept looking (though I greatly treasure the Tuesday communion/healing services I went to their for a few months, I only stopped going for good when the two priests that I knew both where called to other Parishes).
We ended up in an Evangelical Lutheran Church ELCA which is a denomination that I really like. Our church is liturgical but contemporary too, and the pastor is a wonderful down to Earth man who was a social worker for years before becoming a minister.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is considered a "mainline to liberal" Protestant denomination. As a "liberal" I feel very comfortable there, but I don't really see the church as being very "liberal" compared with the Roman Catholic Church or Southern Baptists I guess it would seem pretty "liberal" though.
We are moving to Chicago soon actually which is where the ELCA have their headquarters, and which is also a huge ELCA area which I think is interesting (and awesome).

What I believe. This is hard for me to put into words because there is so much that I believe, so much that I don't understand, and so much that I'm starting to understand. The one thing that I know I believe, and that I treasure greatly above all else is that God is Love. God doesn't just HAVE love, but love is the very essence of God.
St. Paul said in his 1rst letter to the church of Corinth:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I believe that "Love" in this beautiful phrase can easily refer to God.

Theologically, I do afirm the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I feel that at this point I can say this with honesty. I do not understand it all, but I do not object to it. When I was younger I used to leave out the parts I wasn't sure I affirmed in order to be spiritually honest with myself, but at this point in my life, I feel I can say it all.

I am an Amillennialist and a partial-Preterist. This means for the most part that I do not believe in "The Rapture" (in fact find this a very dangerous "theory" one which is unbiblical and has caused much harm and put fear into the hearts of many people.
I recognize that he book of Revelations is Jewish Apocrypha, a popular genre at the time. I believe "The Beast"/66 represented was the Emperor Nero, and other images in Revelation portray events and people of the time it was written since it was a huge offense to speak ill of the Roman government in that time. I believe the theme or at least one of the themes of that book to be "God is Faithful, Love will win, moreso it already HAS won over this evil and oppression and all evil and oppression for all time.

I believe the bible is the story of God's relationship with humanity, written by humans, but divinely inspired. I do not believe that every word is literally the word of God, especially not translated into English. I believe the Bible is a holy book that contains poetry, prose, personal letters, narrative, history/genealogy etc. I value the bible, but I do not see it as a "blueprint" or "instruction manual". There are parts of it I don't like, parts of it so beautiful it makes me cry, parts of it I don't understand, and probably many parts I think I understand that I don't. Rather than try to explain something away or say that it must just be that guys opinion (which I believe in some cases it very well may be, and often I do say so, but really I don't necessarily believe I have the right or the knowledge to do that) I like to simply admit that I don't understand it, that I might someday, or I might not ever, and that's OK.

OK, I better save something for the questions I guess.
I am honored to be able to share what I have found on my spiritual journey with the readers of this thread and I am honored to participate in this wiith so many knowledgeable people.
From the light in my heart to the light in yours, namaste, and blessings to you all.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Brallerina Comments: 124, member since Fri Dec 23, 2005
On Thu Mar 15, 2007 04:12 PM
Hi, I'm Elisa and I'll be representing Catholicism along with propergerm. I've been Catholic all my life. These past couple of years I've really learned about the Church and the faith, and I have to say I deeply love, respect and completely believe the Catholic faith. I believe every bit about the faith. I'm getting Confirmed this year so I'm really really excited! So..um..yeah. If you have anymore questions, just PM me.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Pasdekatmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6900, member since Sat Dec 29, 2001
On Fri Mar 16, 2007 08:09 AM
From the other thread:


OK question of a very general variety to everyone on the panel.
How does your religion define a "God". Please be as specific as you can. Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)? Does your God have a gender? Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world? Omniscient? Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so. Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)? (Weezy doesn't have to answer that one as the answer is an obvious no)Is God perfect or still capable of development?


My answer. WOW! You had to start with a tough one huh ;)
Really this is a fabulous question, one I don't feel equipped to answer but I'll give it my best shot.
I'll start with, as I said in my bio that I believe God is love. God is in each of us, and the creative force behind all. I believe that God is omnipotent as does my religion.

I do not see God as an old man with a white beard who's perpetually angry, ready to throw lightening bolts down at us (I remember hearing someone say once, that how many Christians and Jews seem to see God is actually quite similar to Zeus...).

Even though I think you did so for the purpose of this question, I love how you referred to God as he/she, which is how I often refer to God (as does one of my favorite Christian Authors Anne Lamott). I do not believe that God has a gender. Seriously, why would God need a penis? I mean anything is possible, but I don't believe that. The Bible often refers to God in a male sense (not always though) which I see as relating to the people of the time, not as saying that God is literally a guy. Jesus was a man, and I believe Jesus is the incarnation of God, but that his "maleness" was a for the sake of the people he was with, not because God in God's entirety is male. In a society where a woman's testimony is court was considered not only un-valid, but a lie, no one would have listened to him if he had come as a woman. At least no men anyway. Because he was a man, he had both female and male followers. Jesus himself does refer to God as "father" which I can see for two reasons, the first would be to relate to the people of the time. For the second, we have to see a more human side of Jesus. Jesus did not have an earthly father, other than his step-father, who everybody knew wasn't his "real" father.
In the bible when people refer to Jesus as "Mary's Son", they are literally saying "Mary's Bastard". Because Jesus did not have a father on Earth, , he comforted himself by looking to God as his father. There are times in the New Testament when Jesus uses female metaphors for God also, a woman baking bread, a woman searching for a lost coin. I have also heard people say that the Holy Spirit is written in the female sense in the original translations of the bible, though this could very well be more "romantic" than anything.
I do not consider myself to be a pantheist, in the sense that I do not believe that everything IS God (if I am misusing this term please forgive me, I am only going by the definition I was taught), because then I would have to say that the evil I see and hear of is God or was caused by God, which I do not believe.
I do consider myself to be a panantheist, because I believe that God is present IN everything and everyone, everywhere. The God is the Good, the light and the truth inside each of us, and that Godnis everywhere, that we can go nowhere that God is not (which is also why I now believe in the Greek Orthodox view of "hell" which I will probably get a chance to explain later).
I don't see God as a setter of moral standards, but as a teacher of Love. I believe that some of the moral codes where given, if they where in fact given from God, which I don't know that they where, but I can't say that they weren't either. that it was to establish order, and peace among people so that they may simply survive. I believe what Jesus said, that the whole law can be summed up with love, love for God and love for one another.
If we live in and by and for love, than lists of dos and do not's become less necessary.Then we are truly being what I would call moral people because when we do good for people we are doing it because they are in need, because they are human beings deserving of love and kindness, not to "earn something" for ourselves from God or to "save ourselves" from punishment. I believe that when we do truly do a kind act out of love, there are no strings attached.

Can God be proven?
I don't think so. If the existence of God can be proven I don't think that we humans CAN prove God anyway. Maybe someday God will decide to "prove" him or herself but I don't know. I don't think it's important of even wise for faith to be scientifically proven. For ME anyway, when I see the beauty of nature, and the kindness of another person, I believe I am experiencing and seeing God. I do think that an an individual level, through an intrinsic knowledge that humans can have a sure belief in God.
re: Inter-faith round table
By hylndlasmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7170, member since Wed Sep 22, 2004
On Fri Mar 16, 2007 08:43 AM
OK question of a very general variety to everyone on the panel.
How does your religion define a "God". Please be as specific as you can. Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)? Does your God have a gender? Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world? Omniscient? Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so. Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)? (Weezy doesn't have to answer that one as the answer is an obvious no)Is God perfect or still capable of development?



This question entirely depends on the UU'er and what they as an individual believe.


Some UU'ers believe in a higher power that knows and see's all.

While other's believe in a higher power that stays out of mankinds business.

Still others do not believe in a higher power at all.


This question is hard to answer because each answer you get may be different.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Ticklemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2571, member since Fri Feb 15, 2002
On Fri Mar 16, 2007 06:29 PM
Edited by Tutus_N_Toes (21774) on 2007-03-16 19:55:56
The LDS views on the nature of God

We believe in the Godhead which is made up of three seperate beings: God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. I will talk about God the Father.

We call Him Heavenly Father, because He is the Father of our Spirits. He knows and loves every one of us. He directed His first-born Son, Jesus Christ, in the making of the earth for us.

God is perfect. He is all-wise and all-powerful—the ruler of the universe. He is also merciful, kind, loving, and just. He has a plan to help His children find joy in this life and return to live with Him when this life is over.

God the Father and Jesus Christ both have bodies of flesh and bone. In the Old Testament God said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). Jacob declared that he had seen God "face to face" (Genesis 32:30). Moses also spoke with God "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11).

In the New Testament, when the Resurrected Christ appeared to His Apostles, He told them, "handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). Later Stephen testified that he saw Jesus "standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).

We believe that Modern-day revelation confirms these teachings from the Bible. God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. Joseph revealed that the Father and the Son each have a "body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's" (D&C 130:22).

God is our Heavenly Father, and we are created in his image.

God follows the laws of the universe. There are eternal tuths that just ARE and God knows how to use those laws to create, destroy ect. He knows how to maneuver matter in order to create something as amazing and intricate as our planet.









If there are any questions I didn't answer, let me know! Punkgirl59, I'm counting on you to correct any false doctrine I may accidently spit out! lol

www.lds.org . . .

~Rebecca~
re: Inter-faith round table
By Odessamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11250, member since Tue Feb 26, 2002
On Fri Mar 16, 2007 09:00 PM
Edited by Odessa (22571) on 2007-03-16 21:09:42 i wrote it in notebook and the paragraphs went crazy
Hi, I'm Odessa, or Erin. I'm representing Paganism. But since Paganism is as broad a term as Christianity, I'm going to narrow it down to a more precise branch of Paganism, and that's Celtic Paganism.
Paganism by it's nature is a religion of the land. Paganus is ancient Latin for "country dweller". Pagans existed long before Jesus, and their core beliefs were in the seasons and the moon cycles.

Paganism has long been a very female oriented faith system. Women were revered in the ancient times as life givers and nurturers. They were respected at each stage of their life for their innocence, experience and wisdom. Many of the professions that exist today existed, at least in a rudimentary form, in the pre-Christian days. Midwifery, naturopathy, massage, herbalism, tea-making, all these professions were closely guarded womens secrets.

There are many different gods and goddesses in many Pagan traditions. You'd be familiar with Zeus and Aphrodite, Venus and Bacchus, Thor and Freya and Sekhmet and Bast, from Greek, Roman, Norse and Egyptian mythologies respectively. Australian and

North American natives have pagan gods and goddesses, as do Finns, South Americans, Chinese, Japanese and African natives.

There is a great website called GodChecker if you wish to read more about gods and goddesses - you can find it at godchecker.com.

Just to make one thing clear - I am not here to represent Wicca. You will not hear about the Threefold Law, or the Wiccan Rede or any of that. I am representing reconstructionist Celtic spirituality. If you are looking for information on Wicca or other branches of Paganism, I am not able to provide in-depth information.

This is not an organised religion. There are commonly accepted celebrations, or Sabbats, and there are often organised celebrations for these Sabbats, but just as many pagans choose not to attend, but to celebrate at home with their loved ones.

There are no universal rules or doctrines, but there are core beliefs we all share. It's far too difficult to explain them all here because, as I said, there is no organised doctrine. Different pagans will react to things differently, either as a matter of personal morals or as a matter of religious teachings. The best way to explain Celtic Paganism is to just answer the questions in this roundtable. I'll probably learn alot as well :)

The one thing all pagans hold as the same is respect for the earth. Respect and understanding of the seasonal changes, of the moon cycles, and for the earth and all she has to provide us is paramount. I truly believe that a person without an environmental conscience cannot call themselves pagan.

And now for the question. I thought it would be easier to answer each sub-question individually:

How does your religion define a "God". Please be as specific as you can.

We have several gods and goddesses. They are all interwoven - sisters and brothers of one another, mothers and daughters, fathers, sons, enemies and champions. There are goddesses of love, and goddesses who are flowers, and gods who are heroes. Brigit is in charge of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft and Martial Arts. Morrigan is the Dark Mother Goddess. Cuchulainn is a warrior god, Taliesin a bard.

Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)?

They are not omnipotent. That is why there are so many of them! They're all omipotent in their own areas of expertise, but none others.

Does your God have a gender?

There are both male and female goddesses. These are genders in the physical sense, rather than the metaphorical sense.

Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world?

No. They are more like real people than "gods up there". They walk among the living.

Omniscient?

Again, only in their area of expertise. But even then some of them make mistakes.

Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so.

They are not all benevolent. Some of them are angry and vengeful - Arianrhod, for example, when she lays curses on her son, and the Morrigan when she enters battle.
Some are entirely benevolent - Brigit, helper of the sick and injured. They do not set moral standards for the rest of us to follow, but we can certainly learn from their examples - learn how to approach situations or relate to other people. They do not preach at us. They do not expect us to behave well in order to obtain entrance to paradise in the afterlife. They are like humans, flawed and imperfect.

Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)?

There exists a book called the Mabingion, which tells the story, not of all the gods in the pantheon, but of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed; Branwen, Daughter of Llyr; Manawyddan, Son of Llyr, and Math, Son of Mathonwy. These are the Four Branches of the Mabinogion. This is about as close as we have to any real proof that the Celtic gods existed. It is believed they may have existed as humans and their stories got passed down through the aeons and they became gods and goddesses, but there are also many monuments created to them. Stonehenge, anyone?
Did they really exist? That is a matter of faith.

Is God perfect or still capable of development?

Most definitely capable of development. As I said above, they are flawed and imperfect, prone to flying into fits of rage, and capable of boundless love. They deal with human crises, whether to go to war, or to make love, what to do with an illegitimate child, what to do when you accidentally kill someone's dog. (this stuff is better than the OC!!) They are capable of development indeed, as we all are.

This has been fun. I don't feel as if I have answered this question as well as I could have, unfortunately. But hopefully it makes sense and you can learn something from it.

Looking forward to the next question - perhaps we can have a set day of the week that new questions are added?

Blessed be!

Erin.
::righteous babe::
re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 1)
By Brallerina Comments: 124, member since Fri Dec 23, 2005
On Sat Mar 17, 2007 01:12 PM
How does your religion define a "God".
God is Love. God is the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in three Persons. Father, Son and Spirit are equal in power and majesty and they are co-existant. It is a mystery that we will never understand. The Father is the Creator of the universe and Life-giver. The Son became man and died for our salvation, He now is at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love shared between the Father and the Son he is the Comforter and the Consoler, the Source of wisdom, understanding, and many other special gifts. It is also the Spirit who guides the Church and its leaders today. Their love for one another models the ultimate goal for humanity, that all people will one day love each other in the same way.

Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)?
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
268 of all the divine attributes, only God's omnipotence is named in the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God's power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it "is made perfect in weakness".
270 God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals his fatherly omnipotence by the way he takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty"): finally by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins.

Does your God have a gender?
No.

Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world?
In the pantheistic sense.

Omniscient?
Yes, He knows everything. God is outside the concept of time. He sees everything as an eternal present.

Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He showed and taught us how to live a holy life.

Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)?
There's a reason why we call it faith. But there are miracles, like people healing or Eucharistic miracles, for example, that could prove the existence of God.

Is God perfect or still capable of development?
God is perfect.
re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 1)
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Sun Mar 18, 2007 03:20 AM
How does your religion define a "God". Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)?


Jews believe, first and foremost that G-d exists. The existence of G-d is more or less necessary in the Jewish world view for anything else to be, as the Torah tells us that G-d created everything, starting from zero.

Also important is that G-d did this singularly and is therefore "one." One of the prayers a Jew is supposed to say everyday, the Shema, says, "Hear Israel: the Lord is our G-d; the Lord is one." It's generally accepted that as G-d created the universe single-handedly, he's alone out there. Therefore he's the only one to whom we should offer praise. (Another equally accurate translation of the Shema can also be "the Lord alone," as opposed to "is one.") This also tells us G-d is whole and cannot be defined or divided into parts or attributes, because any attempt to do so only reinforces our own imperfections and inability to understand the infinite.

Some Jewish philosophers, actually, will even go so far as to suggest that describing G-d as infinite is too limiting, because as soon as you suggest G-d IS anything at all, you're trying to fit G-d into a box.

G-d, though, doesn't fit into a box because G-d is incorporeal. In spite of scripture personifying G-d's presence or actions, it's believed that this is metaphorical so that we, in the material world, can better understand. This is why that business with the calf is frowned upon. The sin seen in that story is not that people chose to worship another deity, but rather that they tried to represent G-d in a physical form.

Does your God have a gender?


Expanding on that, G-d is genderless. In the Torah G-d is referred to in the masculine because there is no neutral gender. I imagine if the Torah were originally written in German, this may not be the case, but the German language (to the best of my knowledge) did not exist yet when the Torah was written.

Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)? Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world? Omniscient?


G-d is omnipotent with only one limitation, insofar as I'm aware, and that is that as we have free will, G-d does not have the power to make us fear or love or worship him. We cannot be compelled by G-d to do his will. Beyond that he is omniscient, knowing even our thoughts.

G-d is also omnipresent. G-d is everywhere and everything. He is not just G-d of the Jews but the G-d of all nations, whether they acknowledge him or not (and they, as non-Jews, are under no obligation to do so).

Is God perfect or still capable of development? Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so.


Jewish philosophy accepts that a name is not just an arbitrary identifier. It contains the essence of what is named. In the Torah, Moses asked G-d for his name. Given the idea behind a name, it is understood that Moses was not asking what to call him, but rather who he was and what he was like. The response came, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh." The most popular translation for that is, "I am that I am." But "ehyeh" can be present and future, so it can also be translated, "I am that I will be." This is usually highlighted as evidence of the eternal nature of G-d. So G-d, as is, is eternal, holy and perfect.

Expanding on the idea of names, though, in Jewish scriptures, G-d is known by many names. One of these names refers to his just nature. Another refers to his mercy. Justice and mercy are defined by the societal norms of the time - which are laid out as defined by G-d in the Torah. A more traditional Jew will accept this as unchanging, but a more liberal or secular Jew is going to view it as evolving as society does.
re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 4)
By VelvetRagamuffinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6013, member since Wed Nov 19, 2003
On Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:06 AM
Okay, I FINALLY got around to finding the time to post this. I'm worried it will be rather lengthy, but I tried to leave no stone unturned so to speak :). Elfie, all I can say is GREAT QUESTIONS! I will answer them one-by-one and then try to sum it all up in the end. My plan is to write down my own beliefs for each question, and at the end, I'll provide the Scriptural basis for my beliefs. If you don't own a Bible, you can search the verses on Bible Gateway.

How does your religion define a "God". Please be as specific as you can.


This is already a tough one. Theological disagreements arise among the various denominations regarding the nature of God. Many believe that He is a physical entity. Others believe He is non-corporeal. Others believe that He is, in fact, merely an idea that is still truth. Moving on, some denominations affirm the Trinity, while others decry it as blasphemy, dangerous, and polytheistic. However, my personal beliefs and those of many Christians around me, is that God is the Trinity, and one of those aspects is an actual physical being and the other two are non-corporeal. I'll go into detail about the Trinity now. Basically, the Trinity is divided into three parts: God the Father (Creator God), God the Son (Jesus, the sacrificial lamb), and God the Holy Spirit/Ghost (the indwelling Spirit of God that indwells all believers, and arguably non-believers).

God the Father

As I said, God the Father is the creator of the universe, creator of the earth, creator of the law, creator of morals, and creator of freewill. He is a non-corporeal entity that is distant from the physical world.

God the Son

This is Jesus. Standard Protestant doctrine maintains the full humanity and the full divinity of Jesus Christ. Some denominations maintain that he was merely a prophet prior to the Resurrection and then fully divine afterwards. However, there is little dispute among Christians about the nature of Jesus: He was God in the flesh. Essentially, Jesus was bridge-builder between man and God the Father, allowing the distant God to become close again.

God the Holy Spirit/Ghost

The Holy Spirit is the part of God that enters into the person's soul upon receiving the gift of salvation. In this form, He is a spiritual guide that allows us to discern among divine truth and false teachings while also providing a sort of "conscience" (I couldn't think of a better analogy). In addition, this is the aspect of God that convicts the unholy aspects of our lives, correcting us and directing us to the straight and narrow. In this fashion, God also serves as a protector against evil forces in spiritual warfare (an entirely different subject, hopefully somebody will ask a question about it!).

Problems with Trinitarianism

The concept of the Trinity is one of those great leaps of faith that we as Christians must take. Basically, the doctrine of Trinitarianism offers three logical syllogisms:

1.) God is three persons.
2.) Each person is fully God.
3.) There is one God.

As you can see, human logic is unable to comprehend this concept. This is why any analogy a pastor or spiritual leader comes up with has its shortcomings. We cannot adequately explain what we ourselves do not understand. Therefore, we rely on our faith in God (all three of Him) as a paradoxical being that cannot be understood in His entirety.

Is he/she omnipotent (fully so or only to the degree the it is logically possible)?


Yes, but because of the nature of God's gift of freewill, He does not exercise His omnipotence. Just because He has the power does not mean He has to use it. I tried to find a scriptural basis for this, but I had to rely on my own experiences. If God exercised His omnipotence, half of my family wouldn't have died about six years ago. However, He allowed it to happen outside of his control which would argue for his non-interference in the affairs of mankind.

Does your God have a gender?


Going back to the Trinity, yes and no. God the Son was obviously male. God the Holy Spirit is gender specific I believe: a male believer would have a male Spirit whereas a female believer would have a female Spirit. God the Father is a bit Trickier though.

Already, God the Father implies a male gender. Indeed, we refer to God as "Him/He/His" all the time. However, in the Book of Job, God refers to Himself in the female sense:

Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?

Job 38:28-29


God is obviously attributing typical feminine characteristics to Himself with images of motherhood and childbirth. Therefore, I would argue that God is asexual, able to take on the roles of either sex to fulfill His will. I would argue that we refer to God as a male entity though because of the nature of Western society: we're predominantly patriarchies. In addition, God seemed to take a more warrior and *ahem* aggressive role in the Old Testament, which are commonly male attributes. Regardless, God is still a non-corporeal being who is sexless.

Is he omnipresent in the pantheistic sense or a being who is separate from the world? Omniscient?


Like Kat, I don't believe that everything is God, but that God is in everything. God is the creator, so it obviously logically follows that He would leave some kind of trademark or signature. In addition, Christian doctrine maintains there are three ways to experience God:

1.) Through Scripture
2.) Through prayer
3.) Through nature

This logically follows that we can experience God through virtually anything!

Omniscience is a given for me personally. I think that omniscience is one of the defining attributes of divinity. Personally, I couldn't even consider trusting in a God that WASN'T omniscient.

Benevolent and how can this be determined? By some moral standards existing independently from God or simply because he/she is the setter of moral standards and says so.


From Dictionary.com:

benevolent
1.) characterized by or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings
2.) desiring to help others; charitable
3.) intended for benefits rather than profit


From these definitions, I would in fact argue that, no, God is not benevolent. I do believe that God is concerned with the nature of man and with the spiritual status of our souls. However, He takes on a non-interference role with humanity. God created humanity to worship Him. He provided enough material for people to have faith in Him, but not so much that there is no choice. He undoubtedly loves us, or else He wouldn't have sent Jesus to atone for our sins on the cross. However, this is not necessarily an act of "charity" as much as it is another option for us to choose from. We were lost as a people, and because of our evil nature, we destroyed our own freewill to choose where our souls would go when our bodies die. Therefore, God gave us another option through Jesus.

Can his/hers existence be proven and how (personal intuition/scientific inquiry/some other means)?


No! If God's existence was proven beyond any stretch of reasonable doubt, then freewill would no longer exist! God has PURPOSELY allowed humanity to doubt His existence. What I'm about to say may make God sound like a selfish prick, but which sounds better to you: people loving you because they know you're there, or people loving you because they have to?

Is God perfect or still capable of development?


Here's where it gets shady: I truly believe that God is perfect, always has been perfect, and always will be perfect. However, we cannot deny that His "behavior" so to speak has drastically changed since Adam and Eve. However, my belief is that humanity is at fault for this, not God.

God's nature has always been the same: one of love, justice, and power. However, man's nature has changed drastically. We've gone from being beautiful, perfect creations to sinful hedonists. God does not interfere with our affairs much anymore, and I think largely it is due to our choice to detach ourselves from God. I really don't know how to argue it any differently than that. God is an eternal being, we are not. I find it hard to believe that God, who existed eternally before the Earth was even created, would choose to create the Earth before He developed and perfected Himself enough to become perfect.

So, to wrap it up!

I strongly believe that explaining all of these aspects of God separately is limited. God is, essentially, a jigsaw puzzle. From our own studies of the Scriptures, both academic and spiritual, we still only have a fraction of those pieces. If somebody had all of the pieces, we wouldn't have denominations of Christianity! In essence, I think that what I've said about God here has a strong possibility of being entirely false, although I have no evidence to back that up. God cannot be contained by one religion (I'm a watered-down pluralist myself), nor can He be contained by one denomination or by academia. Therefore, I would ask that the readers would essentially take everything I've said here with a proverbial "grain of salt" and approach it from a critical nature. As Rob Bell, one of my favorite spiritual leaders, has said, "God has spoken, and the rest is just commentary."

Scripture to Turn to

These Scriptures are just the base verses that outline the concepts under each subheading. However, to prevent the common practice of "taking it out of context," I would ask that you read an inch above and an inch below each verse to insure the validity of each passage. If you disagree with a concept, feel free to shoot me a PM.

Trinitarianism

Genesis 1:2
John 1:3
1 Corinthians 8:6
Colossians 1:16
Hebrews 1:2

Omnipotence/Omniscience/Omnipresence of God

I included all of these together because it would be logical that if God was one of these concepts, He would be all three.

Job 37:16
1 John 3:20
Hebrews 4:13
2 Chronicles 16:9
Job 28:24
Matthew 10:29-30
Isaiah 46:9-10
Isaiah 42:8-9
Matthew 6:8
Matthew 10:30
Psalm 139:4

The Moral Attributes of God

Goodness

Luke 18:19
Psalm 100:5
Psalm 34:8
Psalm 119:68
Romans 12:2
James 1:17
Acts 14:17

Love

1 John 4:8
John 17:24
1 John 4:10
Romans 5:8
John 3:16
Galatians 2:20
Isaiah 62:5
Zephaniah 3:17-18

Mercy, Grace, and Patience

Exodus 34:6
Psalm 103:8
2 Samuel 24:14
Matthew 9:27
2 Corinthians 1:3
Hebrews 4:16
James 5:11
Exodus 33:19
Psalm 119:132
1 Peter 5:10
Romans 3:23-24
Romans 11:6

Peace/Order

1 Corinthians 14:33
Romans 15:33
Romans 16:20
Philippians 4:9
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Hebrews 13:20

Righteousness/Justice

Deuteronomy 32:4
Genesis 18:25
Psalm 19:8
Isaiah 45:19
Romans 3:25-26

Jealousy/Pride

Exodus 34:14
Deuteronomy 4:24
Deuteronomy 5:9
1 Corinthians 4:7
Revelation 4:11
Isaiah 48:11

Wrath

Exodus 32:9-10
Deuteronomy 9:7-8
2 Kings 22:13
John 3:36
Romans 1:18
Romans 2:5, 8
Romans 5:9
Romans 9:22
Colossians 3:6
1 Thessalonians 1:10
1 Thessalonians 2:16
1 Thessalonians 5:9
Hebrews 3:11
Revelation 6:16-17
Revelation 19:15
Ephesians 2:3

God's Unchanging Nature

Malachi 3:6
James 1:17
Psalm 33:11
Matthew 13:35
Matthew 25:34
Ephesians 1:4, 11
Ephesians 3:9, 11
1 Timothy 2:19
1 Peter 1:20
Revelation 13:8
Numbers 23:19
1 Samuel 15:29

The Knowability of God

Romans 1:19
Matthew 11:27
1 Corinthians 1:21
1 Corinthians 2:14
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
John 1:18
Romans 1:18, 21, 25
Psalm 145:3
Psalm 147:5
Psalm 139:6
1 Corinthians 2:10-12
Romans 11:33
Job 26:14
Job 11:7-9
Job 37:5
Colossians 1:10

Sources for Further Reference

Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation, 2nd Edition. Tyndale House Publishers

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Wayne Grudem. Zondervan Publishers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Copyright 1994. ISBN: 0-310-28670-0
re: Inter-faith round table
By hylndlasmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7170, member since Wed Sep 22, 2004
On Tue Mar 20, 2007 05:16 PM
Does your religion hold a concept of an afterlife, and if so, can you describe it? If you belong to a pluralist religion (such as Unitarianism), what are your own personal beliefs of the afterlife? Does "evil" in our lives now play any kind of role in determining a person's place in the afterlife? In addition, does your religion acknowledge reincarnation as a possibility of an afterlife?


To answer Caleb's question.....I personally believe in an afterlife....I call it heaven....but not in the way a Christian would. In my eye's I believe that heaven all are welcome regardless of religion/sexual ordination as long as they lived a moral and just life.

I also believe that for some, souls are reincarnated....until they reach a level of enlightenment.....once the goal or enlightenment is reached they than go onto heaven.

Those that have influenced by evil don't get to heaven right away.....they may be reincarnated.


I haven't quite figured out if a person can actually go to hell or not....I've wondered in the past if certain individuals that have committed acts which are so heinous if they will reincarnate or if the go somewhere else.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:32 AM
I believe in an afterlife. I'll call it Heaven, but only because I was raised Catholic and things like that have remained in my vocabulary - the same way I'll "thank God" when something great happens. I'm not <I>actually</i> thanking anybody, I don't know that they're there. Just an expression.

I digress - not all agnostics will believe in an afterlife. I guess most just acknowledge it as a possibility, the same way they acknowledge most things pertaining to death and religion as a possibility.

The only reason I think there is an afterlife, is because I WANT there to be one. I don't want this life to be all I have. But having said that, I only ever think about it in discussions such as these. Ninety-nine one-hundredths of the time, it's a case of "don't know, don't care". I'd hazard a guess that most agnostics are similarly ambivalent.
re: Inter-faith round table (karma: 1)
By Ticklemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2571, member since Fri Feb 15, 2002
On Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:37 PM
Does your religion hold a concept of an afterlife, and if so, can you describe it? If you belong to a pluralist religion (such as Unitarianism), what are your own personal beliefs of the afterlife? Does "evil" in our lives now play any kind of role in determining a person's place in the afterlife? In addition, does your religion acknowledge reincarnation as a possibility of an afterlife?


Oh dear. Another big question which requires another big answer! I'll do my best.

Before I talk about the afterlife, it's important to understand our belief in the pre-existence, or the existance of our spirits before we were born. All men and women have lived as spirit beings in a premortal state, and all are the spiritual offspring of God. In the premortal world, all the family of God were taught his plans and purposes. Those who voluntarily agreed to the conditions of mortality were given a physical body, and a veil of forgetfulness was drawn over their premortal life. This "veil of forgetfulness" comes over us when we are infants.

In mortality, at least six purposes are opened to mankind: (1) to be given a body, whose experience, maturation, and eventual resurrection are essential to the perfecting of the soul; (2) to grow in knowledge and develop talents and gifts; (3) to be tried and tested; (4) to fulfill the missions and callings that were conferred or preordained; (5) to exercise agency without memory of the premortal existence; (6) and to establish the foundations of eternal family relationships.

Image hotlink - 'http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/The_Plan_of_Salvation.jpg/300px-The_Plan_of_Salvation.jpg'

Spirit World
After we die, our spirit leaves our mortal body and enters the spirit world to await resurrection. The spirit world is actually here on this earth, but we who are living cannot see the spirits who have passed on. The spirit world is a place of waiting where we continue to learn and where we can rest from care and sorrow. We will look the same, have the same personality, and will believe the same things as we did during our earthly life. Those who are righteous will be righteous still and those who were unrighteous will continue to be so after they leave this mortal existence. But those who did not have a chance to hear and accept the gospel will be taught , and will have the choice to either accept or reject Jesus Christ's atonement. If they reject His gospel, they will have to suffer for their own sins.

Resurrection
The resurrection consists in the uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided. -LDS Bible Dictionary, "Resurrection," 761
Resurrected beings have bodies of flesh and bones, tangible, corporeal bodies, bodies that occupy space. We can only have a fulness of joy, when our spirits and our bodies are united. After the resurrection, our bodies will be in a perfected state; scars and deformities will no longer be present. Christ, however, still has the nail prints in His hands and feet to stand as a testimony of who He is and what He's done for us.
Jesus Christ was the first person to be resurrected. He rose from the grave three days after he was crucified. Every person who ever lived on Earth will be resurrected. It is a free gift to all and is not the result of good works or faith. Jesus Christ made the resurrection possible when he himself broke the bands of death. But not everyone will be resurrected at once. Those who are righteous will be resurrected first, followed by the mediocre, and then the wicked. The earth, the plants anf the animals will also be resurrected.

Final Judgement
The Savior will conduct the final judgment and it will be absolutely fair and just. He will decide wether we will go to the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestial Kingdom, the Telestial Kindom, or outer darkness. He knows the intents of our hearts, and which kingdom of glory we truly deserve.

The Celestial Kingdom
This would be what people usually to as "heaven". This kingdom will include those who had faith in Jesus Christ, repented, obeyed all of God’s commandments, and completed the necessary ordinances. All who inherit the celestial kingdom will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever

Terrestial Kingdom
These are they who rejected the gospel on earth but afterward received it in the spirit world. These are the honorable people on the earth who were blinded to the gospel of Jesus Christ by the craftiness of men. These are also they who received the gospel and a testimony of Jesus but then were not valiant. They will be visited by Jesus Christ but not by our Heavenly Father. They will not be part of eternal families; they will live separately and singly forever. This Kingdom is glorious beyond our imagination, but comparing it to the Celestial kingdom is like comparing the light of the moon to the sun. So the Celestial kingdom must be incredible to say the least!

Telestial Kingdom
These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected. “These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son. Comparing the Telestial kingdom to the Terrestial kingdom is like comparing the light of the stars to the moon.

Outer Darkness
This would be the equivalent of Hell. These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord. There is no forgiveness for them, for they denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. They will not have a kingdom of glory. They will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with Satan and his angels forever.


This is your basic nutshell version, but I think it gives you the general idea.

~Rebecca~
re: Inter-faith round table
By Pasdekatmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6900, member since Sat Dec 29, 2001
On Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:54 PM
Edited by Pasdekat (18161) on 2007-03-23 12:55:49
Edited by Pasdekat (18161) on 2007-03-23 12:57:32
Does your religion hold a concept of an afterlife, and if so, can you describe it? If you belong to a pluralist religion (such as Unitarianism), what are your own personal beliefs of the afterlife? Does "evil" in our lives now play any kind of role in determining a person's place in the afterlife? In addition, does your religion acknowledge reincarnation as a possibility of an afterlife?

This is something that I'm actually quite confused about right now. I do believe in an afterlife though, as does my religion/denomination.
I do not consider myself a universalist (simply because I don't KNOW and I don't want to limit God, but the idea that all will be "saved" is certainly what I hope and pray for, and what I would hope that all Christians would hope and pray for)
I hope that one day everyone will be united with God.
I believe that Heaven is a oneness with God, an acceptance and/or realization of God's love, but I believe that God won't FORCE this on anyone who doesn't want it (because would that really be love?) and that if someone chooses not to accept "heaven" then that is their choice and that separation from God is what "hell" is. I tend to agree with the Eastern Orthodox view on this
* all souls will be reunited with their resurrected bodies
* that all souls will fully experience their spiritual state
* that having been perfected, humankind will forever progress towards a deeper and fuller love of God, which equates with eternal happiness
* that hell, though often described in metaphor as punishment, is not inflicted by God, but rather is the soul’s inability to participate in God’s infinite love which is rained down on everyone.
(source:en.wikipedia.org . . . I do not see Heaven and Hell as literal places, and I don't believe in a "fire and brimstone" place that God's "sends you to" if you're not good enough or if you don't believe the "right" things.
I don't see Heaven and Hell as a "places you go", but as states of being, things we can experience in this life and in the "afterlife", which like I said is a confusing concept for me to grasp. I (and my religion) also believe in the resurrection of the body, that one day all things will be made new and all will be healed. I'm not in the camp that says the Earth is going to be destroyed and we'll all float up to a Heaven in the sky, but that this Earth and all of God's creation will be renewed and restored and healed.
Here is a bit of what my denomination has to say on the subject:
Who will be saved?
Will only Christians be saved?

SALVATION

Claims of the Church

Since its beginning, based on New Testament texts, Christianity has made an exclusive claim: Jesus Christ is God’s only Son, sent to redeem the world. This claim has fueled, throughout history, innumerable mission endeavors aimed at proclaiming the Gospel message in order to "save" human beings who have not heard the story of salvation, who have often come to be called the "heathen" ("And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved" [Acts 4:12] and "But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed ... have never heard ... without someone to proclaim him ...?" [Romans 10:14-15 ]).

In turn, these efforts have raised questions such as, "What about those who never heard, did not believe, weren’t reached, had no opportunity to hear the Gospel?" and "Will only Christians be saved?"

The traditional medieval response followed Pope Boniface VIII’s 1302 pronouncement, "There is no salvation outside the Church." Protestants were later to reject that claim and substitute an evangelical version of exclusiveness: "Apart from faith there is no salvation." Of course, this faith would come only from being baptized into the Christian faith upon hearing the claims of the preached Gospel. However, both Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants provided various "loophole" theologies. There were second chances for those of "invincible ignorance" (Roman Catholic), or those "not accountable," e.g. infants, mentally retarded, etc. (evangelical Protestantism). Others would assert that Jesus – the valid avenue for Christians – is only one of many ways that lead to the God of the universe, and that other religions possess equally valid paths to God.

Expanding our concept of Jesus the ChristLutheran theologian Carl)Braaten says, "The Christian hope for salvation, whether for the believing few or the unbelieving many, is grounded in the person and meaning of Christ alone, not in the potential of the world’s religions to save, nor in the moral seriousness of humanists and people of good will, not even in the good works of pious Christians and church people. ... There is a universalist thrust in the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s theology. How else can we read passages such as 'for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ' (1 Cor 15:22)?" (See also Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:28.)

The universal scope of salvation in Christ

ELCA Lutherans will say with Braaten, "Salvation in the New Testament is what God has done to death in the resurrection of Jesus. Salvation is what God has in store for you and me and the whole world in spite of death, solely on account of the living risen Christ. ... The universal scope of salvation in Christ includes the destiny of our bodies together with the whole earth and the whole of creation. This cosmic hope is based on the promise of eternal life sealed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Through raising Jesus from the dead, God put death to death, overcoming the deadliest enemy of life at loose in the world. This hope for the final salvation of humanity and the eternal universal restitution of all things in heaven and on earth ... is drawn from the unlimited promise of the Gospel and the magnitude of God’s grace made known to the world through Christ."

But what of faith? Isn’t faith necessary for salvation? ELCA Lutherans can say with Braaten, "To say we are saved by faith alone means we let God-in-Christ do all the saving that needs to be done, apart from any works we can perform. ... If I confess that God has saved me, a lost and condemned sinner, whom else can he not save? Faith is precisely awareness that God’s accepting love reaches out to all sinners, even to me. Faith is the opening of heart and mind to the universal grace and goodness of God."

For ELCA Lutherans, Braaten’s words ring true: "The special quality of Jesus’ uniqueness is best grasped in terms of his universal meaning. This concrete person, Jesus of Nazareth, is unique because of his unequaled universal significance. The point of his uniqueness underlines his universality. If Jesus is the Lord and Savior, he is the universal Lord and Savior, not merely my personal Lord and Savior. Because Jesus is the unique and universal Savior, there is a large hope for salvation, not only for me and others with the proper credentials of believing and belonging to the church, but for all people whenever or wherever they might have lived and no matter how religious or irreligious they may have proved to be themselves. It is clearly God’s announced will that all people shall be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (1 Timothy 2:4)."

God’s grace and love made known to all in Jesus

The New Testament is full of warnings about substituting right words and doctrines as religious screens against the living word and will of God. Still, these warnings are not God’s last word. The final word is that God came to the world in Christ in order to redeem the world, and that nothing can come between God’s creation (which includes human beings) and God’s all-encompassing love. That is precisely how ELCA Lutherans understand Jesus' claim that, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6) What God has done in Christ is done for all; God’s act in Christ is the way that all come to God. This Good News we are compelled to joyously share with all people: "God has acted in Christ, and you are the recipient of this loving act."

To those who often passionately argue that "while God offers grace and salvation to all, humans must accept it with deep repentance and a change of life," we caution against making salvation into a work that we accomplish by our response to God’s offer. Rather, in our telling the Good News we pray that those who hear "will present" themselves "to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present their (bodies) to God as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:13).

Will, then, all people be saved in the end? We must say with Braaten, "We do not ... know the answer. (That) is stored up in the mystery of God’s own future. All (God) has let us know in advance is that he will judge the world according to the measure of his grace and love made known in Jesus Christ, which is ultimately greater than the fierceness of his wrath or the hideousness of our sin."

Quotations from Carl Braaten, The Universal Meaning of Jesus Christ, LCA Partners Magazine, December, 1980 and June, 1981.
Biblical quotations from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)



To answer your last question, my denomination does not believe in reincarnation. I don't rule it out as a possibility myself, but I wouldn't say I believe in it, I'm just not convinced personally.
re: Inter-faith round table
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Sun May 27, 2007 06:27 AM
Does your religion hold a concept of an afterlife, and if so, can you describe it? If you belong to a pluralist religion (such as Unitarianism), what are your own personal beliefs of the afterlife? Does "evil" in our lives now play any kind of role in determining a person's place in the afterlife? In addition, does your religion acknowledge reincarnation as a possibility of an afterlife?


You know, it's funny. I started this reply a long time ago, and I still haven't really come up with anything that feels satisfactory.

An afterlife is the logical continuum of Jewish belief. In Ecclesiastes 12:17, King Solomon wrote The dust will return to the ground as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. This is a testament to the eternal nature of our soul, but beyond that, Judaism isn't too fussed by what happens after we pass on. The dogma surrounding what to expect after death is... fuzzy. There's a lot of room for personal interpretation. I've known very traditional Orthodox Jews who believe in reincarnation, and others who believe in a clearly divided Heaven and Hell.

The Torah stresses immediate, definite, of this life rewards and punishments, rather than vague and indeterminate ones that you'll face in the future, be it in this life or Olam ha'Ba (which is the "world to come," and refers to both the spiritual afterlife and the Messianic Age). We study the Torah and practice the mitzvot in part to prepare ourselves for the world to come, but we do it not for any rewards we may find then for it, but because we want to. Otherwise, we'd be selfish, and we'd not be learning what we're meant to learn from it. Kind of like reading Cliff's Notes for a test on some required reading. You might miss something the teacher wants you to catch and end up with a lower mark. Besides, when it all comes down to it, you don't need to be Jewish to have a place in Olam ha'ba. The righteous of all nations will have a share, so we might as well be good people for the sake of being... well... good. It makes the world a nicer place. ;)

As for my own personal beliefs... *shrugs* My opinion has changed many times over the course of my life. I think that after death our souls go on to a higher plane, but are still very much a part of this world while as well as the next. Like this world is an active memory our souls can still visit and observe if we choose to. Beyond that, I don't have a clue. I'm not too interested, either. I'll find out for sure, if I'm right or wrong, when I find out. Hopefully that won't be any time too soon! :P
Yay, one can reply again
By Elfiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4193, member since Thu May 01, 2003
On Mon May 28, 2007 12:27 AM
It's been quiet over here so I hope you don't mind if I ask a new question. What is the relationship between humans God and nature like in your religion? Are God and humans a part of nature or somehow above it? If there is such a concept as supernatural in your religion how is it defined? Is it just something that s unknown and possibly unknowable to humans (current human knowledge defines the limits of nature?) or some other kind of quality? If you think humans are above nature does that mean they have the right to use it to their advantage by any means possible?
re: Inter-faith round table
By popergerm Comments: 760, member since Tue Apr 26, 2005
On Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:33 PM
It's been quiet over here so I hope you don't mind if I ask a new question. What is the relationship between humans God and nature like in your religion? Are God and humans a part of nature or somehow above it? If there is such a concept as supernatural in your religion how is it defined? Is it just something that s unknown and possibly unknowable to humans (current human knowledge defines the limits of nature?) or some other kind of quality? If you think humans are above nature does that mean they have the right to use it to their advantage by any means possible?

Well from a catholic standpoint. Gods relationship with humans is for one, we were created in his image. We catholics belive that God created the world, Now as to the question of six earth days that is not known to us, but the story of genisis is an amagamation of two stories to be precise so it is not ment to be a litteral account, but taken in context that it was written and that was by the early jewish.

God created nature and watches over it, knowing all but letting things play out as there is the thing of freewill for humans which is the ultamate dignaty, that is God loves and respects us enought to let us make our own choices and mistakes in life.

We are are part of God and the Holy Spirit is what gives part of Gods power to us and takes our prayers to God. The Holy Spirit we belive the liveing love of The perfact God the Father and Jesus the Son. The love has an embodyment of its own also perfact and part of God.

The supernatral, that can be tricky as we cant fully know the wholeness of God or his pure love would tear our imperfact bodies apart from joy we belive at least most of us do. There is Heven which is belived to be a place as well as a state of being in the afterlife. We are one with God we stare at his beautifal perfact person and spend all of eternity in the bliss of steering at God in his perfactness, but we also continue to do Gods work even in heven for those that are still on earth, and offering prayers to God from those on earth that ask us to once one reaches sainthood which just means one is in heaven. Though there are the cannonized saints which are particular ones with God we formaly acknoledge are in heaven through the long process of cannonazation, it just means we put them on a pedistal as a model christian to be an insperation for the rest of us and to pray to so we can ask them to ask God on our behalf, since they are closer they are more likely to get the favor granted by God if they choose to interceed on our behalf but they do not always do so or answere right away.

We belive that the church is a liveing body of God with Father Son and Holy Spirit at the head we are the rest of the body. we are the hands and feet and body of God, we are also the instermants of Gods will on earth here. We belive that the church is in communion with God even from the past to all time. God is the head and all in heaven is perfect, what is hear on earth is prone to make mistakes as we all do even the pope from time to time, the church as the part in heaven can not make a mistake, But what is on earth the people that fill the hirarchy and pews of the churches, well that part sure can make a mistake. But when we do so we do not do so as being one with the body of God, we do so as our human name,

The same is true for the pope and the whole thing about him not being wrong, the whole infallabillity thing, it is only true when he talks about religion and when he does so in a formal decloration from the chair of Peter, since Peter the apostal was the first pope he was given a special gift by Jesus through the Holy Spirit and that gift comes with the office that the man that fills the chair of Peter as the interm Good Shepheard till Jesus returns. Remember Jesus said to Peter Watch my flock. The flock is a metaphor to mean the whole church, and all those that watch the church after Peter that fill his role as the pope or interm good sheepheard.

The chair of Peter, or the infallable gift is not used all that often usually only in matters of dogma, or really fundamental things that are declared.

We also belive that around the world there is always some mass going one or some monk or sister praying in perpetual adoration in front of the blessed sacrament. and in this oneness we belive that since the saints that came before us still pray with us and do the mission God gave them on earth, we belive they are one with us, therefore the catholic or "universal" church is not only open to all all over the world, but also one with heaven and all thouse in it in communion with the Father, Son,and Holy Spirit.

There is also the matter of Purgatory, that is for those that did Gods will and did not reject him at the end of their life. But are not free from the hurt of their relationship done to God. It is like God is the silver smith refineing silver, and one askes how does the silver smith know when the refining is done, well in the story that was used in a serman once by a local priest. When the silver smith sees his own image in the silver again, since we were created in Gods image we belive, when we are ridded of sin to the point that God can see the perfectness he created us in again, then we are one with God and let into heaven.

But for those that reject God, Hell a place of coldness of the soul and eternal suffering, the suffering is infliced by our wanting to see God but we cast him away in life on earth so we are shut out from his eternal bliss and we yearn for it for all eternity.

The fire and brimstone comes from parables the jesus told when teaching and also the vision of revolation which we belive was just a metaphor for what was going on at the time John wrote the book, though we are not sure that it was st john the apostal that wrote the book. More likely one of his followers also named John wrote down a vision he had. with heaven being the eternal promise God gives us which will come in due time, and the anti christ being all that was evil and oppressing the christians at the time like the romans, the currupt kings of the age and so forth.


I hope that this lengthy discourse helps you learn about the roman catholic faith.

signed Jeremy the poppergerm
re: Inter-faith round table
By popergerm Comments: 760, member since Tue Apr 26, 2005
On Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:34 PM
Now lirit I have one for you? what do the jewish belive about the temple, do they really belive it will be rebuilt by the savior at the end of time, and who do they belive will be the final messiah?
re: Inter-faith round table
By happeningfish Comments: 153, member since Sat Apr 28, 2007
On Sat Jul 21, 2007 01:03 AM
Hey, we're missing a Buddhist perspective here. Not that I'm exactly an expert in the field as I've been practising for about a year, and there are lots of different kinds of Buddhists. But still! Very monotheo-centric! :P And where's the muslim and hindu perspective? Anyone?

I have questions but I'll save 'em for later as other q's have already been asked. This is a great thread though; I'm fascinated by other religions and in the news I frequently hear about the worst-case examples of every kind of fundamentalist, so it's great to read such open, intelligent responses. Thank you!
re: Inter-faith round table
By Miyuki_chanmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1496, member since Fri Dec 03, 2004
On Fri Jul 11, 2008 04:53 PM
Hi I tried to reply to the links provided in the 1st post. I saw that there was no one representing Buddhism, so I would like to volunteer myself to be the rep for Buddhism, Specifically Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism
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