Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mike Jackson and Mike Tyson ...

poor guys

Mike Jackson
3 million further in debt to pay his lawyers
the charge child abuse suspected
children slept in his bed, he admitted

is dat a crime?
i sleep in the same bed as my son, daughter and wife
ru saying i am orgying?

the poor guy has got such bad press
his concerts wont sell no more
even though he has been acquitted on all counts


Mike Tyson bit off a guy's ear in the ring
He finally lost to Kevin Mc Bride yesterday

He says he was compelled to fite
to pay off his debts

he too was taken to courts over paternityl suits
He too has to pay his lawyers

He says he can no longer fite
He just quit

He says he gonna raise funds for charity
God bless him

God bless Mike Jackson
'Lets make dis world a better place' he sang

but dis fucking world is cruel on celebrities
Jealousy?


BEAT IT !
http://www.lyrics007.com/Michael%20Jackson%20Lyrics/Beat%20It%20Lyrics.html

18 comments:

jkhkhjkh said...

Ritcher scale 7.0 hits California coast.

Four days back, Ritcher 3.7 earthquake hit Thane.

indiatimespublic said...

Bhaaluu you are predujiced in your beliefs because you are a friend of Sebia's. You will spring up to her defense no matter what happens. If you read the comment section on her blog again you will realize that it indeed was constructive criticism. Or maybe you are too taken up with your PhD work to see things in the right light.

Cyen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janice said...

Mike jackson is a god damn dumbass according to me he shud have been shot dead he payed initially to hush hush the matter so its not a surprise he must have done the same now 2... incase his career goes down the toilet there is a god i say ... creep deserves it as a matter fact ill get down on my knees an pray in chrurch whhen he goes bankrupt... an abt the tyson guy ohhhhhhhhhh pulzzzz give me a break ... the idiot deserves loosing an whts this abt charity wrk reminds me of the hindi proverb ... after eating 100 mices the cat went to follow the Saintly path... pathetic dumbasses... Write better yaar this people are hardly worht it.... and hey u still sleep with ur kiddus huh ... my dad gave me an my brother seperate room as soon as i went to the 8th std :(

Anonymous said...

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar'

Anonymous said...

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar'

Anonymous said...

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar' I have set for BELIEVE. It will therefore always fall short, but it will hopefully always continue to improve.

I was saved as a Christian when I was 19. Soon after that I came to realize that my religious Gifts included the Gift of Encouragement and the Gift of Teaching. I then spent much of my adult life operating a successful manufacturing company.

In recent years, I have become a Pastor of a very small non-Denominational Christian Church. A primary function I now have is in maintenance of BELIEVE and in responding to the many e-mail questions that readers have.

I think our Church wonderfully presents attitudes I try to live and teach. In addition to all the "standard" Christian beliefs, we always try to consider how Jesus would have handled any situation. For example, would He have written something just to promote His personal fame? Not a chance! Would He have ever said or presented something that He knew to be incorrect or inaccurate or incomplete? Never! Would He have ever said derogatory things about others or their actions (unless they are directly violating the Will of God)? He wouldn't do that. He might find it necessary to admonish or correct someone, but He would do it is some exquisitely classy way!

Well, this is quite a standard to aspire to! Obviously, as humans, we are certain to always fall far short of His standard! But we continue to TRY, and that's central to what our Church teaches and what BELIEVE also attempts to accomplish.

With this in mind, I try to have a very open mind on most subjects. Rather than spouting strict dogma to an individual who is in a difficult situation, I try to consider the unique aspects about that person's situation. Rather than being automatically critical of other Denominations and other Faiths, I am usually tempted to think there is some good in nearly all of them, ESPECIALLY if their goal is to Worship God! (Again, I just try to act and think similar to the way I think that Jesus would have done.)

As a Protestant, I guess I'm supposed to be critical of the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly disagree with them on some points, but it seems that it would be awfully arrogant of me to believe that I was always absolutely right and 700,000,000 Catholics were totally wrong in their beliefs. Such an attitude just wouldn't seem to make sense to me! I can imagine the look that Jesus would give me if I would ever treat other followers of His disrespectfully! Somehow, I just see Him appreciating all of our various efforts at Worshipping God! I don't always understand just how He might be able to do that!

As editor of the BELIEVE compilation of religious articles, I have tried to go to extreme effort to ensure and maintain the usefulness of each of the presentations. I understand the term "usefulness" as including being informative, understandable, complete, accurate, and with minimal bias on the part of the specific author(s).

In order to achieve both the understandability and completeness parts of that, many of the BELIEVE presentations include at least two separate articles, by different authors, nearly always world-respected scholars. The first one is usually a overview article, on a General level. The second is usually a much more technical or comprehensive Advanced presentation. As to accuracy, I have tried to only select articles that were written by world renowned authors in their particular field of interest, especially for the Advanced presentations.

Minimizing bias has been the most difficult aspect of the selection process. Fortunately, owning a successful manufacturing company gave me a lot of flexibility, so (prior to becoming a Pastor) I was able to take about 2.5 years off to initially assemble the articles and create the programs for BELIEVE. In selecting the 2,000+ articles now in BELIEVE, I also considered over 15,000 others, which seemed (to me) to have distortions of fact or bias. Such bias was not always blatant or obvious, so it was sometimes a judgment matter. This has been the most common reason why articles have not been included in BELIEVE. It is natural for an author to have enthusiasm for his or her subject. No problem there. If that enthusiasm goes beyond certain limits, sometimes an author can exaggerate or distort facts or include their own personal negative biases regarding competing perspectives. I was concerned that a reader might misunderstand such personal comments. Rather than taking the chance of misleading a reader, I have chosen to just not include such articles.

It has long seemed to me that many religious organizations jealously covet their own Congregation members (something they're NOT supposed to do!). There seem to be aspects of marketing a product involved! They tend to seldom say positive things about any 'competing' Church or Denomination or belief, but they're often quick to present negatives. I feel that this promotes an inaccurate, biased view toward other Denominations and beliefs. I think that is wrong. Mostly because I believe Jesus would think it wrong. Hey, don't we all claim to be Christian???

Christianity has enough hurdles to overcome on its own. It is not helpful for Ministry to give negative impressions for other Denominations. It can clearly tarnish the image of all of Christianity. In addition, it is not being fair to individual Congregation members. Certain of them MIGHT benefit more at some other Christian Church, that was more attuned to their personality. Why would that be bad? If it would ever seem clear that a specific person could become closer with the Lord in some different Church, that seems like a desirable end!

I am convinced that the Lord would prefer that we communicate on a positive basis, rather than quickly looking to find causes to disrespect or insult or even kill the believers of some other group. I am often amazed at the many similarities that exist in groups that hate each other based on a few prominent differences between them. Imagine if the (Christian) Catholics and (Christian) Protestants in Northern Ireland could calmly and logically discuss their various beliefs. After going down a LONG list of areas of agreement, doesn't it seem that they might see cause to stop killing each other, and possibly even 'get along'? But both sides there tend to be taught only one perspective on many subjects, and they say (often inaccurate) terrible things about the other side and THEIR beliefs. If BELIEVE can someday be an Instrument to assist in such future healthy understanding and communication, GREAT!!!

In any event, I have long believed that an information source like BELIEVE should exist. I looked long and hard for such a source of fair and accurate religious information. I was unable to find one. But, I DID find many individual articles that seemed fair and accurate. That's why I took the 2.5 years off to assemble and program BELIEVE. (BELIEVE, beginning in 1992, was initially a DOS-based computer diskette, which I created.)

After I spent that extended time creating BELIEVE, my hopes were fairly modest. I hoped that a single person might renew his/her Christianity or a person might some day become a Christian, as a result of that effort. Each Soul is independently and individually valuable to the Lord. My goals are still directed toward the hopes of touching a single person. With the current heavy traffic in visitors to BELIEVE every day, I'm hoping the odds are good for this happening!

I intend for BELIEVE to forever maintain its independence from all the organized Churches and groups. Some of them have already tried to exert a good amount of pressure. I made several early decisions that are meant to ensure the independence of BELIEVE from all the forces that might try to tilt it toward their views. BELIEVE gets a LOT of web traffic, presently at the rate of millions of visitors per year. Apparently, some business people have some way of learning that! A LOT of organizations have tried to get BELIEVE to include banner ads that link to their sites (apparently the incentive is supposed to be the money they would pay for hits from those links!) Many other groups request that BELIEVE include links to their sites, as sources of additional information. In many cases, these requests are for admirable intentions, of broadening the information base available to BELIEVE visitors. I have chosen not to ever include any such outside links. I have attempted to seek a purity of fact in BELIEVE, with as little bias as possible in the included present 1,500 articles. If BELIEVE would ever allow external links, those sites might some day change their content, or might now or later contain distortions of fact that would be beyond the control of BELIEVE's standards. It is a sad statement about humanity that so many of us bring a soapbox everywhere we go, to publicize our own personal beliefs, to try to convince others to follow us! My solution is not a good one, but it's the best I can come up with.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be an Instrument of the Lord's Work! However, I feel it is important that knowledge and the Word be the center of BELIEVE. Other than these brief paragraphs, I prefer to remain in the background to that. For several years, BELIEVE existed without ANY reference to me! The fact that some people had enquired about the motivation behind BELIEVE is the only reason that I added these comments regarding myself.

If you are interested in knowing specifically what I believe, I'd suggest that you visit the page where our Church presents its Statement of Faith. Similar to the format of BELIEVE, there is a brief presentation, and then an extremely thorough version, with hundreds of Scriptural references (which are actually even included) to show the Biblical support for those things we believe, for every individual statement.

We think our Statement of Faith is thorough and comprehensive and extremely Bible-based. We hope that such beliefs always keep us on a proper Christian path, and that we avoid the worldly distractions that unfortunately seem to pollute the efforts of some Churches. They all do wonderful things for the Lord, but we wonder if they might be able to do even more! Hey! We aim high! Imagine what standards Jesus would set for a Church that He Taught in!

We actually hope that ALL Churches some day present their own Statements of Faith in such a clear and descriptive manner, and we have offered to give ANY Church the web-site source code programming so that they might put their own Statement of Faith into such a precise and informative form. (NOT OUR Statement of Faith, THEIRS, but presented in that clear and informative manner.)

I attempt to have a broad and tolerant perspective toward all groups that worship God. I applaud and honor the Work of ALL of God's Churches, including all Protestant Churches, of course, but also including Catholic and Orthodox.

I even see cause to feel warmth for many Jewish and Islamic religious organizations. In the process of reading and studying the many thousands of articles I considered for inclusion into BELIEVE, I learned many new things. For example, I had never before realized that Islam's Holy Book, the Koran, talks about Moses and Abraham and Jesus and Adam and a multitude of others I am familiar with as a Christian. I was surprised to see a generalized presentation of what I call the Ten Commandments in the Koran! (The general story of Moses and the Tablets is around the middle of Sura 7, al-Aaraf.) Further research has now absolutely convinced me (and most scholars) that Islam's Allah is one-and-the-same as who I call the Father. I have long known that the God of the Jews is also the one I call the Father. Fascinating! (I included a small part of the Koran in BELIEVE and I have highlighted text that seems especially interesting to Christians.)

Therefore, I have come to have respect for Muslims and Jews, because I now believe that they actually worship the same God I call the Father. I don't necessarily agree with their specific beliefs or procedures, but, as long as they are attempting to teach others to Praise and Honor God, I feel that they are doing Good. Of course, I personally greatly prefer Churches that recognize that Jesus is our Savior, but I am tempted to think that lack of that belief is more a result of incomplete religious presentation rather than improper religion.

Actually, I have a personal 'theory'! In studying Muhammad, I found that as a child, he was regularly exposed to Christian ideas since an older relative of his was a Devout Christian. However, at that time (around 600 AD), the Christian Church had many internal arguments about the validity of the Trinity and regarding the Nature of Jesus (Divine/mortal/combination). What if Muhammad had become very knowledgeable on Christian and Jewish beliefs, most specifically, the First Commandment (One God)? What if he also did not understand the subtleties of the Trinity? He might easily have concluded that Jesus (who was treated by Christians as if He was God) was a challenge to the One God Commandment. With that conclusion, Jesus could have seemed to him to be blasphemous in confronting the First Commandment! As a first consequence, he instituted Islam's First Pillar, of very regularly stating that "there is One God", (Sura 1) which every Muslim today says many times every day. As a second consequence, Jesus was/is perceived as a "false God", something even we Christians would violently rebel against! I find it amazing and wonderful that virtually ALL of the remainder of Islam and Christianity match up remarkably! Disregarding the violent extremists, Islam generally Teaches Peacefulness, and the vast majority of the billion of modern Muslims seem really good at behaving properly. Wouldn't that be interesting, that if Muhammad had had a more thorough understanding of the Trinity concept, he might have realized / recognized that Jesus WAS God (Allah), and so Allah had actually spent 30 years walking the Earth! My premise is that, had Muhammad fully understood the Trinity concept, Islam might today just be a version of Christianity! (Keep in mind that Christian scholars at the time were arguing over exactly what the Trinity meant!)

I am convinced that calm, informed dialogue might help individuals and cultures grow. Hopefully, rather than looking for reasons to kill each other, we might some day recognize the many parallels that exist in our various beliefs. BELIEVE is meant to try to plant some seeds in this regard.

As a child, I was taught that Islam was foreign, and therefore automatically bad. When I eventually came to understand that they believe in the very same God that I do (my Father is their Allah), I was amazed. When I much later found that they revere Abraham and Moses and many others of my beliefs, I thought this is too much to just be a coincidence! Even Archangel Gabriel is Jibril to them, but one and the same. Even if these are just astounding coincidences, they are still interesting subjects to contemplate!

My Church and I are NOT affiliated with any specific Denomination. I feel it important that BELIEVE forever maintain this independent attitude.

Even though BELIEVE will not ever include links to external religious sites, we think BELIEVE could grow from information they have. If a group or organization wishes to offer some text (NOT a link!) for inclusion within BELIEVE, GREAT!!! If we approve it as adding to the clarity of a subject, without substantial bias, we would then add that text to BELIEVE (with proper authorship credit). Since the resultant text would then be within BELIEVE, we would be able to know that no one could later alter any of it without our knowledge.

You can probably see that our goal is to be like Consumers' Reports for religion, with as impartial a position as possible, and without any financial dependence on "advertisers" as such or major contributors that might expect some favors in return.

I have written several Christian and religious articles of my own. I do not feel that my words are of a level to deserve to be in the company of the scholar-authors that are included in BELIEVE, so I put my efforts in a different location.

My Essays ( http://mb-soft.com/public/otherrel.html )

I hope each of them has some value. Specifically, I hope that two of them, Compatibility of Christianity and Science (Parallelism) and the Meaning of Life, might have significant value, They are each fairly long, and would print out to about 15 pages each. It is not that they have any new information, but rather suggest some new perspectives on information that has been long-known.

I like to think that my intentions and contributions always intend to add information or perspective to a reader. It is virtually NEVER my intention to try to cause anyone to stop believing something they presently believe. (The exceptions are subjects like satanism, etc.) I believe that often the actual Truth involves a larger perspective which INCLUDES our current beliefs AND some new ideas, possibly even including apparently contradictory ideas. I also believe that each reader has the intelligence to determine for themselves what that Truth is, given enough accurate background information. The Holy Spirit is always available to help in such Discernment.

BELIEVE includes the following links to efforts of mine. I believe most of them each to be totally informational, without any contained opinion:

* Romanized Bible Text. I thought it would be interesting to see a small part of the Bible (Genesis 1) in as close to its original form as our language allows.
* Bible Literal Translation. Associated with the entry mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to see the chore that faced translators of the Bible.
* Genealogy of Jesus, In an earlier stage of my life, I was sometimes, in reading my Bible, confused as to who lived earlier or later than someone else. I thought it valuable to better understand the "context" of events and lessons and people in the Bible. Therefore, I assembled a generational listing to assist in my understanding of such things. In case anyone else could benefit from this, I have put that information in BELIEVE. The first part has been re-formatted as a web page. Much of it is still in a text format. Some day, I hope to format the rest of it more attractively.
* Compatibility between Christianity and Science. Technically, this page is not within BELIEVE, and might not deserve to be included in the subject listing there. However, even though the perspectives presented are my own, I believe theymight represent new perspectives that might be of great enough value to warrant my bending BELIEVE's absolute rules. I think I personally justify this decision in that this particular page does NOT try to cause anyone to STOP believing whatever they presently believe, but rather to just consider a larger perspective on those matters.
* Genesis and Science. This article is actually just a partial version of the Christianity/Science article above.

My one other contribution to BELIEVE is that I have chosen to sometimes highlight specific text, particularly in very long articles. When there is a point that I thought particularly significant, I have highlighted it, even though the original author did not. In my own experience of reading thousands of VERY long articles, I have discovered that sometimes I have accidentally glossed over something important. An example is the subject of the Childhood of Jesus. A truly interesting work from the late 1800s that is THOUSANDS of pages long! Even the excerpt I have included in BELIEVE would print out to around a hundred pages! My efforts in highlighting some text is NOT meant to alter the intent of the text, but to help clarify it. Serious students should ignore such highlighting.

On a personal level, I am generally soft-spoken. I have quite a sense of humor. I respect the intelligence of people (until proven otherwise!), so that I seldom think it necessary or appropriate to aggressively try to cause anyone to come to a specific opinion. I believe that if any person is given sufficient accurate information, that person is capable of coming to the proper conclusions on his/her own. In this regard, BELIEVE is just a natural extension of me!

Pastor Carl Johnson
BELIEVE Religious Information Source

If you entered this page from an external link, please visit the
Believe Home Page. ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/index.html )

BELIEVE
Our List of 700 Religious Subjects
E-mail
Editor of BELIEVE
People sometimes ask about me, out of concern for some potential hidden agenda I might have. This is probably a healthy attitude, considering how deceptive much of the world has become these days! An editor could exert influence on his readers by his selection of articles to include in a compilation like BELIEVE. People don't seem to ever do anything for anyone else without expecting something in return. How sad! Imagine what Jesus would have to say about that!

There are things we should sometimes do where there is no direct benefit to ourselves. I feel my efforts at assembling BELIEVE fall in that category. I feel it is irrelevant that I would somehow personally benefit from the existence of BELIEVE. It was never inspired by personal quests for wealth or fame or leadership power. Or, even, toward scoring "points" with God. It is just something that I believe is necessary and important and RIGHT!

In a number of modern Christian books, there is a lead statement, sometimes on the book cover, such as the following:
"How Could Everybody Be So Wrong About Biblical Prophecy?" Doesn't that seem amazingly arrogant a statement for anyone to make, about almost any subject? And is that specific author actually so infinitely insightful and knowledgeable to totally understand the very same Bible that countless thousands of scholars and Theologians have studied for many centuries? I suppose it IS possible that somebody could actually be a thousand times smarter than anyone else who has ever lived, but I have serious doubts about that! Doesn't it seem far more likely that all of the hundreds of authors who make such incredible claims could not possibly truly know all they claim to know and understand? (Have you noticed that virtually none of the authors who make such statements are actually Theologians or who have general respect in the Christian intellectual community regarding their scholarly abilities or capabilities? What does THAT say about them?)

I had come to that conclusion some years back, that no one person (including me, by the way!) can possibly know ALL the answers regarding religion and Christianity. However, if the combined insights of more than 600 scholars who have each dedicated their lives to their specialty subject, were all collected together, maybe we'd have something that had collective value. Well, after around twelve years of more than fulltime effort, the current BELIEVE Project is my attempt to accomplish that end. In subjects where there are possible interpretations or conclusions which are somewhat subjective, such as regarding the method of Baptism, rather than "announcing" a method that we prefer, BELIEVE instead attempts to present an assortment of articles that describe each of the many approaches. The theory is that each reader might read the assorted articles and then contemplate the positives and negatives of each, and then with the Bible in hand, personally assess which method seems "correct". The next reader of those same articles might easily come to some different conclusion, as each person is Guided by their Indwelling Holy Spirit in such studies.

The home page of BELIEVE really describes my motivation pretty well. If Jesus was physically here with us today, how would He present His Teachings? I do NOT think that He would be evasive or deceptive about ANYTHING! I believe that He would have full confidence that Christianity can hold its own against any alternative, just by honestly and fully presenting subjects as thoroughly and accurately as possible. I think He would permit 'alternate' (human) opinions on a number of subjects, and He would therefore want any presentation of such subjects to include 'fair' presentations of each viewpoint. In my opinion, such differences of opinion on some matters is not a reflection on the Lord or the Bible, but rather on us Christians!

We humans tend not to like "vacuums"! Whenever we come across anything where some piece seems to be missing or vague, we have a tendency to try to figure out what belongs in there, and then we sort of "insert" what we think is appropriate! Since virtually no external information source exists for much of what is in the Bible, we find it necessary to essentially exclusively rely on the Bible. We Protestants follow Martin Luther's lead on this, a concept called Sola Scriptura (by the Bible alone). We Protestants have great skepticism for countless Catholic beliefs that are based on "Tradition". Those many Traditions are NOT Biblically based, but rather the result of early Christian scholars "trying to fill in vacuums".

Catholics are not alone in this sort of thing! Since the Bible is often somewhat general, and occasionally even vague, on some side issues, early Protestant Church leaders made their own "assumptions" in order to figure out what additional words/ideas need to be added to Biblical texts, to enable broader understanding. Since that process of "assumption" necessarily involves human fallibility, it turned out that various Protestant groups came to different conclusions regarding various matters. This, in my opinion, is the central cause of the multitude of modern Protestant Denominations. Along the way, many of these various groups/Churches seem to have forgotten that they are, above all, Christians. Rather, they tend to infight a lot, each claiming and believing that they alone know the "correct" understanding of the Lord, His Plan and the Bible.

I don't claim to be in any position to judge that one or another is more correct or more wrong. One reason for assembling the BELIEVE resource was to provide "impartial" presentations of all of the generally accepted opinions / assumptions on areas that seem to cause controversy. It is meant to be left to each visotor to BELIEVE, aided by his/her Holy Spirit, to Discern whatever seems most "correct". If BELIEVE has been done adequately, it should NOT provide specific encouragement toward any particular (human) opinion, but only that SOME method of Worshipping and Praising the Lord should be pursued.

As best as I could, I have tried to follow the Lord's lead in this project. If the collection of articles assembled in BELIEVE assists some visitors in better understanding Jesus and our Faith, then it has fulfilled its goal. If it assists anyone in finding compatibilities between various God-centered religions (our many Protestant Denominations, independent Protestant Churches, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as Judaism and Islam, which both also Worship our same God), rather than always arguing about the differences, that would be nice, too.

BELIEVE can obviously NOT be of a standard that Jesus Himself would do. But that's the 'bar'

Janice said...

@ Anon - 3 wrds for ya

PAPA DONT PREACH

Anonymous said...

MMMUUAAAHHHH !
Keep It Short Son


-Saby

Miranda said...

wow who is that anonymous guy leaving novels on your posts?

Im almost afraid to say that I don't think Jackson did it. I think because he's a very excentric man and was just reliving his childhood. He had some kids sleep over, true thats not quite right for a grown man. But I think thats all it was.

Shrugs, we'll probably never know the truth. But I believe in the end if he is guilty he will pay.

Caraf said...

YAYYYY

MIchael Jackson is acquitted! I would still go to a concert of his and sing and scream and clap etc etc.

I bought a t-shirt in celebration of him being acquitted - it has him on the front and back.. its red.. and I wore it to bed for three nights... celebrating!

i know how child-abusers look, and michael isnt one.

saby said...

do they look like BHAALU ?

Anonymous said...

saby you make me horny
when will i get a good fuck from you?
biggwoman

Anonymous said...

Oh No!

God help me
she gonna fuck me

-Saby

Cyen said...

saby..saby..what am i to do with you..my word..*smiles*

saby said...

They told him don't you ever come around here
Don't wanna see your face, you better disappear
The fire's in their eyes and their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it

You better run, you better do what you can
Don't wanna see no blood, don't be a macho man
You wanna be tough, better do what you can
So beat it, but you wanna be bad

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it
Just beat it, beat it

They're out to get you, better leave while you can
Don't wanna be a boy, you wanna be a man
You wanna stay alive, better do what you can
So beat it, just beat it

You have to show them that you're really not scared
You're playin' with your life, this ain't no truth or dare
They'll kick you, then they beat you,
Then they'll tell you it's fair
So beat it, but you wanna be bad

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it

Beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or who's right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it

Beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or who's right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Just beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it

Anonymous said...

Feb. 20 - March 12, 2003

John Doe claims he was molested by Jackson during this time. The boy later testified that Jackson masturbated him several times against his will as they shared the singer's bed.

Anonymous said...

if somebody by the name dvorak@yahoo.com adds you in Yahoo messenger..don't accept it.. it's a virus. Tell everybody on ur bulletin because if somebody on ur list adds them, u get the virus too. Tell everyone on ur list not to open anything from angell11, tewwtuler and sassybitch. It is a hard drive killer and a very horrible virus. Pass this letter to everyone on ur buddy list. RIght click on the group name of your buddy list and click Send Messages to all