Monday, June 13, 2005

saby, a self-portrait ...

HIS NAME
when he was a kid, his moma called him baba
dat name stuck all through school days

it was only in college,
he was known as saby

when he got a job
they called him D'Costa

when he became a father
he was called daddy at home

when he started greying
girls called him dada-ji

i hate it!
why cant girls just call me saby?

HIS ATTITUDE
he is 54, but he tinks he is 18 only
like bryan adams


HIS DREAMS
to go round the world
wid a back pack, wid caraff


HIS LOVES
Mature woomen
young woomen can be mature too
like de vile

he also loves annony_mouse_lover_of _saby
and a few other mice

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh my GOD!Saby

I thot u hate me

but I confess now again dat I love u!

we may not be lovey dovey all the time '
but the love remains, that matters

smiles*.....

your lover

Anonymous said...

now the next time I gotta be watchful , i'd be on his hate list hahah....

Keshi said...

aww I wasnt even mentioned in ur life portrait... :( :(

Keshi.

Anonymous said...

cuz u dont figure here...keshi

indiatimespublic said...

Keshi deserves hate, no less.
I love you too Saby.
Heyyyyy,
Sebia deleted the comment feature from her blog after all that constructive criticism. This time people didn't criticize her, only her writing and she still couldn't take it. I say we should stop visiting her blog and chatting with her. What a low-minded character.
Saby, you encourage freedom of expression so please stand up for your principles atleast once.

Anonymous said...

i dont stand up for principles
only for sexy woomen


-saby Jr.

Anonymous said...

well tink of sebia as a wooman
dat mite help u

Janice said...

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE U TOLD ME UR A D"SOUZA when ur a d'costa ... hehe an the post earlier for me was really sweet (((((((((((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))))))) n mwahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Janice said...

i cant sleep its so late in the night.... chris is dead to the world and im restless :( with out a wink of sleep

Anonymous said...

saby zindabad!!!

as long as Saby dont disable mice comments , we r here for survival!

Anonymous said...

love u sabycakes.

Anonymous said...

muah saby

kissing_mouse

jkhkhjkh said...

Anonymous, in view of your recent post, you need to do one thing immediately: Apologise for saying that Saby will die in two months. Do it NOW. Punk, you accuse Saby, and look at you.

Anonymous said...

who the fuck said that?

Anonymous said...

heyy Saby,

I apologize ever If i been rude to you.

my sincere apologies.
u r a great and wise guy and you will remain.
dis has come from my heart.

I m sorry.


sorry_mouse.

Caraf said...

LOL

That was so sweet dada-ji :)

(kidding kidding.. Saby)

Anonymous said...

pithaly

u r blind.how Saby supports keshi?

"ugly and untalented -suicide"

and this guy is applauding her
what goes around comes around

so shut the Fuck up pity-ullu.

Cyen said...

i haven't said a fond hello to my saby in a while..your a busy man..very original..too..an elfin hello to ya,saby.

Anonymous said...

a

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!

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 )

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!

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 )

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!

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 )

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!

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 )

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!

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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