December 27, 2007

Christmas originate from pagan feasts..

It is known that Christmas originate from pagan feasts that were only given a Christian meaning some centuries after Jesus lived on the earth.

How much these feasts were a worship of Sun or of any other idol, and how much these were just for having fun and feast itself?

As Paul writes the idols are nothing and eating (sacrificed) meat in itself is no problem. Only we should not be a stumbling block for weak brothers who may not have that recognition.
If nowadays, at least in the western countries, Christmas have lost their inner connection to idol worship, it shouldn't be a problem to follow some Christmas traditions of pagan origin, that are not bad in itself? Of cause we should be aware of not worshiping the consumption-idol, but this is valid all the year around not just the Christmas-time.

But the majority just likes the traditions and flows with the stream.. So can we take part in it in a moderate and Christ-centered way or is it that evil and pagan, that true Christians, followers of Christ, should reject the Christmas completely?
Anyway I think Christmas and other feasts are not neccesary, we can have a feast for the Lord in our heart every day.

December 19, 2007

Danger of False Teachings

In the community the correct teaching is considered a very important matter.
Really, apostle Paul writes: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching, then you will save yourself and those who listen to you" (1 Tim 4:16), and to Galatians (1:9): "If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!"
And Jesus said: "If you continue in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)
Who has wrong teaching doesn't even worship God...
Teaching and life are closely connected..
False teachings have bad influence in the congregation and lead away from God..
"Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into {your} house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds." (2 John 9-11)

You can see details in their article.

Surely it is biblical to take care of the right teaching. But our recognition is limited in this world. Not every theological detail is explained unambiguously in the Bible. So where is the border between right and wrong teaching? Especially between teaching that is clearly wrong and leading to condemnation and teaching that is not the most correct theologically, but doesn't affect the salvation that clearly?
E.g, how should we interpret the Bible?
Rejecting big parts of the Bible as non-authentic by liberal theologians, takes away the authority of the Biblical truth and makes the first Christians liers who wrote the Bible as a book of myths. This approach questions many teachings of the Bible. So this must be wrong.
Another extreme is to say the Bible is dictated by God literally and has no errors nor contradictions in it's text. And that it is a book of natural science as well as of history. A known teaching they fight for is the six-day creation of the world... Reading with a critical mind, we can find contradictions in the Bible with the Bible itself and with the natural sciences.
I think a reasonable way is to see the Bible as a library of different kinds of literature, written by men who knew God, about Him and about the history of salvation. Everyone wrote according to his recognition in his time, and the recognition grew, especially after coming of Jesus. It was also the community's view.
If somebody doesn't believe a big part of the Bible, it changes his life a lot. If somebody is convinced that the world is created in six days, and follows some other teachings of the Bible literally, it can lead to some strange restrictions concerning food or clothing or womens' position, but does it hinder to follow the basic teaching of Jesus to love and to be sanctified, to be saved by faith in Him?

Another example. If the general teaching is that we need help of Jesus for salvation and that we are called to turn from our sins, does it change much in one's good fight for holiness, if he thinks he was born as a sinner or if he thinks he has only an inclination to sin? God's power can overcome both an inclination to sin and the sinful nature. And one can use both as an excuse for his weakness as well. Isn't it more important to cultivate the attitude not to excuse one's sins, but to be sanctified by Jesus.

One more thought. We were expected everyone to know well the correct teachings in a rather high theological level. But what about those who are not that educated to understand the theological-philosophical details? And the psychically ill? If the details of every teaching are the matter of salvation, how can they be saved?

November 29, 2007

God is Love

About an article on the community's website God is love.
Even active love as a sign of a Christian is an important topic, it took a long time to write about love for the website.. Does it hint to some lack in our love? Or were we too busy in practice of love in other areas?
God's love is giving. He gave us this life and everything. Even more, he gives us eternal life in his son Jesus. He makes us able to love.
Love is not an intense feeling, but is connected with the decision and will to always want the very best for someone.
Only God's love can fulfill our longing for being loved perfectly.


God's love tells the truth, discloses hypocrisy and all other sin, even when it causes unpleasant feelings. E.g: "God gives us everything we need, and gave us many things and abilities for us to love and do good. When we sin we abuse these good gifts from God, using them for evil, without respecting what they were entrusted to us for. A son who squanders all the inheritance his loving, caring father gave him on evil pleasures dishonours and rejects his father. Likewise we dishonour and reject God when we don't ask God how he wants us to live."
-- we dishonor God when we don't use our abilities for good. Not that pleasant to hear, but also challenging to repent.

But I didn't see in the article the famous passage of love from 1Cor 13 "Love is patient, love is kind, love forgives, love doesn't keep list of wrongs..."

God loves everyone, not just the sympathetic ones. Jesus even told to love our enemies and to pray for persecutors, but I didn't notice that last fact in the article.

Love binds Christians together. Love gives also each other trust and freedom. Love doesn't rule over the other.

The first Christians shared even their properties with each other. Anyway, I suppose Jesus didn't want us to make other dependent on ourselves.


...

November 4, 2007

"You haven't changed your hateful attitude"

About the letter to Gottfried H from the Österreichischen Studentenmission (ÖSM)

Kluge publishes a letter from ÖSM to Gottfried from the year 1980, where they ask him not to visit their meetings any more, because of his unchanged hateful attitude towards them. Josef explains the reason of Gottfried's attitude was the fundamentalist view of the ÖSM that ignores the knowledge of science.

I didn't meet G. very often, but from these meetings and from what I heard from others, I would think that he didn't have really good attitude in this matter. And finally, his exclusion from the community had also some connections to his disrespectful ways of talking to brothers! But it took ~20 years for brothers to realize that he would have needed more brotherly correction..

"You Are All Brothers" (Matt 23:8b)

They, or we, claimed to follow only Christ, no human leader or prophet. We didn't have positions like pastor, priest, bishop, or even elder. As in the Bible time there wasn't one pastor over the flock, but several elders from among them, we were just brothers and sisters. Material tasks were divided according to abilities and time everyone had. Elder and more obedient brothers had tasks of bigger responsibility, but there were no fixed rules who was an 'elder brother'.
Everyone was expected to study the Bible, to share his thoughts and recognitions with others and to evangelize.
* By 'brother' we often didn't mean only males, it's just shorter than 'brothers and sisters', the English translation for German Geschwister and Hungarian testverek. Even English was our common language in my time there, there were only few native English-speakers among us.
* 'Obedient' meant obedient to God, of cause. But in fact, it was mixed with obedience to our community's views.


1Cor 14:24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.... 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.


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November 3, 2007

My beginning and way

As for me, the beginning of my Christianity was in 1995 when the Lord reached me via Bible study with some people of Presbyterian + disciple-making background. So my Christianity has been Bible-study-centered. When i started to believe, I learned about various Christian and "Christian" views from the Internet, books, radio.. Later, in the community, I learned even more, also from talks with brothers-sisters and other people. There I learned also to assess the different views more clearly. And I learned more practical self-denial. I learned about co-operation, complementing each other as members of one body, one family. And now I'm learning how to live up this all outside of that close-knit community.

Gruppenegoismus

Mr. Kluge describes our arrogant attitude towards denominations and unfortunately it was so. We were much more devoted to the doctrines and to each other than they; we had given up our relationships, possessions, sometimes profession, town, country for living in the community - this was our new family, the God's nation, outside was the world that moves to the condemnation. Inside we were protected from it's evil. Our love to them was expressed by teaching and living the right doctrine..
I think it's right: in the Church we should have protection from the world, Christians should differ from non-Christians and keep themselves pure and holy. We are to assess, warn and encourage each other and unbelievers. But our love should help unbelievers to see the love of Christ in practice. Even we are holy, we are not yet perfect, we ourselves are in a process of sanctification. Many of us were once unbelievers, living in the sins of the world. God has forgiven us and has saved us by grace, so we should be patient with others as He has been with us.. But too often we assumed that we were right because of our greater devotion, correct doctrine, biblical life-style and the Catholics, Baptists and all the others were wrong just because they don't understand or don't practice something as we did. I do think that e.g. Catholics have several false, unbiblical teachings, or that denominations may tolerate some sins too much or to prefer their traditions to the Bible, but i mean: we focused rather on the wrong and weren't ready to learn from outsiders what was good. I suppose it was a way to defend ourselves from outward influence.

Concerning name-calling, I don't remember of hearing of 'Catholic terror organization', but some expressions sounded disrespectful. Well, 'Jehovah false witnesses' seems more justified.. I can recall hearing such expressions only from single older brothers, but generally we were critical towards others.

The same self-defending, opponent-accusing attitude is exemplified by Josef's Apology: he doesn't admit justified criticism but only defends the community. It's not humble enough. It's also a reason why I'm writing this blog: Mr. Kluge has accusing attitude in his description, and Josef is not enough objective either.

October 27, 2007

The beginning

When I got to know them in 1999, I asked an older brother about the beginning of their community, and he told me a similar story as it it written in the Apology.. (the Apology is a text by Josef A. to defend us against a Catholic priest and 'sect-expert' Mr. Kluge who has published a blaming booklet about the community.) It was 'similar' in the sense that the brother told: There were several of us in the beginning, we were looking for the right congregation, and not finding it, we concluded that we were the church.
Josef, in his defense, puts it so: "So at the beginning we also hoped to find a community. What we found however were only individual Christians, but no community. Every "confession" we encountered, whether large or small raised its own traditions above the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. Biblically based criticism was dismissed (most sharply from the so-called Bible Believers). So we had to face the fact that the assembly of believers didn't exist in our geographic vicinity and that according to Gods will, we ourselves were what we had been searching for in vain, namely the Church of God in Vienna."

That time Gottfried Holic, who is named 'the founder of the group' by Mr. Kluge, was still not excluded and had rather much influence. So it was thought already before the decrease of his influence that he was not the only founder, but that it was God's leading to separate from existing congregations. Generally, there was a custom not to emphasize roles of individuals. Anyway, as much as I know, Gottfried H. played an important role in the community. And it is sad that those who were closer to him, allowed him too much.

Later, i have been told, that in the beginning they didn't meet in a flat. They just went to meetings of congregations, after the 'offical part of the meeting' they continued to talk with those who wanted, until everyone had to go to his home by the last bus or underground train.

Intro

Hello!

This is an attempt to organize and express my thoughts about a time in my Christian walk, and to correct or comment some information available in the cyberspace about the circle of believers I was together with this time. It was six and a half years. There was much to learn in this community, but also several things that need rethinking and looking for a better solution.