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Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible and hold to Christian truths as taught by Jesus and the Disciples and found in the Holy Scriptures.  The two creeds pasted below put our beliefs in a nut shell and put the focus where it belongs on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and not on us.

The Nicene Creed

 

We believe in one God the Father, the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.

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

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen

The Apostles' Creed

 

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
 
 

Who is Muhammad?

 

This piece is not meant to insult the people or the founder of the Islamic faith but is intended to cast light upon the evidence surrounding his actual existence.  In doing some research on the topic, it is surprising to see the lack of investigation into the issue and the lack of information concerning the historical fact of Muhammad’s life.

In his book, A History of the Arab People’ A. Hourani tells us that the first recorded words of Muhammad’s life came 100 years after the man’s death.  This is not good for such works will always be held under a cloud of suspicion even if accurate.  In contrast we find the Gospels and the rest of the books of the New Testament written within 100 years of Christ’s death, and when the majority of eye-witnesses were still alive.

If there was to be any conspiracy, it would have been found out long before the 1st century closed.  With Muhammad we cannot be sure what his life was like or if he actually existed as an individual let alone a composite of individuals.  There is too much doubt that lingers with each retelling of His biography.

The article “Did Muhammad Exist’ by Chadd de la Casses compares the very strict criteria used to combat the Bible and Jesus’ life with that used to investigate alternative religion’s founders:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/387247/did_muhammad_really_exist.html

In this article he reviews the differences and points out that there is very little secular record of his actual existence.  He, like Hourani, points out that the first actual book was written in A.D. 750 by Muhammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn Yasser simply titled ‘Life’.  It is fair to say that by that time poetic license could replace historical fact as there were no eye-witnesses left to refute what was written.

By placing the alternative religion’s religious writings under the same scrutiny the Bible is placed under we find that their ‘evidence’ falls apart and that the historical record is non-existent.  The same happens when you place the Book of Mormon under an archaeological review.

According to the same article, even the existence of Mecca at Muhammad’s time is under suspicion as there is no archaeological evidence to support its pre-eminence at the time of Muhammad.  Though to be fair, physical evidence is hard to find for many cities and events of the past.

The following website, http://bibleprobe.com/muhammad.htm, provides a little more detail concerning the literary record of the life of Muhammad and again we see works written long after the fact when details would be clouded or forgotten, re-arranged and so on.

This website isn’t bad and provides a lot of information from ex-Muslims which help us to understand the problem surrounding the person known as Muhammad. Here are a few words it writes about Muhammad:

“As you will see below, Muhammad posed as an apostle of God.  Yet his life is filled with lustfulness (12 marriages and sex with a child, slaves and concubines), rapes, warfare, conquests, and unmerciful butcheries.  The infinitely good, just and all holy God simply cannot tolerate anything in the least unjust or sinful.  What Muhammad produced in the Qur'an is simply a book of gibberish consisting of later evil verses abrogating (superseding) earlier peaceful verses. These verses in Arabic poetically "tickle" the ears of Arab listeners.   Islam is a caustic blend of paganism and twisted Bible stories. Muhammad, its lone "prophet", who made no prophecies, conceived his religion to satiate his lust for power, sex, and money"

There can be no doubt his life is shrouded in mystery, legend and deceit and we may never know more about him other than he was a man who made claims and was able to get subsequent nations to adopt his teachings without out question

That website has this to say about the Koran which disputes the claim that the Muslim scriptures were already written as a complete book in the time of Muhammad:

The Jewish and Christian Bibles were written by "inspired men of God" who immediately committed God's Word to writing.  Islam doesn't even have either an original or inspired Qur'an. The Muslim Qur'an was made up supposedly from "memory" from those who supposedly committed the words of Muhammad to memory, and from a few scraps found under a bed.  This was originally begun about 15-20 years after Muhammad died at his wife Ayish's home in Medina, and he was lowered into a hole in the ground, where he remains.  The compilation was not finished until at least 150 years after Muhammad's death.  This "hearsay" argument seriously brings the credibility of the Qur'an into question.  But, that's only the beginning.  All the errors, including simple mathematical and historical errors you will see in the Qur'an below render it impossible to be a divine revelation

Such a history denies the many claims Muhammad made about the Koran and shows how little he had in character.

Who is Muhammad?  We don’t really know, for the modern Muslim he is a spiritual figure deserving respect and worship yet to everyone else he is just another man who was successful in deceiving intelligent people.

As with many aspects of the Roman Catholic Church, it is highly possible that men of ill repute saw an opportunity to enslave a large body of people for their own purposes.  Whatever the reason believers should know that there is no truth in Islam or its history.

 

***for further research, type in the search box the words ‘archaeological evidence for Muhammad’ or something similar and you will be able to read the investigations for yourselves.
 
 

Apostolic Succession

 

Recently the new Pope issued a statement that the Roman Catholic Church was the true church of God and all the others were the fakes.  He based his position on the R.C.C.’ doctrine of apostolic succession {http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01641a.htm}.

 

This is an idea solely held by the R.C. Church as no other denomination makes such a claim and it has its roots in the passage found in Matthew 16: 13-20 which reads:

 

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

 14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

 15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ,[b] the Son of the living God."

 17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,[c] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[d] will not overcome it.[e] 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[f] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[g] loosed in heaven." 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

 

Now not all of what I am about to say is original with me, as I learned it from another source whose name escapes me at this time.  The key to this doctrine is the exchange between Jesus and Peter found in vs.15-17 where Peter confesses who Jesus is and Jesus states ‘upon this rock…’

This statement has been misinterpreted as meaning Jesus was building His church on Peter, that Peter was the leader of the church and He would take the church into the next phase...  This is not the case.  The ‘rock’ Jesus was referring to was the confession: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’, not the establishment of Peter’s leadership.

The leadership of the church will change but the precept of Jesus being the Christ the Son of the Living God cannot be changed and nothing evil will do can change that fact.  If Peter were to be that rock then the ramifications to the church would be immense and opens the church up to being built upon shaky ground with no confidence in what they believe. 

Once Peter died the church would lose its rock and could disperse or disappear as Peter’s influence and leadership would be gone. But with the confession as the rock, then the deaths of leaders and other influential people would not affect the flock because the rock is there for all to cling to no matter the generation. 

In other words, we are not to look to people to keep our faith strong, we are to be looking to Christ and with Peter (& subsequent leaders) as the rock our eyes would be off Christ and onto man, which is scripturally wrong.

Another major point against this doctrine of the R. C. C.’s is that not one book of the Bible, not one chapter nor verse, teaches this doctrine. There is nothing commanded by God that this is so which strikes a fatal blow to this thinking of apostolic succession. 

All this doctrine is is an eisogetic interpretation of a passage to establish a false authority for a position, pope, which has no scriptural foundation for its establishment.  So the pope can make all the statements he wants to but  the doctrines of the church he leads, undermine any validity to his claims and shows that the R.C.C.’s roots are not found in scripture but in bad interpretation and misuse of the Word of God.
 

What they Believe-- Islam

This is a new series in the comparative religion section and its sole purpose is to display what different cults and false religions believe so one can compare with what the Bible teaches and see why these religions, cults and alternative beliefs are not accepted. A believer needs to know why such ideas are rejected instead of just parroting a pastor's or missionary's words. 

The beliefs used in this series will be taken from other sources, and compiled here with due credit given so you do not have to do the work and know that there are those out there, called of God, whose duty is to sift through all the confusing thoughts of these fake religions and present to you the core heresies in easy to understand language.

For this and other pages in this series, the information is actually public and it serves little purpose to do anything but place the work of others, giving them full credit for their research, here on this board.

The pages in this series are meant as a public service to help reach those who do not find the pages or do not know which the best ones to use are. There is no intent to steal, or plagiarize but to provide further exposure of those who do a lot of hard work and who can detail, explain or emphasize what is being taught a lot better than others can.

For Islam, the words come from Dr. Norman Geisler as he presented them in the book, 'The Portable Seminary' pgs.394-9:

1. The word of God: Though Muslims do accept the idea that God revealed Himself in the torah, The Psalms, & the Gospels, they hold to the idea that the Koran is the FINAL word of God.

2. Doctrines: there are 5 main ones-- A. There is only 1 God; B. There have been many prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus & Muhammad; C. God created angels, both good and bad; D. The Koran is God's full and final revelation; and E. A final day of judgment is coming, with the faithful going to heaven and the infidel to hell.

3. The 5 pillars of IslamA. All that is necessary to become a Muslim is to confess the Shahadah*; B. One must pray the salat, 5 times a day; C. One must keep an annual fast (sawn) through the lunar month Ramadan; D. One gives alms (sakat) to the needy, 1/40th of one's income; & E. Every able Muslim must make one pilgrimage to Mecca during his life.

4. Other beliefs: A. Muslims believe in a Jihad or holy war which can be interpreted in many subjective ways;  B. They share many doctrines with Christianity- i.e. creation, angels,heaven,hell the resurrection of all people; C. They affirm Christ's prophet hood, virgin birth, physical ascension, second coming, sinlessness, miracles and messiahship; D. They deny that Christ died on the cross for our sins and His resurrection; E. God is unknowable

Another good source and one far more definitive than what is given here is the book by Albert Hourani and entitled 'The History of the Arab Peoples'.  It records the origin of 'Allah' how Muhammad came to power, his attitudes and the fact that much of the Koran was edited and rewritten in later years, long after Muhammad's death.  It is a very informative book, well written with little or no bias and worth the time f one wants to understand the Middle Eastern people better.

 
What They Believe- Zen Buddhism

Again the following information is taken from 'The Portable Seminary' and was written by Dr. Norman Geisler and his complete work is found on pages 381-9.

1. basic beliefs: The 4 noble truths- A. Life consists of suffering; B. Nothing is permanent or unchanging; C. The way to liberation is through the elimination of desire for what is temporal; D. desire can be eliminated by following the 8-fold path, which is found in 3 categories:

Wisdom- right understanding & right thought

Ethical Conduct- right speech, right action, right livelihood

Mental Discipline- right effort, right awareness, right meditation.

2. Other beliefs: A. Zen Buddhists believe in reincarnation, B. Nirvana, (the final state of nothingness), C.  Zen is everything, D. God is man and man is God, E. Everything and everyone is really one, F. The Mind has been in existence since the beginingless past, G. the world around us is a relative world.

3.Humans: Individual human beings are simply a manifestation of all this All or Mind or God.

4. Ethics: Zen is primarily a 'practical discipline of life' and is a disciplined aimed 'at the reconstruction of character.'  Its answer to egoism is to learn.

5. Human Destiny: Is the achievement of Nirvana or the annihilation of the notion of the ego substance and of all desires that arise from this erroneous conception along with the practical expression of universal love or sympathy for all beings.  Nirvana is also God and to achieve it is to realize one's essential oneness with the absolute One.

 
What They Believe-- Vedanta Hinduism

Once again I turn to 'The Portable Seminary' pages 389-394 and Dr. Norman Geisler for the information placed on this page:

1. Introduction: "Hinduism represents a broad category of religious beliefs, most of which are pantheistic or panentheistic.  One of the oldest forms of pantheism is found in the last section of the Vedas, the Hindi scriptures. This final section is called 'The Upanishads'

2. View of God: Vedanta pantheism believes that only one God, Brahman, exists, who is infinite in form, immortality, imperishable, impersonal, all-pervading, supreme, changeless, absolute and invisible while at the same time is none of these.  They teach that this God is beyond all thought and speech.

3. World View: All is god and god is all and that there is only 1 reality. The world we see, feel, etc., does not actually exist but is really an illusion.

4. View of Humanity: Maya, or the illusory universe has deceived us into thinking that each person is a particular in the universe. The depth of a person's soul is identical to the depth of the universe.

5. View of Ethics; people must transcend the world of illusion to discover the true Self. This is accomplished by going beyond both good & evil, which translates into the idea one, is NO MORE TROUBLED by what one has done.

6. Human Destiny: Realizing one's oneness with Brah or one is doomed to repeat the cycle of 'samsara', the wheel of time and desire or birth, death, rebirth. One's life is determined by the law of Karma, which is absolutely binding and allows no exceptions.  One who has been good but not good enough to become free from samsara will go to a heaven where he gets to enjoy the benefits of his good deeds and when those are gone he is reincarnated as a new or different person. 

7. Salvation: Salvation is solely of personal efforts.

8. Hell: The Upanishads know no such thing as eternal damnation (the same is true for of every other Hindu scripture)

 
What They Believe- Mormonism
 

The Mormon Church or their real name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, makes many claims.  One such claim is that they are Christian, well on this page you will see for yourself how untrue this claim is, as their beliefs vary very greatly from what is taught in the Bible.  The source for this material is taken from http://www.carm.org/lds/mormon_beliefs.htm  with little to no changes made to their work:

1.     Book of Mormon

1.     The book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible, (History of the Church, 4:461.)

2.     Devil, the

1.     The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus "in the morning of pre-existence," (Mormon Doctrine, page 192.)

2.     Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as siblings in heaven to them both, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163.)

3.     God

1.     God used to be a man on another planet, Mormon Doctrine, p. 321.  Joseph Smith,  Times and Seasons, Vol 5, pp. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, p. 345, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333.)

2.     "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as mans..." (D&C 130:22).

4.     God, becoming a god

1.     After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347, 354.)

2.     "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them," (DC 132:20).

5.     God, many gods

1.     There are many gods, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163.)

2.     "And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light (Book of Abraham 4:3)

6.     God, mother goddess

1.     There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443.)

2.     God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine p. 516.)

7.     God, Trinity

1.     The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.)

8.     Heaven

1.     There are three levels of heaven: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, Mormon Doctrine, p. 348.

9.     Holy Ghost, the

1.     The Holy Ghost is a male personage, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, (Le Grand Richards, Salt Lake City, 1956, page 118; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, page 179.)

10.   Jesus

1.     "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

2.     "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8: p. 115).

3.     "Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh ..." (First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, 1916, God the Father, compiled by Gordon Allred, pg. 150).

11.  Joseph Smith

1.     If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation.  There is no salvation [the context is the full gospel including exaltation to Godhood] outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670.)

12.  Pre-existence

1.     We were first begotten as spirit children in heaven and then born naturally on earth, (Journal of Discourse, Vol. 4, p. 218.)

2.     The first spirit to be born in heaven was Jesus, (Mormon Doctrine, page 129.)

3.     The Devil was born as a spirit after Jesus "in the morning of pre-existence," (Mormon Doctrine, page 192.)

13.  Salvation

1.     "One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.)

2.     A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus' plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to "deny men their agency and to dethrone god." (Mormon Doctrine, page 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, page 8.)

3.     Jesus' sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins, (murder and repeated adultery are exceptions), (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 247, 1856.)

4.     Good works are necessary for salvation, Articles of Faith, p. 92.)

5.     There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188.)

6.     "The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79.)

7.     "As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements -- 'obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.'" (Articles of Faith p. 79).

8.     "This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts" (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 697).

9.     "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do," (2 Nephi 25:23).

14.  Trinity, the

1.     The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.)

It is almost impossible to get an objective or third party opinion on basic Mormon beliefs because of the flood of Mormon websites that appear when one searches.  One has to be careful in their pursuit of research that they do not get confused and pick a site they think is NOT Mormon when it really is.

 
 
What They Believe-Jehovah Witnesses

A little easier to find independent research on the beliefs of the Jehovah Witnesses than it is with the Mormons, here are the basic beliefs of this cult and again taken from http://www.religionfacts.com/jehovahs_witnesses/beliefs.htm with little or no changes:

1. Bible: In agreement with most conservative Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses affirm the full inspiration of the Bible by God and the preservation of its copies over the centuries. Witnesses see the Bible as a gift from God that tells humans about what God is like, how to cope with problems, and how to please God. {1} Witnesses use a special translation of the Bible - the New World Translation.

2. God: Jehovah's Witnesses believe in one God, the Creator of the universe and the God of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. They stress the fact that God has revealed his personal name to humanity, which is Jehovah. Jehovah has a spirit body and lives in heaven, but sees all things. Jehovah's Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity. {2}

3. Jesus Christ: Jehovah's Witnesses disagree with the mainstream Christian belief that Jesus was "fully God, fully man." Witnesses teach that Jesus was not God, but rather God's first creation. Jesus existed in pre-human form as God's agent of creation and God's chief spokesman (the Word), and took on human form as the man Jesus by means of a virgin birth.

The purpose of Jesus' incarnation on earth was threefold in the view of Witnesses: (1) To teach the truth about God; (2) to provide a model of a perfect life for people to follow; and (3) to sacrifice his life to set humans free from sin and death. His crucifixion was not on a cross, but a single upright stake. After his death, God raised Jesus from the dead "as a spirit creature" and Jesus returned to his home in heaven. Jesus was not made King, however, until 1914. (See End Times, below.) {3}

4. Holy Spirit: In accordance with their rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, Witnesses disagree with mainstream Christianity that the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons in the Godhead. Instead, they believe the Holy Spirit to be "God's active force." {4}

5. Human Nature: Like most Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses trace humanity's current situation to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The disobedience of the first couple caused death to enter the world, and as a result, all human beings get sick, age, and die. This is against God's plan, which was to make the entire Earth a paradise. {5}

However, Witnesses do not emphasize the spiritual consequences of Adam's sin on humanity nor they teach that human free will has been damaged. Rather, Witnesses expect and encourage their members to strive to do God's will and remain pure in his eyes. {6}

6. Meaning of Life and Salvation: For Jehovah's Witnesses, the purpose of life is to earn the right to participate in God's future Kingdom on earth, and to help others to do so. Witnesses therefore focus on living a moral, acceptable life before God and witnessing about their faith to others. {7}

Witnesses believe that salvation was made possible through Christ's death, who made up for the sin of Adam. {8} But eternal life comes not simply from faith in Jesus but from "learning about Jehovah and obeying his requirements," proving oneself to be God's loyal subject, and listening to the Kingdom message and acting on it. {9}

7. Afterlife: Jehovah's Witnesses deny the existence of hell. Instead, they hold that the souls of the wicked will be annihilated. The death that Adam brought into the world is spiritual as well as physical, and only those who gain entrance into the Kingdom of God will exist eternally. However, this division will not occur until Armageddon, when all people will be resurrected and given a chance to gain eternal life. In the meantime, "the dead are conscious of nothing." {10}

Witnesses also have a slightly different view of heaven than mainstream Christianity. Based on their reading of prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven to rule with God and Jesus. The remainder of the righteous will enjoy paradise on earth - a restored Garden of Eden in which there is no sickness, old age, death or unhappiness. {11}

8. End Times:  A belief that is unique to Jehovah's Witnesses is that the eschatological events predicted in Revelation began in 1914. This is when God gave Jesus his Kingdom, and Jesus has been ruling from heaven ever since. At this time Jesus threw Satan and his demons out of heaven and down to earth, which is why, according to Witnesses, the world has been getting progressively worse since 1914. {12}

Jehovah's Witnesses look forward to a theocracy, in which all human governments are abolished and God rules the entire earth himself. This is expected to occur soon. Although Witnesses once predicted specific dates for this event, they now state that "the Bible does not give a date for these events, but it provides evidence to show that we are living in 'the last days' of this troubled world." {13}

9. Other Religions: Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves true Christians, but most mainstream Christians do not agree that they are. The feeling is mutual, however: Jehovah's Witnesses deny that other Christian groups are true Christians.

 
What They Believe- Christian Scientists

Taken from:  http://www.allaboutcults.org/christian-scientist.htm

Christian Scientist: The Meaning
A Christian Scientist is a member of The Church of Christ, Scientist (Also referred to as CCS). The church is also recognized by the term The Christian Science Church, which was its original title and is not associated with the
Church of Scientology. The organization was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. Currently, the CCS is run by a five-person Board of Directors headquartered at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The CCS has approximately 2,300 churches in 68 countries.

Christian Scientist: The Foundation
According to Christian Scientist literature, Mary Ann Morse Baker was born in 1821. She was a frail youngster who suffered from many illnesses. In 1844, her first husband, George Glover, died of yellow fever and left her in poverty with an infant son. Shortly thereafter, Mary was forced to give up her son to foster care. In 1853, she married her second husband, Daniel Patterson. After being miraculously healed from injuries suffered during a crippling accident, Mary claimed to have uncovered the secret of "Divine Science." She went on to teach her techniques of healing and spiritual philosophy to all who were intrigued. In 1875, after her divorce from Daniel Patterson, she moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts and founded the Christian Science Association. It was there that she published her foundational book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In 1877, she married her third husband, Asa Albert Eddy, and together they officially founded the CCS. Asa died in 1882, and Mary went on to establish "The Mother Church," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1890. Mary died in 1910.

Christian Scientist: The Doctrine
Christian Scientist doctrine is found principally in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (S&H). Other CCS publications include The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Journal, Herald of Christian Science, The Christian Science Sentinel, The World Monitor, and Christian Science Quarterly.

Biblical Authority. Christian Science doctrine maintains that "as adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (S&H, p. 497). Nonetheless, Christian Science interprets the Bible in light of Mrs. Eddy's writings, particularly S&H, in which she interprets the Bible according to her metaphysical presuppositions. She questions the textual reliability of the Bible, pointing to "the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions . . . these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages" (S&H, p. 139). Mrs. Eddy went on to apply new, spiritual meanings to common biblical terms. For example, "Jerusalem" is defined as "Mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal senses" (S&H, p. 589). "Holy Ghost" is defined as "Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love" (S&H, p. 588).

God. They use impersonal synonyms for God, which lessens God's personal nature. "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (S&H, p. 465). These are synonymous terms that "refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity." (S&H, p. 465).

Spirit & Reality. Since God's essence is spirit or mind, and only that which reflects God's nature is real, then matter does not really exist. "Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal" (S&H, p. 468). Since matter does not exist and humanity reflects God's nature, then humanity is not really made of matter. "Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual" (S&H, p. 468). Pain, death, sin, and disease are only illusions. "The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief…They are not true, because they are not of God" (S&H, p. 472). "The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health" (S&H, p. 377). Since matter, sin, disease, and death are illusions and are unreal, then people are not subject to them. "Through immortal Mind, or Truth, we can destroy all ills which proceed from mortal mind" (S&H, p. 374).

Christian Scientist: What About Salvation?
A Christian Scientist believes that sin and death are false notions (illusions). Therefore, salvation comes through understanding and overcoming these false beliefs and recognizing that humans are divine spirit and mind. "We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter" (S&H, p. 497). However, salvation is not the result of some special wisdom set forth in the S&H. The Bible tells us that salvation is received only by acknowledging and repenting of our sin (real, not illusion), and putting our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

taken from: http://christianscience.com/beliefs.html

Core Beliefs

Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is All and all-good. They believe that God is not distant and unknowable, but that God is all-encompassing and always present, and that each individual is loved by God, cared for by Him, and made in God’s image—spiritual, not material.

Christian Scientists believe in the Bible and in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, or promised Messiah. And they believe that Jesus’ teachings and healing work expressed scientific Christianity, or the application of the laws of God—laws which are still practical and provable today, by anyone, anywhere. Christian Scientists consider the Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to be central to their lives and practice of Christianity.

Above all, Christian Scientists believe in the saving, healing power of God’s love—that no one is beyond redemption, that no problem is too entrenched or overwhelming to be addressed and healed. In other words, Christian Scientists don’t believe that salvation occurs at some point in the future, but that the presence of God’s goodness can be experienced here and now—and by everyone.

One of the best ways to learn more about Christian Science is to explore the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

 
What The Believe- The Unification Church (Moonies)

Taken from:  http://www.answers.com/topic/unification-church

A religious movement founded in 1954 in Korea by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean engineer. His family had converted to the Presbyterian Church, and in 1935 he had a vision of Jesus, who reportedly told him to complete Jesus' unfinished work. He began to collect followers as early as 1944 into the Broad Sea Church. In 1946 he began a six-year stint in a North Korean prison camp. After his release, he made his way to Pusan, South Korea, where he eventually founded his church. Its basic teachings were written down in the Divine Principle, first published in 1957.

The first missionaries of the church were sent to Japan, where they had their greatest success. Members moved to the United States in 1959, and the first centers were begun in Eugene, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. Moon moved to the United States in 1971. Soon established were a headquarters in Manhattan, a seminary in Barrytown, New York, and Moon's residence in Irvington, New York.

Unification thought is based on a unique understanding of the concepts of Creation, the Fall, and Restoration. The principle of Creation asserts that God created the world and by that act became known. The world, reflecting God's nature, has two expressions, as Sung Sang (internal, invisible) and Hyung Sang (external, visible). It also is expressed as male and female. In the first set of expressions, one sees the relationship of spiritual and material; the second reveals what is traditionally known as yin and yang, the masculine and feminine. God created out of his inner nature, his heart of love. The purpose of creation is to experience the joy that comes from loving.

The Fall came about from Adam and Eve's failure to realize God's purpose in creation. The Fall placed Satan in control of creation. God has been trying to restore his primal intention ever since. The Bible is an account of God's various restoration attempts.

The principle of Restoration delineates the conditions necessary for the reestablishment of God's intention. The plan involves both God's sending of one sinless man and the response of a free and responsible humankind. The Messiah was to be born as a substantial, physical being, an example of the ideal person. He was also to take a bride and realize the ideal family and thus become the True Parent. Through the True Parent, God will implant love in the hearts of all who follow him. He will also show them how to accomplish the true purpose in life.

Throughout the 1970s the Unification Church (full name: The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity) became one of the more controversial of the new religions. Because of its intense indoctrination, it was labeled a "cult" by many parents of the primarily youthful converts. Many were offended by the church's policy concerning sex and marriage. New members spent at least seven years in celibacy, after which Moon selected a spouse for them. Most marriage partners were drawn from a different country or race. Following their engagement, couples were married in mass weddings, the most recent of which occurred in 1995.

The church spawned a number of organizations, some evangelistic arms and others designed to carry out social policies. The church also made friends with many scholars and intellectuals. Most of the church's programs are now organized into two structures, the International Cultural Foundation and the International Religious Foundation. The former has sponsored possibly the most successful program involving nonchurch members, the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences.

taken from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/unificat.htm

Beliefs:

While many of the beliefs of the Unification Church are identical to those of other conservative Christian groups, there are some major differences:

They view God as a single being with "perfect intellect, emotion and will". They reject the traditional Christian concept of the Trinity. God contains within himself positive (male) and negative (female) aspects, which are in perfect harmony with each other.

The Holy Spirit is the feminine counterpart to God. She is not a person, but is a form of energy that is derived from God.

Before Adam and Eve's were married in Eden, Eve had an affair with the Archangel Lucifer. This caused the spiritual fall of mankind. She later engaged in an pre-marital sexual relationship with Adam. This caused the physical fall of mankind. Together, these illicit sexuality caused them to form an imperfect family. Their sin led to Satan taking control of the world.

The church links Communism (the expression of Satan) with Cain and Democracy (the expression of God) with Abel.

Jesus Christ is viewed as a unique human being who was born without original sin. After his crucifixion, he was spiritually resurrected, although Satan took his body away.

God's original intent was for Jesus Christ to form a perfect marriage in order to redeem humanity, and undo the harm perpetrated by Adam and Eve. Since Jesus was executed before accomplishing his mission, it will be up to a third Adam to form this perfect marriage and complete Jesus' task.

By his spiritual resurrection, Jesus has made possible spiritual salvation for persons who accept him as savior and believe in his message. They will, after death, live with Jesus in Paradise. However, because Jesus did not complete his original task, physical salvation is not possible on earth during one's lifetime. Complete salvation (spiritual and physical) awaits the arrival of the third Adam and his subsequent perfect marriage.

St. Paul is viewed as the originator of Christianity. Through his expertise, he converted the teachings of Jesus concerning the kingdom of God into a formal religion about Jesus.

Hell exists on earth. Over time, Hell will be transformed into the kingdom of heaven on earth. Hell exists in the spiritual world as well, as an extension of life for those of us who live in hell on earth.

One of the main purposes of the Unification Church is to unite all of the fragments of Christianity into a single body.

The third Adam was born in Korea between 1917 and 1930. (The first Adam was the individual described in Genesis; the second Adam is Jesus). He will be recognized as second coming of Christ, the perfect man. He will marry the perfect woman, and will become the "true spiritual parents of humankind". Some members of the Unification Church regard Rev. Moon and his second (and current) wife Hak Ja Han as these parents, although the Church itself has never made this claim.

 
What The Believe- New Age

Taken from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/newage.htm

Introduction:

The New Age Movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed, etc. They often use mutually exclusive definitions for some of their terms. The New Age is in fact a free-flowing spiritual movement; a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which they add on to whichever formal religion that they follow. Their book publishers take the place of a central organization; seminars, conventions, books and informal groups replace of sermons and religious services.

Quoting John Naisbitt:

"In turbulent times, in times of great change, people head for the two extremes: fundamentalism and personal, spiritual experience...With no membership lists or even a coherent philosophy or dogma, it is difficult to define or measure the unorganized New Age movement. But in every major U.S. and European city, thousands who seek insight and personal growth cluster around a metaphysical bookstore, a spiritual teacher, or an education center." 1

The New Age is definitely a heterogeneous movement of individuals; most graft some new age beliefs onto their regular religious affiliation. Recent surveys of US adults indicate that many Americans hold at least some new age beliefs:

8% believe in astrology as a method of foretelling the future

7% believe that crystals are a source of healing or energizing power

9% believe that Tarot Cards are a reliable base for life decisions

about 1 in 4 believe in a non-traditional concept of the nature of God which are often associated with New Age thinking:

11% believe that God is "a state of higher consciousness that a person may reach"

8% define God as "the total realization of personal, human potential"

3% believe that each person is God.

The group of surveys cited above classify religious beliefs into 7 faith groups. 2 Starting with the largest, they are: Cultural (Christmas & Easter) Christianity, Conventional Christianity, New Age Practitioner, Biblical (Fundamentalist, Evangelical) Christianity, Atheist/Agnostic, Other, and Jewish, A longitudinal study from 1991 to 1995 shows that New Agers represent a steady 20% of the population, and are consistently the third largest religious group. 2

and

New Age beliefs:

A number of fundamental beliefs are held by many New Age followers; individuals are encouraged to "shop" for the beliefs and practices that they feel most comfortable with:

Monism: All that exists is derived from a single source of divine energy.

Pantheism: All that exists is God; God is all that exists. This leads naturally to the concept of the divinity of the individual, that we are all Gods. They do not seek God as revealed in a sacred text or as exists in a remote heaven; they seek God within the self and throughout the entire universe.

Panentheism: God is all that exists. God is at once the entire universe, and transcends the universe as well.

Reincarnation: After death, we are reborn and live another life as a human. This cycle repeats itself many times. This belief is similar to the concept of transmigration of the soul in Hinduism.

Karma: The good and bad deeds that we do adds and subtracts from our accumulated record, our karma. At the end of our life, we are rewarded or punished according to our karma by being reincarnated into either a painful or good new life. This belief is linked to that of reincarnation and is also derived from Hinduism

An Aura is believed to be an energy field radiated by the body. Invisible to most people, it can be detected by some as a shimmering, multi-colored field surrounding the body. Those skilled in detecting and interpreting auras can diagnose an individual's state of mind, and their spiritual and physical health.

Personal Transformation A profoundly intense mystical experience will lead to the acceptance and use of New Age beliefs and practices. Guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, and (sometimes) the use of hallucinogenic drugs are useful to bring about and enhance this transformation. Believers hope to develop new potentials within themselves: the ability to heal oneself and others, psychic powers, a new understanding of the workings of the universe, etc. Later, when sufficient numbers of people have achieved these powers, a major spiritual, physical, psychological and cultural planet-wide transformation is expected.

Ecological Responsibility: A belief in the importance of uniting to preserve the health of the earth, which is often looked upon as Gaia, (Mother Earth) a living entity.

Universal Religion: Since all is God, then only one reality exists, and all religions are simply different paths to that ultimate reality. The universal religion can be visualized as a mountain, with many sadhanas (spiritual paths) to the summit. Some are hard; others easy. There is no one correct path. All paths eventually reach the top. They anticipate that a new universal religion which contains elements of all current faiths will evolve and become generally accepted worldwide.

New World Order As the Age of Aquarius unfolds, a New Age will develop. This will be a utopia in which there is world government, and end to wars, disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty. Gender, racial, religious and other forms of discrimination will cease. People's allegiance to their tribe or nation will be replaced by a concern for the entire world and its people.

The Age of Aquarius is a reference to the precession of the zodiac. The earth passes into a new sign of the zodiac approximately every 2,000 years. Some believe that the earth entered the constellation Aquarius in the 19th Century, so that the present era is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Others believe that it will occur at the end of the 20th century. It is interesting to note that the previous constellation changes were:

from Aries to Pisces the fish circa 1st century CE. This happened at a time when Christianity was an emerging religion, and many individuals changed from animal sacrifice in the Jewish temple to embracing the teachings of Christianity. The church's prime symbol at the time was the fish.

from Taurus to Aries the ram circa 2,000 BCE. This happened at a time when the Jews engaged in widespread ritual sacrifice of sheep and other animals in the Temple.

from Gemini to Taurus the bull circa 4,000 BCE. During that sign, worshiping of the golden calf was common in the Middle East.

Taken from: http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/newage.htm

1. Source of Authority. New Agers claim no external source of authority -- only an internal one ("the god within"). They believe the individual is the standard of truth, saying that "truth as an objective reality simply does not exist" (Shirley MacLaine, It's All in the Playing) (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21; Matt. 5:18). [HJB]

2. God. New Agers confuse the Creator with His creation and think that God is part of creation, not separate from it. They borrow from Eastern religions the belief in monism -- that "all is One" -- only one essence in the universe, everyone and everything being a part of that essence. Everything is a different form of that essence (energy, consciousness, power, love, force). But the belief in monism is really Hinduistic pantheism (all is God). New Agers view God as an impersonal life force, consciousness, or energy (M. Ferguson, Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 382; S. Gawain, Living In the Light, pp. 7-8) (e.g., the "Star Wars Force"), rather than a Person. They believe that every person and thing is "intertwined" with God (evolving spiritually to the state of "the Christ" being), and use Luke 17:21 ("the kingdom of God is within you") to support this idea (despite the fact that "within you" in this passage means "in your midst"). They claim every human has a divine spark within him because of being part of the divine essence. The state of God is called by various terms among different New Age groups, i.e., God-consciousness, Universal Love, Self-Realization, the I AM, Higher Self, Brahman, Nirvana, etc. New Agers are obviously part of a
religion of idolatry and self-worship. [HJB]

3. Jesus Christ. A major idea in New Age thinking is that of the "Christ Consciousness." In other words, Christ is an office rather than an individual, such as Jesus, whom Christians know to be THE CHRIST. This idea of "Christ Consciousness" asserts that Jesus was not the only Christ, but that He equipped Himself to receive the "Christ Consciousness" (i.e., He was a great "spiritual master" who attained Christ Consciousness), as supposedly also did Buddha, Krishna, and Mohammed. [This is an old occult Gnostic teaching which stems from the ancient Babylonian mystery religions. New Agers also reinvent the historical Jesus by claiming that he spent 18 years in India (during His "silent years") absorbing Hinduism and the teachings of Buddha.] New Agers believe that Jesus received the Christ Consciousness at His baptism, and that it left Him at His crucifixion.

4. Sin and Salvation. There is no place for the concept of sin in the New Age. There can be no sin because there is no transcendent God to rebel against. There are no rules or absolute moral imperatives. New Agers have a "New Thought" view of sin, which knows nothing of a representative man (Adam) by whose sin all men sinned. Nor does New Thought teach that there is any original sin, but that man's true essence is divine and perfect. Indeed, it finds nothing which is of the nature of sin. Instead, it speaks of "troublesome desires" which appear to be natural human impulses which direct men from consciousness to their identity with God, and, therefore, are troublesome but hardly sinful. Since New Agers believe that each person is god, thereby having endless potential for self-improvement, sin is denied as the Bible defines it (man being inherently sinful and utterly depraved -- Rom. 5:12). Sin is merely ignorance of one's "inner divinity." Because sin does not exist, there is no need for repentance or forgiveness, and Jesus did not die for our sins. They think that any perceived lack that man might have is merely a lack of enlightenment, thereby eliminating the need of salvation or a Savior. [In fact, salvation is not even an issue for New Agers. The soul is part of the universe and never dies. It is reborn or reincarnated in different physical bodies in a succession of future lives. The good or bad "karma" earned in the present lifetime determines one's subsequent incarnation. Humans should seek to progress to higher states of consciousness and higher planes of existence. There are many different paths to the goal of spiritual perfection. No one path is the only correct path. The assumed cycle of reincarnation and karma presupposes a salvation by works, contrary to the principle of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).]

5. Man's Destiny. The salvation of the world depends upon human beings. When enough people harmonize their positive energy and turn their thoughts to peace, the world will be cleansed or negative elements and New Age ideals will be realized in an era of spiritual enlightenment. Since man is intrinsically divine and perfect, his only real problem is ignorance of that fact. Man has a perception of finiteness which is, in reality, an illusion (Ken Keyes, Jr., Handbook to Higher Consciousness, pp. 125-29). Salvation in the New Age is for man to become enlightened through experiential knowledge (gnosis). New Age groups offer various occultic techniques to enable individuals, and ultimately the world, to evolve into this oneness (unitive) consciousness (James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy: An Experimental Guide, pp. 243-60). These techniques may include altered states of consciousness (often transcendental meditation), yoga, crystals, channeling (spirit guides), psychics, past-life therapy, acupuncture, etc.

6. Good and Evil. Mimicking the Eastern religions, New Agers distort the distinction between good and evil. They believe that because "all is One," ultimately there is neither good nor evil. They think that a person can transcend his consciousness and go beyond the bounds of moral distinctions, so that even murder sometimes becomes an acceptable way of serving one's gods (e.g., Charles Manson). [HJB]

7. Satan. The traditional view of Lucifer as the devil or Satan is clearly absent in New Age literature. Rather, he is described as a mighty being of light and the "Ruler of Humanity," as Alice Bailey, foundational apostle and leading writer of the New Age Movement, puts it. As to the history and achievements of Lucifer, Benjamin Creme, a leading lecturer and proponent of the New Age, says, "Lucifer came from the planet Venus 18.5 million years ago; he's the director of our planetary evolution, he is the sacrificial lamb, and the prodigal son. Lucifer made an incredible sacrifice, a supreme sacrifice for our planet."

8. Future Life (Reincarnation). New Agers believe in the ancient [Hindu] Eastern religious concept of reincarnation -- that through a long process of rebirths, man can eventually reach spiritual perfection (cf.
Heb. 9:27). New Agers often place animal rights above human rights, because many New Agers believe animals are reincarnated souls. They also teach the Hindu principle of "karma" -- that what a person sows in this life, he will reap in the next life in his reincarnated state. This belief in reincarnation has led to believing in the power of "spirit guides" or "channels" -- those who allow spirits from another dimension to speak through their bodies. [HJB] These entities always seem to repeat the three-fold error: (1) There is no death, (2) man is god, (3) knowledge of self is salvation and power (Brooks Alexander, Spiritual Counterfeits Project). New Agers misrepresent church history, the doctrines of Christianity, and often twist Scripture to support the idea that original Christianity taught reincarnation. They wrongly argue that the early church suppressed the doctrine and censored its teaching (Kenneth Ring, Heading Toward Omega, p. 158).

 

What They Believe- Scientology

taken from: http://www.religionfacts.com/scientology/beliefs.htm

As an "applied religious philosophy," Scientology focuses on psychological technologies that people can use to make their lives better.

As such, it has very little to say about God, the afterlife or other speculative religious ideas. Just as Scientology is focused on humanity, so are its beliefs.

Nevertheless, the Church of Scientology considers itself a religion because of its focus on the soul and spiritual awareness and does include some beliefs on other traditionally religious subjects. {1}

God

Scientology includes belief in God, but offers no details or doctrine about God. In his explorations, Hubbard noted the prevalence and importance of belief in a Supreme Being to all peoples. God is therefore the Eighth Dynamic, which is also known as Infinity. Scientologists who progress to the Eighth Dynamic come to their own conclusions regarding the Supreme Being.  {2}

Human Nature

Based on his personal research, L. Ron Hubbard concluded that a human is made up of three parts: the body, the mind and the thetan.

The body includes the brain, which is not to be confused with the mind. The purpose of the brain is to carry messages; it is likened to a switchboard.

The mind "consists essentially of pictures." {3} It is the accumulation of life experiences, memories, perceptions, decisions and conclusions.

The thetan is the soul, which is the true essence of a human being. Hubbard felt that "soul" had come to have too many meanings, so coined the term thetan based on the Greek letter theta.

A thetan is the person himself, not his body or his name or the physical universe, his mind or anything else. It is that which is aware of being aware; the identity which IS the individual. One does not have a thetan, something one keeps somewhere apart from oneself; he is a thetan. {4}

The thetan can exist entirely independent of the body and the mind. Scientology teaches that, through a process called exteriorization, a thetan can leave the body but still control the body. This experience results in a person's certainty that he is not identified with his body. A person who is able to practice exteriorization is called an Operating Thetan or OT.

The official Scientology website states:

Man is a spiritual being endowed with abilities well beyond those which he normally envisages. He is not only able to solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also to achieve new states of awareness he may never have dreamed possible. {5}

Afterlife

Scientology does not include an official belief about the afterlife. However, it reports that during auditing, a person often recalls memories of past lives and that Scientology ascribes to the idea of being born again into another body. {6}

Xenu

In Scientology doctrine, Xenu is a galactic ruler who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of people to Earth, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together and stuck to the bodies of the living. These events are known as "Incident II" or "The Wall of Fire," and the traumatic memories associated with them are known as the "R6 implant." The Xenu story prompted the use of the volcano as a Scientology symbol.

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard detailed the story in Operating Thetan Level III in 1967, famously warning that R6 was "calculated to kill (by pneumonia etc) anyone who attempts to solve it."

Much controversy between the Church of Scientology and its critics has focused on Xenu. The Church avoids making mention of Xenu in public statements and has gone to considerable effort to maintain the story's confidentiality, including legal action on both copyright and trade secrecy grounds.

Critics claim that revealing the story is in the public interest, given the high prices charged for attaining the level of OT III.

Taken from: http://www.religioustolerance.org/scientol1.htm

Beliefs:

The word "Scientology" means "the study of knowledge or truth." The Scientology religion holds that man is basically good, not evil. It teaches that it is their experiences that cause people to commit evil deeds. It is not their basic nature to do so. People can mistakenly solve their problems by thinking only of their own personal interests and overlook or ignore how their acts affect others. This creates interpersonal strife and problems. The Scientology religion also holds that individuals advance to the degree they preserve their spiritual integrity and values, and remain honest and decent — indeed, individuals deteriorate to the degree they abandon these qualities.

Some religions try to help humanity by solving people's problems for them. Scientology is different — it believes in increasing the ability and intelligence of the individual so he or she can improve his own life, overcome those factors that hold him down, and solve his or her own problems. What's more, once one has accomplished this he or she naturally starts to reach out to help his family, friends and society.

According to Scientology, the individual is not a body but a spirit. However there have been so many different concepts of the term soul through the ages that a new term was needed. The term chosen by Mr. Hubbard was "thetan" from the Greek letter theta, the traditional symbol for thought and life. The thetan is the person himself, not his body, his name, the physical universe or anything else. It is that which is aware of being aware; the identity that IS the individual.

One phenomenon of the spirit or thetan, researched by Mr. Hubbard, is exteriorization. Exteriorization is the ability of the thetan to leave the body and exist independent of the flesh. Exteriorized, the individual can see without the body's eyes, hear without the body's ears and feel without the body's hands. Man previously had little understanding of this detachment from his mind and body. With the act of exteriorization, attainable in Scientology, the individual gains the certainty that he is himself, an immortal spiritual being, and not a body.

Some basic Scientology concepts that assist a person to better understand life better are:

The Eight Dynamics of Existence: A "dynamic" is an urge, drive or impulse towards survival. With an understanding of these dynamics a person gains insight and can bring all aspects of his life into alignment. The first four dynamics were initially described by Mr. Hubbard in his texts on Dianetics in 1950. He expanded this to encompass four additional zones of existence the following year when he began research into the spiritual nature of man. These dynamic urges are best viewed as a series of concentric circles moving out from the first to the eighth:

The First Dynamic is the urge to survive as oneself.

The Second is the urge to survive through family and sex and the rearing of children.

The Third is the urge to survive in groups small and large — a company, a group of friends, a city, a nation.

The Fourth is the urge to survive as mankind.

The Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth are the urges to survive through other life forms such as animals and plants, the physical universe, the spiritual universe and Infinity or Supreme Being respectively.

Scientology teaches that by simply delineating these dynamics, it clarifies and brings order into existence. One can observe these dynamics in one's own life, note which need improvement and through the use of Scientology principles bring these factors into greater harmony.

Affinity, Reality and Communication: A concept of considerable importance in the Scientology religion is the principle of affinity, reality and communication. These three factors, expressed as a triangle, are enormously important in interpersonal relations. Affinity is the degree of liking or affection or lack of it for someone or something. Reality is agreement on the solid things of life, or concepts mutually held between individuals. Communication is the interchange of ideas, perceptions or objects between two or more people.

The concept is that when one corner of the triangle goes up, the other two corners also go up. Conversely, when one corner goes down, the other corners also go down. So when one establishes good communication with someone and agreement on some subject, affinity rises. Conversely, when there is a disagreement, affinity lowers as does communication.

These three factors — affinity, reality and communication — add up to understanding. When one really understands something, he or she is in good communication with it, has affinity for it and understands what it is about.

The ARC triangle has many uses in life. By gaining skill in raising the corners of this triangle one can increase understanding and improve relationships with anyone.

 
 
What They Believe- 7th day Adventists

Taken from: http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html

1. Holy Scriptures:
The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12.)

2. Trinity:
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 14:7.)

3. Father:
God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father. (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 4:11; 1 Cor. 15:28; John 3:16; 1 John 4:8; 1 Tim. 1:17; Ex. 34:6, 7; John 14:9.)

4. Son:
God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God's power and was attested as God's promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:15-19; John 10:30; 14:9; Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; John 5:22; Luke 1:35; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:9-18; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Heb. 8:1, 2; John 14:1-3.)

5. Holy Spirit:
God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ's life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; Luke 1:35; 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 1:8; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-13.)

6. Creation:
God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made "the heaven and the earth" and all living things upon the earth, and rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was ``very good,'' declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1; 2; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6; 33:6, 9; 104; Heb. 11:3.)

7. Nature of Man:
Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position under God. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7; Ps. 8:4-8; Acts 17:24-28; Gen. 3; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12-17; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Ps. 51:10; 1 John 4:7, 8, 11, 20; Gen. 2:15.)

8. Great Controversy:
All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God's adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the worldwide flood. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Rev. 12:4-9; Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:12-18; Gen. 3; Rom. 1:19-32; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; Gen. 6-8; 2 Peter 3:6; 1 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 1:14.)

9. Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ:
In Christ's life of perfect obedience to God's will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God's law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God's triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (John 3:16; Isa. 53; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col. 2:15; Phil. 2:6-11.)

10. Experience of Salvation:
In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God's grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God's sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God's law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment. (2 Cor. 5:17-21; John 3:16; Gal. 1:4; 4:4-7; Titus 3:3-7; John 16:8; Gal. 3:13, 14; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; Rom. 10:17; Luke 17:5; Mark 9:23, 24; Eph. 2:5-10; Rom. 3:21-26; Col. 1:13, 14; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 8:7-12; Eze. 36:25-27; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rom. 8:1-4; 5:6-10.)

15. Baptism:
By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings. (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 2:12, 13; Acts 16:30-33; 22:16; 2:38; Matt. 28:19, 20.)

16. Lord's Supper:
The Lord's Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord's death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians. (1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:23-30; Matt. 26:17-30; Rev. 3:20; John 6:48-63; 13:1-17.)

19. Law of God:
The great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God's love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God's covenant with His people and the standard in God's judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Ex. 20:1-17; Ps. 40:7, 8; Matt. 22:36-40; Deut. 28:1-14; Matt. 5:17-20; Heb. 8:8-10; John 15:7-10; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 5:3; Rom. 8:3, 4; Ps. 19:7-14.)

20. Sabbath:
The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God's creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Luke 4:16; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Matt. 12:1-12; Ex. 31:13-17; Eze. 20:12, 20; Deut. 5:12-15; Heb. 4:1-11; Lev. 23:32; Mark 1:32.)

26. Death and Resurrection:
The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later. (Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10.)

27. Millennium and the End of Sin:
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. (Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19.)

28. New Earth:
On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 35; 65:17-25; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-5; 11:15.)

I am going to do something different here and just place links to different sites as the beliefs of the 7th day Adventists are many, more than we can adequately give space:

http://www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/holocaust/Research/Proseminar/corrieschroder.htm

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s18.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/sda.htm

http://www.essortment.com/food/nutritionsevent_smmc.htm

 
What They Believe-Church of Christ

Taken from: http://ex-churchofchrist.com/whoareCoC.htm

  Adult baptism by dunking under the water to be saved from one’s sins. Baptism is viewed as not only a symbol, but the moment of salvation.

  Taking the Lord’s Supper (usually unleavened bread and grape juice) as a symbol, not a sacrament, every Sunday.

  A capella singing (though there is a sizable instrumental Church of Christ group in the Midwest, associated with Central Christian College of the Bible who believe that it is wrong for men and women to wear shorts above their knees). The more conservative congregations use songbooks with shaped notes (doh through ti, each having a different shape). Shaped notes date back to the 1700s as a help for people to learn to read music. The conservative Churches of Christ and a small Presbyterian group are among the last to still use shaped notes, except for Sacred Harp singers who have clubs all over the United States to sing 200 year old songs a capella in four part harmony.  Churches of Christ (south) split from the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ (north) during the Civil War over instruments of music used in worship and denominational organization.)

  No denominational hierarchy, even anti-denominational. Each congregation is independent. Communication with other congregations is facilitated by journals/magazines, bookstores and colleges each associated with a particular wing of the Churches of Christ. Campbell, a postmaster, spread his beliefs by means of magazines which he edited. Churches of Christ are reputed to have the most religious magazines per person of any religious group.

  Each congregation is led by elders elected by the congregation. The preacher is called a preacher, evangelist or minister (not a pastor, a term used by the Churches of Christ to describe an elder).

  Salvation is by works and grace, not by faith alone, or grace alone. It is Arminian in doctrine.

 

taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churches_of_Christ

The Churches of Christ discussed in this article are not part of the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ; the United Church of Christ, or the Disciples of Christ. For those congregations within the Churches of Christ that do not agree with the support of church or para-church organizations, please see the churches of Christ (non-institutional).

Churches of Christ are a movement of autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through common beliefs and practices. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and see themselves as recreating the New Testament church established by Christ.

Historically, Churches of Christ in the United states were recognized as a distinct movement by the U.S. Religious census of 1906. Prior to that they had been reported in the religious census as part of the Movement that had its roots in the Second Great Awakening under the leadership of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Barton W. Stone. Those leaders had declared their independence from their Presbyterian roots, seeking a fresh start to restore the New Testament church, and abandoning creeds. The names Church of Christ, Christian Church and Disciples of Christ were adopted by the movement because they believed that these terms were found in the Bible. Other names the movement did not believe to be biblical were rejected, such as Campbellite, Stoneite, Campbell-Stone movement, and even Restoration Movement. Even so, the rejected terms are used by those outside the movement to identify it.

A split occurred between those who used musical instruments in worship (now usually known as Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ) and those who did not because their use is not mentioned in the New Testament. It is this latter branch which is the subject of this article. Though officially recognized as distinct movements from 1906, the actual separation of the Churches of Christ from the Christian Churches had already been taking place gradually for decades.

Common beliefs and practices

Churches of Christ generally share these traits:[1]

  • Refusal to hold to any formalized creeds or statements of faith, preferring instead a reliance on the Bible alone for doctrine and practice[8]:238,240 [9]:123 [7]:103
  • Autonomous, congregational church organization without denominational oversight[8]:238 [9]:124
  • Local governance[8]:238 by a plurality of male elders[10]:47-54 [9]:124
  • Baptism by immersion of consenting believers (Believer's baptism)[8]:238 [9]:124 for the forgiveness of sins[9]:124 [1][7]:103
  • Weekly observance of Communion[9]:124 on Sunday[8]:238 [7]:107 (also referred to as the Lord's Supper or, especially in British congregations, the "breaking of bread"). All but "a very small segment" use unfermented grape juice instead of wine.[11]:491
  • Practice of a cappella singing in worship[8]:240 [9]:125

In keeping with their history, Churches of Christ claim the New Testament as their sole rule of faith and practice in deciding matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical structure. Although they view the Old Testament as divinely inspired[7]:103 and historically accurate, they do not see its laws as binding under the New Covenant in Christ (unless they are repeated in the New Testament). They believe that the New Testament demonstrates how a person may become a Christian, thus a part of the universal church of Christ, and how a church should be collectively organized and carry out its scriptural purposes.

Variations within Churches of Christ

Since Churches of Christ are autonomous, not denominational, and purposefully do not maintain an ecclesiastical hierarchy or doctrinal council (as they hold the Bible alone as the only source of doctrine), it is not unusual to find variations from congregation to congregation. For example, some allow for more open interpretations regarding worship and other church practices, while others hold to more strict interpretations. The level of fellowship and cooperation that will exist between those of varying opinions will depend on each member and local congregation. Congregations and members are free to study the scriptures and to the best of their abilities ascertain God's revealed will. Yet, most Churches of Christ have the similarities mentioned in the introduction.

The approach taken to restoring the New Testament church has focused on "methods and procedures" such as church organization, the form of worship, and how the church should function. As a result, most divisions among Churches of Christ have been the result of "methodological" disputes. These are meaningful to members of this movement because of the seriousness with which they take the goal of "restoring the form and structure of the primitive church."[4]:212

Three quarters of the congregations and 87% of the membership are described by the The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement as "mainstream," sharing a consensus on practice and theology.[15] The remaining congregations may be grouped into four categories, the largest of which is the churches of Christ (non-institutional). Approximately 2,055 congregations fall in this category.[15][37] The second group does not use separate Bible classes, and consists of approximately 1,100 congregations. A third group does not use multiple communion cups (approximately 550 congregations; this category overlaps somewhat with those congregations that do not use separate Bible classes for children). The fourth group "emphasize[s] mutual edification by various leaders in the churches and oppose[s] one person doing most of the preaching." This group includes roughly 130 congregations.[15][37] These groups generally differ from the mainstream consensus in specific practices, rather than in theological perspectives, and tend to have smaller congregations on average.[15]

 
 
What They Believe- Freemasons

Taken from: http://www.freemasoninformation.com/general/whatisafreemason.html

What is a Freemason?

By Br. Gregory Stewart
August 2005

A Freemason is a man who, in searching for life’s ineffable questions, finds his way into the company of fellow seekers. Comprised of men from every nation, races, social and economic level, all hold similar ideals and beliefs. The uniting idea is a faith in the divine founded in the certitude in an afterlife. This “belief” is grounded by certain landmark tenants and virtues which ultimately lead in exploration of those invisible questions, leading ultimately to the betterment of all mankind.

Traditionally a male organization, Freemasons exist in most every country around the world guided by three principals: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. The Fraternity is open to all men, with a belief in the divine, a passion towards humanity, and a desire to better themselves. Foremost is the practice of Brotherly Love, not just towards fellow Freemason’s, but towards all mankind for the purpose of unity and cooperation. Within the lodge, the bonds made through fellowship are vitally important steps towards a better understanding one another. Outside of the lodge, Brotherly Love leads to a greater degree of understanding and compassion towards all men. Coming to the aid of those in true need, Relief is a second light that serves as a sanctuary for the weary and distressed, what ever the cause to those in need, whether it be poverty, infirmity or what ever their ailment. And Truth, whose search is unending, becomes its own virtue by relating to the nature of man and his transcendental state. Truth does not conform to any specific dogmatic practice of law instead accepting all faiths as sacred. Freemasons nurture and grow the divine spark in humanity through the tenants of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.

But, why exist for the betterment of mankind? For too long man has looked through varying degrees of authority for the answers to those unanswerable questions, “what is our nature and purpose” asked since time immemorial. By looking to answer those questions, Freemasons have found, instead the virtue in which the answers reside. To help frame the questions, Freemasons rely on four of the cardinal virtues, which are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Temperance to suppresses our personal extremes, and promote modesty, Fortitude to keep good faith and careful watch ourselves, Prudence which keeps the perils of corruption in mind, and Justice which gives each their sense of due not stealing from another. By applying these virtues, the questions become transparent and unanswerable in terms of everyday ideas, instead they take on internal meaning, answerable only in the personal application of the virtues. The idea of personal growth this way is paramount to the craft, taught through lessons in allegory and symbols. The significance of learning this way is to convey their meaning symbolically, fostering individual introspection of their meaning. Exploration of these virtues is only part of the foundation of a Freemason with more enumerated throughout the allegorical degrees, all working to shape those who seek its light.

But the quest for answers is not lead by virtue alone. What many outside consider a barrier, is instead one of the strongest aspects of Freemasonry. Open to all faiths, Freemasonry has certain “landmarks” by which they live. One landmark in-particular is an acknowledged faith in God. Seeing the true nature of man through his works, a Freemason finds divine nature to be majestic in its meaning. But, to discuss faith, it would be problematic to not acknowledge the role of religion in the craft. Without any rule or requirement, Freemasonry neither prescribes to nor inflicts doctrinal controls over a member’s beliefs, ideas, or duties, but instead builds on the nature of good men; it only requires a simple profession of faith. Within Freemasonry there are no cannons of absolute law or moral leader as with a church congregation. Instead within each body of Freemasonry, democracy rules along with the sacred books of law, as prescribed to by each member’s faith. These books represent the backgrounds of the membership and the foundations from which they come, serving to link Freemasons to the transcendent. However, within the lodge, the conflicts of the sacred volumes are shunned, instead to embrace their celebration of the divine. What this represents is an open democratic society governed by mutual respect, advocating unity and harmony. No where is their represented malice or disunion, instead, men of all faiths are encouraged to make a harmonious fellowship.

As such, the inclusion of all faiths has made tremendous enemies. The diligent observer can easily find dissent from all faiths about the brotherhood of Freemasonry. Some examples are as recent as tracts written by the Pope of the Catholic Church, denouncing membership as being in disharmony with Christian faith. Also, standing against the gentle craft are imams of Islam, pastors of protestant Christianity, and rabbi’s of Judaism. The unique thing to all these groups is their agreement that their members should not join the fraternity and shun it as heretical. Their reasoning is that Freemasonry acts as a surrogate to religion, replacing their doctrines of faith. But reason shows us otherwise, as masonry builds on the tenants of all faith, embracing the primitive aspects of each faith, in that all faiths are sacrosanct.

Freemasons work to smooth the rough stone edge indifference to create a vibrant and living craft. Neither libertines, racists, nor atheists by creed, Freemasons should not suffer it to exist within its body. Therefore, it is accurate to say that masons are not irreligious; to the contrary their mandate is a belief in the divine. The obligations taken as Freemasons do nothing to stand in the way our family, our religion, or our civic participation, instead it necessitates our participation in all of these and more by advocating charity through brotherly love. Of this, love of our neighbor is to be paramount in our mind. We are, in fact, encouraged to perform our duties to God, our neighbor, and ourselves daily. Our fraternal bonds are made sacred by oaths and obligations between men, making us stronger and united in purpose. Those oaths make the bonds stronger and the bonds make the men stronger.

Freemasonry strives in its membership to bring like minded men together to explore the four cardinal virtues in hopes to glimpse the divine transcendence of God. Existing in all lands membership relies on the members own free will and accord, each in his search for illumination through the hands of the divine. A freemason believes in the brotherhood of man and fatherhood of a compassionate deity. Surrounded by like minded men, masons are dedicated to Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, believing in their universality of the sacred and divine for the betterment of mankind.

taken from: http://www.bibleanswer.com/masonry.htm

This offering is intended to provide enlightenment on a subject which has been shrouded in mystery, secrecy, speculation and assertions for many, many years. Freemasonry has held a kind of mysterious intrigue to untold numbers. To others, it is nothing more than a social fraternity designed to offer and extend benevolence to mankind. If this were the complete extent of Freemasonry, these articles would not be written. If the Masonic Lodge is only a social organization, there would no more harm come from being a Mason than would come from being in the Lion's Club, Rotary Club or any other civic or social organization. However, it is our sincere and studied conclusion that Freemasonry is both religious and a religion, carrying serious consequences for those involved therein. To see the magnitude of the situation, consider that in 1970, it was estimated by Emmett McLoughlin in the introduction to A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, p. xxxiv, that there were four million members of the Blue Lodges (the first three degrees of Freemasonry) in the United States alone.

In these series of articles we will be examining Freemasonry from several standpoints. First, we will consider some of its history, and its attempted ties to ancient times. Then, the organizational arrangement of the Lodge will occupy some space; its membership requirements and the obtainable degrees in Freemasonry. Thirdly, we want to take a close look at Masonic definitions of Freemasonry and their stated objectives, along with some of the symbolism used in the rites of Masonry. As far as I know, very little material is currently available which deals with these three areas of Masonry. We hope to provide some needed information on these aspects of our topic. Following this, we must consider the practices and beliefs of Freemasonry which contradict the Bible, the word of God, and therefore make it incompatible with Christianity. Finally, we intend to consider some of the rationale used to justify Masonry by Christians, as well as the consequences of a Christian being a Mason...

Masonry is not the product of one man's inventive planning and execution. It is a conglomeration of many human philosophies which have been gathered throughout the centuries and applied to the tools of operative Masonry through the use of symbolism. Its ancient rites, forms, symbols and ceremonies are freely admitted (in fact, boastfully acknowledged) to have been borrowed from ancient systems of religion and philosophy.

"Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the Precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all." (Morals and Dogma, Pike, p. 718, emp., jrp)

The apostle Paul said, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8). Since Masonry has been conclusively shown to be an organization of human origin, which speculates on such things as deity, the universe, science, humanity, morality and immortality through the use of all the ancient religions and philosophies, surely it falls into the category of human philosophy which is "after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (cf. l Cor. 1:19-21). To get caught up in practicing and defending Freemasonry amounts to letting others "make spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit."

a good book to read on this topic is: The Concise History of Freemasonry  by Robert Freke Gould

 
What They Believe- the Roman Catholic Church

Taken from: http://www.fni.com/cim/briefing/cath.html

IV. Where Catholics disagree with sound Biblical Teaching

     A.  The Doctrine of Revelation

         The subject of this important doctrine is how God reveals Himself and His will to men.  The RCC affirms
         that God reveals Himself through the Bible and that it is fully inspired by God.  This is good as far as it
         goes, but it is at this juncture that major disagreements emerge.  The Reformers reaffirmed that
         you can have only one final authority, and that this was the 66 books of the Bible (sola scriptura).  The
         RCC has added to the authority of Scripture in a number of ways:

         1.   The Apocrypha.  It consists of 15 additional books which the RCCs add to the Bible.  They are bound
              between the Old and the New Testaments and are considered part of the OT.  Together they are about
              80% the size of the NT.  They were not considered part of the canon until the Council of Trent in
              1546.  Prior to this, several "infallible" popes declared them non-canonical (Gregory and Leo X).
              They were declared canonical largely because of the dispute about purgatory.  The Catholic bishops
              thought they found support for this teaching in one of the Apocryphal books (II Maccabees 12:40-45).
              The NT quotes the OT approximately 260 times and alludes to it about 370 times and although the NT
              writers and Jesus undoubtedly knew of these books they are never quoted or alluded to in the NT.  The
              Apocrypha is full of historical inaccuracies, fantasies, and teachings contrary to Scripture.

         2.   Tradition.  The RCC classifies the tradition of the Church as "the Word of God."  Vatican II affirmed
              that Scripture and tradition "form one sacred deposit of the word of God."  When tradition is
              elevated to infallibility several problems arise: (1) The sheer volume of data becomes a major
              difficulty; just papal bulls alone comprise about 40 volumes.  (2) Contradictions among the many
              traditions and the interpretation of traditions are too numerous to mention.  Note:  we are not saying
              that tradition is not helpful or useful in interpreting Scripture.

         3.   The Pope.  The RCC believes in apostolic succession, i.e. the Pope inherits the same
              authority as the apostles.  They believe that when the Pope speaks "ex cathedra" (from his chair of
              authority) that he speaks without error.  This doctrine of papal infallibility arose rather
              recently in 1870 at the First Vatican Council. According to Scripture only those who had witnessed
              the resurrection had apostolic authority (See Acts1:22; I Cor. 9:1)

         4.   The Bishops, i.e. the Church.  When they are in  council they are seen as infallible interpreters of
              Scripture.  Here truth is apparently the result of a majority vote.  The edicts of the Council of
              Trent were not unanimous.  Can we really look at church history and conclude that the church has
              always infallibly interpreted Scripture?  (Ask Galileo!).

     B.  The Doctrine of Redemption.  It is our opinion that the most serious breach of orthodoxy in the RCC is its
         doctrine of redemption.  In Galatians Paul argued that if anyone adds to the gospel of grace alone he should
         be condemned (Gal. 1:8).  Strong words?  Yes.  It was the teaching of this Epistle that convinced Luther to
         go against the RCC.  Salvation according to RCC teaching is an intricate system of works involving the
         sacramental system.  "Grace" is seen as a commodity or substance that can be gained by various means.  It is
         never known when one accumulates enough grace to actually meet God's demands, therefore, a Catholic can
         never have full assurance of salvation.  The process of accumulating "grace" even continues in purgatory.  Mary
         is said to be "full of Grace." Catholics, therefore, pray to Mary to receive Grace from her.  Grace is not
         the disposition of a holy God toward sinners as a result of the work of Christ, but rather an asset that
         can be dispensed or infused in the sinner.

     C.  The Veneration of Mary.  Many protestants view the teachings of the RCC about Mary as being nothing short
         of cultic.  Most of these false beliefs were only canonized by the RCC in 1943 as a result of the
         encyclical of Pius XII.  The major protestant objections are:

         1.   Her perpetual virginity.  They readily affirm the virgin birth of Jesus, however, they maintain that
              Mary remained a virgin throughout her life in apparent contradiction to the Scriptures.  In three
              passages siblings are mentioned, indeed in Mark 6:3, four of Jesus's half-brothers are mentioned by
              name.  Jude and James later wrote the Epistles named for them. 

         2.   Sinlessness.  The RCC teaches that Mary is "full of grace" therefore free of original and actual sin.
              (Was she too born of a virgin?).  In Luke 1:47 she jubilantly calls the coming Messiah her savior.

         3.   Co-mediatrix and Co-redemptrix.  This is perhaps the most blatant heretical departure since it
              ascribes deity to Mary despite RCC objections.  The two words mean co-mediator, and co-redeemer.  This
              is blasphemy to ascribe these divine works to a mortal.  Catholics are encouraged to pray to Mary.
              In order for Mary to hear the prayers of saints around the world would require attributes of deity.

         4.   The Assumption of Mary.  The RCC believes Mary escaped death (because she had no sin) and was
              assumed into heaven where she now reigns with Christ.  This is nowhere taught in Scripture.

     D.  The Sacraments.  One cannot understand Catholic theology or its complex view of redemption without
         understanding the sacraments for they are the heart of Catholic teaching.  There are seven sacraments:
         baptism, confirmation, penance, Holy Eucharist, marriage, anointing the sick, and holy orders.  "The
         Sacraments are the means appointed by God for attainment of eternal salvation.  Three of them are in
         the ordinary way of salvation so necessary that without their use salvation cannot be attained (i.e. baptism,
         penance, holy orders)"  Ludwig Ott.

     E.  Purgatory.  The doctrine of purgatory was officially proclaimed as dogma in 1438, however, it has ancient
         origins.  The problem is that its teaching is nowhere to be found in Scripture.  It largely comes from the
         Apocrypha and from spiritism, i.e. apparitions who affirm it.  It is a place of torment where all saints
         go to be finally purged of their sins.  The length of one's stay in purgatory is dependent on several
         factors:  (1) your good works on earth, and they are specific, such as saying the rosary, (2) the prayers of
         the living, (3) and indulgences paid on behalf of the suffering.

     F.  The Priesthood.  There is no NT authority for an order of human priests in the NT church.  According to the
         teaching of the Epistle of Hebrews we have only one priest, Jesus Christ, our High Priest.  In the RCC
         priests are highly respected and authoritarian figures. According to their own words salvation can come to no
         one except through the ministrations of the priest. This teaching is actually very ancient dating back to
         the 3rd Century (Cyprian).  The priest in the RCC has the authority to mediate between God and man (in the
         confessional), forgive sins, and by pronouncement change the elements of communion into the actual Body
         and Blood of Christ.  Note what the Council of Trent says about the priest:  "The priest remits sins as God,
         and that which he calls his body at the altar is adored as God by himself and by the congregation....It is
         clear that their function is such that none greater can be conceived.  Wherefore they are justly called not
         only angels, but also God, holding as they do among us the power and authority of the immortal God."   (Note:
         some churches:  Anglican, Episcopal, and the Eastern churches call their ministers, priests, but their roles
         are more like the protestants.)

     G.  The Church.  Protestants emphasize that there are two aspects to the Church of Jesus Christ:  the universal
         and local.  The universal church consists of all believers of all time regardless of denomination or
         minor differences of belief; it is the mystical Body of Christ.  The Local aspect is the visible congregation
         which meets together at a geographical location.  In the RCC the stress lies mainly in the outward world-
         wide structure which it believes is the one true church and the one founded by Jesus Christ Himself.  In short
         it sees the church more as an institution rather than  living organism.

V.  Conclusion

    1.  The RCC consistently denies the sufficiency and completeness of the atoning work of Christ and many
        other orthodox teachings.

    2.  Its final authority is ultimately church tradition  rather than Scripture alone.

    3.  There are those who are genuinely saved in the Catholic church but it is in spite of the church and its teachings.

    4.  Those in the Catholic church who are genuinely trusting in Christ alone for their salvation should be encouraged
        to worship where the communion is Biblically administered and where the Scriptures are correctly expounded.

    5.  Believers need to pray for the Catholic church that the Holy Spirit will visit it with a genuine spirit of revival and reform.

other good websites can be found here at a yahoo search: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=roman+catholic+beliefs&ei=UTF-8&rd=r1&meta=vc%3Dkr&fr=yfp-t-501-s&fr2=sg-gac&fp_ip=KR&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=1&xa=xSDfutiNwwdyC9k1MYVVaA--,1228805241

 
What is theistic evolution?

Theistic evolution is the belief that life on earth began and developed as described by modern evolution theory, directed by God. Rather than random mutation producing change, theistic evolution claims that God guided the process of natural selection. In some religious circles, theistic evolution is an increasingly popular theory.

In the secular scientific community, however, support of theistic evolution is minimal. Because most scientists are atheistic, suggestions of God’s involvement in creation are usually dismissed. This dismissal is typically condescending and abrupt. Although denials of theistic evolution are less derogatory, the underlying message remains: science and God do not mix. This unfortunate attitude has stifled intelligent debate about the origins of life.

In addition to scientific detractors, many theologians debate scriptural support of theistic evolution. Some theistic evolutionists point to certain biblical stories, such as parables. Parables, however, are not literal events but stories teaching moral lessons. Theistic evolutionists also believe that the creation account of Genesis is figurative -- not literal. However, the language of Genesis is time-specific, and the rest of the book is not characterized by metaphorical descriptions.

The primary argument of theistic evolution is that science has “proven” certain facts about biology and the age of the universe. Therefore, religion ought to keep up with modern science. This argument is faulty because science has not, and cannot, agree on or accurately measure the age of the earth or the mechanics of evolution.

The supposed age of the earth has consistently grown older and older as scientists realize how complex life is. DNA and genetic discoveries have lessoned the likelihood of random evolution. Unanswered questions remain. To assume that these unproven theories are factual, simply because most scientists believe them, is to assume that the Bible is secondary to popular opinion.

Theistic evolution is actually a philosophy that dismisses biblical accounts in favor of scientific theories. It assumes that modern science must be correct and ought not be questioned. But are scientists infallible? Great minds of past scientists were sometimes mistaken. They claimed that the sun orbited the earth, heavier-than-air flight was impossible, and blood transfusions were dangerous. They were proven wrong. Likewise, modern scientists are capable of error. Giving them special treatment in an open debate of ideas is foolish.

 

Taken from:  http://www.allaboutcreation.org/theistic-evolution-faq.htm

 
 
"What is Progressive Creationism and is it Biblical?"

 
Progressive Creationism (also called Process Creation) is the belief that God created the heavens and the earth over a period of billions of years, not the six 24-hour days that is the basis for the traditional Creationism view. Progressive creationists can be liberal or conservative in their theological belief system, but they generally agree on the following:

* The "Big Bang" is interpreted as God's way of producing stars and galaxies through billions-of-years of natural processes.

 

* The earth and universe are billions of years old, not merely thousands of years old.

* The days of creation were overlapping periods of millions and billions of years.

* Death and bloodshed have existed from the very beginning of creation and were not the result of Adam's sin. Man was created after the vast majority of earth's history of life and death had already taken place.

* The flood of Noah was local, not global and it had little effect on the earth's geology, which shows billions of years of history.

It is obvious that Progressive Creationism is a belief which opposes both atheistic evolutionism and historic Christianity's understanding of biblical creationism. The teachings of Progressive Creationism are not new or original, but, in recent years have received favorable publicity through Christian radio, television, as well as Christian magazines and books.

The error of Progressive Creationism rests on the assumption that the biblical account of Creation in Genesis chapters 1-2 cannot be understood literally. According to Progressive Creationism, the "days" in Genesis chapter 1 are not literal 24-hour days, but actually long periods of time (millions or even billions of years). (See our article on the
days of Creation.) Progressive Creationists accept the evolutionary viewpoint of the age of the earth, which is itself circularly based on evolution. It would take billions of years for evolution to have any chance of occurring; therefore the earth must be billions of years old. (See our article on age of the Earth.)

Another error of Progressive Creationism is that it posits that death existed prior to the Fall, which undermines the Bible's clear teaching that death is a result of sin (see
Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Any theory which places the death of men or animals prior to the fall of Adam must be rejected.

Clearly, Progressive Creationism is an attempt by some Christians to harmonize the teachings of modern science with the Bible. However, the theory actually ends up supporting the tenets of evolutionary science and causes greater anxiety among believers about whether God's Word can be trusted. After all, the so-called "proofs" of Progressive Creationism come mainly from the field of science, not from the simple teachings of the Bible.

 

Taken from: http://www.gotquestions.org/progressive-creationism.html