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Which Came First: New Testament or the Church?
Journey to Orthodoxy ^ | May 8, 2011 | Fr. James Bernstein

Posted on 05/09/2011 10:59:18 AM PDT by Bokababe

.....The guidelines I used in interpreting Scripture seemed simple enough: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. I believed that those who were truly faithful and honest in following this principle would achieve Christian unity.

To my surprise, this “common sense” approach led not to increased Christian clarity and unity, but rather to a spiritual free-for-all!

Those who most strongly adhered to believing “only the Bible” tended to become the, most factious, divisive, and combative of Christians-perhaps unintentionally. In fact, it seemed to me that the more one held to the Bible as the only source of spiritual authority, the more factious and sectarian one became. We would even argue heatedly over verses on love! Within my circle of Bible-believing friends, I witnessed a mini-explosion of sects and schismatic movements, each claiming to be “true to the Bible” and each in bitter conflict with the others. Serious conflict arose over every issue imaginable: charismatic gifts, interpretation of prophecy, the proper way to worship, communion, Church government, discipleship, discipline in the Church, morality, accountability, evangelism, social action, the relationship of faith and works, the role of women, and ecumenism. The list is endless. In fact any issue at all could-and often did-cause Christians to part ways.....

(Excerpt) Read more at journeytoorthodoxy.com ...


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Orthodox Christian; Worship
KEYWORDS: churchhistory; solascriptura
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Through personal experience and a study of Church history Father Bernstein found his initial ideas about the Bible and the Church upended, which in turn led him on a spiritual journey to Orthodox Christianity.
1 posted on 05/09/2011 10:59:22 AM PDT by Bokababe
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To: Kolokotronis; Honorary Serb; DTA

Orthodoxy Ping!


2 posted on 05/09/2011 11:02:39 AM PDT by Bokababe (Save Christian Kosovo! http://www.savekosovo.org)
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To: Bokababe
The Church, by hundreds, if not a thousand, years.

"I shall name you Petros and upon this rock I shall build my Church." (John 1:42/ Matt. 16: 18-19: [paraphrased])

The scriptures are recordings after the fact.

3 posted on 05/09/2011 11:03:55 AM PDT by freedumb2003 (Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats. /P. J. O'Rourke, 1991)
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To: freedumb2003
The Church, by hundreds, if not a thousand, years.

I agree the Church came first, but how do you figure by a thousand years?

My understanding is that the NT was all written down before 100AD, with the NT and OT cannon 90% settled by 200 AD, and definitively settled by 400 AD, at the latest.

4 posted on 05/09/2011 11:13:41 AM PDT by curiosity
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To: freedumb2003
The Church, by hundreds, if not a thousand, years.

I agree the Church came first, but how do you figure by a thousand years?

My understanding is that the NT was all written down before 100AD, with the NT and OT cannon 90% settled by 200 AD, and definitively settled by 400 AD, at the latest.

5 posted on 05/09/2011 11:13:41 AM PDT by curiosity
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To: freedumb2003
The Church, by hundreds, if not a thousand, years.

I agree the Church came first, but how do you figure by a thousand years?

My understanding is that the NT was all written down before 100AD, with the NT and OT cannon 90% settled by 200 AD, and definitively settled by 400 AD, at the latest.

6 posted on 05/09/2011 11:13:49 AM PDT by curiosity
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To: curiosity

Behold! The Trinity!


7 posted on 05/09/2011 11:16:18 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The USSR spent itself into bankruptcy and collapsed -- and aren't we on the same path now?)
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To: freedumb2003

Too bad the RC church has twisted that passage to mean Peter was the first Pope, when clearly (as other scripture shows) it was never meant to be taken that way.


8 posted on 05/09/2011 11:30:02 AM PDT by sigzero
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To: Bokababe

You seem to think one contradicts the other. The Bible reveals what the NT church was like. Everything about the NT church is outlined and codified by the Bible. Its practice, its worship, its government. If a Church tells me something that is contradicted by the Bible, it isn’t the Bible that is wrong.


9 posted on 05/09/2011 11:34:35 AM PDT by sigzero
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To: sigzero

Ya...you’d like us to believe that when Chist said “this” he was referring to Himself....and you call “us” twisted”???


10 posted on 05/09/2011 11:34:58 AM PDT by G Larry (I dream of a day when a man is judged by the content of his character)
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To: Bokababe

Didn’t read the whole article (bad FReeper!!!) but I think even us Sola Scriptura types acknowledge that there was a transition period where not all the NT was published. A hundred years give or take.

During that time we basically had the apostles themselves, who no Sola Scriptura type would argue with!

So, in OT times, we had direct revelation by God to some, and the prophets for most; the gradually written OT.

During Jesus’s earthly ministry, we add the person of Jesus, and his ordained apostles.

After Jesus’ ascension, we had the OT and the apostles,the NT began to be recorded, and the Holy Spirit.

After the apostles died out we had the whole canon, plus the presence of the Holy Spirit.

So while I agree that during that period of time when the NT was not all complete, we relied on the church, that is to say, the duly ordained apostles -

that doesn’t imply to me that the NT takes a subservient role to ordained men today.


11 posted on 05/09/2011 11:35:52 AM PDT by Persevero (We don't need Superman -- we have the Special Forces)
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To: sigzero

Sigero’s Letter to the Freepublicans.


12 posted on 05/09/2011 11:36:40 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: G Larry

No, actually I believe he was talking to Peter. So your assumption is wrong. Christ did not, in that passage, give all authority to Peter to be *the* apostle. That is emphatically wrong. Christ names Peter “cephas” because of his character traits and that is what Christ built the Church on. Unwavering truth like a rock!


13 posted on 05/09/2011 11:38:11 AM PDT by sigzero
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To: Persevero
Didn’t read the whole article
14 posted on 05/09/2011 11:38:43 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: sigzero

“You are ‘Rock’, and upon your rockly character traits I will build my church. For about a hundred years. Then read the book.”


15 posted on 05/09/2011 11:40:36 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Persevero
So while I agree that during that period of time when the NT was not all complete, we relied on the church, that is to say, the duly ordained apostles -

So the Apostles were "temps"?

16 posted on 05/09/2011 11:41:35 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: sigzero

“Unwavering truth like a rock!”

He did deny Christ three times after that.

Not to insult Peter; I know Jesus forgave him.

But, you know, not exactly unwavering truth like a rock.


17 posted on 05/09/2011 11:41:54 AM PDT by Persevero (We don't need Superman -- we have the Special Forces)
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To: sigzero

“...and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you lose on earth, shall be losed in Heaven.”

What part of that don’t you understand?


18 posted on 05/09/2011 11:45:01 AM PDT by G Larry (I dream of a day when a man is judged by the content of his character)
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To: Bokababe

Scanned quickly - Read later. Looks very well written.

Thanks for posting.


19 posted on 05/09/2011 11:46:37 AM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory; and He will NOT be mocked! Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.)
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To: sigzero

Any particular reason for you to bring up the Catholic Church on a thread about an Orthodox priest’s faith journey?


20 posted on 05/09/2011 11:48:25 AM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory; and He will NOT be mocked! Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Of course the apostles were temps. They died as all men do. But while they lived they were looked to for authority.

Then the writings which emanated from them became adhered to because of the authority attached.

The early church fathers (though stalwarts) had no such authority. Their writings (though wise in so many respects) do not carry the weight of Scripture.

21 posted on 05/09/2011 11:51:04 AM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Jeff Chandler

“So the Apostles were “temps”? “

I don’t mean to be perjorative. I suppose they were temps in one sense of the word. You could call Moses a “temp,” in that case, too. The only way I can listen to Moses today is to read what he wrote. Ultimately, though, it was what God wrote, as it was inspired. Similarly with the apostles.


22 posted on 05/09/2011 11:52:20 AM PDT by Persevero (We don't need Superman -- we have the Special Forces)
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To: Bokababe

Private interpretation, while very common in American Protestant churches, is NOT inimical to the Protestant Reformation, or to Bible-is-the-final-authority(but not the only authority...) Protestant churches. The concept of “sola scriptura” is NOT properly understood as the “bible alone has any authority,” which leads to the kind of chaotic total individualism described in the article.

As proof that “sola scriptura” (as originally understood) does NOT mean private interpretation: The magisterial Protestants at least (Lutherans, Anglicans and Presbyterians), every one of them relied on CONFESSIONS....which describe, usually in detail, what that Church AS A BODY believes Scripture says, NOT the free-for-all the author describes (with some accuracy, I admit) found in the typical “bible alone” evangelical Church today.

One principle though, that came out of the Reformation, is that of the “perspicuity of Scripture” a phrase which simply means (counter VERY much to post-modernist thinking), CLARITY....that is that God wrote the bible in common language, and, your average person CAN understand basic, fundamental doctrines from scripture. This is why, in spite of what looks like an external chaos of doctrines, Protestant evangelical Churches tend to agree on at least 95% to 98% of doctrines....very much like the magisterial creeds of the Lutherans, Reformed, and Anglican also agree on at least 95%.

NOW, many, especially the very committed, will find in that 2% to 5% difference, the difference between heresy and life....however the fact remains that, amidst all (small “o”) orthodox Protestants, there is probably no more (and perhaps LESS) diversity of doctrine than amidst those within Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic Churches.

The PRIMARY reason for the plurality of Churches today is simply RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, which historically (until really the advent of America), did not exist in Western Europe or the Eastern Orthodox countries—which therefore allowed those bodies to have a monopoly on Christian faith.


23 posted on 05/09/2011 11:53:03 AM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: G Larry

Christ gives that to all of them in Matthew 18:18. Peter is still not the supreme. What about that don’t you understand?

Christ did not mean to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church. See Acts 15, where the advice of James, and not that of Peter, was followed. See also Galatians 2:11, where Paul withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed (and read what he was being blamed for - a thing which could not have happened if Christ meant that Peter was absolute and infallible. More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. The book of Timothy lays out the qualifications for a Bishop/Pastor and that is penned by Paul and not Peter. You would think that something that important would come from the *leader* of the NT church but it did not unless you consider Paul to be that leader. The Bible is completely silent about the supreme authority of Peter which is a horrible thing for it to be silent about don’t you think?


24 posted on 05/09/2011 11:56:59 AM PDT by sigzero
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To: Persevero
The only way I can listen to Moses today is to read what he wrote. Ultimately, though, it was what God wrote, as it was inspired. Similarly with the apostles.

This is exactly right--an Apostolic faith is ultimately a biblical faith--as understood by the Church broadly through time...

This idea, that the bible must be interpreted as a body (not sitting alone in your room...)--is what prevents (more) schism, and also the reason behind the great Protestant confessions.

I really don't understand why the E. Orthodox and Roman Churches are not wary of the extra-biblical deposits of tradition that can (and do...very much so) acrue over time, when a human authority-on-earth is given the full and final authority over and above God's Word.

In fear of subjective interpretation by the individual, they trade a subjective interpretation by a group.

25 posted on 05/09/2011 12:05:13 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: Bokababe
Could you include me in future Orthodoxy pings?

Many thanks.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

26 posted on 05/09/2011 12:08:29 PM PDT by Martin Tell (ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it)
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To: don-o
Any particular reason for you to bring up the Catholic Church on a thread about an Orthodox priest’s faith journey?

Just wait. If this thread goes long enough, you will see references to the fag priest scandals.

It's the FreeRepublic Template.

27 posted on 05/09/2011 12:10:25 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: sigzero

Is that your private interpretation?


28 posted on 05/09/2011 12:12:07 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Bokababe

Well, given that Christ’s body existed throughout human history, antedating his incarnation, then the meaning of Christ’s body being the church is probably not what the author is referring to.


29 posted on 05/09/2011 12:17:35 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: Jeff Chandler
I've seen those interpretations from many, many people.

They're based on the straighforward meaning of the text without twisting and turning to fit some pre-conceived idea.

30 posted on 05/09/2011 12:20:17 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Bokababe

Only mankind is foolish enough and arrogant enough to think that he needs to improve on God’s word or to judge the content thereof


31 posted on 05/09/2011 12:20:36 PM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: Siena Dreaming
I've seen those interpretations from many, many people. They're based on the straighforward meaning of the text without twisting and turning to fit some pre-conceived idea.

So the answer is "yes".

32 posted on 05/09/2011 12:22:28 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Is one's private interpretation the interpretation of many?

And, if it adheres to the Scripture, where is the fault?

33 posted on 05/09/2011 12:26:15 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Siena Dreaming

If its adherence is affirmed by private interpretation, the argument is circular.


34 posted on 05/09/2011 12:29:23 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
For some reason, you insist that it is only a "private interpretation" even though I pointed out that it is not only one individual's interpretation...far from it.

No rebuttal is offered to this interpretation, only a laughable implication that it is only one person's interpretation, even though that is fallacious.

Not much credibility in your argument. Reason does not seem to rank highly with you.

35 posted on 05/09/2011 12:37:16 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Bokababe
Interesting, if long, read. Very detailed and, while there are parts that I don't really agree with, on the whole I find that I'm in much more agreement with it than disagreement.

Good luck with the RCC patrols though, it seems you've already attracted some detractors. I think I'll just sit over here and wonder how long it will be before the Orthodox Christians are accused of being heretics like the Protestants and Evangelicals.

36 posted on 05/09/2011 12:42:15 PM PDT by paladin1_dcs
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To: sigzero

Let us remember:

“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and a rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:33)

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4)


37 posted on 05/09/2011 12:48:10 PM PDT by LetMarch (If a man knows the right way to live, and does not live it, there is no greater coward. (Anonymous)
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To: Siena Dreaming
For some reason, you insist that it is only a "private interpretation" even though I pointed out that it is not only one individual's interpretation...far from it.

A private interpretation is still a private interpretation, no matter how many individuals' private interpretations concur.

38 posted on 05/09/2011 12:48:17 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Ah, so "your private interpretation" (as you originally put it) is not any negative implication of any "lone ranger" Scripture reading, but rather a subtle condemnation of ALL the people who believe these things and base their ideas on the Scriptures that the poster pointed out?

I see.

39 posted on 05/09/2011 12:53:00 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Siena Dreaming

I am just trying to find out how one who interprets Scripture privately affirms that interpretation. I mean, is it a feeling? A consensus among private interpreters? What?


40 posted on 05/09/2011 12:59:11 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: Bokababe

The Church came first/. Without Christ, there is no church.


41 posted on 05/09/2011 1:08:29 PM PDT by DownInFlames
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To: Jeff Chandler
I mean, is it a feeling?

More often than people with your point of view would know, it's not feeling but logic.

You can look up the Scriptures which have been cited. Then you will see how people who hold these other views come logically to the conclusions they've reached.

42 posted on 05/09/2011 1:18:21 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: G Larry
Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you lose on earth, shall be losed in Heaven.

Clearly a delegation of authority.

43 posted on 05/09/2011 1:20:44 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: Bokababe

A few excerpts from one of my Bible Handbooks. The caps are mine:

“Original Mission of the Church

The Church was founded, not as an institution of Authority to force the Name and Teaching of Christ upon the world, but onLy as a Witness-Bearing institution to Christ. Christ himself, not the Church, is the Transforming Power in Human Life. But the Church was founded in the Roman Empire, AND GRADUALLY DEVELOPED A FORM OF GOVERNMENT LIKE THE POLITICAL WORLD IN WHICH IT EXISTED, BECOMING A VAST AUTOCRATIC ORGANIZATION RULED FROM THE TOP.

Peter

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC TRADITION THAT PETER WAS THE FIRST POPE IS FICTION PURE AND SIMPLE. There is no New Testament hint, and no historical evidence whatever, that Peter was at any time bishop of Rome. Nor did he ever claim for himself such Authority as the Popes have claimed for themselves. It seems Peter had a divine foreboding that his “Successors” would be mainly concerned with “Lording it over God’s flock.” (1 Pet. 5:3)

Augustine’s “City of God”

Augustine wrote his monumental work, “The City of God,” in which he envisioned a Universal Christian Empire. This book had vast influence in molding opinion favorably to a Universal Church Heirarchy under One Head. This promoted ROME’S CLAIM FOR LORDSHIP. THUS THE CHURCH WAS CHANGING ITS NATURE, MAKING ITSELF OVER INTO THE IMAGE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.

Imperial Recognition of the Pope’s Claim

Leo I (AD 440-461), called by historians the First Pope...HE PROCLAIMED HIMSELF LORD OF THE WHOLE CHURCH, advocated exclusive Universal Papacy; said that resistance to his authority was a sure way to hell; advocated death penalty for heresy.”


44 posted on 05/09/2011 1:22:31 PM PDT by sasportas
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To: Siena Dreaming
people who hold these other views come logically to the conclusions they've reached.

But the private interpreters who hold other views claim to have come to them logically too.

45 posted on 05/09/2011 1:25:14 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: sasportas
A few excerpts from one of my Bible Handbooks.

You can't use Bible Handbooks. Only the Bible itself. Or did I miss something?

46 posted on 05/09/2011 1:27:58 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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To: sigzero

In Acts 14:23 Paul ordains Elders.


47 posted on 05/09/2011 1:38:29 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: Jeff Chandler

The NT writers lived hundreds of years before Constantine and the Papacy. Hence my Bible handbook, which describes the historical departure from original Biblical Christianity, and eventual evolution into the tyrannical rule of the RCC.

The handbook is not written from the RCC perspective, no wonder you are distressed with it. Shining light into darkness usually has that effect.


48 posted on 05/09/2011 2:03:57 PM PDT by sasportas
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To: sigzero

Yes. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” - Ephesians 2:20

Note the “s” at the end of apostles. Note who the chief stone is.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” - I Corinthians 3:11


49 posted on 05/09/2011 2:06:25 PM PDT by RoadTest (Organized religion is no substitute for the relationship the living God wants with you.)
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To: sasportas
my Bible handbook

Sorry, you can't use that. anything other than the Bible is adding to Scripture.

50 posted on 05/09/2011 2:14:41 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Shemp was the Fourth Stooge of the Apocalypse.)
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