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N.T. Wright / New Perspectives on Paul and Eastern Orthodoxy

daveordave

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Hello.  I'm afraid it's probably not good form to immediately jump into a semi-theological question with my first post, but please forgive my curiosity.  I am not a troll, and I will try to introduce myself in another post.  I can say that I am one very confused Evangelical who is developing at least an academic interest in more "high church" traditions.

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you were familiar with the writings of the Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright-- particularly his work with the "New Perspectives on Paul"?  I wondering if you know of any Orthodox theologians who have engaged with his work?  I sometimes listen to Ancient Faith Radio, and one of the hosts of The Illumined Heart mentioned liking Wright. 

Part of why I ask this question is that, although my knowledge of Orthodoxy is yet rudimentary (I've bought some books by Ware and Schmemann and look forward to digging into them), when I read some of Wright's work on justification (which the Reformed types are just going into hissy fits over), I keep getting the feeling that what Wright is saying sounds a lot like what I understand of Orthodoxy.  Perhaps the Bishop's "New Perspective" is not so new?  That would be interesting since one of the accusations that his Reformed detractors toss at him is something along the lines of "So, now, after 1500 years, you've finally got Paul figured out.  Hmff..."  However, if Wright is just beginning to re-discover something older, that would be really interesting and might go a long way towards Christian unity.

I'd appreciate any thoughts.  I can post some info on the "New Perspectives," if you'd like.  As I said, my knowledge of Orthodoxy is rudimentary, and I'm sure I'll get things wrong, so please be patient with me.  Let me pray your beautiful prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Edit:  I just stumbled across and was encouraged by your Article: "Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop" thread.
 

PeterTheAleut

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daveordave,

Welcome to the OC.net discussion forum. :)  First, let me address your insistence that you're not a troll with a butchered quote from Forrest Gump:  A troll is as a troll does.  You haven't done anything yet that trolls usually do, so we have no reason yet to suspect that you're a troll.  Therefore, we will extend to you the same welcome that we give to all non-trolls. ;)  Don't feel that it's bad form to build your first post around such a heady theological question, either.  There a few ways that a new poster can make a very negative first impression upon us, but a sincere probing question is not one of those ways.

Regarding your inquiry into New Perspectives on Paul, I just did a search for anything that we might already have on this subject and couldn't find anything yet.  I encourage you to try the same; you just might find something where I failed.  I haven't read Bishop Wright's book yet, though I've heard of it, so I'm not exactly qualified to offer you any kinds of answers.  However, I'm sure someone here has read this book and can discuss it with you.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.


- PeterTheAleut
Faith Issues Section Moderator
 

Riddikulus

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Hi daveordave,

Sorry, I haven't read "New Perspectives on Paul", but I thought I'd welcome you to OC.net, anyway. Hope you enjoy your time with us.

 

daveordave

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Thank you both for your greeting.  I guess my, perhaps, over-insistence on not being a troll comes from the fact that I've lurked on a few both Orthodox and Roman Catholic message boards and witnessed Protestants (although many of those zany Baptists claim they're not Protestants  ::) )behaving in ways that make me cringe.  I'm sure you know what I mean.

I'll do a little searching on your board today.  I understand that, in the early 20th century, there were some very good ecumenical talks between the Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox, but that they deteriorated somewhat when many Anglicans started going theologically flaky.

Thanks again for making me feel welcome.
 

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daveordave said:
I understand that, in the early 20th century, there were some very good ecumenical talks between the Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox, but that they deteriorated somewhat when many Anglicans started going theologically flaky.
From what I recall (from reading, not being present at the time  :p ) WW1 and the Bolshevik revolution intervened and talks between the two were curtailed. But someone more knowledgeable about the details might be able to provide greater detail than I remember.
 

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daveordave said:
Hello.  I'm afraid it's probably not good form to immediately jump into a semi-theological question with my first post, but please forgive my curiosity.  I am not a troll, and I will try to introduce myself in another post.  I can say that I am one very confused Evangelical who is developing at least an academic interest in more "high church" traditions.

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you were familiar with the writings of the Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright-- particularly his work with the "New Perspectives on Paul"?  I wondering if you know of any Orthodox theologians who have engaged with his work?  I sometimes listen to Ancient Faith Radio, and one of the hosts of The Illumined Heart mentioned liking Wright. 

Part of why I ask this question is that, although my knowledge of Orthodoxy is yet rudimentary (I've bought some books by Ware and Schmemann and look forward to digging into them), when I read some of Wright's work on justification (which the Reformed types are just going into hissy fits over), I keep getting the feeling that what Wright is saying sounds a lot like what I understand of Orthodoxy.  Perhaps the Bishop's "New Perspective" is not so new?  That would be interesting since one of the accusations that his Reformed detractors toss at him is something along the lines of "So, now, after 1500 years, you've finally got Paul figured out.  Hmff..."  However, if Wright is just beginning to re-discover something older, that would be really interesting and might go a long way towards Christian unity.

I'd appreciate any thoughts.  I can post some info on the "New Perspectives," if you'd like.  As I said, my knowledge of Orthodoxy is rudimentary, and I'm sure I'll get things wrong, so please be patient with me.  Let me pray your beautiful prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Edit:  I just stumbled across and was encouraged by your Article: "Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop" thread.

I personally like N.T. Wright.  The fact that the more conservative Prespyterians and Evangelical free types reject him, made me more interested in what he had to say.

I found the samething to be true for the Dr. Peter ENNS. He just got dropped from Westminister Theological Seminary. They didn't like his Incarnational modal of Scripture......Which isn't that far away from the Eastern Orthodox understanding.







JNORM888
 

ignatios

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N.T. Wright was one of the many reasons I became open to Orthodoxy.  He's by no means Orthodox, but he challenged the traditional Reformed Protestant interpretation of Scripture, specifically with respect to justification.  His understanding of justification in St Paul as primarily an issue of Gentile inclusion within the Church, and not so much in terms of a legal declaration of one's imputed righteous standing, helped me in going even further to understand justification as a declaration of an already manifest ontological change.  Wright wouldn't go this far, and he's very wrong in a lot of areas, but his thought was a good step out of Protestantism, and past Rome, for me.  My understanding of him may be a bit fuzzy, as I've put his books in storage and haven't read them in a long while.
 

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N.T Wright Interview on Stephen Colbert http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/index.jhtml

He is discussing that Heaven will be combined with Earth as the New Creation. What Happens after the Resurrection Suprise! Suprise! the Church was already there from the time of the Incarnation and before creation. Sounds very Orthodox he tries to get non-believers and ecumenical Christians to refocus on the Early Christian Thought. I say this might be the first for Americans to ever have heard Jesus was from the beginning without creation and not Roman Medieval dogma.
 

daveordave

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I didn't realize this thread was still going.  I would like to thank you all for your friendly responses.
 

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alexp4uni said:
N.T Wright Interview on Stephen Colbert http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/index.jhtml

He is discussing that Heaven will be combined with Earth as the New Creation. What Happens after the Resurrection Suprise! Suprise! the Church was already there from the time of the Incarnation and before creation. Sounds very Orthodox he tries to get non-believers and ecumenical Christians to refocus on the Early Christian Thought. I say this might be the first for Americans to ever have heard Jesus was from the beginning without creation and not Roman Medieval dogma.
Thanks for the link... it is an interesting interview.
 

daveordave

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alexp4uni said:
I say this might be the first for Americans to ever have heard Jesus was from the beginning without creation and not Roman Medieval dogma.
The Reformed types are really going after him.  John Piper has written an entire book against Wright.  One of the arguments they keep using is that the "New Perspective on Paul" is new and thus not theologically reputable.  However, the more I understand about folks like Irenaeus and Athanasius, I'm starting to wonder just how "new" some of the aspects of the "New Perspective" really are.  John Piper might just be the one with the "new" theology.  Of course, the even more ironic thing is that John Calvin is likely rolling over in his grave at the thought of a Baptist calling himself a "Calvinist."
 
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jnorm888 said:
I personally like N.T. Wright.  The fact that the more conservative Prespyterians and Evangelical free types reject him, made me more interested in what he had to say.

I found the samething to be true for the Dr. Peter ENNS. He just got dropped from Westminister Theological Seminary. They didn't like his Incarnational modal of Scripture......Which isn't that far away from the Eastern Orthodox understanding.
I just read this article today:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/julyweb-only/129-11.0.html

I read it because I attended an Evangelical Free church for 4 years, checked the denominational website to see how the Statement of Faith has been changed since I was there, and found this link.  These paragraphs in particular caught my eye:

By and large, the EFCA has been insulated from the evangelical world's recent debates over open theism, the Atonement, justification, and inerrancy. That's not to say the EFCA has avoided the debates. Faculty at the EFCA seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), have actively engaged each of these controversial topics. But the newer interpretations have not gained traction among the denomination's 1,300 churches. Still, it's clear EFCA leaders had these debates in mind when they adopted a new statement of faith on June 26.

The first article says God has "limitless knowledge and sovereign power." Thus, the EFCA takes a stand against open theism, which claims that God granted humans complete free will, so he can't know the future precisely. This first article was shifted ahead of an article on the Bible, which led off the last statement of faith, adopted in 1950, when the EFCA was formed by merger. The move should not be interpreted as de-emphasizing inerrancy. Indeed, the 2008 revision strengthens the EFCA's commitment to inerrancy by taking a cue from the 1978 Chicago Statement. The Bible, "without error in the original writings," is to be "believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises." The EFCA statement also says the Bible is the "ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged."

It is no surprise the EFCA would take a strong stance on inerrancy. The late TEDS luminaries and CT editors Kenneth Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry helped draft the Chicago Statement. But the move is still significant, since every tenured TEDS professor must sign the EFCA statement of faith. Another bastion of inerrancy, Westminster Theological Seminary, recently suspended Peter Enns on suspicion that his understanding of inerrancy was at odds with the Westminster Confession.

Like other doctrinal statements of the era, the EFCA's 1950 draft did not elaborate much on any point. For example, it says the "shed blood of Jesus Christ and his resurrection provide the only ground for justification." But with the definition of justification now up for grabs, the new statement says, "The true church comprises all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone." Regarding the Atonement, the 1950 statement says that Jesus "died on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures." Someone who rejects substitutionary Atonement, who sees Jesus primarily as a model of sacrificial service, could sign the earlier statement. Not so with the 2008 version. It reads, "We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed his blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins."
I can't help but think that--if my old pastor knows I'm converting to Orthodoxy--he believes I'm turning to apostasy, not just from the new Statement of Faith, but from what he said in the past.  My Lutheran hubby recently noted that his own understanding of atonement is closer to the Orthodox one, while the E-Free church taught the "God's offended honor needed satisfaction" model, the one the Orthodox Church opposes.  My old pastor used to head a team of adults and teenagers which went to Russia each year to witness.  He visited Orthodox churches while there, and came back to report to the congregation, "The Orthodox Church is not Christian.  It's been filled with paganism."

I'd better go print up that revised Statement of Faith and see what all it entails.  Lately, I've been reading a lot of Christianity Today articles--this one, and ones about a resurgence of Calvinism in Evangelical churches (such as the E-Free church I fled from), led by John Piper and others.  I've also been reading Left Behind to find out how much of the criticism is true and how much is a straw man; I came across the descriptions of salvation around the middle of the book.  I have never wanted more to be Orthodox than I do now.  :eek:

 

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ignatios said:
N.T. Wright was one of the many reasons I became open to Orthodoxy.  He's by no means Orthodox, but he challenged the traditional Reformed Protestant interpretation of Scripture, specifically with respect to justification.
I agree, he helped me early on in my journey East.

Welcome to the boards daveordave.
 

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daveordave said:
alexp4uni said:
I say this might be the first for Americans to ever have heard Jesus was from the beginning without creation and not Roman Medieval dogma.
The Reformed types are really going after him.  John Piper has written an entire book against Wright.  One of the arguments they keep using is that the "New Perspective on Paul" is new and thus not theologically reputable.  However, the more I understand about folks like Irenaeus and Athanasius, I'm starting to wonder just how "new" some of the aspects of the "New Perspective" really are.  John Piper might just be the one with the "new" theology.  Of course, the even more ironic thing is that John Calvin is likely rolling over in his grave at the thought of a Baptist calling himself a "Calvinist."
I bought and read Counted Righteous In Christ by Piper before I actually became sympathetic to Wright's views.  To counter Piper's claim that the so-called New Perspective is new: it is only new in the degree to which it preserves classical Protestant thinking.  For instance, one erroneous or misleading statement of Bishop Wright is that "the doctrine of justification by faith is the great ecumenical doctrine". He means to say that the faith by which Gentiles were included among Jews in the N.T. Church is the same faith which is required, alone (sola fidei), for inclusion in the current Church.  By this understanding, anybody with Wright's requisite faith is part of the Church.  The problem here is that Wright's standard of what constitutes right faith, that is, faith in reality, is in error from the start, for he does not hold the Tradition of the Church.  He needs to be Orthodox - to hold to the right belief.  Without that, he is left to subscribe to yet another version of lowest-common-denominator ecclesiology, in which individual Protestant groups define what is required for one to be a part of the church, which always includes themselves and usually excludes those with whom they have a theological axe to grind.  These boundaries can change over time as theological battle lines are re-prioritized. 

Although Wright makes progress against the false dichotomy of justification by faith vs. works, he doesn't get beyond the orbit of Protestant ecumenism to embrace the faith which has been preserved by the Holy Spirit in truth, consistency, and in power, as Jesus our Lord promised us.
 

daveordave

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Wow! Just stumbled across this little bit of history. Just in case anyone who responded to the thread sees this, I thought ya'll might be interested to know that my family and I were received into the Orthodox Church in 2015. Have a blessed Holy Week!
 

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Glory to Our God.
 

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When it comes to the issue of the Real Presence, I found the Anglican Bp. N.T. Wright to be trying to talk big, like using the term "Real Presence." But when it comes to carefully analyzing his actual position, it looks like it's the classic position of Bps. Cranmer and Ridley that matches Calvin's Virtual Presence or In-Effect Presence, sometimes jokingly called the "Real Absence".

I have found some Anglicans to do this, as well as to gloss over real deep divisions among Anglicans on the topic. To give you an example, the blog article "FEAST OF FAITH: HIGH CHURCH EUCHARISTIC TEACHING AND PIETY IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, 1800-1833" looks like this. (https://northamanglican.com/feast-o...and-piety-in-the-church-of-england-1800-1833/) It looks down on the Catholic and "Anglo-Catholic" views while also looking down on "drab and spiritually barren" presentations of the Eucharist. But it doesn't mention the Lutheran view and repeatedly cites Anglican statements that are practically the same as the Calvinist view. The actual difference in positions among Anglicans, even within the Anglican "Articles of Religion" is between (A) an objective, direct, literal presence by the substance of Christ's body on the altar table in a way that agrees with the Lutheran position and (B) a virtual presence whereby Christ's actual body just stays up in heaven and the Eucharistic ritual on earth has the same effect as if Christ's body was on earth.

Professor S. Joel Garver, summarizing Bp. N. T. Wright's position in Wright's The Meal Jesus Gave Us: Understanding Holy Communion (Westminster/John Knox, 2003) says:
The Supper, he emphasizes, is an objective (this do) remembrance/memorial of Jesus' sacrifice on Golgotha, bringing the signficance of that one-time past event forward to meet us. He does mention the colloquy at Marburg, the dispute between Luther and Zwingli, the mediating views of folks like Oecolampadius and Calvin. On the whole he seems to approve of Calvin's view of the Real Presence, though suggesting that Calvin's notion of our "ascent" into heaven by the Spirit to Jesus might be too spatial. Rather he prefers thinking in terms of time.

... Wright speaks a great deal about the Supper as bringing the past and future to meet in the present, as Paul says "whenever (present) you do this you proclaim the Lord's death (past) until he comes (future)."
So when Bp. N.T. Wright writes a whole book on the Eucharist, he writes things that are spiritual and correct, like about how past and present meet in the Eucharist. But when getting down to the actual difference between the Calvinist and Lutheran (or for that matter EO) positions, he doesn't make his position clear, because Garver only writes that he "seems" to side with Calvin. That Wright's book was published by the Calvinist Westminster/John Knox publisher is a hint that Garver was right.
 

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Wow! Just stumbled across this little bit of history. Just in case anyone who responded to the thread sees this, I thought ya'll might be interested to know that my family and I were received into the Orthodox Church in 2015. Have a blessed Holy Week!
Glory to God.

I’ll have to read this thread soon. I was just finding OC.net in 2015. :)
 

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many of those zany Baptists claim they're not Protestants
Maybe I'm one of those 'zany Baptists'! (Though it looks as if they've accepted me on this forum for 13 years.) I am a Protestant in that I believe in justification by faith, the authority of scripture alone for faith and practice, the need to be born again by faith, and am not Roman or Orthodox (though Orthodox is the more attractive of the two); but as regards the Reformers, I dislike infant baptism, a State church, and persecution of dissidents, and in that sense I'm not.

However, as regards Tom Wright, I greatly enjoy his writings (especially about the resurrection and the new heavens and the new earth), but I have to confess that having read repeatedly about his 'new perspective' on Paul and justification, both some of what he himself has written and what is written about it, I haven't yet intellectually grasped what he is saying. It's not at all easy to understand (at least, I find it so). I might add that what I have read of John Piper has not prompted me to seek out more of his doubtless abundant writings.
 

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Old thread; I wrote a short article years ago on a related central theme of NPP; cf. the comments also.
 

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Protestants (although many of those zany Baptists claim they're not Protestants ::) )behaving in ways that make me cringe.
A bit off the main point, I concede, but I am a Baptist and probably fall into your category of a "Protestant (although many of those zany Baptists claim they're not Protestant) behaving in ways that make me cringe". Like you, some of my own kind do behave "in ways that make me cringe", but I think we say we are not Protestant because we don't believe in a State church, or in infant baptism, or in persecution of other religious groups (not that we've ever had the chance to prove that), and because English Baptists are an offshoot from Congregationalists, not from a Protestant (or Catholic) State church. Anyway, I greatly enjoy the writings of N T Wright, though his 'new perspective' on Paul is not easy to understand. When I think or read about it, I sometimes feel I'm on the outer fringe of understanding him.
 

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the even more ironic thing is that John Calvin is likely rolling over in his grave at the thought of a Baptist calling himself a "Calvinist."
Yes. I had the privilege and blessing of spending some time among Particular Baptists (to give them their historical name) in the SE of England, and found a depth and richness of grace, faith and godly love which have continued to be an inspiration to me for half a century. But I have also often encountered Baptists who have, as it were, cross-bred with Scottish Presbyterians in their theology, and the ethos of their churches is often quite different. They tend not to call themselves 'Calvinist' but use the word 'Reformed', and they often come over as cold, dismissive, bigoted, scholastic and intolerant. I try to avoid them nowadays, but they are not to be confused with the real Particular Baptists who date from the 1600s; as far as I can make out, this new type of rather brassy Calvinistic Baptist dates from the 1950s. I write, of course, of England, and can't comment on other lands. (The word Particular denotes the belief in 'particular redemption', that is that Christ died for the elect only, that is for particular people, not for all mankind. In this they agree with Calvin.)

Forgive me if I've wandered off the point again.
 

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I think we say we are not Protestant because we don't believe in a State church, or in infant baptism, or in persecution of other religious groups (not that we've ever had the chance to prove that), and because English Baptists are an offshoot from Congregationalists, not from a Protestant (or Catholic) State church.
Sorry for yet another offtopic but speaking as a resident non-English speaker here, does "Protestant" really entail being an offshoot of state church in particular? The Finnish language equivalent of "Protenstant" means basically (AFAIK) someone or something that isn't Catholic or Orthodox so I've always assumed that more or less applies to English as well.
 

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Depends on who you ask. There's the historical definition and the colloquial definition. But in my experience, Baptists think of themselves as Baptist and nothing else.
 

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Depends on who you ask. There's the historical definition and the colloquial definition. But in my experience, Baptists think of themselves as Baptist and nothing else.
I think of myself as a rich guy, but my bank account says otherwise.
 

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The Ana- Baptists came out of Roman Catholic Church with Menno Simmons a former Catholic priest and was not part of the PROTESTant group. They seperated without war, non resistant, non protestant, believer's baptism, do not agree with Calvin, Luther, Zwingli. They are not protestant though seperated in that time frame:
Mennonites.
Later, Amish broke off from them to keep tradition.
 

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Jacob Ammen and his followers broke from the Mennonites to keep tradition...yes, Tradition with a capital "T".

They believed that the Lord's Supper should be served twice a year, not just once a year as the Mennonites practiced.
 

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Im sure it was more complicated than that
 

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Ah the Baptist trail of blood craziness. I did not think anyone really believed in that anymore.
 

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Jacob Ammen and his followers broke from the Mennonites to keep tradition...yes, Tradition with a capital "T".

They believed that the Lord's Supper should be served twice a year, not just once a year as the Mennonites practiced.
I was always taught it was over disagreements on church discipline and when and how long to shun and to what extent the shunning. My friend who is staying with Amish up the road from here since January just confirmed. But who knows?
 

hecma925

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Ah the Baptist trail of blood craziness. I did not think anyone really believed in that anymore.
My dad taught a Bible study centered around that for years. I think he still does it. And he's not the only one I know.
 

Alpo2

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I think of myself as a rich guy, but my bank account says otherwise.
Don't believe what they say. You can be whatever you want.
 

Stinky

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As with all schisms there were multiple issues.
Yes, I agree with this. Most schisms involve the root of pride.
Just look at the example of the first schizm.
 
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