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Really need help- so confused about my faith

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by cristoforos, Aug 8, 2009.

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  1. cristoforos

    cristoforos Newbie

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    Hi folks, I am at a very, very critical point in my spiriual life. I am really worried about taking the wrong path, yet totally confused as to what the right path is. Before I start, I want to make it clear that I merely want advice, I am not trying to antagonise at all. Here's the deal;

    I was born and raised Catholic (I'm 26), in fact I considered myself a very strong Catholic and would defend the Church and Pope to the hilt. However I was always strangely drawn to the Orthodox Church, which is quite inexplicable as I live in a country with no Orthodox heritage to speak of. Over the last couple years I began to believe that I would actually become Orthodox. Then, in the past year, everything changed- I came into contact with Jehovah's Witnessess and have come to see that they talk a lot of sense. I have had a Bible study, attended meetings and am becoming convinced this could be the truth. I know many of you will be thinking "cult!", but the JW's are very sincere, vey kind and very knowledgeable people. However there is something holding me back; Orthodoxy and the things I learned while studying the Church.

    I guess I owe it to myself and to God to be absolutely sure before making any decisions. Obviously the JW's could not be further from the Orthodox, and they can't both be right. The JW's hold many unique beliefs (which they back up well with Scripture), but it is not these whch convince me. It is the many common sense arguments about how they fit the 'true faith' and others don't. These include;

    - non-involvement in political issues. Jesus clearly commanded us to seperate ourselves from this world. Yet the Orthodox Church has been involved in many worldly conroversies.

    - Jesus said you would know his followers by the love amongst them. If any of you have visited a Kingdom Hall or know any JW's you will know that they are so nice and the atmosphere is very welcoming. However, often the Orthodox Church can be bitterly divided by ethnic problems and politics.

    - Jesus and the Apostles preached that after they had died, apostasy would occur. The true faith would be polluted. I am so worried that some of the beliefs I have held my whole life (such as the Trinity, immortality of the soul, veneration of the Virgin Mary and saints etc) are as a result of the leftovers or incorporation of paganism (something that really shocked me was how many pagan civilisations had a Mother figure, often with child, that are scarily similar to our icons of the Virgin Mary). It also appears that Greek philosophy polluted Christian thought.

    - Jesus as God, or just God's Son. Jesus came as a 'ransom sacrifice' to make up for Adams's sin. Adam was the perfect man, and so God needed a perfect man to 'balance' things up. If Jesus was God then the balance would not be equal, it doesn't make sense.

    These are just a few issues that really have hit home with me. However, the fact the JW's have only been around 150 years compared to 2000 years of Church history, worries me. The JW's say that is what was predicted, that the true faith wuld be lost and then restored as the end approaches. Their founder Russell and some of the 'false' predictions are also a worry. However, what is really striking is that the JW's admit their failings. They admit they used to celebrate Christmas and used the Cross, they admit they got stuff wrong but they were just trying to strip away things that had infected Christianity for so long, they are just honestly seeking the truth. The issue of Hell is also important. They don't believe in Hell but there seem to be many verses that show it is a reality.

    I guess I am now totally and utterly confused. I know this is Satan's plan. This confusion and worry is distracting me from committing to the true faith, whatever it may be. I am so frightened of making the wrong choice and then when I die realising it and paying for it forever.

    Any suggestions about what to do would be amazing. Is there anywhere I can look to properly refute the JW's accusations? I don't want to give up on the Church but that is the way I am heading.

    Please help me if you can.
     
  2. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Wow your questions are for someone way smarter than I am, but I will just make a couple comments from my own heart and opinion. There are many wonderful people in different religions or Christian faiths. Mormons come to mind. They are very Christ-like. It's just their teachings that are incorrect in my opinion. Have you asked the JW's on what authority do they have? Where did their church originate from, start from. How did it come about? Just wondering.

    I'll be praying for you that God guides you to the Truth. God bless.
     
  3. Greg the byzantine

    Greg the byzantine have mercy on me Supporter

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    Yeah a lot of your questions are better dealt with by others. But one big thing that sticks in my craw, is the denial that Jesus is God. How do you reconcile such a belief with the first chapter of the Gospel of John.

    (John 1 NIV)

    1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
    3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.

    6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

    10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

    14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
     
  4. Aesjn

    Aesjn Active Member

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    I'm still learning about Orthodoxy so I can't defend it well but this at least I can comment on. Until roughly 1054 Scotland could be called Orthodox. St Andrew is an Orthodox Saint, so is St Colmcille, St Brighid, and hundreds of other Gaelic/Scottish, Pictish, British and Anglo-Saxon saints.
     
  5. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

    +12,122
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    My only comment is the lack of the sacramental life in JW.

    In Orthodoxy, we are baptized in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit with a triple immersion. JWs do not have a Trinitarian baptism. Furthermore, they do not believe that Jesus Christ is God.

    In Orthodoxy, we are chrismated and sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. JWs do not have that sacrament which purifies, sanctified, and illumines us.

    True, Orthodox Christians are sinners, but Saint John says that anyone who says that they do not sin are liars. We have the Holy Sacrament of Confession to cleanse and heal our souls when we fall into serious sin. Otherwise, we are to go to those whom we have offended and apologize before receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

    The 4th and most important Holy Mystery is Holy Communion, where we are united as One Mystical Body with Christ as our Head. Christ is the Head of the Holy Orthodox Church. True, we sin and distort the image of Christ within us, but the Holy Eucharist gives us the strength to grow in theosis and to change our sinful ways.

    The 5th sacrament is Holy Matrimony (Holy Crowning) by which a man and a woman become spouses in Christ. They are joined together in Christ and become a domestic church where they raise their children to be saints.

    The 6th Mystery is Holy Orders. Our Holy Church exist to serve the Holy Eucharist. Let me repeat that. According to Father Alexander Schmemann, may his memory be eternal, the reason the church exists is to celebrate the Holy Eucharist because man has been created and called to give thanks to God. The word Eucharist means "to give thanks." If you read the Bible, you will see that there are innumerable places where the term "giving thanksgiving" or "giving thanks" is mentioned. This is a reference to the Holy Eucharist ... the bread of angels ... the Holy Manna from heaven ... our Lord Jesus Christ's Most Precious Body and Blood.

    Much more can be written about the Holy Sacraments or Holy Mysteries in the Holy Orthodox Church.

    The 7th Holy Mystery is the Holy Anointing which is for the healing of body and soul. St. James mentions that whenever we are sick, we should call in the elders (priests) of the Church who will pray and anoint us with holy oil.

    Then there are two more Holy Mysteries:

    Tonsuring into the monastic ranks and the Funeral Service.

    I hope this little post helps.

    For more information, please check out the questions and answers at The Orthodox Church in America

    Q&A = http://www.oca.org/QAIndex.asp?SID=3

    My prayers.

    Go online and ask a priest. Surely there are many Orthodox Churches in the UK where you can email an Orthodox Priest for guidance. There are at least four jurisdications in the UK: the Antiochians, the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox Church (MP), and the ROCOR (now in union with the MP).
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009
  6. Mytheodos

    Mytheodos Regular Member

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    Please help me if you can.


    Go to this site....:)

    Hellenic Watchtower Observer,Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries,Orthodox,Christian,Church,Fathers,Psychotherapy,society,Eastern,Religion,Protestant,Ecumenism,Orthodoxy,Books,Byzantium,Eastern, Empire,Society,Dogmatic,dogma,Poetry,Yahweh,Watchtowe


    Here you can find apologetic articles against the Watchtower doctrines, and how the organization uses them to control their people. The researcher of the truth can find out what Jehovahs Witnesses believe and why they do what they do through a critical analysis of Watchtower beliefs. This is the place to begin your search, if you are trapped in such a cult.
     
  7. Andrew21091

    Andrew21091 Senior Member

    +121
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    You can find love and welcome anywhere really. I have met Muslims who were very nice and welcoming just as anyone from any faith can be. Just because the Church has some problems, that doesn't mean that it is wrong since we are after all, human. The Apostles and the early Church even had their own quarrals and disagreements but they were solved. When you see ethnic problems and politics then you are seeing people who don't understand the church. There are some people that are just ethnic Orthodox but such happens but there are many who live Orthodoxy to the fullest. I heard once from a Fr. James Bernstein who was converting from Judaism to Orthodoxy and was worried about the anti-semitism that he saw going one here and there and his priest told him, look, it's the true Church but it was given to the wrong people. The devil lays snares everywhere.

    This question was answered by the Holy Fathers many, many years ago. You should read St. Athanasios' On the Incarnation printed by St. Vladimir's Seminary. It would answer this question well on why he was incarnated and why he had to die and why He had to die the way He did, and it also answered about the resurrection.

    The things that I find wrong with the Jehovah's Witnesses is their distortion of the Scriptures. If you could read the original Greek, you would know that they have changed a lot from what the original meaning is. They did that to try to disprove the divinity of Christ. It clearly says that He was God in John 1 in the Greek. That teaching was condemned by the whole Church in the 4th century in Nicea. I see the JW's like neo-Arians. Saying that the true faith was lost is also preposterous since it is written that the gates of hell would not prevail over the Church. If their is no true faith here on earth, then Satan has won and their was no point in Christ's coming here on earth.

    May God guide you through this time in your life.
     
  8. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    yeah, the fact that the JW's only have a 150 year history is one thing that I find troubling. yes, Christ told us that there would be times when the faithful would fall away, but He never said the faith would be lost for a time. in fact He said the opposite, that the gates of hades will not prevail against His Church. so there is no restoration ever, because the Body of Christ is never lost.

    and yes, Jesus does call us out of the world, but He also tells us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.

    something else to consider, is that if within God there is no shadow of turning, so He does not change, then to call Him Father, you have to say that He is always Father. so He has an eternal Son.

    just some things that pop into my noggin
     
  9. E.C.

    E.C. Well-Known Member

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    (Speaking about the bold and underlined text)

    So? When St. Paul was preaching to the Gentiles they had no Jewish heritage to speak of and there was a higher number of Gentiles becoming Christians than Jews.

    In fact, look in the Gospels. Remember the town that ran a pig business ("Legion")? That town was full of Jews and they kicked Christ out. Yet, the local Roman general sent one of his servants to Christ asking that a different servant be healed saying (something to the effect of), "But only say the word and I shall be healed".

    The point here is that one's ethnicity and one's country's religious heritage should mean nothing. I happen to know someone personally (a few people may know who I am talking about) who is Ugandan from Uganda and is probably the only person whom I would call a living saint. That's right, Uganda: land of the African Butcher.

    What sorts of controversies? Obviously with age one would be involved in more controversy than that of a twenty-four hour living fruit fly.

    That is only when people allow the passions and sin to rule them. When one cares more for the letter than the spirit of the law, bad things happen (like my manager who gets edgy when we accidently put 20 pepperonis on a pizza instead of 19)

    That being said, I was a member of a forum once that had seven Christians, one Muslim, a Daoist, three Atheists, two Wicca people, an occasional Mormon and one Satanist. Who among them happened to be the most level-headed? The Satanist.

    Could it be possible that God revealed little bite-sized pieces of truth to the pagans so that by the time Christ came they would be able and ready to receive Him?

    For example, when St. Paul went to the Greeks the Athenians at the Parthenon were making sacrifices to "the one unknown god".


    If my dad was of Native Alaskan ethnicity, than why wouldn't I, his son, also be of Native Alaskan ethnicity?

    How could God have a son who is not also God? As per the sacrifice bit, if Christ were indeed a mere sacrifice than why would He need to resurrect? With a sacrifice, He would be dead and Adam's sin 'balance'. Why then should Christ resurrect?

    How do they know what has "infected Christianity" and how will they know when they have cleansed it? What is the measuring stick of "how far" for the JWs? If even their founder was wrong with predictions, than what does that say about the theology? Why even have a founder outside of Christ?

    And also, what would it say about the Apostles and Christ if immediately after His Ascension and their earthly deaths all those who became Christians apostacized? It would mean that both Christ and the Apostles failed both as leaders and as teachers.

    What do you mean by paying it forever? If you do go JW and later decide to leave, will you be able to alive? Sorry, but I am a bit pessimistic and it would seem foolish to join something that would stalk you and/or threaten should you leave it.


    I shall ask one of my priests tomorrow after Liturgy.

    There is a nice little tract made by Conciliar Press called "Cultist at My Door" which speaks very briefly and generally about the JWs and Mormons. If anyone here could find it online, feel free to post it. If not, let me know because I have a copy of it and would be willing to either post the JW section or send a private message.

    I believe that many monastics in Eastern Europe have refuted Jehova's Witnesses when they tried to proselytize after the fall of Communism. Elder Cleopa of blessed memory comes to mind.


    Pray! The most important thing to do is pray! Pray for guidance if need be, but this is one's spiritual life we are talking here and not something that can easily be made by drawing straws!
     
  10. Dismas

    Dismas Regular Member

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  11. Mikeb85

    Mikeb85 Guest

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    And it's also helped the world in many ways. Just today our Church is having a fundraiser entirely to help 2 orphanages overseas...

    Have you just heard this or experienced this? Our Orthodox parish has over 15 different ethnicities represented - no division. No people have ever shown me love as I've seen in the Orthodox Church.

    This is a fairly broad topic to cover right now, but I'll try briefly. This idea that the Church, which suffered so much persecution, would become entirely apostate, is fairly rediculous. True, there were many heretics in early Christianity (gnostics, arians, nestorians), but Christ did promise that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His Church...

    Christ did not come as a 'ransom sacrifice'. Mankind was fallen - so God took our nature, and became incarnate to reconcile us to Him. When He died and descended into Hades (in Hebrew 'Sheol'), He freed the souls in Hades from death's grip (through the fact that He was God, and Hades couldn't contain the infinite), and opened up the way to salvation.

    Jehovah's Witnesses - OrthodoxWiki
     
  12. cristoforos

    cristoforos Newbie

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    Thank you for the knowledgeable and thoughtful replies folks. I will have a more detailed look through them and post some of my thoughts when I get a spare minute.
     
  13. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    Dear Cris,

    Some of the statements that the JW are attempting to convince you of are misleading. For instance about how after the apostles die, apostacy will occur. This is quite a bizarre statement. After the last apostle John died in 95 a.d. there were only a handful of christians in the world. So who would the apostates be?

    The scriptures teach that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth and that the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. There is only apostasy away from the church. Paul speaks of a "falling away" which will occur in the "latter times" before the appearance of the lawless one. It is people falling away from the Church, not the other way around.
    But that aside i will give just one instance where the JW are hopelessly wrong. And if they cant get this one minor detail correct, you have to ask yourself, what can they be right about? The answer: not much.

    According to the JW, Christ was crucified not on a cross but on a pillar (an upright beam). Of course they have no logical explanation as to why the original greek NTuses the word "stavro" (cross) and not "stilo" (stake).

    The JW actually have convinced their people that when Christ carried His cross to Golgotha, he carried a 15 foot long 300+ pound stake (standard dimensions)! Then the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to maneuver this near immoveable object all on his own!

    In reality what the romans made Jesus carry (as was the custom) is the cross beam.
    But i will prove that it was a cross and not a stake beyond any doubt. I'm sure you have seen through the JW literature pictures of Christ crucified on a stake with a single nail going thru his overlapped hands. This indeed would be the manner if he was crucified on a stake, one nail for both hands.
    Lets see what the holy gospel teaches us on this matter:

    "We have seen the Lord! So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, Iwill not believe." (John 20.25 nkjv)

    Why would doubting Thomas refer to nails in plural? Its clear that he is refering to more than one nail that affixed Christs hands. We see the word "hand" and "nails". You can use any version of the NT you like to verify this especially the original koine greek.
    I ask you again, If they cant get these common sense facts right what can they get right?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2009
  14. Tiger Lily

    Tiger Lily O Come and Adore Him

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    I had talked with JWs before, and their doctrines are so similar (according to the lady I was talking with) to Baptist/Calvinist doctrines, minus the Trinity, and other things. It is not a very old religion, having come into existence a relative short while ago, over 100 years (you say 150, I'll have to take your word for it, I don't know). The path to hell is paved with sincerity.

    Many years ago, I told one JW lady off that to deny the Trinity could be blaspheming the Holy Spirit. She came down sick after that, and yes, it had upset her greatly when I said that. The other lady that was there at the time returned the following week, and said she had gotten very ill and had to go live in a care home (she was in her 70s at the time), and was recovering from her illness. She didn't die, but it always got to me how that happened in that way. I surely didn't mean to make her sick! However, JW's doctrines are right in line with the warning in the Bible that heresy would come, and they are the prime example.
     
  15. Tiger Lily

    Tiger Lily O Come and Adore Him

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    JW's are very well-versed and expert at convincing Catholics how "right" and "correct" they are, and they usually hit below the belt when saying how "wrong" and "in error" any other church is. They have studied Catholic doctrines, and probably know them better than you do. They can really make it look like Catholics are heathens, pagans, and everything else like that. I have far more respect for Catholics than I do JWs, because they are so clueless to the Trinity, and to just exactly who gave us the Bible in the first place. It surely wasn't the JWs, and not like the Mormons Moroni giving a book, or the Bible mysteriously showing up somewhere - no, it was the Orthodox Church that gave us the scriptures, and if the scriptures are good, then so is the Church that canonized it.
     
  16. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I would also say that in the opening of St John's Gospel, if the Word is already there in the beginning, then He did not come into existence, but is eternal because He is already there when the Creation happens. if He is really created, then the Word would be created by God, not already be there with God.

    and then another point that sort of ties with this is when it says "that all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." now, if He was made by the Father, then the Word didn't make something, and that would be the Word Himself. so He has to be eternal if He had a hand in making everything that was made.
     
  17. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Christ said to love our enemies. A fellow I know was once an elder in the Jehovah's Witnesses until he began to look more deeply into its claims. In the end he left and joined the Anglican Church and has since become an ordained minister. I can tell you now that "love" does not describe the response the remaining members of his former church had for him. They did everything in their power to destroy him as in their eyes he had become their no. 1 enemy.

    John
     
  18. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina Well-Known Member

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    I have heard of similar horror stories where ex-JW members were excommunicated when they started to question their faith and were fired from their jobs, etc.
     
  19. Elly812

    Elly812 Newbie

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    I had a friend who belonged to JW. I was never really interested in their faith, but they are very active in propagation, so I heard some of their ideas. Yes, they seemed to be very friendly to me too - they called each other sisters and brothers and always helped each other in hardships. But later I knew some very unattractive features in their faith and behaviour. If someone leaves the JW group, they do not speak to this person. I asked, why? My friend told me, it's because "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and apublican". As I can see, JWs have many mistakes in Bible exegesis - for example, they think Jesus Christ and The Archistratigus Michael are the same. And what completely shocked me - they celebrate the crucifixion of Christ, somewhen in late autumn (which is opposite to traditional Pascha). Not the resurrection - crucifixion!
    So look in this faith critically.
     
  20. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I think it is time you read 1 Corinthians 13 again :)

    John
     
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