What does it mean to be a Christian: Gnostic vs. Pistic by Daniel Murray

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What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean that you believe in Jesus, born from the Virgin Mary and accept him as the only begotten Son of God? Does it mean that you have been baptized, confirmed, and share in the eucharis? Maybe it means you believe in one Father, creator of Heaven and Earth who sent his only son, Jesus to die for the world's sins, and that only those who believe in Jesus are saved from the fires of hell? Or maybe there is something more, maybe there is something which has not been included in acceptable teachings of the so called Universal (Catholic) Church.

I grew up in an agnostic house, we went to Christian church from time to time but no religion had ever been forced upon me. At a very early age though I felt a connection with God and developed a personal belief that God existed inside of me, was love, and would simply judge me for how I treated others. I can't say that I was what you would call "a good kid" growing up, but I tried my hardest to stand up for what I believed was right and to try and figure out what was truly real in this world. I signed up for the Army as soon as I was able, hoping to make a difference in the world by serving something that I believed was righteous. During basic training we were given the option every Sunday to either go to church or clean bathrooms, it was in no way a difficult choice to make. So I went, every Sunday, and while most people tried to sleep I would listen. I enjoyed hearing the sermons and within a few months I found myself in line to be baptized. There were a few things that never quite sat right with me though, why was Jesus taught as being something so different than us and why was salvation only possible by believing in Jesus and not instead by simply living the way he spoke of? These questions were there but I gave them no voice as I felt that I could only deal with the situations that were in front of me, and at that time it was being a private in the Army. I left basic training to be stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas I had been there about a week when some strangers asked if I would like to come to church and I agreed. It was a Christian church just outside the city, and while they seemed nice enough when service began it was more than baffling. People were screaming and hollering about television and newspapers being the devil and everyone was going to hell and so on and so on. I left as soon as it was over and never went back, and it would be 7 years before I would decide to go to church again.

Around the time that I was leaving the Army I began to feel a calling to search for God. I began reading about Buddhism and studying the teachings of the Dali Lama. It seemed so perfect, simply living a good life with the basic principal of treating others how you would like to be treated and learning to disconnect ourselves from the material things our society puts so much value upon. I found something that I could identify with, something that resonated in my heart. I began giving a voice to these feeling, talking to people about the importance of treating others how we want to be treated, it was difficult though as many of my friends did not see the benefit in acting such a way. And then something horrible happened; shortly after starting school my best friend, Rudy, was murdered. Ours friends wanted blood, retribution, an eye for an eye, and told me that I would have to be the one to do it or else I would face the same end. Time went by and I plotted against the people who had killed my friend, but deep down I knew it was wrong and I would be forced to either act out of fear or act out of faith. When it came down to it I only wanted to do what I felt would best serve Rudy, and that would mean doing what my heart told me and forgiving the people who killed him so that Rudy might be seen in favor with God. I decided that I would stick by this decision even if it meant retribution against me and those who I loved, by the very people who I had...
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