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Following The Truth: Letting Your Conscience Be Your Guide (What Jiminy Cricket-[Catholic or Open]
CE.com ^ | August 6th, 2010 | Gary Zimak

Posted on 12/06/2011 8:30:52 AM PST by Salvation

Letting Your Conscience Be Your Guide (What Jiminy Cricket Didn’t Tell You)

August 6th, 2010 by Gary Zimak

“Always let your conscience be your guide” (Jiminy Cricket, from the movie Pinocchio, 1940).

“One of the key pastoral problems facing us is the widespread misunderstanding of the role of conscience, whereby individual conscience and experience are exalted above or against Church teaching” (Pope John Paul II, Address to Bishops of New England, September 21, 1993).

While most people would agree with Jiminy Cricket’s advice to Pinocchio, Pope John Paul II’s quote illustrates that, in certain cases, the recommendation could be problematic.  One look at various newspaper editorial pages will illustrate a growing belief among Catholics that an individual’s conscience trumps Church teaching, especially if they are in opposition to each other.  Adding “fuel to the fire” is a plethora of Catholic politicians who, while professing the importance of their Catholicism, adamantly support positions that are directly opposed to Church teaching.  One doesn’t have to look too hard to find numerous Catholic politicians who support abortion and same sex “marriage”.  It is also relatively easy to locate Catholic acquaintances who disregard Church teachings on everything from weekly Mass attendance to artificial birth control.  Let’s look at the official Catholic position on conscience and see if it’s ever permissible to obey one’s conscience when it conflicts with Church teaching.

Using conscience to determine right from wrong is hardly a new matter and can be witnessed in Adam and Eve’s Old Testament encounter with the serpent.  In the garden, God gave Adam permission to eat the fruit from any tree except the “tree of knowledge of good and bad” (Gen 2:17).  Eve also indicated her familiarity with this command (Gen 3:3), although she ignored it when the serpent offered a contrary opinion.  Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom” and decided to eat the forbidden fruit, sharing it with Adam (Gen 3:6).  This episode gives us an example of two individuals who decided to follow their conscience, even though it was in opposition to God’s command.  Unfortunately, just as the Lord warned, the results for Adam and Eve were not good!

Objectively speaking, the Church teaches that we must always obey our conscience.  There is little disagreement among Catholics that deliberately carrying out immoral actions is sinful.  In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly affirms this fact and indicates that by acting in opposition to the certain judgment of one’s conscience, we “condemn ourselves” (CCC 1790).   However, there is another piece to this teaching that is often overlooked:  It is possible that our conscience can make an incorrect judgment that “departs from reason and the divine law” (CCC 1786).  Just like Adam and Eve, our conscience can allow us to make the wrong decision.  In his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (VS), Pope John Paul II stated that “Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil” (VS 60). Therefore, we must always strive to educate and inform our conscience in accordance with God’s commandments.

According to the Catechism, the education of our conscience is a “lifelong task” (CCC 1784).  The Vatican II document Dignitatus Humanae (DH) instructs that in forming our consciences “the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church” (DH 14).  It is precisely here that we see the contradiction in the position of those who claim that it is possible to “follow their conscience”, even when it conflicts with Church teaching.  The Magisterium clearly teaches that we must form our conscience in accordance with the teaching of the Church, thereby eliminating a major argument in the arsenal of those who use “freedom of conscience” to dissent from Catholic teaching.

While the above citations make it clear that it is never morally acceptable to disobey Church teaching based upon one’s conscience, why is it done so frequently?  When Catholics refuse to obey Church teachings, it is often due to their failure to recognize the living presence of Jesus in His Church.  To many people, the Church is a hierarchy composed of hypocritical and fallible human beings.  Why should we listen to the same bishops who “made so many bad decisions” concerning the priestly abuse crisis?  Why should we obey the men who are “anti-women” and “anti-gay” and who affirm that position by refusing to admit women or homosexuals to the priesthood?  Unfortunately, short-sighted positions such as these completely overlook the fact that the Church is a heavenly, not an earthly, institution.  While the Church on earth is comprised of imperfect humans, the head of the Church is actually Jesus Christ who sent His Holy Spirit to keep her free from error.  This is a hard concept for many to grasp, but it is critical to accepting the authority of the Catholic Church.  The reason we should listen to the Church is that, by doing so, we listen to Christ.

If the above reasoning still isn’t enough, there is a sobering statement in the Catechism that should get the attention of anyone who has chosen to disobey Church teaching based upon their own conscience.  This statement pertains to those who claim immunity based upon limited knowledge of Church teaching.  If someone “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good”, they can still be held responsible for the evil action committed (CCC 1791).  This matter becomes especially serious when the sin committed is grave (or mortal).  While space doesn’t permit me to list all possible variations, such things as deliberately missing Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, living together outside of wedlock and the use of artificial birth control could all potentially fall into the “mortal sin” category.  Being in the state of mortal sin is extremely troublesome when one considers the following two statements:  “Therefore, you must also be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt 24:44) and “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell” (CCC 1035).

None of us know when we will be called home to be judged by Almighty God.  I can imagine nothing more frightening than suddenly appearing before the Lord and having to explain why we didn’t listen to Jesus speaking through His Church, especially if it caused us to be in the state of mortal sin.  There is no earthly pleasure, pride or indulgence that is worth the price of eternal pain and suffering.  By obeying the voice of Christ as spoken through the teachings of His Catholic Church, we can be assured of not being in that terrifying position.  Instead, we will one day stand before God, eagerly awaiting these longed-for words:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt 25:23).



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; moral; virtues

Gary Zimak is the founder of Following The Truth Ministries (http://www.followingthetruth.com), a lay apostolate created to assist Catholics in learning more about their Faith. He is a regular guest on EWTN Radio’s “Son Rise Morning Show”, Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo” and appears frequently on several other Catholic radio programs.  In addition to writing for CatholicLane. Mr. Zimak hosts a daily program on BlogTalkRadio and posts frequently on his blog, Facebook and Twitter.  He is a member of Catholics United For The Faith and the Knights of Columbus and resides in New Jersey.


1 posted on 12/06/2011 8:31:01 AM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

**One look at various newspaper editorial pages will illustrate a growing belief among Catholics that an individual’s conscience trumps Church teaching, especially if they are in opposition to each other.**

** If someone “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good”, they can still be held responsible for the evil action committed (CCC 1791). This matter becomes especially serious when the sin committed is grave (or mortal).**

Catholic thoughts?


2 posted on 12/06/2011 8:36:11 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Both Sandusky and Herman Cain have recently been quoted as saying: “In my mind I didn’t do anything wrong.” That is the trouble, no objective standard to measure against.


3 posted on 12/06/2011 8:45:52 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk

Interesting observation. Thanks.


4 posted on 12/06/2011 8:49:37 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Following The Truth: Letting Your Conscience Be Your Guide(What Jiminy Cricket Didn’t Tell You) [Catholic or Open]
Following The Truth: Catholic “Fluff” – The Enemy Within (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Appreciating The Gift Of Suffering (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: Satan’s Attack On The Church – What You Can Do! (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: Saying “Y-E-S” to God During Lent (and Advent) [Catholic or Open]
Following the Truth: Spiritual Dryness: “I Don’t Feel Anything!” (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: A Biblical Roadmap To The One, True Church (Catholic or Open)

5 posted on 12/06/2011 8:50:38 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

This was also a lecture topic in the 2011 St. Benedict Center Conference:

By Sister Maria Philomena, M.I.C.M.

Theme: Right and Freedom: Catholic Considerations on Misused Concepts

Title: ‘Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide’: Was Jiminy Cricket Right?

This talk might have been entitled “Conscience 101, in Sixty Minutes.” It was an excellent summation of perennial philosophy’s teaching on the nature of man in relation to his two spiritual faculties of intellect and will. Sister establishes conscience in the intellect, which has truth for its proper object. If the will of man is good, it embraces the natural law as the good that it knows by reason. Sister explains how the conscience ought to conform to the natural law and deal with reality, not lies. Conscience continues to be informed by God’s positive law as grace builds on nature, making the mind and will of man to mature in perfection.

http://store.catholicism.org/always-let-your-conscience-be-your-guide.html


6 posted on 12/06/2011 8:59:16 AM PST by Ozone34 ("There are only two philosophies: Thomism and bullshitism!" -Leon Bloy)
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To: Salvation

Another excellent article.

I was watching Journey Home last night and the guest, an excellent apologist, basically said, “you can’t go wrong if you follow your conscience”

I don’t think he meant to say that, unqualified. Marcus Grodi, looked uncomfortable, like he wanted to correct that statement tactfully. Which he did, in a subtle way.


7 posted on 12/06/2011 10:19:40 AM PST by rbmillerjr (Conservative Economic and National Security Commentary: econus.blogspot.com)
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To: Salvation

This the the result of the “progressive” teachings of the post Vatican II period. Just plain gnosticism. This is all many Catholics know, what the pope called the dictatorship of relativism. We just through a new Reformation.Hopefully the Counterreformation is on the way.


8 posted on 12/06/2011 11:32:29 AM PST by RobbyS (Viva Christus Rex.)
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To: RobbyS

“This is all many Catholics know, what the pope called the dictatorship of relativism.”

Unfortunately, you are correct. What is needed is a new, orthodox emphasis on catechesis. Many Latin American bishops have incorporated this into their expansive 5 year programs of evangelization. An emphasis on prayer for all they attempt to do is a huge part of this. They are re-training their Catholics, advancing them in spirituality, morality, Scripture, deeper understanding of the sacraments and the history of the Church. They are forming them into neighborhood groups of faithful Catholics who are evangelizing their neighborhoods with some pretty astounding success.

We desperately need to consider something similar here in the USA....that is under the leadership and INCLUDES the participation of all of our bishops...as it is in Latin America.


9 posted on 12/06/2011 12:02:44 PM PST by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo...Sum Pro Vita. (Modified Decartes))
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To: Salvation

As I understand it, a conscience is not an autonomous filter for determining moral truth. It must be formed by right reason that is imparted by virtue of natural law.

Furthermore, as we know faith and reason are not in conflict. Therefore if someone takes an unfaithful position according to the teachings of the Church it is by definition unreasonable and God is not unreasonable.

Which is why all of the torturous mental gymnastics by supposedly Catholic politicians to support morally reprehensible policies are ridiculous on their face. Not to mention blasphemous (in my mind) for they seek to use autonomy of conscience as cover.


10 posted on 12/06/2011 12:38:07 PM PST by JPX2011
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To: SumProVita

What seems to have happened was that many priests and nuns lost their faith, but instead of admitting this, pretended to stay with the Church, and subtly redefined their terms. Ambiguity became their stock in trade. If they left their ministries, they took jobs as teachers, and the Catholic colleges, they took in ex-priests and let them, contrary to canon law, teach religion. What they taught, of course, was not the Catholic faith but their own substitute. God knows how many of these people there were. Some cynics, just pretending for the money; some apostates, using their jobs to teach students falsehoods , their”truths,”but not the Truth, and thumbing their noses at any bishop who might reign them in. Then you have the likes of Father Drinan, who should have been barred from every parish in the country.


11 posted on 12/06/2011 1:54:02 PM PST by RobbyS (Viva Christus Rex.)
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To: JPX2011

As for the pols, they are sophists, like Isocrates and others despised by Plato for their mercenary spirit.


12 posted on 12/06/2011 1:56:54 PM PST by RobbyS (Viva Christus Rex.)
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To: RobbyS

Hi Robby,

Thank you. That’s the term I was grappling for. That’s exactly what they are.

Best Regards


13 posted on 12/06/2011 2:27:53 PM PST by JPX2011
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To: JPX2011
As I understand it, a conscience is not an autonomous filter for determining moral truth. It must be formed by right reason that is imparted by virtue of natural law.

Furthermore, as we know faith and reason are not in conflict. Therefore if someone takes an unfaithful position according to the teachings of the Church it is by definition unreasonable and God is not unreasonable.

Which is why all of the torturous mental gymnastics by supposedly Catholic politicians to support morally reprehensible policies are ridiculous on their face. Not to mention blasphemous (in my mind) for they seek to use autonomy of conscience as cover.

Almoszt word for word what I was going to say.

14 posted on 12/06/2011 3:06:39 PM PST by verga (I am not an apologist, I just play one on television.)
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To: Salvation

AMEN! With more knowledge comes more responsibility of actions. The one who does not know will have less responsibility. That’s definite.

LUKE 12:47-48
47 ‘The servant who knows what his master wants, but has got nothing ready and done nothing in accord with those wishes, will be given a great many strokes of the lash.
48 The one who did not know, but has acted in such a way that he deserves a beating, will be given fewer strokes. When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.

We are only told by JESUS to go out and spread HIS HOLY NAME in LOVE and adoration of GOD and to love our neighbors, being all things to all men:

MARK 12:28-31
28 One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
29 Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord,
30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.
31 The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’

What I worry on alot, is what JESUS says that, “ MANY ARE FOOLED!”. Fooled by the Pharisees, because they look at the Bible as a book of the past. Not realizing that its a book of life. And because they dont pay attention, they dont realize that we are in the time of people having faith that doesnt need to see to believe. But, people still are looking for signs. Jesus says that HE will not give signs in these times to people.

LUKE 11:27-29
27 It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!’
28 But he replied, ‘More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’
29 The crowds got even bigger and he addressed them, ‘This is an evil generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah.

So, the Pharisees and their lineage have set up traps to make people believe there are signs that they can rely on to show that JESUS is coming. But to know the signs, you must read their books, come to their seminars, and listen to them. Basically follow them, which takes us away from the WORD and what JESUS warned us about. Many are fooled by this. MANY!! TOO MANY! Dont worry on tomorrow, just follow JESUS and what HE says!!

MATTHEW 9:1-13
1 He got back in the boat, crossed the water and came to his home town.
2 And suddenly some people brought him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take comfort, my child, your sins are forgiven.’
3 And now some scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is being blasphemous.’
4 Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts?
5 Now, which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?
6 But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ — then he said to the paralytic-’get up, pick up your bed and go off home.’
7 And the man got up and went home.
8 A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for having given such authority to human beings.
9 As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
10 Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
12 When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick.
13 Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.’

MAtthew 7:20-23
20 I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.
21 ‘It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.
22 When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?”
23 Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!

JOHN 12:42-43
42 And yet there were many who did believe in him, even among the leading men, but they did not admit it, because of the Pharisees and for fear of being banned from the synagogue:
43 they put human glory before God’s glory.

JESUS is the way, the truth, and the light/life. If people take the time to talk to people in other beliefs, you will see that around the world everyone agrees he is or they at least say that the love that man had is amazing and everyone needs it. This is a confirmation. Just follow HIM!
Many have not read the BIBLE fully. Many have not read it, taken notes to correct themselves, and then notes to see the world; they mostly take someone else’s view. Yes, you should hear your priests, ministers, and religious leaders. But, as JESUS says, “ TEST THE SPIRITS!”. Meaning hear them, but, dont worship them and believe everything. Test it through HIS WORD, and make sure. People are so easily led.
Remember that most of the prophets were men of low stature. Even JESUS was a carpenter. GOD loves to humble people, that’s why HE uses people of lower stature and the unexpected.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:25-29
25 God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many of you are wise by human standards, not many influential, not many from noble families.
27 No, God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong,
28 those who by human standards are common and contemptible — indeed those who count for nothing — to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something,
29 so that no human being might feel boastful before God.

This doesnt mean just low stature in job position, but low in spirit. So, GOD could use a rich person to show a message as well, just because a person of low position is judging them by misinterpreting the WORD. That’s why JESUS says LOVE ONE ANOTHER! Because who we look down on, is who GOD can use to minister to us. Because if we look down on anyone or anything that GOD has created, then, we are not doing the will of GOD that HE ordered; we are not loving each other.

I pray for all in the world, because before I came to check this site. It’s funny that I was talking to another powerful believer. And he, his friends, and I all agreed that the devil is doing nothing now. Most of the world is doing the work for him.

If anyone says there is more knowledge to know than that is in the BIBLE, then run. YES, people will have “ sound “ messages in other beliefs, but, it should confirm with the BIBLE! If you are a believer in CHRIST, then this is the way. Many will tell you there is more knowledge in other places and even say they are believers. This is a move of the pharisees and their children/students. This is what JESUS was talking about.

People want to be like GOD and race to be their best before HE comes again. Wanting to know when HE’s coming so that can be at their personal best till HE comes again. No one can fool GOD, so, it’s better that that personal best is in your heart, not in your actions while your heart in mind is still in disbelieve and in lust. It wont work.

This is why it says in the BIBLE ( and other books) that the devil will easily rise to power!

This is because the evil, the “ lost”, and even the good will be doing his ( the devil’s)will and work for him. The righteous will be the ones not doing his work. But there are more good, evil, and “ lost” then there are righteous.

GET AWAY FROM THESE WORRIES and JUST FOLLOW HIM!!

MATTHEW 8:18-22
18 When Jesus saw the crowd all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side.
19 One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’
20 Jesus said, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’
21 Another man, one of the disciples, said to him, ‘Lord, let me go and bury my father first.’
22 But Jesus said, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’

GALATIANS 6:7-9
7 Don’t delude yourself: God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap.
8 If his sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then his harvest from it will be corruption; if his sowing is in the Spirit, then his harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life.
9 And let us never slacken in doing good; for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time.

GOD will handle all. JESUS already won the victory. All we need to do is hold dear to HIS teachings, spread the WORD in love, and wait.

ALOT ALOT ALOT ALOT OF LOVE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST TO ALL OF YOU!!

jesus4life


15 posted on 12/06/2011 3:37:02 PM PST by jesus4life
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To: Salvation

Well, that summarizes what is wrong with Catholics-—they quit listening to Church teaching and have adopted the popular pagan culture-—”let your conscious be your guide” (even if Satan is whispering in your ear.)

Without Revelation there can be no informed “Conscience”. Education is essential to the Rational Animal.


16 posted on 12/06/2011 3:47:49 PM PST by savagesusie
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To: Salvation; All

Fascinating/educational post/thread. Thanks.


17 posted on 12/07/2011 4:36:16 AM PST by PGalt
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To: Salvation

To me, this is the catechesis issue that trumps all other catechesis issues, and I pound home this point to every fellow Catholic I can. You can have all the programs, and catechesis and great sermons and statements of Church teaching you want, but until Catholics get it into their heads that the very essence of what it means to be a Christian Catholic is that you cannot pick and choose what Church teaching to follow based on your own inner lights. Our decisions are to be formed according to the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church founded by Jesus, not the other way around. This should be a key aspect of all catechesis at every level, and a regular point made from the pulpit.


18 posted on 12/07/2011 5:28:49 AM PST by fidelis (Zonie and USAF Cold Warrior)
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To: All

God’s Truth is eternal, human perspective changes. Truth never changes.


19 posted on 12/07/2011 7:09:06 AM PST by thesaleboat (Pray The Rosary Daily (Our Lady, July 13, 1917))
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To: thesaleboat

AMEN! The truth never does change. We just all need to follow it. Not follow man. But follow the LORD through JESUS CHRIST!

PRAISE JESUS!

jesus4life


20 posted on 12/08/2011 9:59:42 AM PST by jesus4life
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To: jesus4life

“The Truth is still the Truth, even if nobody believes it, and a lie is still a lie, even if everybody believes it.”

Bishop Fulton Sheen.
__________________


21 posted on 12/08/2011 6:01:22 PM PST by Not gonna take it anymore (Member of the First Church of Christ, I am Catholic)
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To: Not gonna take it anymore

AMEN! and OF COURSE!! But, we must spread the Truth only.

And we almost know from life that there will never be an “ everybody” believes anything. People never ever all go one way. So, that’s the beauty in loving one another. Only GOD knows which way people are going by the time they die.

Be the change we want to see is the beginning of any change that we should expect to happen. When we change then at least some people around our environment ( and out) may change from our example;; edification and inspiration. This is the key thing.

SPREAD IT, LIVE IT, BE IT, and LOVE IT!! LOL!

PRAISE JESUS,

jesus4life


22 posted on 12/08/2011 11:50:10 PM PST by jesus4life
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To: fidelis
“Our decisions are to be formed according to the Scriptures”

I'm curious,

With this line of thinking why would you put the Church between yourself and Christ Jesus?

Has there not been a one on one relationship since God died on the cross?

Our Savior said,”Before Abraham was born I AM”

23 posted on 12/23/2011 11:34:16 PM PST by hwkbeer
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To: hwkbeer

Thank you for asking. In fact, I do not put the Church between myself and Christ, anymore than you and I do not put the Scriptures between us and Christ. The Scriptures are his inspired Word and the Church is his Body. The Scriptures themselves are clear that he left us BOTH to assist us in living godly lives and to lead us to salvation. Both are indispensable.

Best FRegards, brother and have a Merry Christmas


24 posted on 12/25/2011 2:58:21 AM PST by fidelis (Zonie and USAF Cold Warrior)
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