My core beliefs are in a sovereign God and a risen Jesus Christ.
I do not consider myself a christian and hold to no denomination.
Greetings and welcome. I am a Trinitarian Christian but I was not raised in any religion and so this is only where I have arrived after a "long journey" that began with science, then existentialism and then pragmatism. Thus if by "core beliefs" you mean the deeper foundational beliefs from which later conclusions were derived then digging beneath Trinitarian Christianity you will find pragmatism, then pluralism, then existentialism, and then science. I was in fact a scientist (physics) before I was ever a Christian. Somewhere in there is secularism (government restricted to what can be objectively established), which is harder to pin down because it is both that in which I was raised and conclusions which I embraced later on as well. Since science, existentialism and pragmatism are the philosophical underpinings of my thinking then you can also say that they are the lens through which I have understood and found value in Christianity. So for example, no version of Christianity that is at odds with the discoveries of modern science were ever an option for me.
Kestrel wrote:I believe that the only free will that men exercise is within the motivation of their individual decisions among two choices. Love and fear.
It is my belief that free will is quantitative and variable depending on many things such as awareness (you cannot have the free will to make choices of which you are not aware). Free will is surrendered and diminished by bad habits (sin) and the expansion/increase of free will is a general objective of God and the promise of Jesus, for life and free will are commensurate quantities.
Kestrel wrote:I reference only the scripture of the Old and New Testament, as well as my own experience when tested against what I glean from that source in regard to my spiritual instruction.
I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is the word of God, which does not mean any a-priori demand that one believe what it says but only that I think it says what God intends, though I do not attempt to dictate what God's reasons are for any particular part, but I think it is made clear that His intention is not always for what is said there to always be believed by everyone.
Kestrel wrote:I reject fear based doctrines such as hell, trinities etc. as man made constructions that lessen the idea of a sovereign God and do nothing but confuse, spiritually enslave and manipulate.
I reject the intellectual blackmail of saying that people who do not believe the correct things are damned, but I most certainly do believe in hell because I see it in the world, but not as something God has created to torture those who refuse to believe as they are told, but something human beings create for themselves. I utterly reject the despicable idea that God is saving us from Himself like some kind of mafia boss, but assert instead that God is saving us from ourselves. Thus I often say that hell is the place where we find our heart's desire and heaven is the place where we find God's desire for us. So no, I am certainly not a universalist. I think the talk of "the power of love" is a contradiction in terms, because when love becomes a means to power then it ceases to be love. Thus the fact is that love has to be accepted and it is quite often rejected.
Kestrel wrote:I accept readily, the fact that my faith is bestowed by God, yet the responsibility of learning the truth of that faith is mine alone.
I certainly believe that salvation is a work of God alone, but a work of God in us - i.e. a transformation of our heart mind and spirit. But ultimately God requres us to make a choice about whether we want Him involved in our existence or not. God may have to liberate our free will from sin so that we can make such a choice, but the choices is ours. Thus the idea that faith is bestowed by God is not one that I favor. To me that sounds like God giving us a magical power with which to save oursleves and that I do not believe.
Kestrel wrote:My acceptance that faith is bestowed to an individual and not willed by them, compels me to hold no charge of any kind against those who do not believe. Furthermore, my belief and understanding prohibit me in any way from imposing my beliefs upon others of no faith or differing faiths in any fashion.
I do not believe that we are saved by our beliefs whether they are correct or incorrect. The imposition of beliefs (regarding objectively undecidable issues such as the existence of God) upon others, I name intolerance, and it is the choice and desire of people to live in a free society that prohibits this.
Kestrel wrote:It is my belief of an afterlife for all and that all people are created by God to become gods.
I believe that we are eternal spiritual beings - our spirit being a creation of our own choices, and by those choices the nature of our eternal existence is determined. Our greatest hope is a living relationship with the creator who alone can provide what will make an eternal existence worthwhile. But Jesus made it clear that he who is greatest is not a lord over others but a servant of others. Thus I frankly think that the choice is between being a god in hell (where our desire rules) and being a servant in heaven (where God's desire rules).