For the doubting Christian

Received the letter below. My answers to it in lovely bracketed blue.

Hey there. I’ve been a Christian for a while. I always seem to have questions about it. What does it mean to truly believe in God, besides loving and treating others the way you want to be loved and treated? What is the main purpose of believing in God? Can someone have a fulfilling life without God? Are there other paths to Heaven? Will someone go to hell for not believing in an afterlife? How can we be sure of God? I wake up some days feeling too anxious to see God. My prayers consist of “I don’t know, I don’t know.” At 18, am I too young and immature to understand God?

Wow. You do have questions.

So now I’ll do that thing where I’ll go through your letter, and insert my responses to each of its parts in lovely bracketed blue. So here we go:

What does it mean to truly believe in God, besides loving and treating others the way you want to be loved and treated? [Believing in God means ... well, believing there is some eternal, intentional divine being who created and sustains all that is. (And you can live the Golden Rule without believing in a God—just as you can believe in a God and still be a cretin. Morality is hardly dependent upon theology.)]

What is the main purpose of believing in God? ["Purpose" is a tricky word to use just there. It implies utilitarianism: it posits believing in God as a means, rather than as end unto itself. If I believe in God as a means to get or become something, then my belief is certain to be a weak and flimsy thing—because then I've made it all about me. Don't think in terms of a purpose for believing in God. Believe in God, or don't, based on your own internal assessment of the evidential proof either way.]

Can someone have a fulfilling life without God? [Yes, of course they can. But, again, that's a diverting question, and so not useful to you. The only question that does, or should, concern you is whether or not you can have a fulfilling life without God. That's your money question.]

Are there other paths to Heaven? [I have no idea. I don't even know if there is a heaven—or what it's like if there is. Neither does anyone else in the world. I personally believe in the afterlife, which I expect to be beautiful and instructive and ridiculously awesome. But in reality I don't know jack about it—and, again (since this can't be emphasized enough) neither does anyone else. I am confident, however, that if there is a heaven, being a Christian will not be a prerequisite for entry.

About that I made the video below, which you might find helpful:

 

Will someone go to hell for not believing in an afterlife? [I have a group called Unfundamentlist Christians, for which I wrote the fourteen tenets. The eighth UC tenet, below, expresses my belief about this matter.]

There is no support in the Bible for the morally repugnant idea that hell is an actual place to which God sentences people to spend eternity in mortal agony.

So that would be a “no.”

How can we be sure of God? [Not to be Johnny One-Point here, but what you mean by that question is how can you be sure of God. And I can't answer that for you. No one can. I think it's safe to say, however, that if there is a God, and you sincerely ask God to make him/herself known to your heart, soul and mind, you will get back information that will go a long way toward your achieving the kind of understanding you're after. Even if you hear back nothing, that's something.]

I wake up some days feeling too anxious to see God. [We all do. Figure out what's making you anxious (and trust that something is: anxiety always has a very specific cause, as difficult as it can sometimes be to track it back to its source), and take whatever steps are necessary to relieve yourself of that anxiety. Once you've cleared that fog God will again be visible to you.]

My prayers consist of “I don’t know, I don’t know.” [Instead of praying that, try sitting quietly, closing your eyes, breathing deeply and evenly, and simply listening to whatever it is that God might be trying to tell you. Spend a minimum of five minutes doing that. Do it every day for a week. Things will change for you, I promise.]

At 18, am I too young and immature to understand God? [Everyone's too young and immature to understand God. It's not about our "understanding" God. It's about our allowing God to help us understand ourselves. (Tweet that.) ]

All right. Cool. Thanks for writing. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any more questions.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • jtheory

    this is amazing.

    • Jill

      I’ve had a ridiculously hard time formulating what the ‘IT’ is that John has in his advice given to others, that we are ridiculously fortunate enough to also read: for me, it’s that he expresses a deeply held belief that everyone’s gonna be alright. And that’s how you feel afterward. It’s magic.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Ah, now if only someone had given me those wonderful, Comforting words of advice when I was 18. I would have avoided years of religious thremed angst.

    • Jill

      What would the world be like with no more religious themed angst? Seriously.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        I think a very strong case can be made for the idea that all angst is religious-themed angst, since angst itself is a crisis of context.

        • Jill

          I wouldn’t complain if you chose to expound on the subject in a blog post.
          Maybe my wardrobe themed angst would improve as well….

          • Worthless Beast

            According to me, without angst, there is no art.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      > religious themed angst

      From whence cometh angst and salvation religions?

      I think the Boiling Frog essay by Daniel Quinn (of Ishmael fame) gets mighty close to identifying the source:

      “Signs of distress: 1400-0 B.C.E. [...] For the first time in history, people were beginning to feel empty, were beginning to feel that their lives were not amounting to enough, were beginning to wonder if this is all there is to life, were beginning to hanker after something vaguely more. For the first time in history, people began listening to religious teachers who promised them salvation.”

  • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

    The link directly under the video reads ‘Unfundamentlist Christians’. As far as prayer goes, I need to do more listening and less muttering “I don’t know, I don’t know” to myself.

    • Matt

      Oh, me too! I picture God going somewhere up above: “I love you Matt, but will you shut up for five seconds! I need to impress upon you how much you don’t need to worry!”

      • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

        Exactly. Almost no civilized person, much less God, would say the criticism or doubts my inner child babbles. She needs to get a grip. :)

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Yours too? I tell my inner child to shut up already all the time.

  • Michael Mock

    “Can someone have a fulfilling life without God?” John’s right – the question is too general to be helpful. I can, and I do, and in fact I’m not entirely sure just how much choice I had about that. I’m not at all sure that I could have had a happy and fulfilling life as a Christian, despite being raised in a loving and supportive sort of Christianity. On a fundamental level, Christianity doesn’t make sense to me, and I can’t “choose” to believe in something that makes no sense.

    But having said that… everybody, all of us, are doing the best we can with the information we have. A large part of that information, and a large part of the way we work with that information, is a direct result of our own individual experiences. As a way of understanding the world, or ourselves, or other people, Christianity doesn’t “work” for me. It doesn’t resonate, if that makes any sense. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for other people, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t work for other people.

    Christianity (at least, most of the denominations I know) likes to talk about belief as a matter of choice. As a general thing, I don’t find that terribly helpful. In my experience, beliefs aren’t so much choices as conclusions… and on a topic like this, which is both deeply personal and the subject of much disagreement, you’re going to have to work your way to your own conclusions. In the long run, nothing else will work for you.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Excellent, Michael. Thanks very much for this thoughtful comment.

    • Matt

      Yes, thank you for this Michael! You’ve just helped me articulate something I was trying to express to a dear atheist friend of mine. Thank you again for helping to bridge that gap.

    • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com/ Ryan Blanchard

      A hearty “ditto” to you! Well done.

    • J. Mark Lane

      “…and I can’t “choose” to believe in something that makes no sense.”

      Ah, but you can. It’s called faith.

      • Jill

        Are you saying that faith replaces sense? That would be a very large pill to swallow.

        What doesn’t work for someone doesn’t work, regardless of how sincere, how faithful, how determined that person is to choose to maintain a belief. And there are deeply personal reasons why a faith in a set of beliefs is no longer serving a valid purpose, in fact hindering a person’s growth and inner peace.

        If we’re honest, we mostly just play around with beliefs– test them out, see if they work in all kinds of situations, develop them, talk to others, fine tune. If we’re lucky, that set of beliefs makes enough sense in our own experience with them in which to create a foundation that works well in our lives.

        But if we simply sit on a belief, claiming we have faith, that belief is rendered useless. No amount of forcing faith to bridge the gaps of disbelief corrects that.

        • J. Mark Lane

          “Are you saying that faith replaces sense?”

          Of course not. I think we’re talking about two completely different things. I’m not talking about a “faith in a set of beliefs.” I’m not sure what “beliefs” are, other than logical deductions from perceived “evidence”. Which is completely irrelevant to what I think of as faith.

          Faith transcends, precedes, supersedes logic (sense). It is not something you “play around with” or “test.” It will fail if you do that. That’s the whole point of what it is.

          I’m not very good with putting words to things like this. But to me, faith is that thing you have when a lethal arrow is heading straight for your heart, and there is no apparent way to avoid it, and yet you stand there, knowing you will survive.

          • Jill

            Hi J, I would like to understand you better, since your intended meaning isn’t clear to me.

            What did you mean in your original comment that faith is choosing to believe in something that doesn’t make sense?

          • J. Mark Lane

            Hi Jill,

            Thank you for the question. I’m not sure I can really do the subject justice. But it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, so I’ll try.

            The wording in my first post was perhaps not the best (I was taking a quote and running with that). I’m not sure “belief” is really the right word. Maybe. Faith to me is much more fundamental than “beliefs”, but I’m not sure there’s a better word (other than faith).

            Maybe this: faith is an acceptance without conditions.

            Like love. Love is something that has no boundaries and simply cannot be shaken, no matter what the “facts” may be. I love my children like that (and I’m not sure I understood what love was before having them).

            My “arrow” thing was a metaphor, and maybe not a very good one. The story that has always touched me the most in this regard is the story of Isaac and Abraham. My reading of it is that the instruction to sacrifice Isaac is “senseless”, cruel and horrible. It defies not only the laws of man, but also the laws of God, as we (Abraham) understood them. Yet, he was willing to do it, by faith… in God. Others have likened this to the so-called “existential no”, a refusal to accept that which might be “imposed” upon us (laws and rules), due to an acceptance of something greater. Or, a “belief” in something that transcends those laws, rules or realities. To me, it is something within (and likely also without, but that is not knowable). To me, that is the same thing as “God”.

          • Jill

            J, I think I’m getting a fuller picture of where you’re coming from. Regardless of where we diverge, I think the common point of this thread may be summed up this way:

            I think that people find themselves, not only at various expressions and experiences of what they believe through their senses and what they put faith in with their hearts, but at various degrees of all of it with every year that passes. Nothing so unchangeable as change.

            I think we can also agree that each of us, coming from our unique perspective, were not inherently born with the precise belief system or religious faith that we hold on to today. It too has developed and changed over the span of our lifetimes. Which makes conversations like these so inexplicably fascinating to me, and equally exasperating to say the right word to hit the exact meaning that the other person exactly receives.

            We’re all ultimately communicating under water!

            I would just add, that while your love analogy is apropos and clear, there is of course the experience we’ve all had in one way or other with ‘love with conditions’. For people having grown up under religiosity and conditional love, words like faith, love, belief– they’re potential minefields.

          • Michael Mock

            But using that definition of faith (and I agree, the term is nebulous and gets used in a variety of ways), what you’re talking about doesn’t sound like something I could choose. It sounds like something that you either have, or you don’t; and I don’t.

          • J. Mark Lane

            I wonder if maybe that is the biggest question of all. I have no idea what the “answer” is, if there is one. I tend to think that the basic teaching of most religions is that, there are ways to achieve it, and you can decide whether to pursue those ways. Otherwise, what would be the point of religious teachings, other than perhaps to quell the “evil” among the unwashed masses (the opiate of the people). :)

      • adam

        Take the letters that make up the word ‘bible’ b i b l e

        Without changing any of the letters and only by rearranging the order of those letters you can spell “wagon” w a g o n

        Don’t think about, just believe it,
        Have faith that it is true……

        Can you do that?

        • J. Mark Lane

          Hello Adam,

          That’s a fun question, and no, I cannot do that.

          There is a principle in formal logic known as reductio ad absurdum. Perhaps you’re familiar with it? Your question is a good example of it.

          Things that can be categorically (or scientifically) disproven are not, in my view, the domain of faith. Despite what you sometimes hear from people who call themselves atheists, I do not think the existence of God can be disproven. Therefore, I can have faith in the existence of God, or in other similar things that are not subject to “scientific testing”.

          Really, it’s as simple as that.

          Mark

          • adam

            Hello Mark,

            I do not think the existence of God can be disproven.

            I agree with you.

            BUT, neither can the existence of Russell’s Teapot, Flying Pink Invisible Unicorns, or Shiva or any of the other thousands of gods.

            Do you have faith in their existence as well?

            Really, it is as simple as that.

            “…and I can’t “choose” to believe in something that makes no sense.”

            Ah, but you can. It’s called faith.

            I am just responding to what you are claiming.
            reductio ad absurdum?

          • J. Mark Lane

            Russell was guilty of the same logical error as you. He was also simply wrong, and a product of his time: although it would be difficult, and perhaps not possible with the tools we have even now, the question of whether the teapot exists is subject to scientific determination.

            As for the invisible pink unicorn, no, I do not personally have faith in its existence. Although I think it is a useful question. There are things about the world around me that I find so remarkable, that I do have faith in something, which I choose to call God. I do not happen to believe that an invisible pink unicorn is an equivalent. However, I do not know what form (if any) God takes, and I therefore cannot rule out the possibility that God is, in fact, an invisible pink unicorn.

            As for Shiva, yes, I have faith in Shiva. Thanks for asking.

          • adam

            “…and I can’t “choose” to believe in something that makes no sense.”

            Ah, but you can. It’s called faith.
            .
            .
            .
            Please show me the logical error I made?

            It makes no sense to me that the letters b i b l e can be used to spell the word “wagon”.

            And yet you claim that one can by faith.

            Good for you on Shiva, Zeus, Thor and the rest of the gods…

          • J. Mark Lane

            With all due respect, I did show you. You can figure it out, if you really care.

            This was fun, but I have work to do. And I care enough about the topic to prefer not to engage in sarcastic “debates”. It’s not like it hasn’t all been said, right?

          • adam

            No, YOU again made a CLAIM that I was guilty of “reductio ad absurdum”

            But it was not ME who commited reductio ad absurdum

            .
            It was you in your original statement.

          • worrow

            Another one bites the dust !

    • BKLounge

      One of my mantras growing up as an atheist was that I can’t just force myself to believe in something that isn’t true. After reading some C.S. Lewis (specifically Abolition of Man and Mere Christianity) and spending a lot of time talking to intelligent Christians who were okay with me asking questions and actually gave intelligible answers (I honestly didn’t think any of those conditions were possible), I started to come to the conclusion that maybe the Christians were right about God. But even though I had passed over the intellectual hurdles to my faith, I still had to make that final choice to believe. Take it for what you will, but sometimes things have a way of working out that don’t make sense when you originally consider them. I found it to be a sort of cosmic irony that the final step toward faith was an actual choice… I completely agree you can’t choose to believe in something that makes no sense, but it doesn’t mean that the “something” always won’t make sense.

      • Michael Mock

        Absolutely. As we change and grow, the information we have and the way we work with that information change, too. When that happens, our conclusions can change as well.

  • Jeannie Boen

    If I could find a group of like minded people it would be so great. Instead my question marks are meant by certainties by most of the other believers I know.

    • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com/ Ryan Blanchard

      This atheist has been attending a liberal Quaker meeting for about a year. Best decision I’ve made in a long time.

      • Jill

        Searching online for a local chapter of Quaker/ Friends now. Great recommendation, Ryan.

  • Peter

    John, your writings are immensely helpful and have helped me see things afresh in so many areas. But I do have a slight issue with taking the post- modernism quite so far! Surely it must objectively and factually be true or not true that there is a God, however defined. If there is, taking some step towards believing in and on him/her, however small a step and however imperfect our understanding, should surely be of some objective benefit, for example in seeking strength, support or meaning. I realise we all see through a glass darkly. I realise we can draw on God’s strength without consciously realising it. I certainly realise one doesn’t have to believe in the ‘Christian God’ to draw on his/her strength. But is it really true that believing in the existence of a God who we both believe objectively exists and seeking strength from that God confers no objective and generalised benefits at all, and that its all a matter of personal taste? In that case why has God spent so much time and trouble trying to reveal himself or aspects of himself to us?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      I thought that by writing such things as, “Things will change for you, I promise,” and “you will get back information that will go a long way toward your achieving the kind of understanding you’re after,” I did in fact indicate/refer to, as you put it, the “generalized benefits” characteristically experienced by those who believe in God.

      • Peter

        Thanks for the response. I realise you were looking at it from the questioners point of view, as a Christ-like person should.

    • Anton

      But is it really true that believing in the existence of a God who we both believe objectively exists and seeking strength from that God confers no objective and generalised benefits at all, and that its all a matter of personal taste?

      Wouldn’t you believe whether the belief conferred benefits or not? I know in the marketplace of ideas it doesn’t pay to admit that belief has to be its own reward, but it seems sort of materialistic to think that my belief has to give me some sort of advantage over nonbelievers.

      • Peter

        Aren’t those two separate points? You don’t do or dont believe loads of stuff in order to confer benefits, and that would indeed be materialistic, but loads of stuff still confers benefits! For example obeying Jesus’s command to love others (and similar commands in other faiths) brings benefits to you and others, but that’s not fundamentally the reason for doing it

        • Anton

          Aren’t those two separate points?

          I guess. But the way you asked the question made it seem like the prospect of benefits should be one of the reasons for believing in the first place.

          So answer the question: would you believe if you weren’t promised benefits of some sort?

          • Peter

            Well, believe as in believe it is true, yes. But still not sure what the point is tbh.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Excellent responses! I have been reading your blog for a few months John, but your perspective here is amazingly similar to my own–at every point. I especially enjoyed your video.

  • Skip Johnston

    “At 18, am I too young and immature to understand God?”

    Yes, you are young but, from the questions you’re asking, you are maturing to a more, well, mature understanding of God. And, btw, at least from my experience, a
    constantly maturing understanding of God IS the mature understanding of God. Nobody comes to a final understanding.

    You’re growing out of what you’ve thought about God as a kid. You’re growing into knowing God as an adult. Imagine that your questions aren’t coming from your doubts but from God, Hizownself. With a twist. What does it mean to truly believe in God… as an adult? What is the main purpose of believing in God… as an adult? And so on. Of course you can’t definitively answer these things right now because you’re still on your way. And that can cause feelings of impatience, frustration and anxiety. But if it’s God asking the questions, I gotta believe that God’s going to lovingly lead you to the answers. Which again, in my experience, are more questions. But isn’t that what a relationship is? Asking questions? Working through the answers? In the end, I think God’s more interested (and interesting) with the relationship than answers.

    And look at you! Asking your questions. Out loud. And all kinds of good people are responding. You’re well on your way.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Skip Johnston!

      • anakinmcfly

        John Shore!

  • Herro

    >There is no support in the Bible for the morally repugnant idea that hell is an actual place to which God sentences people to spend eternity in mortal agony

    Except for the verses in Rev that speak of eternal torment… and those sayings of Jesus in Matthew (and for most Christians there’s also a particularly nasty verse in the book of Judith).

    • Eric Boersma

      Revelation isn’t a book that’s actually about the end of the world or anything that the future holds, and Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the Rich Man is a serious stretch to base an entire system of beliefs in the afterlife around. Also, if you’re going to bring up Lazarus and the Rich Man, you need to square with the point of that story, which isn’t that non-Christians go to hell, but that rich people do.

      • Herro

        Of course Revelation is about the end of the world and what the author imagined that the immanent future would bring (he was of course wrong).

        I didn’t actually mention the story about the rich man and Lazarus (although it’s clear that it presupposes some kind of a fiery after-life punishment).

        • Eric Boersma

          Of course Revelation is about the end of the world and what the author imagined that the immanent future would bring (he was of course wrong).

          This is not a view shared by all or even a majority of biblical scholars. Idealist interpretations of Revelation (which argue that there is no future prediction of events in Revelation, but rather that the book itself is representative of the struggles of the Church throughout the second advent) and the preterist view (which argues that the entirety of the predictions within Revelation had been fulfilled by the end of the first century AD) hold that the writer of Revelation did not view it as a forward-thinking prophecy.

          These views have both been extant since at least Augustine.

          Though, if you’re going to argue that the writer of Revelation was wrong about the prophecy he or she provided, I’m not sure why you’d conclude that he or she is right about the lake of fire and all that.

          • Herro

            >This is not a view shared by all or even a majority of biblical scholars.

            Eric, I’m not sure where you get your numbers, but I would bet that the majority see that it’s a failed prediction of the end of the world.

            >Though, if you’re going to argue that the writer of Revelation was wrong about the prophecy he or she provided, I’m not sure why you’d conclude that he or she is right about the lake of fire and all that.

            I don’t think he was right (I’m an atheist), I just think that Revelation talks about the classical view of hell.

          • Eric Boersma

            I don’t think he was right (I’m an atheist), I just think that Revelation talks about the classical view of hell.

            Fair enough. I think you’re right about Revelation informing the classical view of Hell, but views on Hell are incredibly varied within the realms of Christendom and as a result, so the classical view is probably as much Bugs Bunny at this point as it is Revelation.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            Why all the abstraction about hell?

            I find it obvious that it is a work in progress.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Revelations quite possibly, and I tend to agree, was about the time of the author’s day. A time of upheaval and uncertainty on several fronts, politically and religiously. The imagery would have been recognized by the readers as they represented people, events and locations that were happening or had recently happened. That it was intentionally written to predict the future is a huge stretch, which is why there is so much disagreement with the text, and one of the reasons it almost didn’t make the final cut.

            As for the parable of Lazurus and the Rich man….its a fable…a morality tale, not about the afterlife, but about greed and selfishness. In Jesus’s day there were several schools of thought about the afterlife, some jews had adopted some Zorastarianism ideals, including theories of the afterlife, some rejected any thought of that idea. Then there was the non-Jewish influences present in Palestine.

          • Herro

            >That it was intentionally written to predict the future is a huge stretch,…

            Why do you say that? The author says repeadetly that the things he describes will happen soon? That sounds like predicting the future to me.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            We all say and write about things happening soon. Does that mean its going to actually happen I a timeline we expect, in a matter we expect or happen at all? Certainly not. Humans are notoriously inept at predicting any future…any future. This is no different. Even of john or any other bible author is attempting yo divine the future, not a one had a clue what any soothsaying they attempted had a shred of validity.

          • Herro

            allegro, talk about the future comes in various forms, sure. But the author of Revelation says that his descriptions of the future come from his god. In the opening alone he uses the word “prophecy” and says that these things must come to pass.

            So it’s clearly not a “huge leap” to think that the author was intentionally predicting the future. On the contrary, it seems like a natural conclusion.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I happen to think that the author was not trying to make any actual predictions. Its a quite natural conclusion for me to reject that theory. As I am not alone with that conclusion, insisting that Revelations is a futuristic work is not all that conclusive.

          • Bones

            John the Seer did not have a vision from Jesus. That was a literary device common in first century apocalyptic writing. Neither is any of Revelation futuristic.

            I would even say the Jesus of Revelation is incompatible with the Jesus of the Gospels.

            For more see:

            4 big myths of Book of Revelation

            http://signposts02.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/4-big-myths-of-book-of-revelation/

          • anakinmcfly

            I learnt that Revelation uses a very specific literary technique meant for allegorical accounts of a present time, rather than prophecy. Much like when we see a story begin with “Once upon a time” and assume that it’s a fairy tale, so to would Revelation’s initial audience know, based on its structure and linguistic tools, that it wasn’t meant as prophecy. Revelation was thought to have been about giving Christians hope in the midst of oppression, with the various figures like the beast etc being veiled references to actual people who could not be named for fear of reprisal if discovered.

          • Jill

            anakin, if only you could see the great big red book I was forced to study as a teenager, about how each symbol in the book of Revelation represented an actual person, place, time or thing. It was boiled down to minutiae– all of it prophetic. End times, the fall of Babylon the Great, the harlot. No wonder I can’t stomach horror movies. ;P

          • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

            I agree with you Eric–I am a preterist.

  • BarbaraR

    “Morality is hardly dependent upon theology.”

    Maybe the last, best word on that subject.

  • http://reallifeanswers.org/ kendall orton

    I really appreciate this post. I grew up Christian and it has really blessed my life, but only after I’ve had to struggle through questions like these too. Until God reveals Himself to you, there’s not much argument that can sway anyone to make you believe. Frankly, I don’t think God would want anyone to be forced into believing in Him.

  • DonRappe

    Certainly an interesting discussion. My principal takeaway from it is the concept of “wardrobe related angst”. All my life I have been mystified by the values people associate with their clothing, and yet it is clearly a reality. God’s love also seems a clear reality to me, but in both cases I become uncomfortable talking about the “existence” of anything.

    • Jill

      Don, I wanted to reply that it’s a girl thing, but is saying that too genderist on this blog?

      • DonRappe

        I meant it more personal, Jill. “All my life” I don’t really see what other men and women do in clothes. I can tell if they look good or not, but I ‘ve always found it to be completely separate from my or anyone’s personality.

  • Alliecat04

    “Instead of praying that, try sitting quietly, closing your eyes,
    breathing deeply and evenly, and simply listening to whatever it is that
    God might be trying to tell you. Spend a minimum of five minutes doing
    that. Do it every day for a week. Things
    will change for you, I promise.”

    This type of prayer has a name, which I found completely by accident while researching something else. Thought I’d share:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychasm

    For myself, I’m very fond of the prayer, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” This was the response to Jesus by a man with a sick son, when Jesus asked him if he had faith. It was good enough for Jesus – he healed the son – yet it allows for and admits the speaker’s human failings.

  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    > Are there other paths to Heaven?

    I’m just not interested in any Heavens proposed. The Tammy Faye Edition with golden streets and pearly gates is a Hell that I’d seek to escape within a fortnight. Nor am I interested in 70 virgins, a ménage à trois would be difficult enough.

    I could be talked into an oak prairie savannah Happy Hunting Ground—especially if the sweetest white pony ever to live is there, along with all the wonderful dogs I’ve had get to go too—if Ecclesiastes’ assessment of the chances of an afterlife can be proven in error.

  • Cranky Steven

    If religion helps you get through the night, then it is worthwhile to you. I prefer to help myself.


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