5 Reasons People Aren’t Drawn to Christ

5 Reasons People Aren’t Drawn to Christ April 5, 2018
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The other day, I made a phallic joke on my Facebook page. It was generally well received. However, a few people didn’t like it. One person even went so far as to offer the following comment:

“Wow. Is this all you guys could come up with to talk about? It’s honestly no wonder people aren’t drawn to Christ when this is the type of crap you choose to focus on. It’s insulting and completely anti-Christ.”

Now, I will admit that focusing on jokes that are phallic in nature is probably not the best way to spend all your time. Which is why most of my time is spent thinking about other topics.

That said, what I found particularly interesting about this comment is that it alleges that people aren’t “coming to Jesus” because Christians, by and large, are too crass. Or that because we are irreverent with our humor, that that somehow deters people from converting to Christianity. Frankly, that has not been my experience. Not in the slightest! Per my experience, the reasons are much, much different. Here are just five that I’ve come across.

  1. We Are Too Hypocritical

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Before judging others and their sin, we Christians need to, first and foremost, clean off our own porch. You know, that whole plank and speck stuff Jesus talked about? Instead, though, we tend to just sit and clamor about “gay marriage,” for example, and then get divorced at a rate no different than the secular world. And how many times have we heard news stories about vehemently anti-gay preachers getting caught up in some overtly homosexual acts? Just Google it if you aren’t sure. But beware, you’ll likely be stuck at your computer for a while.

Over and over, we sit atop our throne of piety and judge the world and its actions, never once considering how disgusting our behavior can be. It’s pretty shocking, really, and it is one of the major reasons people are done with Christianity. At least, that is what I’ve heard, over and over, from those who have either walked away from the faith or stayed away entirely.

  1. We Reject Science

This reason is a big one for people. In fact, because so many of us opt to interpret Genesis 1 as a literal, historical account of the creation of the cosmos, we’ve become a laughing stock. I mean, given the fact that the sun—you know, that big ball in the sky that is needed in order to determine what a day is—isn’t created until the fourth day, it is pretty silly to believe that each “day” in Genesis corresponds to an actual 24-hour period. Amiright?

But no, we just keep on keeping on, wasting our time arguing for things the Bible is simply not arguing for; as if it makes more sense to believe the writer of Genesis had science, and not the competing creation myths, in mind when he wrote down the Hebrew version of the story. Puh-lease!

  1. We’re Obsessed with Hell

Right now, someone thinks you are going to hell. Yes you, the person reading this right now, are doomed to hell according to at least one person out there. So am I. So is that guy. So is that gal. Within the Christian faith, we even take it a step further and tell entire groups they are bound for God’s version of Auschwitz. Heck, we even tell other Christian groups they are going to join them in the barbecue.

This is a major turn off for people. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. I’m guessing at least half of the non-believers you come across will tell you that hell is one major roadblock for them. And more than that, our obsession with consigning so many of our human family to the eternal flames is, well, beyond horrifying. Indeed, far too often we come across as sadistic assholes.

  1. We Are Patriarchal

While many in the secular world advocate for equal rights for men and women, the Church has consistently pushed against such a thing. Oh, we wouldn’t admit it. No! But it’s true nonetheless. Just head over to your local Reformed or Southern Baptist or Catholic or Christian & Missionary Alliance or—well, you get the point, most every church—and see how many women serve as elders, or preach from the pulpit, or are on the board, or in any other major leadership role. I’m guessing you’d be hard pressed to find any. Instead, they’ll probably be consigned to playing back-up keyboards or serving crackers and grape juice every fourth Sunday. Not to say that those roles aren’t just as important as any other, but we need women in leadership, too.

This is a sad state of affairs. Women can and should be CEOs, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and whatever else they want to be, but not pastors. Not preachers. Not elders. Not board members. It’s time we change that, lest we continue to turn people away from the faith.

  1. We Have a Messed-Up View of the Cross

As Brad Jersak points out in his book A More Christlike God, the common Western view of atonement is really good at one thing: creating atheists. Why? Because they at least recognize how grotesque it is to suggest that a loving father would ever pour out his anger and wrath onto a broken child because other people messed up. In the real world, this would never fly. Imagine, for a moment, beating the crap out of one of your kids so that you don’t have to do it to all of them, and then calling yourself loving and just. You can’t, can you? Then why do we think God behaves like this?

So, in my estimations, if we change our view of the cross, we may prevent people from walking away. And more than that, if we can recognize all the reasons people are not drawn to Christ, we’ll have a better chance at influencing the world for the better, at drawing them to Christ so to speak. Isn’t that what we claim to want? That people will be drawn to Christ, not repelled because of the actions of those who follow him? That’s my hope, anyway.

Until next time.

About
Matthew J. Distefano is the author of 4 books, including the recently released "Heretic!" out on Quoir Publishing. He is also a co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. You can read more about the author here.
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  • Four very good points. However the last doesn’t work at all for me.

    You say “how grotesque it is to suggest that a loving father would ever pour out his anger and wrath onto a broken child.” But Jesus was a grown man, not a kid, as well as being fully God. He volunteered for the assignment–what we would now call a “suicide mission.” He could have bailed out at any point during the assignment but he didn’t.

    I think many of the theories of the atonement have some validity, and likely more than one was in play. However I can’t see completely crossing out the substitutionary aspect. Many of the arguments against the penal substitution position don’t seem to take Isaiah 53 into account. It’s pretty hard to get around:

    Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
    We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
    and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    And yes, atheists I’m in contact with loathe the concept of penal substitution. So what! When I was an atheist I certainly would not have been willing to admit that my being a sinner was such a problem that Jesus had to die a horrible death to save me.

  • Using Isaiah 53 as some proof text for PSA doesn’t impress me much. Especially not when the LXX sort of writes out that language from the MT.

  • WisdomLover

    I think it would be more correct to say that people have 5 reasons to not be convicted by the Law and realize that they are hopelessly lost.

    They have 5 reasons to reject the idea that there’s not a blessed thing they can do (except to keep rejecting God…like they already are) and accept the Gospel truth that God does everything without their help and in spite of their resistance.

  • Here’s the Brenton Septuagint Translation from Bible Hub:

    He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.
    But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed.
    All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins.

    Could you help me by pointing out what was written out? Thank you.

  • Read E Robert Eckblad’s essay from ‘Stricken by God?’

  • In other words you’re not going to give me a quick summary, instead you want me to pay $20 or so to get the book to read Ekblad’s one essay. And that essay is going to try to tell me that Isaiah 52 and 53 in either the MT or LXX don’t really mean what many Christians would see in them.

    Here’s a link that won’t cost you anything, which shows how much Isaiah 52 and 53 are woven into the text of the New Testament: http://www.jesuswalk.com/lamb/isaiah53_nt_allusions.htm

    By the way, I don’t have any problem with you disliking the concept of penal substitution.

  • Yes, I think everyone should read that essay, but not only that, the entire book. All the essays are good.

  • Ellen Hammond

    I think there is another reason too, Matthew. So many Christians appear to have forgotten how to laugh and enjoy life. That even turns many Christians off, so you know it is far from appealing to anyone else.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I eould say there is nothing in Isaiah 53 requiring PSA. In fact, read carefully, it refutes it.
    That Jesus suffered for our sins isn’t disputed by anyone. The different theories of the atonement put different spins on why that suffering was necessary in order for us to be freed from our sin; the Isaiah passage does not say how this suffering achieved its aim only that cure of sin was its purpose, and it achieved it.
    What the passage does say is “yet we considered him punished by God and afflicted”: the whole point of it is to make it clear that the suffering is not (as we might otherwise think) a punishment inflicted by God, but rather the undertaking of the ordeal made necessary by our sins if we are to be healed of them and be brought back to peace with God.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m with you about the reference. I’d like to see a summary that would convince me how very much I need to read Ekblad’s essay.

  • Matthew

    Was the shedding of Jesus´ blood, in whatever sense, necessary for the forgiveness of our sins? Someone recently said that Jesus was killed in a sinful way by human action, but that his death was not willed by God and that his blood was not necessary to forgive sin. It´s as though Jesus simply forgives because that´s what a loving God does and that the blood part was, well, just an ugly and horrific part of it all, but does not provide atonement. Thoughts? I too struggle with PSA, but I still think there is enough evidence in scripture to suggest that the shedding of blood is somehow necessary for the forgiveness of our sins (even if the “shedding” was not done in a PSA manner).

    [Edited]

  • WisdomLover

    I think the main thing that most theories get wrong is who the wronged party is that Christ’s death makes right.

    It’s not the Devil. He has no more right to me because of my sin than an abductor has to his abductees, even if the abduction could only occur because the abductee was acting wickedly.

    And it’s not my neighbor. He’s as bad as I am.

    It is God, and only God, who has some claim against me because of my sin.

    Any theory of the atonement that doesn’t take that into account (and I think that’s all of them except for the satisfaction or substitution theories) is a failure.

  • WisdomLover

    “his death was not willed by God”

    Why did it happen then?

  • Etranger

    I think many people realize there is no need to believe in Christ and everything that comes along with the mythology. When I left organized religion, I tried to still retain, or later in life come back to, a belief in Christ. It was not necessary. I knew how to lead a good, moral, ethical life without having to believe in a “savior”.

  • Carla Dietz

    On the PSA discussion, the point of Matthew’s essay isn’t whether or not Jesus accepted his own death as a blood sacrifice for all the rest of us sinners nor that God created and specifically sent him to be slaughtered (which Ralph thinks is foretold by Isaiah 53.) The point is that this view of Christ and Christianity is a turn off. Clearly it should be a turn off because it is violent, brutal and sorta negates the whole forgiveness message. If we are to love and forgive our fellow human beings, as a major precept from the mouth of Jesus and before, then why do we have to kill off someone to make that stick? Makes no sense.

  • Matthew

    Great question WisdomLover.

    While reading the Johannine gospel account over Easter, I was drawn to the prophetic verses about this and that happening “so that the scripture would be fulfilled”. It then dawned on me that Jesus´ death had to have been willed by God if we are to believe the crucifixion was indeed a prophetic event.

    The fellow who posits this theory about no shedding of blood being necessary for the forgiveness of sins (and who also believes Jesus´ death was not willed by God the Father), basically said that although God the Father knew Jesus would die via crucifixion, and although the prophets of old spoke about it and events surrounding it, God the Father didn´t want this event to happen nor willed this event to happen. According to this source, the death of Jesus on the cross was the unfortunate event of human sin, with blood of course involved, but Jesus didn´t need to shed the blood in order to forgive — he simply said “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do”.

    I struggle greatly with PSA, but I´m not yet willing to write off that Jesus´ blood indeed made atonement for sins.

    [Edited]

  • Here is my summary of 4 points he makes:

    1. Isaiah 53:4 – The MT can read “we ourselves considered him stricken, beaten by God and afflicted,” while the LXX can read ” we ourselves considered him to be in pain and in a plague and in oppression.” In other words, the LXX matches the MTs “beaten by God” with “and in a plague.”

    2. In 53:5, the MT can read “the punishment for our peace was upon him…” while the LXX can be translated “he became sick because of our sins; the pedagogy of our peace…” In other words, punishment is rendered “pedagogy.”

    3. In 53:6, the MT can read “the Lord has caused to light upon him the iniquity of all of us,” while the LXX can be translated “the Lord has delivered him over to our sins.” In other words, there is a reversal of the sacrificial mechanism. In the MT, it is God who punishes the SS because of our sin, in the LXX, God delivers the SS into our hands.

    4. Here is the big one: In 53:10, the MT can read “but the Lord delighted to crush him, making him sick,” while the LXX can read “and the Lord desires to purify him of the plague.”

    Now, if you are curious, read the essay. Much of it is in Hebrew/Greek, which I didn’t include here because, well, I’m lazy and don’t feel like putting in all that. LOL.

    Anyway, here is how Eckblad concludes his essay:

    “In this paper, I have argued that the LXX translators’ many differences with the MT of Isaiah 53:3-7 can be interpreted as theologically motivated. They seek to disassociate God from the servant’s (Israel’s) suffering in verses where the MT could be (wrongly, I believe), and often has been, interpreted to support a notion of atonement through penal substitution.”

  • Exactly

  • WisdomLover

    God created this world and everything in it. Including the cross.

    How do we understand the fact that God knew how things would turn out and created the world anyway? Or better that He knows from all eternity how things go and creates the world from all eternity anyway?

    I think that the only way we can understand it is that, all things considered, He did desire that everything go as it does go.

  • WisdomLover

    Well, I guess to really engage that argument fairly, I’d have to read the essay. As you present it here, it seems that there’s a problem in drawing the conclusion he draws. To wit, he hasn’t actually shown any difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. He’s shown that we can translate the LXX into English one way, resolving all the ambiguities one way, while we can translate the MT into English resolving all the ambiguities a different way.

    But here’s the question: Is there no way to resolve the ambiguities of the LXX and MT so that they are in closer alignment?

  • WisdomLover

    If only the message of Christianity were that you should lead a good, moral, ethical life.

  • WisdomLover

    If God could forgive humanity without the crucifixion, why all the folderol of the Incarnation.

    Just forgive them and be done with it.

    The reason you need substitution is that God’s justice demands punishment. A punishment that no mere human could bear. So God substitutes Himself for us. That does require that God be punished in our place.

  • Etranger

    That would change the world!!

  • You would have to pick up the book. Either way, I don’t reject PSA entirely because of this issue in translation. I reject it because of many other reasons, first and foremost because it’s disgusting and makes no sense experientially.

  • Etranger

    Wow, you would have thought the lord would not have left billions of people in the dark about the “Gospel truth”!! LOL

  • Matthew

    Thanks so much.

    I think the other argument is that it´s in the incarnation that we receive forgiveness, not the cross, but that (to me) seems to contradict portions of scripture that talk about the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins.

  • WisdomLover

    I find it the only morally and rationally tenable alternative. Because, again, it is God who was wronged, God who has a claim on us.

  • WisdomLover

    Who said He did any such thing?

  • WisdomLover

    Yes, by making it Hell.

  • WisdomLover

    This is part of the stumbling block of Christianity. It might be a turn off, as you say.

    So what?

  • I think the core issue raised by my fellow progressives is whether or not the OT sacrificial legal system of propitiation in itself is a human misunderstanding of the God-human relationship. When one examines the tribal God concept presented in the OT, then contrast that with the explicit universalism of the Gospel message, there is a definite disconnect.

    Recently I set through a sermon on “substitutionary atonement” at our church, wincing the entire time. It’s what I get for still attending an evangelical church. Then our pastor said “substitutionary atonement” was what separated Israel’s religion from that of the heathen nations! I was like…waaaat? No, the sacrificial system was common to all ancient religions.

    To question the validity of the propitiatory nature of the OT view of atonement is difficult for most evangelicals but the question we need to ask is, how much, if any, of the Jewish (OT) understanding of propitiation is carried over into the work of Christ on the Cross? That God is presented as wrathful in the OT, sometimes his anger is directed at the Israelites themselves, sometimes at Israel’s enemies, is clear. Does Jesus command for enemy love reflect a change in God’s attitude towards mankind, or does it reflect Jesus’ recognition that the Jews had got some things wrong?

    Bearing in mind that much of the cultus surrounding the Hebrew sacrificial system was corporate, i.e., concerned with maintaining election as God’s chosen people, as opposed to the surrounding heathen nations, the prophet’s complaint that God desires “mercy not sacrifice,” is particularly telling. Is this not, a precursor to a growing understanding that God’s primary attitude towards mankind is not wrath at our sins, but love and mercy in spite of them? That God’s love extends to all mankind, not just Israel?
    If God’s desire is inclined towards mercy rather than a legal transaction (justice and mercy are opposites), then the cross becomes, not a legal transaction where justice is served (killing an innocent is hardly justice), but becomes an indictment of the entire sacrificial system. The murder of the Son of God, by the very people who believe they are honoring God by doing so, becomes the ultimate religious absurdity, and underscores the failure of the entire system.

    If this understanding is correct, then Jesus’ death is not a culmination of the Law, but a repudiation of the Law. The nails in Jesus’ hands and feet become the nails in the coffin lid of the Law. This, I believe, fits more easily into the drastic contrast that Paul makes between Law and Grace in his writings and explains Jesus’ sometimes cavalier attitude towards it. The cross is God’s no to sacrifice and scapegoating, and yes to mercy. It is why we live, not under the Law, but under Grace. Why, because the Law fails to bring about a change of heart. As we saw with the scribes and Pharisees, it only “washes the outside of the cup.”

    Salvation is a love affair, not a legal transaction. PSA takes the romance out of the equation and makes God captive to his own holiness. His hands are tied. Someone has to die.

  • Etranger

    You don’t know much about the world outside the USA I take it…

  • Etranger

    Huh? Ohhhhh, you’re reason 6! I get it now

  • WisdomLover

    A big problem with throwing out the law is that after you do so, nothing is necessary. Thus, it is not necessary that Christ take on flesh and die. If it’s just about throwing out the rule book, he’d do that first. Especially since he is almighty.

    It’s only when Christ’s death satisfies some moral requirement that we can make any sense of why God would bother with it.

  • Etranger

    What kind of world do you want to live in? What did your first comment mean?

  • WisdomLover

    What I don’t know are all the acts of God in all times and places. It is thus more than I know that He excluded billions or dozens.

  • Etranger

    Ah okay. Well there are billions of people in the world currently who know nothing of Jesus.

  • WisdomLover

    Certainly not a world of lost sinners that are so supremely confident in their own filthy rags righteousness that they are blind to their need of a Savior.

    That is why I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

  • WisdomLover

    OK. Well, that’s a good reason to evangelize, but no reason at all to reproach God, or the Gospel.

  • Etranger

    If someone came to you and said Islam was the true religion, would give up the religion you were raised in? If the answer is no, then you understand why people in other cultures do not give up theirs. See, I guess you were right, being kind and living morally has nothing to do with Christianity. Christianity equals being the biggest, most ignorant d*ck possible. At least that is what it’s followers reveal.

  • Etranger

    Time to check in to the local mental hospital. You are a sociopath…

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I am not sure if you are buying into it exactly, but PSA seems to me itself based on a complete misunderstanding of the concept behind sacrificial systems, which are not principally about suffering / punishment and nothing about any suffering of the sacrifice itself. This can easily be seen in the fact that grain, wine and incense are sacrificed too, and I am not sure exactly what propitiary suffering perfume or wheat undergoes when sacrificed. Sacrifices to God or the gods were straightforwardly gifts of things the sacrificers considered valuable.
    The mercy / sacrifice distinction made by the prophets is not some complicated difference between anger / punishment / law one hand and forgiveness / mercy on the other, but rather that God wants as a gift from his people their engaging in mercy and justice, rather than endless sacrificed livestock.

  • Blood sacrifice in ancient Israel was based on the Lord-vassal tradition of “cutting a covenant.” Using the ESV English-Hebrew Reverse Interlinear, we find that the phrase “made a covenant” is a translation of two Hebrew words: berith (ברית), meaning “covenant” and karath (כרת), meaning “to cut off, cut down.” The animal sacrifice tradition is based on a covenant agreed upon by YHWH and his people. Genesis 15 describes a situation where God instructs Abram to cut some animals in half, then YHWH walks between them. The implication being that God is saying “if I break our covenant let this be my fate, the same as these slaughtered animals.”

    So the background of animal sacrifice is a reminder to the Jews, that to break covenant is deadly serious. Depending on the offense, it could mean death, or simply another type of sacrifice or ritual cleansing. It is, at core, a fear-based system. While there is a gift giving aspect to certain “sacrifices,” that is giving something of value to YHWH, everything revolves around keeping God happy, appeasing him. Israel’s sacrificial system is not so different from other Semitic tribes, the main difference being an aversion amongst the Hebrews to human sacrifice and cultic prostitution.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Either I’m missing your point, or you’re missing mine. PSA relies on the idea that God requires the infliction of suffering on a sacrificial victim to be appeased. What I am saying is that this idea is based on a complete misreading of sacrificial systems of worship which instead revolve around the worshippers pleasing / appeasing God / the gods by giving them things of value. That animals specifically when offered were killed was because that is how they are converted to food, not because somehow they needed to suffer to gratify God.

  • WisdomLover

    I know you are joking. At the same time, I imagine that the particular form of your joke stems from a frustration about what you really think is wrong with my view.

    So let’s take it seriously for just a moment. Let’s treat it as an actual criticism of my view.

    We are having a simple disagreement in a theological conversation of all things, and you diagnose me as a sociopath.

    And not a high-functioning one like Sherlock Holmes in the Benedict Cumberbatch series. No, according to you, I’m a sociopath who should be locked up.

    I wonder whether you think I should do so freely or should self-righteous representatives of the state do it?

    If you were serious, you could not better illustrate how Hell will work. It will be filled to the red-hot rim with sinful people who are certain of their own righteousness. They will torment each other not out of malice, but out of a sense of moral outrage.

    Oddly enough this is a mockery of what God actually does. He knows that my sin makes me unable to function in heaven, just as a sociopath cannot function in society. So He has prepared for me a place, an asylum if you will, where I can still follow my own chosen path, if I insist upon it.

    The difference is that God is actually in a position to make judgments that you and I are in no position to make. In the end, we’re both just broken old sinners and we might as well admit that and let God have His way.

  • WisdomLover

    I suppose it would depend on the argument that I was given for converting. Believe it or not some people to convert from Christianity to Islam, and some convert from Islam to Christianity. I imagine that they have their reasons.

    But you are right, being kind and living morally is not the point of Christianity. Because, you see, no one does. The point is about what God does to rescue us from that horrid state.

    As for the biggest, most ignorant d*ck possible, I would imagine that that would be someone who is certain of the moral righteousness of his cause and his own moral fitness to bring it about. But who in truth is a fallible human like everyone else and an old sinner like everyone else.

    That’s what ties together the worst villains in history. They all were so convinced that they were doing good. But, oddly enough, they really were in no position to make that judgment.

  • Etranger

    At least you understand not everyone has heard about Christianity and understand why some might not convert. This proves Christianity is not the only truth.

  • Etranger

    I am actually not joking at all. You talk like a psychopath.

  • Ah, thanks for the clarification. The development of the PSA doctrine of atonement does indeed add a layer of violent vengeance not present in the OT understanding of sacrifice. I take your point. I do believe that the church has historically romanticized and overly spiritualized the entire blood sacrifice system as well as the Levitical law. I think the process of allegorizing the violence of the OT legal system began quite early as Gentiles rapidly replaced Jewish converts to Christianity.

  • WisdomLover

    I see, so then you really are illustrating my point.

    God save us from the self-righteous.

    BTW am I both psychopathic and sociopathic now Doc?

  • WisdomLover

    It proves nothing of the sort.

    Not everyone has heard of calculus either, but integrations still only go one way.

  • WisdomLover

    BTW-I got that the issue of translation wasn’t your only reason for rejecting Substitutionary Atonement. You were simply arguing that Isaiah 53 cannot be used as a reason in favor.

    Out of curiosity, let’s say that you are wrong about the translation issue. Let’s say that Isaiah 53 says just what we think it says from the many reputable English translations in existence. Would that be a sufficient reason for adopting Substitutionary Atonement?

  • Etranger

    LOL….apples and oranges there with your comparison!

    I might grant you that there is some universal “word” that some might call “God”. There are many paths to that word. That is why there are cultural manifestations of those paths across the world, in many times, in many cultures. A quest to find something that is greater than humans. But to claim that Jesus is the one and only path is an absurdity.

  • Etranger

    I do agree agree with you on the second point! Indeed, God save us from the self-righteous! (aka Christians)

  • The Mouse Avenger

    A very well-written & elaborate post, which I agree with very highly for the most part. Except for some parts of these two paragraphs here:

    “This reason is a big one for people. In fact, because so many of us opt to interpret Genesis 1 as a literal, historical account of the creation of the cosmos, we’ve become a laughing stock. I mean, given the fact that the sun—you know, that big ball in the sky that is needed in order to determine what a day is—isn’t created until the fourth day, it is pretty silly to believe that each “day” in Genesis corresponds to an actual 24-hour period. Amiright?

    But no, we just keep on keeping on, wasting our time arguing for things the Bible is simply not arguing for; as if it makes more sense to believe the writer of Genesis had science, and not the competing creation myths, in mind when he wrote down the Hebrew version of the story. Puh-lease!”

    If it’s all right with you, I would like to offer my personal input on a few of these points. 🙂 May I?

  • WisdomLover

    Variety of opinion does not imply a variety of truth.

    Sorry.

  • Etranger

    Again, if it were truth (Christianity) it would have been made more known. But yes, I know, logic and Christianity have nothing to do with each other.

  • WisdomLover

    My friend, it is you who want to lock up people you don’t even know in mental hospitals, because they disagree with you. I don’t see many Christians today calling for that.

    But the Inqusisition!!!!

    Torquemada and Pol Pot both thought they were doing good. It’s not the faith of the tyrant that’s so bad, it’s his utter conviction in his own righteousness.

    The world would have been better off had they not tried doing so much damned good.

  • WisdomLover

    So calculus and quantum physics would be more widely known if they were true…got it.

  • Etranger

    I wanted you to get the help you need. Your statements have clearly indicated mental problems (you think that doing good in the world is a bad thing for instance). You speak in nonsensical terms – which can indicate mental problems.

    I was not calling for all Christians to be locked up LOL. I hear Christians call for awful things to be done against others all the time…don’t play that card! (Tell a Christian you just had same-sex sex and wait to hear what they want to do to you!).

  • Etranger

    Again – those things are demonstrable, factual things that explain the world. And, yes, they are widely known and true. But again, as you know (or should know) the comparison is wrong on its face.

    You are talking about “salvation” and someone everyone needs to believe in to be saved. Shouldn’t everyone have that chance? Why do you hate people who, through no fault of their own, don’t know of the one person who can give them eternal life?

  • Etranger

    No one can prove that Jesus is the “truth”. they have been trying for centuries but just can’t do it!

  • Well, I think it is in Christ’s death that the Law IS thrown out. Part of the problem that Paul addressed, and Peter resisted, was the fact that the Gentiles, now pouring into the church, were never under the Law of Moses. The cross need not, as you say, satisfy some moral requirement, but can simply be God’s answer to man’s need for violence and scapegoating. Man’s insistence on violence as the preferred method of interaction in society always results in the death of innocents. Yes, there is a substitutionary aspect In Christ’s death, but I don’t see it as a moral requirement. Nothing about the arrest, trial, scourging and crucifixion was moral. In fact, it was quite immoral. The author of the Gospel of John goes so far as to change the day of the crucifixion to coincide with the ritual slaughtering of the pascal lambs, this tying Jesus to the sacrificial offering. But I would question this being God’s need, but rather man’s need to scapegoat. It is, after all, we who killed Jesus, not God.

    The theory of atonement, PSA, has gone through a rather lengthy development, but, as held by evangelicals, owes its current state to John Calvin, and in particular, the reformed school of thought led by Charles Hodge. It is questionable that the early church fathers held such a view. The first signs of a proto-substitutionary atonement don’t appear until Anselm of Canterbury, late 11th century. So it’s good to remember that PSA is a “theory,” and not subscribed to by either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Most scholars feel that the “ransom theory” was the most prevalent view of the early church, PSA being a distinct product of the Protestant Reformation.

    The basic idea behind the ransom theory was that sin and death held mankind captive and that Jesus was the ransom price paid for our release or redemption. (Think of the song lyrics: “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe…”) So instead of meeting a legal requirement with God, the cross is a rescue mission, freeing we who are captives to sin.

    “Redeeming” in this case literally means “buying back,” and the ransoming of war captives from slavery was a common practice in the era. The theory was also based in part on Mark 10:45 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6, where Jesus and Paul mentioned the word “ransom” in the context of atonement. The ransom theory was the main view of atonement through the first thousand years of Christian history…” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransom_theory_of_atonement)

    A more recent use of the ransom theory can be found in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”

  • WisdomLover

    Uh huh. Thanks for the concern.

    I don’t think doing good in the world is a bad thing, I just note the fact that the worst evils ever committed are done so in the name of some good. And the best good we can usually do is to not interfere.

    What does “Time to check in to a mental hospital” mean? That’s called being locked up. You, not I, suggested that that should happen to someone you don’t know.

    When was the last time you heard a Christian say to someone they don’t know that they should get locked up? Someone of whom their total knowledge is the fact that they disagree with them?

  • Etranger

    Christians think all gay teens need to go through conversion therapy. That is the same as going to a mental hospital but without the benefit of actual scientifically-based treatment. Christians think gays should be executed or put on an island.

  • WisdomLover

    I know of no Christian who thinks gays should be executed or put on an island. Though it’s a great big crazy world, so you might find one.

    As for scientifically-based treatment, I hope you realize how grotesque that sounds.

    Now, I think I’ve had about enough of this unpleasant conversation. I’ll let you have the last word, and I will read any you’d care to post, but I’m done posting responses to you for now.

  • I would also add, having wrestled a bit with C.S. Lewis’s theological views, that there is a substitutionary aspect to the ransom theory, in that, we owe a debt we cannot pay, the price is too high. God pays that debt through his Son.

  • Etranger

    Sounds good – Same here. Have a great weekend (sincerely).

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Jewish tradition itself insists the violence of the OT legal system was never supposed to be literal. I have read (and annoyingly now cannot find) an article which makes two crucial points about it.
    Firstly, it is not a penal code in the modern sense at all. It is a system for resolving disputes and, crucially, regulating, applying due process to and restricting private revenge.
    Secondly, except possibly in the case of premeditated murder, the physical punishment can always be bought off with, and is intended to be bought off with, compensation to the victim.
    The process then becomes similar to that we see in the case of Jesus and the adulterous woman. The victim, his family and / or an outraged community drag the accused before an available judge or scholar of the law, who then determines whether it is lawful for them to take revenge, and to what extent, I.e. whether if they take revenge it will be lawful (and the accused’s blood is on his own head, as the Bible puts it) or contrary to the law (in which case the bloodguilt will be on their heads).
    I am a lawyer, and I know how legal disputes in practice work, and what you would actually get is most disputes sorted out between the parties with an apology, settlement and compensation etc agreed with only serious, intractable disputes getting anywhere near a judge. What you would then get is the judge pronouncing on whether the accused is guilty, and then, if so, giving a formal ruling saying e.g. that the accused’s eye was forfeit for a lost eye, but then, crucially setting a “ransom” of compensation to the victim as an alternative rather than actually having his eye gouged out. There would be nothing in the rules making physical punishment a requirement or likely to be actually inflicted.

  • WisdomLover

    Who was wronged by the Fall. Who has a moral claim against the sinner?

    Not Satan. That’s why the ransom theory is no longer accepted.

    As for Aslan, Edmund and the Witch, whose Law was violated? It was the law of the Emperor over the Sea, right? It was the Emperor, and His Son Aslan who had the claim against Edmund. Wasn’t it? And whose Law was it that Aslan fulfilled. It was the Emeror’s right, not the Witch’s. The Deeper Magic of the Emperor overcame the Deep Magic. It did not do away with the Deep Magic, but broke it’s power.

    The Law of God is not done away with, the Stone Table is still there. But its power is broken.

    Oh the witch may well have thought that she was somehow owed something because of Edmund’s treachery, but that’s actually quite absurd. She was part of Edmund’s treachery and belonged on that Stone Table as much as Edmund did! So the witch might indeed have an absurd view. I think the devil does. I think it goes almost without saying that those that set themselves up against the Almighty must accept at least one absurd view. In the story, the witch had the absurd view that she was owed a kill, and she agreed to take Aslan in place of Edmund. She may well have thought that there was a ransom taking place. And so might the devil have thought that a ransom was being paid to him on Calvary.

    In fact, though, it was all the Emperor’s magic.

  • WisdomLover

    Yes, I think the fact that we can’t settle the score is very important…that’s why God, in His mercy, does it for us.

    Where I have a problem with the ransom theory is who we have to settle the score with.

  • Kevin K

    As an almost-lifelong non-believer, allow me to say.

    6. We don’t believe the stories are true. We think the gospels are fictional accounts (even setting aside the question of whether Jesus was a corporeal entity at all). Therefore, the epistemic weight of the gospels is equivalent to the Hindu Gitas, or the Jain Agam Literature. So, you can talk about the moral teachings of “Jesus” and that’s all well-and-good (except it seems that there are violent disagreements among yourselves as to what those teachings actually ask or require of you). But at the end of the day, unless an atheist joins some kind of Universalist Unitarian church that doesn’t have a dogma based on “gospel truths” … well, it’s a long stretch. As long a stretch as Hinduism or Jainism. Buddhism, Taoism, and other non-deity-based religions are more attractive, because they don’t have a (deistic) superstitious core. Neither floats my boat personally, but I see a lot of ex-Christians wandering over in that direction, or the more-generic and culturally non-threatening “spiritual but not religious” category.

    Your other points are pretty much on-point. You may misinterpret our distaste for the “you’re going to hell” arguments, though. We don’t believe hell exists, so threatening us with it is pretty much akin to threatening us with an invisible pillow fight. When someone uses that argument, we take it as a surrender against reason … they have no real arguments to make, and are reduced to meaningless threats.

  • Patrick

    And Christians are far too obsessed with being “saved”. As if it’s all about ME and MY eternal destiny. Christian narcissism. What about the right here and right now, and my relationship with God, my family, my friends, my neighbors, strangers and yes, even enemies? Maybe especially enemies! Jesus stated that the greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind. After that, love your neighbor as yourself. He also said that he came that we might have life, and have it abundantly! Just what kind of “abundance” did he have in mind?

  • You listed many of the reasons i left Christianity. Personally, I was tremendously put off by the depiction of God in a lot of the Old Testament. My fundamentalist evangelical church and school taught a loving and just god, not the petty, jealous, angry god of the old testament. I realized I did not live god, I feared him. Jesus was pretty awesome , but his father was mean and scary.

    Additionally, I started reading a lot about what scholars have studied about the origins of the books of the Bible, about how the books were canonized, about archaeological findings. Now I believe that the Bible is a collection of ancient writings reflective of the centuries in which they were written. There are some nice things in the Bible, nice fables, interesting insight into how some ancient people attempted to understand and order their world. But there is a lot of horror. I certainly do not think it is a message from a deity. I definitely do not think it is inerrant or inspired.

    I would like to add also the concept of original sin which purports that because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, therefore all their offspring into perpetuity were born sinners. No child has a chance to escape that except to believe the right way (or to believe the right way and do good works, or to do good works, depending on your brand of Christianity).

  • LeekSoup

    All good points but I think you missed out a big one. I first attended church in the womb and went to church for over 40 years and concluded eventually that I’d been indoctrinated into something that wasn’t true and didn’t work. If I can break my programming and realise that inside the bubble, people outside most likely won’t fall for it. The reason people aren’t ‘drawn to Jesus’ is because what Christians claim as truth, isn’t. And what they claim is real, isn’t. And people see that.

  • Mr. James Parson

    Well said.

  • Mr. James Parson

    Mine reasons for saying away are a bit similier: The Bible is just really horribly written book. It seriously needs an editor to get rid of 90% of the filler in it.

    Also the talking donkey part also doesn’t work for me.

  • Mr. James Parson

    I would like to read what you have to say.

  • Mr. James Parson

    The childhood indoctrination is really bad. Children do not have the cognitive faculties to evaluate what is being said to them.

    I did not know until my late teens that Christianity was not a single thing. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s until I knew there were real wars with real dead people fighting and dying for religious distinctions I can’t even try to explain.

  • Robert Limb

    Public Service Announcement (PSA) PSA makes cars in France, and if you buy one, you might sign a PSA (purchase and sales agreement) There are a couple of dozen other meanings for PSA on Wikipedia, but although I know the Bible pretty well, I don’t spend enough time with American Christians to know this bit of jargon. FYI , MDR is French for ROFL, btw.

  • WisdomLover

    Hinduism is not a deity-based religion?

  • jimbill1941

    I more or less follow the Christian religion because at heart I find it so true. But, and it’s a big one I can’t stomach hypocrisy nor virtue signalling so am usually on the outside looking in as far as churches go. Most churches I visit are full of older people so, unless something amazing happens most of the traditional churches in my country will be empty in ten to twenty years and all that will be left will be the ‘holy rollers’ and ‘happy clappers’. To my mind there were two great disasters that befell the christian religion: institutionalisation and biblical inerrancy. They both served to perpetuate the knowledge but not necessarily the spirit of the faith. A parallel would be your form of government and the constitution especially the revered second amendment!
    One of my aphorisms: The road to hell is signposted with quotations from the Bible.
    Cheers,
    Jim Williams

  • Kevin K

    Read what I said again. I said that you cannot distinguish between the stories told in the Christian bible from the stories told in the Hindu Gitas about the man-god Krishna.

    Buddhism is not Hinduism, and is not a deity-based religion. Perhaps that’s the source of your confusion, conflating the two very separate religious practices.

  • WisdomLover

    My confusion is actually more prosaic. I misread the period after “Jainism” as a comma. Sorry, my bad. I was seeing you list Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Taoism as four of many non-deity based religions.

  • Kevin K

    OK. No harm, no foul.

  • Pofarmer

    and then get divorced at a rate no different than the secular world.

    Uhm. Divorce rates in the U.S. among evangelicals is actually the highest. While Catholics and Atheists scored the lowest.

  • Pofarmer

    That people will be drawn to Christ,

    In the context of what you’re talking about here, what does that even mean? You could replace Christ in the sentence with Howard the Duck and it wouldn’t change anything.

  • Venavis

    Hi. I’m gay. I know quite a few Christians that think I should be executed. I even know a few that put me in the hospital for being gay.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/one-towns-war-on-gay-teens-20120202

    Your god says ‘don’t lie’, yet here, you clearly lied. That would seem to imply you do not believe in god and do not fear his ‘wrath’ at all.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Oh, how very kind of you! 🙂 All right, I shall begin…

    “This reason is a big one for people. In fact, because so many of us opt to interpret Genesis 1 as a literal, historical account of the creation of the cosmos, we’ve become a laughing stock. I mean, given the fact that the sun—you know, that big ball in the sky that is needed in order to determine what a day is—isn’t created until the fourth day, it is pretty silly to believe that each “day” in Genesis corresponds to an actual 24-hour period. Amiright?”

    Well, for starters, many people have suggested that the “creation” of the sun, moon, & stars on the fourth day, actually entailed this: “All God needed to do was to clear the cloudy atmosphere [over the Earth] so that these celestial objects simply appeared, or became visible.”

    Additionally, some other people who have posted about Creation on this site, suggest that the Hebrew form of the word “creation” meant something more along the lines of “arranging” already-existing material to create the things He did, with the possible exception of “let there be light” on Day 1–that being strongly tied to the Big Bang Theory, which (interestingly enough) was first proposed by a Jesuit Catholic priest by the name of George LeMaitre. 🙂

    Besides, in Hebrew, the word for “day” can mean anything ranging from the traditional 24-hour period, to an even longer period of time. And given what we know about science these days, that interpretation of Genesis seems to make the most sense.

    All that having been said, I do believe that Genesis 1 is essentially historical in nature, but the exact wording in the account is not meant to be taken entirely literally.

    “But no, we just keep on keeping on, wasting our time arguing for things the Bible is simply not arguing for; as if it makes more sense to believe the writer of Genesis had science, and not the competing creation myths, in mind when he wrote down the Hebrew version of the story. Puh-lease!”

    Well, about that…the overall progression of creation in the Biblical account, appears to basically match that offered by scientific discoveries & whatnot–for instance, the formless waters over the Earth being analogous to primordial soup, the fish & reptiles & birds (along with their ancestors) appearing before mammals, & so on. The Bible just skips out on talking about every single little step that each stage of creation involved, & gives a bare-bones version of everything. To wit, the Bible says that God created the universe(s), but doesn’t describe exactly HOW He did it. Therefore, I firmly believe that creation & evolution & all that–as well as science & religion–are perfectly compatible with one another, & don’t truly conflict each other.

    Oh, & one other thing: I’ve read a lot of articles detailing how science & the Bible appear to be concordance with each other. 🙂 A few specific articles, in particular, really stand out to me:
    http://www.eternal-productions.org/101science.html
    http://time.com/77676/why-science-does-not-disprove-god/
    http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/science.shtml
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-wolper/genesis-and-science_b_500201.html
    http://y-jesus.com/is-the-bible-consistent-with-science/

    I hope you found all these explanations to be very intriguing, if nothing more. 🙂 Have a lovely day! ^_^

  • Mr. James Parson

    Interesting.

    Thanks for the reply.