Leaving Christianity is going viral

Leaving Christianity is going viral October 14, 2014

Woman leaving travels from there with her luggage

In yesterday’s post, I wrote:

And don’t make the mistake of confusing bullshit “Christian” leaders with Christianity. (Yes, I’m a Christian who curses.) Jesus Christ wouldn’t know most of Christianity today from a McDonald’s. Washington is packed with politicians so crooked they can’t take two steps in any one direction. But does that mean that democracy or the Constitution is invalid? Of course not.

When someone pees in the pool, you don’t blame the water.

About which this morning my friend Dorothee Benz (of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Methodists in New Directions, cuz that’s how hard she rocks ) and I had this little Twitter exchange:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.14.53 AM

So just a quick note by way of explicating what I meant in response to Dorothee there:

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of notices from Christians telling me that they no longer want to be Christian. It’s remarkable how many people I know—people who for years if not their whole lives have been Christian—who have been so beaten into the ground by the relentless toxic rhetoric of the Christian right that at this point they’re just … giving up on Christianity.

Their hearts have turned away from the faith. They feel like, “If Christianity is so good, how come so many Christians are such complete dickweeds? If the Holy Spirit is supposed to be at works in the hearts and minds of Christians, why isn’t the Holy Spirit doing a better job of making a lot more Christians be at least decent human beings?”

As one of the kindest, most patient and intelligent Christians I know put it in a comment to yesterday’s post: “Is the whole thing [Christianity] just BS?”

Ouch. (If you’re Jesus, anyway. Or … well, me, for one, given what I believe.)

And it’s happening all at once, too. That’s the astounding part. I’ve been Joe Online for a long time now, and, as far as I can tell, ditching Christianity is going viral. In the last two weeks I’ve heard the same thing from I’d say thirty Christians, who’ve written to me either, “I give up; I’m no longer Christian,” or, “I’m about to give up; I don’t think I can take being Christian any longer.”

Oucheth!

So I really, really want to talk about that.

For now, though, I just wanted to say, about that “Fence Around Your Pool” thing: Fuck other people.

Um.

Didn’t Jesus say something pretty much just like that?

No?

Didn’t Buddha?

Confucius?

Yoda?

I know Gandhi said it. Somewhere along the line, he must have. And I’m pretty sure Martin Luther–King or 16th century monk—is on the record for having said it.

Anyway, I’m saying it.

And it is, of course, the hyper-abbreviated version of what I would say if I had a bit more time.

The idea of letting other people tell me, or in any way decide for me, who God is, or what the nature of God is, is … repelling to me.

I mean, I get why eventually any sane person would just go, “Something’s wrong here. Christianity appears to be a solid FAIL. I gave it my all. But enough is enough. I’m out.”

But, for me, screw that. If people keep peeing in my pool, I don’t abandon the pool. I refresh the water, and then build a fence to keep people the freak out. I stop letting strangers in my … pool area. (Um … to be clear: I’m not advocating keeping people away from Christianity–as if anyone in this culture could, given that, you know, it’s everywhere. What I mean is that I have no interest in … letting, well, pee-ers—by which I mean toxic people whom I don’t know or don’t respect—to … sully my waters, pee in my pool, get into my yard, define for me my Christianity–which, for the record, is unimpeachably rational and militantly non-invasive.)

Life is entirely too short to suffer fools. 🙂

Now I know somebody’s said that before.

Anyway, this is a real conversation that needs to be had. Jump in if you’ve anything to say, and let’s at least start having it.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • kim6erly

    Nicely said, but I’m still not interested in coming back. Ex-Christian #31

  • Fwiw: I don’t care. And I mean that super-nicely and respectfully. I just .. don’t care if anyone is or isn’t a Christian. None of my business. (I love that #31. Funny!)

  • Maybe it’s not a pool, maybe it’s an ocean. And instead of hanging out in the little pee-filled inlet, we need to sail out to deeper waters.

  • Yes! That’s a good/ better metaphor.

    Except … that’s where the sharks are. (Metaphor fun! Yay!)

  • then we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

  • HappyCat

    I refuse to let anyone, ever, rob me of the riches I deserve and that includes backwater cultist asshats twisting my Lord’s words around to confirm their narrow minded bigotry.

  • Scoreth!

  • kim6erly

    And I don’t care that you don’t care. I mean that in the nicest of ways. I also enjoy reading your blog, thanks for your viewpoint. Makes me feel that all of Christianity is not rotten to the core.

  • Stephanie

    Maybe instead of them peeing in the ocean they’re polluting it with plastics & killing the life that’s in the ocean…oh wait, that’s a whole other topic.

  • I only mentioned it because everyone always just assumes that, since I’m Christian, I’m obsessed with everyone ELSE being Christian. And you’re “Nice try” made me think that maybe you thought I was …. trying. Just wanted to be clear I wasn’t.

  • Psycho Gecko

    You had me a bit worried with the post up there, actually. If I didn’t have a sense of how much more progressive you are than others, I’d have thought this was a curmudgeonly response advocating barring outsiders from being allowed to examine the pool and test the water content.

    Which, unfortunately, is a response many of the people peeing in the pool would prefer to take instead.

  • charlesmaynes

    I see this through the lens of being white in America…. who largely finds the racial inequality in this country to be shameful… we cannot escape our DNA though- and for an “Unfundamentalist Christian” I would say if what Jesus says makes sense- well, then we are Christians. The language we have is sort of lacking in defining the chasm of thought we have with the mainstream- and I am frankly ok with feeling like a Heretical pariah…. because that is what Jesus himself was seen as…

  • Stephanie

    I agree with you 100%. I’ve thought about trying to distance myself from Christianity, but then I realize I don’t want that…I want the people who give Christianity a bad name to either abandon Christianity or learn what it really means to love people.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    This is where the whole Evangelical over-cliche of “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” Makes so much sense. Because, of course, it is both. But the driving force that keeps me believing is the relationship part–the ongoing conversation with the people (past and present) I choose to have it with over the nature of God, and the conversation with God Himself and the Bible. That is hard and grueling enough without suffering fools.

  • Guy Norred

    I was thinking the same thing for a minute. Glad to be wrong.

  • Yes! Yes! Now…if only I could swim.

  • Susan

    I think I might have just fallen in love with you. 😉

    I REALLY need just this sentiment. Right now. After all the years I’ve found myself growing in my faith, recently that question has been nagging at the back of my mind… what if it’s all just BS? Can the teachings and love of Christ be a real thing when so much toxic stuff has been done in His name?

    So here I go — Fuck other people.

    So there.

  • That’s what floaties are for.

  • Kimberly

    This is my first time commenting here and I just have to say
    I love your blog. It’s a great breath of
    fresh air and always challenges me to think.
    This topic is one that strikes fairly close to home for me as I’ve had
    this discussion many times with my fiancé.
    Let me just preface by saying I am a practicing Catholic and he is now
    an ex-Catholic. He has asked me many
    times how I can continue to be a part of an institution that is misogynistic, exclusionary,
    and protective of predators. The answer
    I keep coming back to is that I’m not willing to abandon something that could
    be wonderful just because it isn’t so right now. This may be rather egocentric of me, but I
    feel that the church desperately needs people like me—people who want it to be
    the open, welcoming, loving, and Holy Spirit-filled place that it can be. It needs people like me to stay and push from
    the inside. At the same time, it needs
    people on the outside to objectively criticize it and hold it to a higher
    standard. There are times when working
    from the inside feels like I’m trying to bail out the Titanic with a tea cup,
    but I just don’t have it in me to give up on it. This is in no way meant to convince ANYONE to
    come back to Christianity, I just hope to work to make Christianity something
    worthy of having those who leave back should they ever decide that’s what they
    want, and I hope the “bad seeds” can learn from my example.

  • I’m way too fabulous for floaties. Perhaps a floating deck chair…with a soothing adult beverage in my hand….and sunglasses. When we reach the deeper waters, will Jesus love a floating, slightly intoxicated homo?

  • BarbaraR

    That last sentence is all kinds of awesome.

  • My friends and I spent FOREVER trying to come up with the right name for Unfundamentalist Christians. At one point we were actually going to call it, “Fuck You Christians.” We didn’t consider that for terribly long or anything, but … maybe we should have!

  • It is, and I’m certain the answer is “yes. Now would you like me to pour you another?”

  • Stef

    When people throw the label “Christian” around, I don’t think they know what it means to be Christian. I live in Oklahoma, where Bible thumping seems to be the state pastime, and some of the things these so-called Christians are saying would make Christ shake His head in disbelief. I’m a Christian (and yes, John, I too swear), and some peoples idea of what being Christian is absolutely scares me. That’s not how I was raised (I’m not from OK originally). I love everyone, and want to learn about those faiths whose beliefs are not the same as mine. In my mind, that’s what a well informed Christian would do.

  • Kristin Dean

    I stopped going to church a couple years ago because of all the bullshit. Plus, my marriage had ended and I didn’t want the eyes of everyone “judging” me because I was a “divorcee.”
    I was raised in a strict Christian home…”hatched on the pew” as my parents would joke. And I was surrounded my judgmental Christians who looked down on people who didn’t believe like them or have the same values as them. And I was that way for a while too, until I started thinking for myself and started being out in the world and having some life experiences. Now I can TOTALLY understand why people are turned off by people who call themselves “Christians.” I’m turned off by them.
    But just because I stopped going to church doesn’t mean I’ve lost my faith and everything I believe in. No matter what happens or what people say, God is still God and is still ultimately in control. Jesus is still Jesus and his teachings still stand. I still look at his example while he was here on this earth and try to apply them to my life. I believe that 21st century Christians have lost what it means to TRULY be a follower of Christ. What we need to remember is that it’s Christ’ example that we need to pattern our lives after. And only Him.

  • BarbaraR

    It probably is for the best. I mean, if you decide to go into bumper stickers or t-shirts…

  • maryterry

    YES! He will……

  • DonRappe

    I’ve always opined that when Greek people first began referring to those who attempted to follow the way of Jesus as “Christians”, it was intended as a put-down. Like Hussites or Lutherans. The whole idea of an organizational structure for the church came later. Because the word Christian is so ambiguous, I’m not always sure just exactly what people are quitting. If it means they’re going to quit helping the poor and downtrodden and begin kicking people around to enjoy that power, I disagree with them. If it means they don’t want to be associated with people who follow this course and still refer to themselves as “Christians”, I sympathize with them. Blessed are those with weak bladders who can’t help but pee in the pool. They shall inherit the rivers and oceans.

  • mhelbert

    I’ve read a lot from secular/humanist/atheist/etc. writers. And, so many of their questions and observations deserve consideration and respect. I’ve tried, but, I can’t NOT believe. Now, if someone doesn’t, not my concern. We can, (and should), sit down and share a bottle of Bushmill’s. Now, wouldn’t that make for an interesting conversation?

  • Kristin Dean

    Well said, Stef. I have to agree with you 100%!!

  • Kristin Dean

    Totally agree with you, Stephanie!!

  • Chris Eyre

    I offer you myself as someone who has moved in the other direction, from outside the institutional church because I found it difficult to stomach it’s history past and present of discrimination (against every minority group whom Jesus indicated we should preference) to inside it. This leaves me as the token liberal in an evangelical congregation (or at least the token openly liberal individual), but at least in a church which does a significant amount of social gospel work.

    I have a vision of what the church should be, after all, and I am not going to change anything from the outside. So I’ll just have to suck up being a permanent semi-outsider, and not much liking most of what the church does apart from the social gospel work. And maybe there will be more like me in future, and things will actually change.

  • BarbaraR

    Throw in a pizza and you’ve got a deal.
    What kind of pizza goes with Bushmill’s?

  • maryterry

    I guess nothing could change my belief in God & my relationship with him; having said that, I no longer “go to church”; I haven’t for a very long time…. and I’m OK with that. It is the “church thing” that totally turned me off; the people were judgmental & just plain mean. This wasn’t one church…. this was many. Being a Christian has absolutely NOTHING to do with “going to church”. I am deeply ashamed ( and embarrassed) of how many of the so-called Christians act nowdays & how they seem to be the ones getting heard. But you know what? I am getting heard also. It may be on my Facebook page, it may be on Unfundamentalist Christians or Kissing Fish, or a number of other places. I always let people know I am a Christian (a follower of Christ) but I don’t agree with the hateful attitudes many “christians” have about many subjects. We need to show God’s love in a tangible way, let others know that our standard bearer is Jesus Christ & NOT some pastor, preacher somewhere. Give up on God? NEVER! Give up on fake Christians? YES!

  • every single kind.

  • Jill

    DON!!! Oh how I’ve missed you!!!

  • Jill

    Or no pizza at all, really. Maybe I should be talking faith only after imbibing Irish whisky… that could be the winning combination.

  • mona

    BRAVO!!!!

  • Jill

    Reading this makes me simultaneously frustrated, sad and appreciative. I get what you’re saying fwiw.

  • Julie

    I’ve spent the last six months trying to decide whether or not to stick with my church. There are some folks there who hold pretty conservative views and some who are more like me, who hold views similar to what I hold (fairly far left in case you are wondering). There are some great things to commend it. It is the most ethnically diverse church I’ve ever known – a feat unto itself. People are willing to struggle with their faith. There is currently a bible study going on re: homosexuality and some of our conservative folk are really grappling with it and are willing to see a broader point of view. And, finally, it is a group of people that tries to love people and reach out to them, not to convert but to just be there for them. While some of the judgment and narrow views infuriate me, the fact is that it is a group of people who love Jesus and are willing to work out faith and understanding together. I’ve looked at some of the more “liberal” churches in our area and, frankly, am mortified at how white they are. So I guess the long and short of it is this: as long as my church is willing to struggle with the process of loving God and each other with honesty, I’ll stick with it. But that’s just me.

  • Jill

    John, I sat down with a nearby UCC congregation’s pastor yesterday to address nearly this very conversation. I basically told him frankly I’d have left already if there was absolutely nothing here. And yet I and my doubts have not found their fit either.

    He basically told me the capital c church needs to change for the hope of becoming relevant again. He included his own in that mix.

    I laughed and said, “So perhaps a mini-reformation, a neo-reformation?”

    He said he’s hearing the same frustrations from everyone Gen-X and younger.

    I told Pastor Steve I’d hang for a while, drive ½ hour for a new church experience, see how we do. The conversation continues.

    We only had an hour, and we clearly could have talked until the sun set.

    Maybe the answer for the moment is in the conversations this en masse exodus is creating. IDK.

  • Scott

    Interesting, you don’t care whether anyone else is a Christian or not (which leads me to wonder whether you fit the label “evangelical”), but you do care about those who have self-identified as Christian leaving the fold. I think it shows the frustration you have about SCCs (So-Called-Christians) who sully the “brand.” At the end of the day, it’s about religious “branding” and affiliation at particular levels and how important that can be as a means of self-identification. Some folks don’t want to “wear” a religious brand that doesn’t fit them, and when they cannot find one that does, they say “I’ve had it with ____, I’m not a ___ anymore.” It’s an understandable reaction. I think that’s why you came up with the NALT and Unfundie concepts, as an attempt at differentiation from the “established” brand with its negative attributes, but some have evidently reached the decision that, on balance, they are better off leaving the established brand on the shelf altogether. Only when Christianity is successfully re-branded, at large, will we see a reversal of this trend.

  • Rullbert Boll

    Jesus did in fact kind of say “fuck other people” by Matthew 7:13-14, but not as an incentive for isolation. “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the
    way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.” One can easily imagine that many so called “Christians” have chosen the wide gate to their own destruction. But then Christianity may actually have failed.

  • Patricia Anne Brush

    I have very nearly left the Anglican Church of Canada on several occasions. It is in the untenable position of saying that they value their GLBTQ parishioners, while at the same time not treating them as full members (they do not have access to all the sacraments). I keep telling myself that this is something that I can outlive, and that “the church” is the wonderful community of the faithful that I meet with on Sunday mornings at St Matthias (and other times) and NOT the institutional organization.

    One way that I deal with it is in donating my time and my talents to my parish, but my money to other more worthy charities that do not discriminate.

  • ok, fuck it, I’ll try to be nice.

    First, Ghandi: I think he said you can flip the bird at a guy, you just can’t literally poke them in the eye with your finger. It sounds better in Hindi.

    But let’s get pop/modern about it … I think Marcus Mumford, famous, 27-ish, whose parents are in leadership roles at the Vineyard Churches, UK, and who first met his wife at church camp … I think Mumford nails its

    When Marcus was asked by Rolling Stone if he considers himself a Christian: “I don’t really like that word. It comes with so much baggage. So, no, I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. … I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”

    Are people losing their faith? Or are they losing their religion and its labels?

  • mhelbert is my new favorite commenter. (don’t worry, Jill, you’ve been elevated to Director level.)

  • rjsm

    It should be viral. People need to leave the bullshit religion that has been, and is, a facade and a fake, and happens to go by the same name as the real thing. I say leave. Leave now. And find the real union with God that Jesus spoke of. It does exist and it exists in more churches than people think. It’s in more people, like John, than many imagine. It’s all over the place. I hope people find it, and leave that other ridiculous piece of garbage as far behind as possible, even if it does go by the name Christianity.

  • Matt

    I just couldn’t do it anymore. I can definitely say fuck other people. God knows I say it enough in my own mind. But I’d have to be made of stone for it not to affect me at all. Soak someone in acid long enough and it seeps through no matter how many layers of protection you wrap them in first. I can’t be a part of the religion without being some part of its people. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Hell, right now I live with an extremely conservative Christian (Pentecostal) whose views would be very cozy with those expressed by sects such as the IFB. It’s great that other people seem to have the option of swimming to a wider ocean, or guarding their pool. It was a huge loss to no longer be a Christian. At times, I miss it. But I think of it like amputating a gangrenous limb before it made me irreversibly sick: The lesser of two evils.

  • Guy Norred

    I just wish we weren’t all being blamed for what others do. Oh wait…sounds like Jesus as well.

  • i agree with you in sentiment, but I think for many people, it’s much much more than rejecting religion, it’s like losing family. Especially for older, more settled, folk.

    I don’t even believe in a personal god anymore, but my parents’ church friends are the only “family” they have that doesn’t live hundreds of miles away. (It’s the only reason I’ve not (yet?) thrown a temper tantrum in middle of their Sunday services.

  • Gosh…that housemate thing is really tough. Sorry. Yes, toxic religion is…toxic. Good for you for having enough compassion for yourself to seperate yourself from it. All I can say is that I’m really grateful you’re a part of my virtual community – regardless of our religious identity.

  • Matt

    I am grateful as well, Ford. I cannot express how much.

  • I think you just nailed it, profoundly.

    Deep water is scary. Especially if you jump out of the boat called Christianity.

  • Dave-n-TN

    It feels like you wrote what is in my heart and mind … except for the second sentence. For me it was not a marriage ending, but coming out of the closet and accepting myself for who I was – and am. Once I started getting the “talks” from peers/elders and the looks, I knew it was time to move on.

    I still on occasion go to various church services. I am just protective of myself and keep my distance to avoid the “talks” or the judgements of others. I know, not all are like that (thank God) … but that is where I am presently.

  • rjsm

    Hey Mike, I get it. And yet, staying in toxic, destructive relationships, even with family, is sometimes worth it. In that context, and pretty much only, the words of Jesus to hate our family start to make sense to me.

  • A permament semi-outsider…that describes me perfectly. I see so much beauty and worth in religion, to look at the history of traditions, to consider how christianity was shaped, and why things went certain ways. I delight in the community understanding the concept of loving one’s neighbor by actively participating in the needs of our physical neighborhoods.
    But its the theology that keeps me in that semi-state. Some of its beautiful, but dayum, so much of it is so damaging, exclusive, prideful, to harsh or limiting, out right nuts, and some just plain old wrong on every level imaginable. I just refuse to buy it anymore.

    I still hold on the Christian label…for now, even though I pretty much don’t fit to so many friends, co-workers and family when it comes to that label. Here, in this place John has created, and at the Unfundamentalist Christians, where I’m so blessed to have a part in, that is where I find a form of christianity I can be a full part of, acommunity, a familiarity, a comfort, a home.

  • One atheist’s perspective: I haven’t quite nailed down what the fallacy is called, but it goes something like this:
    If I believe X, but the other people who also believe X are festering hemorrhoids, I must abandon belief in X.
    The Christians you describe in this article are doing this. Atheists do it by refusing to own the word atheist because Dawkins or Harris makes us look bad sometimes. Either way, it’s a fallacy. The truth value of the thing is independent of the actions of its believers (unless you’re following the good beliefs = good fruit logic and working backwards, but I don’t think most people hold that idea as essential to their faith).

    I think the truth is too important to give up on it because of what other people do. I would hope Christians would do the same. In fact, the Christians who have managed to be Christian AND maintain at least a basic level of human decency, like Mr. Shore, Ben Corey, Mark Sandlin, etc.. have made me far more sympathetic to Christianity and its tenants that I would be otherwise.

  • paganheart

    Bingo. I only recently discovered the music of Mumford & Sons myself and I’m digging it. Don’t know how I managed to sleep on them!

  • Jeff Preuss

    Come to the lake house – we’ll toss you off the dock, and you’ll figure it out. We also have a gabillion fun noodles to help.

  • Well…if I couldn’t learn in the fire island pines…;0

  • mhelbert

    Yeah, Mike, I have a major problem with the term ‘christian.’ There’s just too much crap tied in with that.

  • mhelbert

    Don’t know if that’s entirely accurate. I think that we’ll simply find a new tribe.

  • mhelbert

    Not just Gen X and younger. I’m a boomer and I KNOW that we’re in need of a new reformation. In fact, I had a professor in seminary who said that very thing.

  • mhelbert

    Any pizza. But, especially one with lots of jalapenos!

  • It sounds like you’re referring to a straight-up ad hominem; more specifically an association fallacy, which I agree is a terrible reason to rejection something.

  • BarbaraR

    That is my kind of pizza!

  • lisa

    I was brought up in the reformed faith. I left my church as soon as I turned 18. I came back when I was 27 after my husband died. It is a daily push and pull with me. On one hand I am deeply in love with Christ and God and seek to be His hands and feet at all times and I am presently knee deep in it as the secretary and an elder. At other times I want to run away as fast as I can, but I have developed friendships and I have family here and I made a commitment to Christ to do what I can to help our congregation experience the love of God. I use the church for what I need it for. We (my like minded friends) started a meditation group after services about a year ago. At first there were only a couple of people. slowly the number of participants (including our pastor) have increased. Our church is now at a crossroads. The LGBT issue has reached our doorstep and has divided the congregation. Those on the side of equality and love are determined to make the church inclusive. Fortunately there is more of “us” than “them”. It is sad to see this happen, but I feel we are on the the side of righteousness and we are blessed to be the majority. We are making our church what we need it to be. I know other people are not so lucky.

  • Bobananda Das

    Realizing you don’t NEED to go to church to is very liberating, and will quicken the demise of churches, thus the liberal ones will probably be first.

  • Dandhman

    Bravo John! Does anyone else love it when we get a post that expresses out and out righteous anger? Sometimes I wish liberal Christianity could overturn the money-changers’ tables more often.

  • josenmiami

    hear, hear, bravo!

  • Guy Norred

    Whiskey on an empty stomach–that has been known to not end well for me.

  • BarbaraR

    *Shudders* Yeah, I hear THAT.

  • Ellen K.

    I couldn’t leave Christianity because Christianity is too much a part of who I am. I couldn’t leave Christianity because it won’t leave me. It’s formed who I am. (In a good way.) But I could, if I chose, leave organized Christianity. I could cease going to church, cease otherwise practicing Christianity. But to me, if I chose that, that would not be the same as leaving Christianity. The lesson of love your neighbor that I learned through Christianity is too much a part of me. Unfortunately, that’s not always the lesson that Christianity teaches.

  • Josh Magda

    We have to care about the people in the pool more than the pool. Here we are discussing the condition of the pool water… and we need to be focused on the people being made sick by it. As Jesus said of his own religious tradition:

    The pool was made for the people
    Not the people for the pool.

    Jesus isn’t going anywhere. The Spirit is going anywhere. The Bible isn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t edit Christian out of our civilization at this point if we tried. What may be on its way out, is Christianity. And given the choice between that pool being filled in, and people continuing to get poisoned… the Christian response is always to be on the phone NOW with the cement truck, rather than watch God’s children drown… if the choice came to that. We have to Love people more than we Love Christianity. Jesus would expect no less from us.

    Such sacrificial Love should be foundational to any Christianity worthy of God’s future. “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his Life as a ransom for many.”

  • Dandhman

    Christianity sure as heck isn’t a monolithic thing. If fundies drive their own denominations into the ground, I believe that there will still be Christian theologies (hopefully more tolerant) which survive to see a new day.

  • Julianna

    I am so glad you wrote this. I almost didn’t read the other
    post, and I would have really missed out, because the quote you used to
    introduce it was the pee in the pool quote. I should have known better, knowing
    you, but I had a knee-jerk reaction to that statement, because it’s the kind of
    thing Christians say when they want to invalidate you taking steps away from
    where they think you ought to be. Obviously that’s not where you went with it.

    I have two sets of thoughts about this. The first is just
    about the idea, and the second is more personal. As I kept thinking about the
    pool analogy, my first thought was “Yeah, but at some point you have to wonder
    if it’s healthy to keep swimming in a place people are constantly peeing.” I
    understood your response to your friend as that basically we should make our
    Christianity so individual that it is exactly what we want it to be and that no
    one else gets any say in it. And I think there is a lot of wisdom in that and a
    lot that I need to take to heart. But I guess I wonder what the role of
    community is and why completely individualizing your faith and still calling it
    Christianity is a better (or even any different) solution than leaving the
    faith. (Of course I am working on the assumption that leaving Christianity is
    not the same thing as losing or leaving a relationship with God.)

    As I thought more about the pool analogy, I felt like from
    my perspective it would be more appropriate to use an analogy of the body and
    the head. You can say, “Don’t blame the head for the body being fat and out of
    shape,” but, you know, they are intimately connected, and something’s off about
    the head if the body isn’t healthy. (P.S. I am overweight and out of shape and
    not trying to make a slur on anybody.)

    For me, I came to a place where I felt like, I had believed
    that Jesus promised internal change—that
    following him and relating to him and loving him and letting him dwell in us,
    etc., that we would be becoming more loving, hurting people less, healing
    inside, and I banked everything on that…and but I hit a point where I said how
    long do I keep trying the same thing and expecting different results before I
    realize that that’s insanity? I wrestled with questions of how to know when it
    just needs perseverance and when you really need a new paradigm, and I came to
    believe that I needed a new paradigm.

    Once I “took off the glasses” I saw so many ways that both I
    had been practicing Christianity in unhealthy ways, but also many things that I
    felt like were problems in the foundations, in the fundamental assumptions,
    beliefs, and practices of Christianity.

    The behavior of Christians is one factor in all of that. To
    me, it is important. It’s not the tipping point or the ultimate decision maker,
    and obviously there are going to be bad people in any religion, like you said.
    But when the beliefs of Christianity cause otherwise loving and compassionate
    people to be unloving and hurtful, I question the validity of Christianity. And
    when you say, “The same percentage of Christians who
    are thoughtless wieners is the same percentage of any group who are
    thoughtless wieners.” (which obviously you made up, because how can you measure
    wiener-ness J)—but if that’s true, then does that not say something
    about whether Christianity really has anything unique that it’s offering?

    I guess what I want to say is that
    first, this has made me think deeply again about my reasons for not believing in
    the Christian gospel any more. And I feel like I have a lot more to continue to
    reevaluate. But the other thing I want to say is that I still do think it’s
    fair to evaluate a belief system at least partly on the fruit it has in the
    lives of its followers. I don’t think that should be the whole picture, but,
    well, I hear Christians say a lot that it’s not valid to do that, and I
    disagree.

  • Off-topic, but omg I know Dorothee Benz! I sat in at a MIND meeting last year when I was in NYC and joined a few others from my church, but didn’t get to talk to her. Small world. 😀

  • I’m not so sure about that. When I was at a conservative church, sure, it was liberating to realise I didn’t need to go, and I tended to skip services and stay home. But then I found my current liberal church, and now I look forward to every Sunday. I joined a cell group, joined the worship team, am co-leading a Bible study class, and now I’m basically in church three times a week and loving every moment.

  • I don’t like the idea of churches changing for the sake of being ‘relevant’. That’s a horrible argument; if this were Nazi Germany, for instance, being ‘relevant’ would involve going along with killing all the Jews, and I doubt most people would think that’s a good idea, especially if they’re Jews. Churches shouldn’t change to be ‘relevant’. Churches should change to be good, and compassionate, and loving, and true, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Very good, John, as usual, but here’s an objective observation. *****What I mean is that I have no interest in … letting, well, pee-ers—by
    which I mean toxic people whom I don’t know or don’t respect—to … sully my waters, pee in my pool, get into my yard, define for me my Christianity….*******

    Isn’t that exactly what many Christians are thinking about homosexuals? And even YOU?! Yeah, they’re wrong. We know that and they don’t.(And that’s what THEY think too!!) But that’s where our work is….and yours, John, about which you are doing so much that is good. To paraphrase, “There you stand and you can do no other.” Thank you.

  • Will__Kane

    Once you understand how the name “Christian” was derived, you really do not want to be called one. I myself call myself a Christian only strategically — when in a sociopolitical pinch. I’d rub blue mud in my bellybutton too in a pinch.

    “Whenever the locals rub blue mud in their navels, I rub blue mud in mine just as solemnly.” — Robert Heinlein, (Time Enough For Love, p. 461)

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    How do you measure weiner-ness!!!!!!!! Gotta love it.

  • Eric Hays-Strom

    I’ve been saying for over 15 years that I respond to the claim “I’m Christian” with a nearly Star Trek “ian” response… my shields go up, and I quietly “arm photon torpedos”.

    I grew up a Christian (whether my Protestant friends accepted that or not), even studied to be a Catholic Priest.

    But since I walked out of the seminary, I left that church, became one of those Protestants, and tried hard to be a “good Christian”.

    Like so many about whom you write, here, I no longer with to BE a Christian. I content myself with simply trying as hard as I can to be a follower of Jesus, stumbling lots, perhaps, but trying. And hanging with a group of my fellow “ex-pats” on Sundays.

    So, yeah, I’m a Christian… but I won’t wanna hang with you if you SAY you are. You’re gonna have to show it.

  • Guy Norred

    Well I still have hope that they CAN be the same thing, but I do agree.

  • Will__Kane

    I tried a liberal church for a while and found them more bigoted than evangelicals. If I were ever to go back to church, I’d just go to a conservative church and fake belief and shout amen brother, because I like blue collar conservative people better, if only because they work more often with their hands. They were taught a weird human sacrifice religion, but they do have soul. I’d rather drink a beer in a garage and admire a custom bobber than whine about the lack of Prius plug-ins at Whole Paycheck.
    Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work
    The Case for Working With Your Hands

  • Mark H. Harris

    Others have written about the epic FAIL. Kinnaman “unChristian” (the white book) Groeschel “The Christian Atheist” (the red book) Doner “The Late Great Evangelical Church” (the blue book)— the red, white, and blue books about the epic FAIL of the church in North America. James MacDonald speaks of this also in the black book with the orange vertical emblem “Vertical Church”. His chapter four (Ichabod) calls the North American church an epic FAIL. But, mostly unlike the others, MacDonald’s book gives the answer: 1) unashamed adoration (of God), 2) unapologetic preaching, 3) unafraid witness, 4) unceasing prayer, and 5) uncommon community!
    I disagree with your pool analogy, although I get what you’re trying to say… its not swimming that’s bad, its swimming in bad water that’s difficult. But, that’s what we’re called to do often times… swimming in bad water is really what its all about.
    The two sayings of Jesus that come to mind are the net, and the marriage feast. The kingdom is like a net… which when cast into the sea pulls in everything it catches… and later when the net is pulled ashore the angels sort out the good catch from the bad.–Matt 13:47-50 Or, the kingdom is like a king who threw a marriage feast for his son… coming in to see his guests he saw a man there who had no wedding garment and said, “How is it that you were brash enough to enter the party without the required clothing? The king had the man bound hand and foot and thrown out into the darkness. Matt 22:1-14
    There will be those who come to the table of the wedding banquet and are either dressed improperly, or at the party they pee in the pool… but that’s the whole point. All are called into the banquet. As Jesus put it, “Many are called, but few are chosen”.
    I think we need to worry less about those who pee in the pool, and worry more about being authentic Christ followers ourselves. I am a Christ follower. That means that even though I am not perfect, I work to faithfully keep the PH levels of the pool near 7 (God’s number, by the way) and keep the filter changed, and make the pool deck safe, and be ready with the life savers…
    Yeah, there will be those who don’t swim because they are afraid of the water quality, but that’s why we pray the power of the Holy Spirit and add just a little chlorine. Baptized by one Spirit into one body… 😉
    luv ya

  • Hey! I’m on my phone (damn Comcast) and can’t really see what all you brilliant minds are saying. But I can type this: the God I believe in is not an asshole. I’m tired of apoligizing every time I say I’m a Christian. Last example, on carpool home, my younger coworker and driver, asking about a comedy skit. “Do you know the stations of the Cross?” “Yeah, I studied the Bible at Oxford. I was really into convents and monasteries and basilicas. Medieval Byzantine art.”

    “Oh, you studied the Bible,” and he made this pretentious accent and face. All I could (and did) say is, “It can’t help but sound pretentious. That’s why I don’t say it.” And he nodded. He got it.

    There’s an atheist who got a new glimpse on what the word Christian could mean. I have no interest in converting him. I hope we still listen to awful, inappropriate, funny-as-hell podcasts on our way to work. But I’m done apologizing, and cool atheist kid is down with it.

  • BrotherRog

    I left Christianity before it was cool, and then I came back — after discovering progressive Christianity. More and more congregations are embracing it. Thank God.

    Roger Wolsey, Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity

  • mojones1

    LE

  • Mark H. Harris

    “Once you understand how the name “Christian” was derived, you really do not want to be called one. “– Will_Kane

    Your citation is bogus. The term ‘Christian’ was not derived, and is certainly not from Greek paganism.
    Read Acts. … specifically chapter 11 verse 26, more or less.

    In Latin: cognominarentur primum Antiochiae discipluli Christiani

    In Greek: protos en Antiocheia tous mathetais Chritianous

    In English: It was first in Antioch that the disciples were called Christians.

    Christian simply means a ‘follower of Christ’. (a learner, disciple, of Christ)

    Now, whether they are authentic followers of Christ, or merely pagans, that is another story altogether.

    Cheers

  • Will__Kane

    It’s not bogus; you can confirm the data elsewhere if you wish.

    What’s bogus is your citation. Half the New Testament is a forgery, and the book Acts is one of those forgeries.

    St Jerome (d. 420) had figured out long ago that the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament, was “falsely written” (“The Letters of Jerome”, Library of the Fathers, Oxford Movement, 1833-45, vol. v, p. 445).

    The scholar Bart Erhman confirms Acts is a forgery in his book “Forged,” as follows:

    /wiki/Forged#Books_of_the_New_Testament_identified_as_forgeries_by_Ehrman

  • Mark H. Harris

    Nonsense, no credible scholar anywhere agrees with you, not one, and I know because I’m one of them…

    sorry,

  • Will__Kane

    Nonsense” is what you necessarily believe in, if you actually claim to be a “Christian.”

    And are you calling Bart Erhman and St. Jerome not credible? Do you have any evidence they’re not credible? (Evidence means more than your nonsense whining here.)

  • Mark H. Harris

    First off, never quote wiki (anything), if you wish to be taken seriously in a scholarly discussion or paper. Second, use primary source documents. If you have a citation from your own research and you think its credible, check to see what others think of it first.
    Third, study to show yourself approved. Not all claims by liberal theologians, nor heretics, nor supposed experts, are taken with the same weight or merit. Check it out, and never rely on wiki… never.
    The Book of Acts is authentic, has been shown to be authentically written by the same author as Luke, dates to antiquity and has many attesting witnesses. You’re just wrong about this… check it out!

  • Will__Kane

    This is a comment section, not a thesis. The wiki article refers to the quite scholarly work “Forged,” written by Bart Erhman, if you could figure that out somehow. I suggest you get a copy, perhaps interlibrary loan, and sneak it into your office in a brown bag so you don’t cause your cretinous peers heart attacks.

    And maybe get Library of the Fathers, Oxford Movement, to see why St. Jerome thought Acts a forgery. Here, wiki will help you find a copy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_the_Fathers

  • Mark H. Harris

    Dr. Bart Erhman is a famous liberal Christian turned agnostic; not to be trusted. /
    You might be interested in the work by Edward D Andrews “Misrepresenting Jesus” in which Andrews debunks Erhman’s “Misquoting Jesus”.
    Again, I will tell you, no credible Bible scholar agrees with you or Erhman on this topic. Yes, you will find many who tear at the fabric of the Bible because they want to destroy it, but so far, no one has been successful at that course of action; certainly not the Book of Acts.
    Papyrus P45 (early third century) clearly proves your thesis (and Erhman) wrong. Check it out, “The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts”. Edited Philip W. Comfort and David P Barrett.

  • Will__Kane

    And you’re a raving cretin, not to be trusted by any credible Bible scholar. See how that works? Want to start over, and maybe act just a wee little bit “scholarly?”

  • Mark H. Harris

    Either you cannot read, or you’re willingly cantankerous; a curmudgeon perhaps, or an internet troll?

    At any rate, after your last post, I rest my case.

  • Jim Reader

    I’ve often wondered if the name “Christian” is too sullied to ever be cleaned and made honorable again. Perhaps it’s time to take progressive Christianity and… I hate to put it in these terms, ‘rebrand’ it. Fine, you hypocritical schmucks, call yourself ‘Christians’, we’ll call ourselves… I don’t know what, but a term, a name, that we can be proud of again.

  • Will__Kane

    I can read. You said I shouldn’t be reading what I read. Psychologically project much?

  • Mark H. Harris

    We did that at seminary… seriously. Several us of stopped using the term ‘Christian’ (you know, right wing republican homosexual hater who carries a gun to church) and started using the term ‘Christ follower’.
    Try it out…
    … let me know.

  • Will__Kane

    Unless you insert a comma in your unused title, it could have well been misunderstood that you were claiming to be fundamentalist. 😉

  • Will__Kane

    A Christian or Christ follower who seeks salvation still hasn’t quite grasped the implications from the discovery that we live on a sphere.

    Salvation is the attempt to escape the underworld realm of Zeus’ brother Hades (or Loki’s daughter Hell, if you prefer your Bible translated into Norse mythology,) predicated on a flat earth cosmology.

    The earth is round; there is no underworld. There is no need of salvation or following any godman.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Careful padawan, your thoughts betray you …

    … Christ followers do not follow because they first sought him, rather Christ followers follow because the great shepherd first sought them.

    In short, we love because he first loved us. We bear witness and the Holy Spirit bears witness with us that our testimony is true. John wrote to us that we might believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and through this name that we might have life. Christ came not into the world to judge the world, but that the world through him might be saved. This is the condemnation, that men(and women) loved darkness, because their deeds were evil.

    Escaping the underworld is the least part of it… if at all.

    PS We don’t follow Christ because we are afraid of Hell (whatever you mean by that) but because we love him who first loved us and gave himself so that we might live.

  • Will__Kane

    Nothing like being proselytized by a biblethumper who still believes in a magical “election.” *heavenly organ music*

    What’s even weirder is that you don’t really know the Bible, or at least try to cover up the more horrid parts. You don’t understand “afraid of Hell?” Careful padawan…

    But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. LK 12.5

    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. MT 10.28

    Did they skip over that in seminary?

  • Mark H. Harris

    I did not say there are those who should not fear hell… um, you might be one for whom the fear of hell applies… you tell me?

    I only said that I follow Jesus NOT because I am afraid of hell, but because He first loved me… large difference, not nuanced.

    Perfect love casts out all fear. See –> 1John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.

    Those who do not know Christ, might well be afraid, but those who have been loved by Christ (those who follow him) will not fear, because His love precludes any fear, and dries all eyes…

    Are you afraid?

  • Will__Kane

    Why would I be afraid? The world is a sphere; there is no underworld realm of Hades or Hell, or magical heaven above. Nor is there any afterlife.

    Ecclesiastes 3:19 “Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.”

  • Mark H. Harris

    I love the Old Testament …

    Job 19:23-27 “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!

    For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

    And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in* my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

    Good night.

  • Will__Kane

    Enjoy your afterlife fantasies, based on hating life here on earth, which is the most nihilistic idea I’ve ever heard of:

    anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life John 12:25

    I’m just not a big enough hater to accept that garbage.

  • Mark H. Harris

    I’m not a nihilist. You’re confusing me with pinheaded fundamentalist ‘Christians’ who are among other things premillenial dispensational knot-heads who are waiting anxiously for the end of the time-space universe. (that’s not me)

    You are deliberately misquoting the text of scripture, kinda that guy who met Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. (not a good idea)

    Here is the passage you misquoted: 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

    Jesus is not saying that we should hate life; far from it ! God forbid ! Jesus is saying that if we truly love life we will follow Him, because He is the source of life. He is speaking of himself (none the less) and he is speaking spiritually, not meta-physically.

    Good night.

  • Adam King

    So what the hell does Job know? Was he there when the Great Dictator made all that stuff, bound up the waters or whatever? As I recall he kinda got put in his place at the end of the book.

  • Adam King

    What if you have an outie?

  • Mark H. Harris

    Put in his place??–sort-of. He had a reversal. Job was the one who asked “if a man dies, will he live again?”

    Later, Job understands and declares, I know my redeemer lives! … and I shall see him face to face…

    If you’ll recall, God restores all (and more) to Job, because he finally gets it (even though he was blameless from the start).

    Good question.

  • Adam King

    So an agnostic is “not to be trusted.” Why? Are only Christians trustworthy when in comes to Biblical scholarship? Then it isn’t scholarship at all, just disguised apologetics.

  • Will__Kane

    If you’re not a fundamentalist pinhead, quit acting exactly like one, ok? There are plenty of passages related to despising life on this earth, and despising our earthly bodies, and instead seeking magical escape to heaven, that you haven’t acknowledged:

    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. 1 John 2:15-17

    anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4

    set your sights on the realities of heaven Col. 3:1

    I love this world, and reject any necessity to escape it for something better. I’ve completely strayed from the path of salvation.

    “You’re right to see that we’re staying from the path of salvation. We’re straying from the path exactly as you always feared we might. But listen, we’re not straying from the path of salvation for the sake of sin and corruption, as you always imagined we might. We’re straying from the path of salvation because we remember that we once belonged to the world and were content in that belonging. We are straying from the path of salvation—but not for love of vice and wickedness as you contemptuously imagined we might. We’re straying from the path of salvation for love of the world, as you never once dreamed in a thousand years of dreaming.”

    ~Daniel Quinn (1996) The Story of B. p. 325.

  • Mark H. Harris

    ‘World’ is not meant as meta-physical ‘earth,’ rather ‘world’ (Greek kosmos) means the ‘established order,’ the elemental principals, the false religious and false governmental bodies, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. ‘World’ does not refer to the time-space universe— fundamentalists aside.
    God is not only in the process of redeeming humanity, but also of redeeming the entire created order… thus, John writes, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth” Rev 21:1. The sea is no more (the chaos of lost humanity) and the old ‘forms’ were passed away, and God creates a new order where He is with His people and His people share life eternally with God… a new heaven AND a new earth.
    People have this goofy idea of floating on a cloud with a harp… not so; new heaven, and a NEW earth. Rev 21:1
    No, I’m not a fundamentalist premillenial dispensational knot-head… not wearing that hat.
    Sorry.
    Good night

  • Mark H. Harris

    Please do not over-simplify. I made no such general statement. I only pointed out that Dr Bart Erhman has an axe to grind. Now, in the end, after all is said and done, he may or may not be correct. But, not in this case. The Book of Acts was NOT forged. It is, in fact, one of the clearest principal examples of accurate history, history in the making, and correct historical accounting (that speaks both for Luke, and Luke II [Acts] ).
    My point here is that Erhman cannot be trusted not because he is agnostic, but because he is biased in such a way that his account is probably skewed; not necessarily, but maybe.
    His history of course tells all… the guy hates the faith, is not a believer, and wants to discredit the Bible. He has been debunked attempting to do so, and so, might not be the best witness. Just say’in.
    Cheers, and thanks again for a good question.

  • Will__Kane

    Bullshit, fundie boy. (That’s always exactly what they say.) Strongs concordance 2889 κόσμος Short Definition: the world, universe biblehub.com/greek/2889.htm
    Kosmos = Pale Blue Dot and the universe around. I love ’em.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b58SfRphkKc

  • I have stepped away from “going to church.” But not away from following Christ. And for me, that makes me a Christian.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Put your Strong’s away… you don’t know how to use it.

    Rev 21:1
    in Latin: Et vidi caelum novum et terram

    in Greek: Kai eidon ouranon kainon kai ghn kainhn

    in English: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.

    You will notice that the word kosmos is not there. When Greek speakers are referring to the time-space universe they speak of heaven and ‘earth’ NOT heaven and kosmos… check it out.

    Yes, kosmos has some meanings like world, universe, but for Greek speakers these words carry nuances different than for English speakers. You’re not going to get at this with your Strongs concordance, sorry.

    good night… please?

  • Will__Kane

    Strong’s disproves your garbage, so yeah, I’ll just throw it away. LOL! No, really, I’m starting to respect fundies more than you. I wouldn’t have your “progressive” church up my ass if I had room for all of Texas.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Yes, be a Christ follower… but, please, consider Hebrews 10:23-25.
    luv ya

  • Well, you’ve got SOMEthing up your ass. Just not sure why you’re so pissed off.

  • Will__Kane

    He’s biblethumping you now, go enjoy.

  • I didn’t say I don’t get together with Christian friends. Just that I don’t attend church. Lots of ways to come together in Jesus’ name. This blog is one of them. Our God is not limited. 🙂

  • Mark H. Harris

    Yes, I agree

  • Eh, it doesn’t bother me. I know where I stand.

  • By the way, I like your hat.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Hey, I like his hat too… reminds of those old Westerns I used to read as a kid… I was thinking he looks like Matt Dillon. Or, maybe I’m thinking of Bat Masterson…

  • Will__Kane

    All the pretty girls say that. It’s actually just a pic of Gary Cooper in High Noon. 😉

  • One of my favorite flicks ever!

  • Will__Kane

    Communist! Really, the McCarthyites said the film was a communist infiltration and got the producer blacklisted for life. Can you imagine? A few decades later, progressives depict it as a conservative wet dream. Only in America.

  • Agreed!
    Pee’ers are gonna pee, I guess. We just have to have a lot of chlorine at the ready!

  • I’m on a budget, so I offer up a Digourno’s pizza with love in my heart!

  • OMG, it’s Don! 😀

  • Mark H. Harris

    Please, let me be at least helpful… the way to get at this is to do a thorough word study… from the original language if possible (for you that means using an English tool that will differentiate between kosmos and ghn). Find all the places in the N.T. that use both terms, and then from the context try to figure out what is meant by a new heaven and a new earth. Its an interesting study, and it will help you gain perspective.
    You could try to use the “Word Study Greek English New Testament” by Paul R. McReynolds. Its an interlinear with a word-count location concordance laid out in book order.
    Cheers

  • All I remember was the marvelous suspense…and the clock ticking down! Great movie-making. 🙂

  • Mark H. Harris

    OMG… you’re citing Karl Sagan.

    … sigh

    Please, go back and cite Bart Erhman again… never mind…
    Yeah, Karl Sagan is speaking of the time-space universe when he uses the term kosmos… but, Karl lived in the twentieth century (not the first) and Karl was not a Greek thinker|speaker.

    Cheers

  • Elizabeth Cox

    “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be
    boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and
    ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have
    no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.
    They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the
    confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin
    and controlled by various desires.
    (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.
    But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will
    recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.” 2 Timothy 3:1-9

    “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be
    false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies
    and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring
    sudden destruction on themselves. so Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

    Wolves in sheep’s clothing, weeds among the wheat, false teachers…we’ve been told ahead of time this would happen.

  • Oddlady

    This seems to be a huge problem in the States. I’m not surprised with the prosperity gospel and constant criticism of people who are social justice activists. Jesus taight us to do good anyway, especially to the marginalised. He keeps me going every day when my husband’s a chronic alcoholic, kerps me focused on tbe beauty and goodness of life, gives me gufts of money, love and charity I can share with others.

    My faith brings me great joy and peace, hrlps me see the miracles and bring comfort where I Can: writing a book to help raise funds for water projects in Ethiopia; sponsoring an orphan through university (today Hanna is a very good teacher!), giving food and hot drinks to addicts, helping An Iraqi family become valuabke British citizens after they lost everything in Baghdad. And donating to Food Banks. We’re Not called to serve ourselves but to serve others each and every day.

    We need to really get ovrr feeling persecuted and just get on with it. Faith is Lived

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Yes, the chlorine of Truth.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I think the word “hate” is wrongly used in this context. Hate this world, hate your mother and father…..? I have to believe it’s a misinterpretation of whatever word Jesus used. Hate, in the way we understand it today, does not sound like something he would advocate in those contexts.

  • You’re mixing up all kinds of theology from different sects. Personally, I’m a universalist and don’t believe anyone is going to whatever hell is supposed to be. I guess that means everyone is elected…including you, brother will. xoxo

  • “Premillenial dispensational knot-head” is a lot to fit on a “hi, my name is…” sticky tag.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Both of you get over yourselves. What a tower of Babel you are. Since there is little to no real PROOF of ANY of the interpretations of interpretations of interpretations, ad infinitum, your argumentative discussion is quite pointless. It reminds me of the Dark Ages when “scholars” of scripture argued about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Give it a rest. Love God (whatever That is to you) and love others. “It is the only law you need.” -Romans 13: 10
    The rest is fodder for endless and fruitless argumentation, as you two are so clearly illustrating.

  • Bones

    So how did Mark really end?

  • Bones

    Sounds like ad hominem attacks to me.

    You’ve never read Ehrman’s work and are making him out as some demon because he casts doubt on your idol which has more than just textual criticism against it judging by the recent excavations in the Holy Lands.

    It’s not just atheists and agnostics who have an agenda and an axe to grind. (Nor gays)

    Better sharpen that axe cos you’re the self appointed Defender of the Faith.

    I shall dub thee, Oliver!

  • Bones

    10 skinny ones or five fat ones – angels that is.

    My favourite is how long is a piece of string?

  • Well said! Made me smile and made my day 🙂 You are a breath of much needed fresh air!

  • Conservative Evangelicals believe in an EVIL god who first curse babies with a sinful nature and will eternally torture the person later on for sins she was doomed to commit.

    They worship an evil demon they call God.
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/on-hell-and-cognitive-dissonances/
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/hell-bound-and-callous-indifference/

    And when they realize it, they become resentful atheists.

  • Chris Eyre

    I managed a lot of support and belonging from an online community through the 90s, but that declined, and I felt I needed to move on to a real-life community.

    Sadly, there is for me no available community which understands (for instance) process, liberation or radical theologies. At least, they don’t understand those yet…

  • Will__Kane

    High Noon was originally written as a play, and the play was in real time with the clock. The movie is very close to being in real time with the clock too. Knowing that really makes the movie more interesting. Another tidbit: The original title was “Tin Badge.”

  • Will__Kane

    Your obfuscation is not being helpful. Everybody knows what the greek word cosmos means, even Carl Sagan.

  • Will__Kane

    If you went to seminary and paid real money, you was cheated. Strong’s concordance’s short definition is the main definition of cosmos, and then along comes theologians to muddy a plain meaning of the word.

  • Will__Kane

    Christianity mixed up all kinds of theology from different sects. It’s called syncretism. Norse mythology is in the Bible as Loki’s daughter Hell. I didn’t translate that way, somebody else did. Greek underworld mythology is in the Bible, with Zeus’ brother Hades and the lower underworld Tartarus. I didn’t write the Bible, others did. I can just identify the source of the mythology. Check out “Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth” sometime.

  • Will__Kane

    This sort of obfuscation is why I didn’t last but a few services in a liberal church. The rabid fundamentalists actually have a better understanding of the bible. The liberal preacher actually admitted so and laughed as he was stumbling over some horrid, ugly passage in the scripture, trying to massage it into something worthy of Disneyworld instead of its hellish, hateful original meaning.

  • Bones

    Sounds like all of human history to me.

    These women who follow new teachings; are they the ones who don’t have their heads covered?

  • Bones

    Actually the theology of the Book of Job is pretty rank.

    A god who makes deals with a satan and allows him to inflict trials and tribulations on his servant to prove his faith and love is pretty crappy.

    God’s not like that.

    Job is one of the oldest books in the OT and it’s theology represents that ancient worldview of God.

  • Bones

    Wtf are you talking about?

  • ColorMeWise

    I really don’t identify as Christian; to be exact, I refer to myself as a Follower Of Christ. That may seem to be the same thing, but it is not. I go to a Christian Church and am very active, but that does not direct my actions and what I believe about Jesus and why I choose to follow Christ’s ways. I’m noticing more and more that the generation of young Christians coming up now are choosing places of worship that are about social justice. All we hear are the louder, more angry voices of a Christianity that relies on fear mongering. We, as a nation, say that we do not want to be a theocracy; yet, there is a calling to have prayer in school. The louder voices are saying that we need more religion in our politics; yet, we don’t want to be compared to other nations and countries that are theocracies. The louder voices of anger and intolerance are the very same voices that we should not listen to. Find those that have similar beliefs and grow in those. We need to be clear about what it means for us individually to be Followers of Christ and not give so much credence to those who do not actually follow Christ’s ways. The louder voices, by the way, are scared of us because we don’t believe in fear mongering and we don’t believe that we have to scream our message. We believe that our beliefs show in our actions. Also, I don’t believe that one has to be a Christian or even believe in good to do what has been modeled for us through Jesus.

  • Bones

    I love this world too where I am in sunny Eastern Australia. If I was in the Middle east about to come into the hands of ISIS though I’d think it’s pretty shitty..

    Those quotes were written by people who were undergoing real or imagined persecution and saw the world as a shitty place as a result.

  • Will__Kane

    Agreed. Daniel Quinn makes the case that religions are invented as a way to deal with the hell we’ve created on earth.
    oilcrash.com/articles/frog.htm

  • Guy Norred

    Tried typing this from my phone but kept being cut off so….. Anyway, I agree. God is the complete opposite of an asshole and I am tired of apologizing for being a Christian. Actually I recently realized this is an area in which I find a certain unexpected privilege. For better or for worse, it seems more common for people to know I am gay before they know I am Christian, and this combination throws off assumptions. It also may help that I can transfer some of what I learned in years of therapy to (mostly) overcome internalized homophobia.

    By the way–a comedy skit referencing the stations of the Cross? I can’t imagine, but I am intrigued.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    Love it!

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    Love that post too! Do you have a blog?

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    this is me pushing the LIKE button!

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    Perhaps you just don’t understand it, but take into it your prejudices from the start? Maybe you should look it up, and see what different commentaries exist on the verse.

    John says a lot of mystical things that cannot be taken literally, and take study and time to understand.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    I’m just curious, what are you hoping to gain from posting on discussion boards like this? It often boggles my mind when people whose mind seems made up waste their time.

  • Uhm. Your point?

  • Will__Kane

    If you think posting here is a waste of time, why do you do it? Or are you just registering your disagreement with my opinion by attacking me personally? That would be a typical christian behavior.

  • ????

  • Will__Kane

    Commentaries? The bible is never quite enough, is it? It always has to be massaged and prodded and rendered and tenderized. The best job of doing that is when Thomas Jefferson took a razor to the book, and cut out the “diamonds,” and left the “dunghills.” Fortunately, its’ a “wee little book” and can be read in one sitting . And there is nothing stomach-churning it it, like human sacrifice of 33 year old virgin firstborns being an efficacious salve.

  • I own erhman’s book. I found it wonderful. I also own a copy of Borg commentary on the new testament in the order it was actually written . I have both works very credible. Of course I read Karen Armstrong and other so called heretics.

  • Does erhmam have am axe to grind or is he pointing out that the bible is an imperfect book? Which it is. He makes an irrefutable point….there isn’t a scrap of any original document from any original document. All we have are copies of copies and not a one are exact copies.

    That’s not disctredting the bible, its merely showing it for what it is. A beautiful vibrant work that is imperfect, cobbled together by imperfect people.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    My mind is not made up on any of this, so to me it is not a waste of time.

    I’m not judging you. I asked you a question, because I was curious. I wanted to know what you get out of it, because I don’t understand it.

    Sorry I asked.

  • Andy

    More the latter, I think.

  • ChuckQueen101

    Can institutional Christianity be redeemed? I wonder. Jesus sought to bring reform within Judaism and it got him killed, though with God’s vindication of Jesus a new movement was started that now has become institutionalized and is in desperate need of reform. My calling has been to stay within institutional Christianity and do what little I can to confront the status quo and push institutional Christians to greater spiritual consciousness and inclusiveness. To be honest, however, in the Bible belt community I am working in, I can’t tell where I have made much of a difference and the challenge seems overwhelming. The progressive Christian movement reflected by the blogs on the Progressive channel at Patheos is certainly a good and positive thing, but I wonder how much impact we are having on the institutional church. If what John reports in his blog is a trend, those of us working within the Christian tradition to move Christianity to a better place are really up against it. Well, I am not ready to give up and to all my sisters and brothers who are leaving churches I would say, “Please consider being a part of a Christian community where your very presence and voice will have a redeeming quality and affect.” Maybe we are in the era of Bonhoeffer’s “religionless Christianity,” but community is still necessary for spiritual growth and there are things we learn in community that we cannot learn alone.

  • Will__Kane

    I’m like Socrates. He was a social gadfly, and finally put-down after a trial for “corrupting the youth and impiety.”

  • Andy

    I read this a long time ago and just last night was discussing with my wife the issues of people wanting to label themselves and others…to put them in boxes…and how it’s an easy, natural thing for people to do. Perhaps it’s the product of information overload (it helps us organize all that info) or human bonding (we have a tendency to bond over things we have in common and shun those who are different) or something else entirely. And it made me think of this quote:

    “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
    ― Jiddu Krishnamurti

  • Guy Norred

    interesting

  • ChuckQueen101

    One more thing. I suspect there is more pee than water in institutional Christianity. And yet that alone is not cause for abandonment. The institution still has its place. We need both. We need Christians to stay and work for reform within the institution and we need Christians to break away and participate in new forms and expressions of community. The institutional church pays my salary – my church allows me to write op-ed pieces in the local paper, sponsors a monthly column in the paper where I can write on progressive Christians themes, conduct workshops in the community like the one I will be presenting at our local library Nov. 11 titled: Why Jesus Would Say “Yes” to Same-Sex Marriage” and supports me when I write for blogs like the UC blog. Institutional Christianity still has a part to play. No, it’s not for every Christian (Christ follower), but it still has its place.

  • ChuckQueen101

    I suppose there is no getting around some labels and the need to make distinctions between groups – but somehow, if we are to move to a better place individually, socially, globally we must intentionally adopt more inclusive ways of seeing and relating. We desperately need today a mystic’s vision of the Divine pervading everything.

    It’s hard though. In last Sunday’s Gospel reading (Rev. Common Lectionary) two competing visions stand side by side. The parable in Matt. 22:1-10 ends with; “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.” How’s that for an inclusive vision of the kingdom of God? – both good and bad together. Apparently that was too much for the writer of Matthew’s Gospel or some in his community to handle. And so in 22:11-14 an alternate vision is presented: You better have the proper wedding attire or it’s “outer darkness” for you. There is no end to these competing ways of looking at life – between dualistic thinking and non-dualistic, unitive thinking. If we are to evolve in spiritual consciousness and find ways to live together in peace and work for the common good, we have got to move beyond our dualistic, either/or way of thinking and living.

  • Muzi Cindi

    I was addressing a Family Funeral just this past Saturday. I said; Jesus gave Jewish people A CHOICE: 1. Follow your scriptures and HATE your enemies! OR
    2. Follow me and LOVE your enemies (Matthew 5:43).
    This is the CHOICE facing Fundamentalist and Conservative Christianity today.
    It seems like many are deciding to follow Scriptures and be HATEFUL instead of following Jesus in LOVE!

  • I’m a Quaker, and usually I either keep it to “Quaker” or if I need to specify, then yeah, “Christ centered” or “follower of Jesus” or “Jesus fangirl”.

  • Mark H. Harris

    hi, thanks for the question… it was a question right?
    Actually, you are not correct. Allow me to explain briefly;
    There are three concepts to keep in mind for this discussion (the Bible as a perfect book): 1) transmission of the text, 2) inspiration of the text, 3) illumination of the text.
    1) Transmission of the Text
    While we do not have the autographs of the New Testament, we do have 20 thousand copies not including lectionaries and quotes from the church fathers, and 5 thousand complete copies. Through the art & science of textual criticism (one of my areas of expertise, New Testament research) we today know what the autographs looked like +|- 1.2 %. Scholars differ on the exact number, but its smallish on the outside of less than 3% error. The process is on-going or course, but the transmission of the biblical text has been established as near perfect.
    2) Inspiration of the Text
    The Bible is God-breathed. Theologians like myself believe that the Holy Spirit wrote the text of the Bible through human beings (allowing for their imperfections and their personalities; yet God-breathed none the less). You are free to not believe this as you choose, but that alone does not make the case for inspiration false.
    3) Illumination of the Text
    A reader of the text (who is in Christ, endowed and sealed by the Holy Spirit) of the Bible is aided in the context of the church by the Holy Spirit (illumination) so that the Bible becomes in their hands at that moment a ‘perfect book’. It is the only book like this on the planet… living and active! On the other hand, if someone reads the Bible without the illumination of the Holy Spirit (in the context of the church) then the Bible is fraught with controversy and misinterpretation— ad infinitum. On the other hand, the perfect text of scripture is made possible by the illumination of the original author (the Holy Spirit of God).
    The Bible is infallible in all that it teaches. That does not mean there are not copy variations (see textual criticism above) nor does it mean that the human authors were not perfect (see inspiration above) rather it means that the Holy Spirit has conveyed through a system of preservation over two thousand years the complete transmission of the text, the inspired word of God, and the empowering illumination of the text for the soul. Its a closed loop, and it is infallible.
    Inerrancy is another question entirely. But the simple answer is that the Bible has no errors in all that the Holy Spirit intended. Again, infallible is a better word.
    Good question, thanks for the opportunity to dialogue.
    Cheers

  • To quote Bugs Bunny…he don’t know us very well, do he?

  • Scott

    Well, some people may find a new tribe, but others will stop searching for one altogether. It won’t be the same for everyone. My point was that while “rebranding” is part of John’s solution, the “Christian” brand is so vast that it is to easy for SCCs to damage it, make it unwearable for some. This is why we hear so much of “spiritual” folks who don’t consider themselves “religious.” I proudly wear the Episcopal brand because it’s the best fit for me, but it still leads to discussions because not everyone is on-board with the progressive developments in the ECUSA.

  • Jill

    Hi anakin,

    I’m not sure I’m clear on your criticism of relevance. What the pastor and I were talking about was in terms of having church be applicable beyond its four walls. Not just a social club, not just a display of obeisance or godly humility. Actual rubber-meeting-road relevance.

    If church is doing anything valuable with the Jesus message, it has to have meaning beyond a sermon on Sunday.

    Sorry if my message was unclear.

  • Mark H. Harris

    Actually, you are showing your ignorance again. Strong’s concordance is NOT a lexicon, its well, a concordance.
    What you are searching for is a Greek lexicon, then a intermediate|advanced Greek syntax, then a comparative analysis of the text(s) in question; and that is the really hard part.
    The word kosmos (or one of its cognates) is used in the New Testament 186 times. In the RSV the word kosmos is translated consistently ‘world’ in virtually every case, yet, almost NEVER does it mean ‘earth’ and almost NEVER does it mean time-space universe. But, you really need to do the study for yourself.
    Usually ‘world’ means the established order, often evil, including religious, governmental, material, satanic, &c. The kosmos will be overcome (has been overcome, already but not yet) and the ‘world’ as you know it will cease to exist in the coming kingdom. BUT, and this is the huge elephant’s butt in the room, the time-space universe will not come to an end, as John wrote, there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. The old order (kosmos, world) will be put away, and the elemental principals will melt with fervent heat (see Peter).
    Cheers

  • Will__Kane

    Actually, you’re lying, I never called it a “lexicon,” I called it a concordance. Take your seminary bullshit tactics elsewhere, ok?

  • DrewTwoFish

    For me it wasn’t the dick infestation that led me away from Christianity. Though I was certainly aware of the dicks “out there”, my personal experience with fellow Christians was usually quite positive. Christianity seemed to answer some of the big questions satisfactorily, in the beginning, and some of my most treasured relationships began in the church.

    Having said that, I did toe the party line for a long time. I suppose being gay was the catalyst but it took me a very long time to leave. I signed up for all of that ex-gay nonsense. And I figured if God didn’t make me straight that he’d step into the gap. But he didn’t. I also wandered through various jobs, locations, degrees and diplomas looking for direction, guidance, SOME sort of manifestation of God’s presence, perhaps trying to fill in the gap myself. Obviously, to some degree, I saw things (see things) through my own particular neuroses but it really was the lack of any personal connection with God, especially in light of what he’d burdened me with (my sexuality, etc.) that really started the whole thing finally unravelling. Wouldn’t you expect the greatest being in the universe to be more real to those he says he loves?

    I began seeing other ways that the God of Bible was disappointing, inconsistent, illogical, arbitrary, confusing and even cruel and I just couldn’t sweep them under the rug anymore. And my fellow believers kept letting him off the hook with circular reasoning, over contextualizing, or non-answers. (“Sometimes, you just have to have faith.” Huh?) And that was it.

    I’m still bitter that I wasted decades of my life, my prime, serving/seeking someone who (IMHO) doesn’t exist but remain grateful (there’s an interesting word – who am I grateful to?) for the close friendships that I still have with those who really DO seek to follow the Jesus’ teaching. He seems like a cool dude.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Hmm. IF being a Christian requires you to swallow the whole Bible from start to finish as a the Word of God it seems to me you’re spot on.

  • DrewTwoFish

    I think many Christians would be terrified to seriously consider your last paragraph.

    Do you believe in God as a person, an afterlife, etc. or do you just believe in the principles that Jesus espoused? I’m genuinely curious.

  • No. God doesn’t restore anything. The story just has God replacing things, there is a difference. And for what? A bet.

  • Socrates was a philospher and a brilliant one. He was convicted because he challenged the status quo in a society that was undergoing a shift in ideologies. The one that clung to the old mindsets and ways of life, didn’t like the challenge, and therefore sought to eliminate his ‘threat”. Killing the philospher failed to kill what he contributed.

  • play nice, guys.

  • Scholars do agree that the author of Luke and Acts are likely the same people. They do not, however consider the friend of Paul with that name, or a more possible variaion Lucius to be that author.
    The gospel of Luke was written first, as early as 60CE, but anytime during the last half of the first century. IT was written after Mark from whom it borrowed from. Acts covers a 30 year span of time. So if Luke was written in the 60s, then Acts would have had to be written no earlier than the 90’s CE.
    Yes I know people want to argue that Luke was written during Paul’s lifetime, but if the gospel was written about the time of Paul’s death (appox 67AD), the Acts had to be after.

  • rather abruptly, like it was unfinished.

  • I spent sooooo much of my life as a teenager reading Krishnamurti. So good to see his name/words again!!

  • 1. Not one single original bit of text exists of any portion of any book of the bible. We have loads of copies, hand written, often with variations, error, additions or subtractions. But the originals are lost to time.

    2. Not every theologican agrees with that theory, neither does every pastor, scholar, historian, lay person, or christian. It is just a supposition, a guess, a wish, a desire, not a fact.

    3. This goes with #2. I’ve heard this one all my life, and have read the Bible many times, yet I have yet to see proof of infallability, neither has anyone been able to convince me of this. To give the Bible this divine state, to me makes the theory of the trinity into a quad, with the book the fourth entity. Again this is a supposition, a wish, a desire, not a fact, nor is it a idea held by all Christians.

  • I believe in God as a deity, not the triune configuration, finding it inadequate, but God, just out of our reach of grasping understanding, so joyful in trying to reach for that understanding. I’m on the fence about an afterlife, feeling the one I got is a wonderful gift I should be more grateful about, and need no more. The principles Jesus espoused, are revolutionary, timeless and surprisingly not solely linked to him, as I’ve discovered others who said some eerily similar things (which I happen to believe just may be divinely purposeful)

    Was Jesus an avatar of God here on earth? Part of me says yes, part of me says not so sure. The part that says yes though, does not for one minute buy the “he came to be a sacrifice” deal. I think if God decided to walk among us, it was to give a demonstration on how to truly live as an example of the divine, by showing repeatedly how to love one’s neighbor, in shocking, revolutionary ways, but ways that had been suggested for centureis. He also demonstrated loving one’s neighbor even to the point of not turning in his peers when captured or tried, not retaliating, not blaming or lashing out in hatred against his soon to be murderers, to ensure that his mother would be cared for.

    Personally I think the focus of sin and the cross diminishes the story and purpose of Jesus as a man and as the quite possible avatar of God. Whomever or whatever he was, he was a significant figure, maybe divine, and I tend to lean yes, because I can’t see why not. Could God have walked among us? Sure, I can believe that, if only for the purposes of showing us that h/she understands what its like to be human and to give some hints of how we should be treating one another.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. And, of course, thanks to John for creating the space for discussions like these.

  • Guy Norred

    This reminds me of some of the discussions on violence on Formerly Fundy. There are a lot of people out there who somehow think actual physical violence can be a good thing, so this kind…

  • Steve Cave

    I’m so sick of people saying they give up on Christianity. That’s lazy and smacks of entitledness. Work out your OWN salvation. Do the WORK of learning and understanding Jesus. The church is filled with broken, horrible people – that’s the point. Don’t be mad that it’s a fucked up mess. And don’t be lazy. Christianity has always been about each and every one of us being able to speak to God on our own, without a priest. Giving up on Christianity because you don’t like some preacher, or some denomination, or anything else is pure laziness – an extension of our entitled attitude in this country.

    And to give you perspective, I’m a gay Christian. I’ve been kicked out of church, lost friends and family in the name of Jesus – but so what? Either God is, or He isn’t. It has nothing to do with how evil men are. Grow up, and take ownership of your relationship with Jesus.

  • I am going to have to find some of his work. That quote resonates with me.

  • DrewTwoFish

    “To give the Bible this divine state, to me makes the theory of the trinity into a quad.” YES!

    Results in the clash of the “clear” teachings of the bible with what we inherently know to be kind, compassionate and just.

  • First, loved DrewTwoFish comments below.

    I think that our host has (perhaps unwittingly) changed the subject in the middle of the conversation. In the first part of the OP, John quotes former Christians who are saying, paraphrased: “Huge numbers of Christians are dicks, and that’s a problem for a God who claims to make a difference.” My opinion is that this is a very powerful argument against god’s existence/legitimacy. John responds by urging Christians to avoid letting other people (namely dicks) influence their view of god. But I think this ignores the argument, which is that this god claims to make a difference. He brags about “fruits” of his “spirit” and generally claims to make all the difference in the world. That god can’t be saved by a fence around the pool, because the people chanting his name, lined up to urinate and attempting to scale the fence, are themselves the evidence against his big claims. I don’t know how to save this god, and the options are quite limited: you either play the No True Scotsman card to get god off the hook for the evils done by self-identified Christians, or you play the “nobody’s perfect” card perhaps while mumbling about original sin. Option 1 is also known as “dishonesty.” Option 2 invalidates the god’s big talk about making such a big bloody difference.

    Tough spot. You might not be ready to admit that the business is mostly BS, but you should probably acknowledge that the challenges are much bigger than your backyard pool.

  • DrewTwoFish

    I don’t think it’s necessarily lazy. I think it depends on WHY one leaves Christianity.

  • I know I’m a bit unorthodox, and I know that I will likely keep seeing my faith evolve along the way. I still feel Christian, just not an ordinary one. Hell, I don’t think ordinary fits me at all anyway.

  • “Either God is, or He isn’t. It has nothing to do with how evil men are.” Google “problem of evil” for why “god isn’t” is deeply connected to “how evil men are.” I’m glad you’re happy working out your salvation, but consider that it might look lazy to some of us when you don’t seem to want to bother to ask whether god tells the truth about himself. I don’t have any desire to change your mind about him, but stop pretending that the question doesn’t matter.

  • Why is it lazy or smack of entitledness? Could it be that what has happened has less to do with a denomination or a preacher, but rather something else? Like betrayal, destruction, abandonment and abuse with the faith being used to excuse and perpetuate it? Could it be that people have felt lied to, cheated by people in the church, by the church itself, and indirectly by God? Could it be utter dissolusionment?
    Could it be that the ways God has been represented has become abhorrent, yet there are few options theyv’e found within Christianity they can stomach, because of all the shit they’ve had to stomach before?
    You see Christianity does not equate God. Christianity is a religion, God is not. Maybe for some, leaving the religion means that they finally are at peace and finally see the God they’d been looking for the entire time.

  • Steve Cave

    What are the reasons people leave? Because Christians are hypocritical, judgemental, or just dicks? Because the church is corrupt, or because pastors teach shitty theology? All of those reasons have built into them giving other people some level of spiritual authority in your life. If we put the work into meeting Jesus, it can’t matter what everyone else does. You don’t need the church to be Christian. You just need to do the hard work of learning and seeking and finding.

    Maybe when you say “leave Christianity” you mean leave the church?

  • Steve Cave

    Ah ha, now I read this I understand your story better. I don’t really have much to add – your experience is just really different from mine. My boyfriend is an athiest, because he’s thought it through and it just doesn’t make sense to him. It sounds like you are in a similar, though different place?

    Anyway, you’re right, I can’t say its always a cause people are lazy! But still, from my point of view, I want to say that you never really did meet Jesus – but that smacks of mansplaining, and an arrogant paternality…. Ugh.

  • Steve Cave

    Sure, that makes sense – I guess I’d call that leaving the church, not leaving Christianity.

  • Steve Cave

    So you think God has lied about himself?

  • Well, no, but I don’t think he’s done anything at all about anything.

  • Maybe, but I know of some who found God and peace in other faiths. I am happy for them, as discovering both can be so elusive.

  • Guest

    So you think that God does exist,but hasn’t ever done anything?

  • Steve Cave

    So you think that God does exist,but that he’s never done anything?

  • DrewTwoFish

    You beat me! I was just about to finish my reply to your other comment when this popped up. (Reminds me of a Streisand tune, “Letters that Cross in the Mail.”)

    I think you’re right to point out that the church is not always just “them.” That’s important.

    I think (hope) I’m being honest in saying that I took a good long run at “putting in the work to meet Jesus.” (Mind you, a long run isn’t the same as a good one.) As far as I can tell, he never showed up. So, yes, I guess I never did meet Jesus.

  • Reminds me of Virginia Woolf, “I read the book of Job last night, I don’t think God comes out well in it.”

  • Steve Cave

    OR it’s all BS. Could be. I don’t think so, obviously, but it’s not like it really matters what I think!

    So in giving up on Christianity, what did you do with God? Are you athiest now, or agnostic? Or something else?

  • No, I think he’s a useful fiction. As for whether he’s lied, I think that’s a hard question because he has so seldom made anything clear. My reading of the bible leads me to conclude that he claims to make a big difference. My reading of his world led me to the opposite conclusion, indeed led me to suspect that he is quite often a very nasty influence. Does that mean that this fictional character “lied?” Not sure how to answer that, given my own agnosticism. Instead, I’ll just reiterate my strong opinion that to deny that Christian evildoing is relevant is to either avoid a major question about the christian god or to admit that god’s influence on people is uneven at best.

  • Oh boy, now you have me going! I know that it might seem that “leaving Christianity” is going viral but I am one who left claiming to be Christian more than 20 years ago and I know I wasn’t one of the first. Many of the people that I know who say they are spiritual but not religious are willing to say that they are primarily ‘followers of Christ’.

    I want to tell you that I am back claiming to be a Christian because I am ready to reclaim what I believe that means. Being a Christian to me means giving others love, compassion and grace. It means not sitting in judgment. It means acting to change the issues of our world and planet in the ways that I am called. It means being in Christian community. It means pushing myself to BE 100% the unique self that I was created to be.

    To me it means learning from the teachings of Jesus; being as bold and courageous as he was, as willing to take action when it is required, as willing to be surrender to Gods will for me. Our planet and world is at a critical juncture where we are being called to wake up and get back to the authentic teachings of Jesus. I guess that makes me glad that so many people are leaving the old definition of Christianity because that means that they are seeking what it might really mean to them.

    Let’s not leave Christianity but choose to live in the way Jesus taught.

  • I’m still in a real life community. It will be my last. I love the people there, the quiet contemplative services, that they do not demand conformity or assimilation (as in “you will be…”). I love that there is a range of idealologies within our little church, and yet I can be the lone liberal at the table of staunch southern Republicans, including my husband, and we spend a happy two hours at Arbys after church talking about everything. I love that our outreach ministries isn’t about saving people or getting new members, but about feeding the hungry gathering socks and hats for the homeless, and sending flowers and hot meals to those recovering from surgery.

    Before I joined that little UMC church, I seriously contemplated going Buddhist, but the circle of life, .ie reincarnation gave me pause. I do find much value in some Buddhist teachings, only because they tend to line effortlessly with teachings of Jesus

  • I have done the same thing. Its about time that we redefined what Christianity means! Glad there are many of us doing this right now.

  • Mr.Nobody

    God in other faiths? Are you referring to Islam or Judaism? Those are the only other two monotheistic belief systems. The others are either polytheistic or pantheistic. Not sure what you mean?

  • I am convinced that we are called to be in community. I think Church as we know it will probably look very different soon, but Christian Community plays a vital role in the transformation of all the issues facing us. We can redefine what church means and make it better fit who we are now.

  • I am totally with you! People can create authentic christian community where there isn’t all the rigid, inflexible religion. People leaving what is not working is a good thing! Time to really BE what Jesus taught.

  • DonRappe

    Thanks, Jill. You too,Enesvy.

  • DrewTwoFish

    I think I’d have to call myself an open minded atheist. Does that make sense? Or is that simply an agnostic?

    In some ways I’d like to believe in God. I’m not enjoying my advancing decay. Life is scary and death is scarier.

    I am still experiencing a religious hangover. I admit my bitterness may be clouding my judgement. I’m angry at myself for buying into the whole ball of wax for as long as I did. No one held a gun to my head.

    I sometimes think it might have been better if my experience had been less positive. Perhaps the scales would have dropped from my eyes sooner.

  • Mr.Nobody

    Good post. And that means accepting the biblical text as it is, right? Not trying to mold God to be what we want him to be? Not treating the bible as a moral smorgasbord simply applying what we like and leaving the rest? We either accept God as he is or we don’t, right? Far too often we state that a belief in Christ is what we want it to be when in reality it is what He wants it to be. Isn’t that the point of having faith in Him?

  • I believe God exists. And when we truly hear from him, he doesn’t lie.

    I believe this world — not specifically Earth — springs from his creation. But is he involved in our day-today lives? I no longer believe that to be the case.

    We humans, however, do write a lot of fiction and lies about him in attempts to understand this mad world and the people who inhabit it. Is the Bible the word of God? I think, on the whole, it is not. Why would or should we believe that early Jews and Christians were any less flawed than ourselves in regards to honesty, accurate reporting of events, not reading signs into natural occurrences?

    Remember the first time, as a kid, you played the Whisper Game in school? And how within a small group of kids how the story had changed by the time it got to last kid?

    Now imagine the writing of books by men with specific agendas — political, cultural, personal — and with so much at stake. Empires were at stake. I, personally, cannot imagine the Council of Nicaea, 325AD, was any less corrupt and dysfunctional than our own.

    So, no, I don’t think god lies, and, yes, it is up to each of us to find the truth of God, as best we can.

  • I’m re-posting part of a prior comment, please forgive … I can’t speak for Diane, but I don’t think to ” choose to live in the way Jesus taught,” means one must accept biblical text “as it is.” I believe quite the opposite is the case.

    I believe this world — not necessarily or specifically Earth — springs from his creation. But is he involved in our day-today lives? I no longer believe that to be the case. But … that in no way prevents a person from trying to live in the way Jesus taught.

    We humans, however, do write a lot of fiction and lies about him in attempts to understand this mad world and the people who inhabit it. Is the Bible the word of God? I think, on the whole, it is not. Why would or should we believe that early Jews and Christians were any less flawed than ourselves in regards to honesty, accurate reporting of events, not reading signs into natural occurrences?

    Remember the first time, as a kid, you played the Whisper Game in school? And how within a small group of kids how the story had changed by the time it got to last kid?

    Now imagine the writing of books by men with specific agendas — political, cultural, personal — and with so much at stake. Empires were at stake. I, personally, cannot imagine the Council of Nicaea, 325AD, was any less corrupt and dysfunctional than our own.

    So, no, I don’t think god lies, and, yes, it is up to each of us to find the truth of God, as best we can.

  • Hi Mr Nobody, It sounds like you might believe the bible is a literal book? My guess is that you would think I use the bible as a smorgasbord but for me in my commitment to follow Jesus is an intention to live as closely as possible to his teachings. I like to think that we all allowed to be holy-human and do the best job that we can. I know that I am a better person all the time and feel more loving and compassionate. I am always working to discern what God wants that to be like instead of just doing what I want. Thanks for commenting on my post and I like having conversation.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Yes, he has so seldom made anything clear.

    I groan whenever I hear someone trot out something about the “clear teachings of the Bible.” It usually precedes being hit over the head with said Bible.

    But heck, sometimes the conservative Christians are right. There are some clear teachings. They just suck! And so I reject them.

    That’s why I think someone like Matthew Vines (apologist for God sanctioned gay relationships) is off track. The problem isn’t that we’ve misinterpreted the Bible when it comes to issues like homosexuality, the status of women, slavery, etc. The problem is regarding the Bible in its entirety as the inerrant, infallible (whatever) Word of God in the first place. (As allegro63 points out for some Christians it has essentially become part of the godhead.)

    If the Bible isn’t or doesn’t have to be those things then we can stop doing ridiculous mental gymnastics to let it and God off the hook.

  • HI Mike, I am with you and I think why I really like to be involved in Christian Community is that we can go on that journey together of trying to figure it out. I like listening to others and see how they interpret what they read and then how they apply that to their lives. In deep community I can trust others to question my thinking so that I do a better job living my faith. I like working with others who are also committed to expressing their full selves and always discerning what that looks like. That’s faith to me and I have found it challenging and rewarding.

  • DonRappe

    I didn’t realize I was considered “gone”. Here’s a little more:

    The Church’s one foundation
    Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
    She is His new creation
    By water and the Word.
    From heaven He came and sought her
    To be His holy bride;
    With His own blood He bought her
    And for her life He died.

    Some of this old stuff is still good.

    The other stanzas also respond to some of the “modern” issues we like to discuss.;

  • Hi, I work with congregations of a few different denominations. I have found many of them are working on being “redeemed” to use your term. They are working to be vital, reformed, relevant- do bigger more important work, or perhaps to stay alive? We don’t have to worry about institutional church but look for those pockets of readiness, and there are plenty. I believe the restoration we are going to see is going to come from the ground-up and not from the top-down.

  • Guy Norred

    Well, to be fair, I do think God is involved in our lives, but that is part of why I find this idea that all scripture was perfect and complete by the Council of Nicaea rather ridiculous–not to mention questioning some of the motivations of at least some of the participants.

  • Hi Diane, I with you. It’s why I still hang out here at John’s house. (even though he never has pancakes)

  • BYOP- and coffee

  • Mr.Nobody

    As a Pastor, yes I do believe the Biblical text is “literal” as well as infallible and inerrant. What other text can I base my belief in Christ on? There is no logic in basing my faith on a book that I believe to be false or partially full of errors and exaggerations. If the bible is erroneous or completely allegorical then there is a fundamental and foundational issue with any faith in Jesus. Who decides what is true and what is not? How can one claim to have faith in Jesus yet claim the book that contains his story is perverted and inaccurate. I was not intending to suggest that you use the bible as smorgasbord as I do not know you. However, this is an approach to the Christian faith that is common. Not a judgement, just an observation. You sound as though you have a good understanding of grace Diane. Nice chatting with you.

  • Mr.Nobody

    Mike, may I ask what you base your faith in God on? What has lead you to believe that God even exists?

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    It is MUCH easier to mold and twist biblical text when you are a biblical literalist, than it is to seriously study and understand the essence, and spirit of the teachings of Christ.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Great. I’m trying to lose weight and now all I can think about is pancakes.

  • damn…You need to give an earworm alert first.

  • Here’s an insane question. Do we need the Bible to discover God or to have faith in that God?

  • Gonna have to make some this weekend

  • Sincerely … I’m not being glib or anything, it comes back to two things:

    1. Descartes: “Cogito ergo sum.” I am thinking, therefore I exist. And I believe that our consciousness must spring from a divine spark … and I know I’m not god, so I’m pretty sure He’s out there somewhere.

    2. Again not being silly or anything: I’ve met two ghosts in my life, and those instances, combined with others’ experiences, cause me to believe in a world not visible to our typical senses.

  • Mr.Nobody

    Hi Cynthia, please elaborate if you would. I’m curious why you think that.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Weep.

  • If the bible is erroneous or completely allegorical then there is a fundamental and foundational issue with any faith in Jesus. Who decides what is true and what is not?

    I get so frustrated with this intellectually dishonest line of thought. The bible is rife with contradictions. At some point, the interpretation to which you subscribe was decided by someone. Theology is a choice. You have chosen yours. Perhaps it is the interpretation of your youth. Perhaps it is the interpretation of a scholar you admire. That doesn’t make it the gospel truth – that makes it your best guess at what we’re looking at in the dark mirror.

    No one has a monopoly on truth. IMHO, pretending we can know God’s absolute truth is sinful moral certitude.

  • Mr.Nobody

    Good question. I would say both. In order to discover God we need a source on which to make the choice to believe and then we would need that source to be a foundation on which our faith would develop. What do you think?

  • It’s OK DTF – yogurt is just as satisfying…no…really….*snickers under breath*

  • I mean that I do not believe that people are not necessarily hindered by religion to find connectivity to God. Just to clue you in, I’m what you would likely call a universalist, but that’s not quite apt. I just think that God is bigger than any faith, any belief, any creed, and yet approachable to any in a way that the individual can understand and find solace in.

    For the record there are more than just three monotheistic faiths. The Sikhs are monotheistic, so are are the Bahai’s as well as some lesser known ones.

  • The early church didn’t have such a source. Their foundation was Christ. Perhaps ours should be too.

  • DrewTwoFish

    It’s this sort of cruelty that is driving people like me out of the church.

    : > )

  • I love the traditional hymns – so rich lyrically and musically.

  • I think of it like a historical novel … a lot capitial “T” Truth can be found within it, but that doesn’t mean everything went down in the way author’s claim. The inaccuracies don’t undo the truths.

  • Maybe for some, but I don’t think so for all. When you look at human history, that would be for most, who had no book whatsoever of anykind yet worshipped God in various forms and formats as best as they could.

    Me? I don’t see God in a book. I’ve read the Bible, I never saw God there, but rather people trying to understand God, and give to credit or blame to the things happening around them to that god.

    Where I do I feel the presence of God? In birdsong, in a gorgeous sunset, in the tears of compassion, in silence, in wonder, in science.

  • I have my favorites myself. But then give me Brahams Debussy… Chopin, and I’m undone.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    That is why I think that literalness is the cheapest, laziest, most harmful way to read the bible.

    There are many christian scholars who agree with this fact.

    http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_BibleTrue.htm

    http://people.cas.sc.edu/lewiske/heresy.html

    http://frted.wordpress.com/2008/05/17/the-limits-of-biblical-literalism/

    http://gregoryjenks.com/2012/08/26/taking-the-bible-seriously-but-not-literally/

    Nobody took the bible literally until the mid 1800’s. It was as a result of the fear that top biblical scholars felt after Darwin’s book came out.

    the Jews didn’t. The Catholics didn’t. Martin Luther didn’t…….

    Literalists are not traditional. They created a new tradition.

    Literalists give the same meaning to a ridiculous verse from a random book in the Old Testament to a line from the sermon on the mount, or one of the Woes to the Pharisses warning from Jesus!

    When you take a verse literally you can make it into anything you want. If you look hard enough you can find something to suit discrimination, judgments, and divisive practices. Things that are condemned elsewhere in the New Testament over and over.

    When I wanted to learn what Jesus really expects as far as humans judging others, I studied ALL the verses on judging others.

    When you are prayerful, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, you can come up with the spirit, the truth about complex subjects.

    When you are seeking not for answers to support what you already have been told – but are open for difficult answers especially regarding your OWN BEHAVIOR, you deepen your understanding! and your faith grows!
    Matt 23

    23 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in
    for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint,
    dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should
    have done, though you should not have left the others undone either.24 You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.

    When you read a book, any book like a second grader, you are going to interpret its words like a second grader, act like a second grader, and live like a second grader.

    God is so much more, so much bigger, so much more mysterious than we can ever know. Literal interpretation puts god into a small human box.

  • Mr.Nobody

    It is not an intellectually dishonest line of thought Ford1968. It’s a valid point of argument that begs an answer. The Bible is not rife with contradictions. I do not have a favorite scholar that guides my theology. I am well read. I did not come to faith until my late 30’s so my choice was not based on ignorant youthful fancies. My theology does not make it the gospel truth, your right. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes it the gospel truth. And yes, God does have a monopoly on truth. The Bible represents God’s absolute truth and that is not sinful moral certitude. Our beliefs need to have a foundation from which they stem Ford1968. What is yours?

  • Mr.Nobody

    “inaccuracies don’t undo the truths”? If something is inaccurate then it is not true. Right? They are polar opposites.

  • Mr.Nobody

    OK, so which part of the Biblical text do you believe is true and accurate? What part is literal and what isn’t?

  • I too think God exists, the creator of matter, physics, emotion senses, sentience, shape..that existed the moment S/he declared “Bang!”, eons and eons ago.

    I think God loves us…but for the life of me I cant fathom why. I think that we are not alone in the universe, and that to assume we are the only sentient life also adored by God, as well as everything that’s out there to be quite arrogant.

    I also think that for any of us to assume that our way of honoring God is the only correct way, is also arrogant. The only correct way to honor a God we have been trying to understand and failing at since, we scratched our fleas under our furs, looked out in the sky and wondered “what if someone made all this stuff? What if that someone made me? should I be afraid, or glad?”

  • Mr.Nobody

    Ok, in the same spirit of not being glib…..what s your answer to my question? What do you base your faith on? Certainly some teaching or book has helped you form your beliefs other than a philosopher and ghost stories? Again, not meaning to be rude.

  • Mr.Nobody

    Yes, their source was Christ. I agree. But if we claim the very text that offers us Christ’s teaching is wholly or partially invalid, what do we base our faith on then? How do we even know what Christ taught?

  • Jill

    I ask this genuinely– so can the Bible be flat out removed from the foundation of the Church entirely? Can we weigh it as equally valid (not more or less so) than other books written about faith: the non-canonized books (sorry if that’s not a real word), the apocrypha, modern thought?

  • Andy

    I hadn’t heard of him until I saw his name mentioned as an inspiration for Live’s album Mental Jewelry. Still don’t know too much about him, and I don’t remember where I ran across that quote originally, but I do love it.

  • Kristen Cates

    Not necessarily. For example, you could make the statement, “Jim stole a green pencil”, which could be inaccurate because in reality Jim stole a purple pencil. The fact that saying Jim stole a green pencil when the pencil was purple doesn’t negate the truth of Jim being a thief. I think what mike moore was saying is that there might be stories in the Bible with inaccurate details, but which teach us truths about human nature, the nature of God, the nature of creation, and how humanity relates to/with God. I don’t think that every detail of every story needs to be 100% accurate to convey the truths of grace, deliverance, redemption, forgiveness, salvation, and mercy that the Bible contains

  • DrewTwoFish

    That’s a good question. I’ll leave that for Christians to decide.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Let’s back up a step? How did you come to believe that the Bible is word of God?

  • So, then, I guess that Jesus will judge us based on our treatment of “the least of these”. He will seperate the sheep from the goats. Oh…no…wait…that’s right, we’re supposed to be saved by grace through faith.

    The bible IS rife with contradictions. I’m very skeptical of anyone who says “the bible is absolutely clear” about anything, because that’s ususally not the case.

    Not believing in inerrancy (whatever “inerrancy” is supposed to be) does not render the bible meaningless. The bible is a beautiful story about the relationship of God to humankind, told over centuries in a multitude of cultural contexts in a variety of literary genres. The gospel is a heartbreaking account of the selfless death and ressurection of Christ, God incarnate, so that humankind can be in communion with Him.

    The bible is a guideline – a portrait – of how God desires us to operate in this world; culminating in the example of the life of Christ.

    My faith is based on study of scripture, church tradition, prayer, and meditation. My beliefs are held with a very open hand. The pursuit of holiness through orthodoxy is nothing but theological folly.

    And, not for nothing, where does the Holy Spirit enter your equation? Didn’t God promise that the Spirit will dwell in us and guide us? When did one specific interpretation scripture (out of thousands) trump the actual working of God in our lives?

  • Larry

    [comment deleted]

  • Andy
  • Andy

    Sounds like you’re really big on that whole “we’re all unworthy sinners” thing. You must be a hoot at parties.

  • insert eye roll here.

  • Larry

    Regenerate man is no longer blind or enslaved. I am not of this world, and yes I will be a hoot at my Fathers party

  • I don’t recognize the Jesus you describe. Your Jesus is foreign to me.

  • Jill

    Holy smokes. (see what I did there???)

  • Me too. I think that is this person’s point, but oh well. They are welcome to that opinion that we don’t happen to share.

  • DrewTwoFish

    The gospel of Jesus Christ makes it the gospel truth? Huh? How is that you’re certain that the Bible represents God’s absolute truth.? That’s a huge sweeping statement.

  • Mr.Nobody

    The whole concept of religion intrigued me. I never learned about it as a child. I wasn’t sure what to believe. I decided to investigate. Read a lot on the subject from both sides of the coin. Watched pretty remarkable men like Hitchens and Craig debate (and others). I read the bible, extensively. I saw all many of the contradictions that people claim. Got me curious too so I read up on those so I could understand them. I read numerous commentaries by authors from differing doctrinal positions. I went back to school and earned my BA in religion. But, ultimately, I made a choice. That’s really how any of us decide what to believe….by making a choice. That’s my practical journey. How about you? What do you believe?

  • You mean you are an alien? Do you come in peace? If you want us to take you to our leader, then which one? This planet has a shit load of them.

  • Jill

    Ah allegro63! You’re my hero.

  • Is your faith so shallow or brittle that taking the bible for the beautifully flawed document it is turns your belief to a pile of ash?

    To say the bible has contradictions in no way makes it invalid. Working through the tensions of those contradictions is a wonderful way to discover God.

  • Josh Magda

    Alright. Let’s play “The Literalist Game.”

    For when we do so, much to your dismay, all of us here are extraordinarily likely to have one or more of these bases covered. God’s a real bitch like that to self-absorbed people. He’ll let just anyone on through. See you at the banquet table!

    …THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW PRESENTS

    “IF I WERE TO PROOFTEXT”:
    The 50 Different Ways of Coming to the Father
    according to the literal words of Jesus
    (remember him?) 🙂

    1.) Salvation through Being Poor in Spirit Mth 5:3
    2.) Salvation through Showing Mercy Mth 5:7
    3.) Salvation through a Pure Heart Mth 5:8
    4.) Salvation through Peacemaking Mth 5:9
    5.) Salvation through Being Persecuted Mth 5:10
    for Being Righteous
    6.) Salvation through Obeying and Mth 5:19
    Teaching Commandments
    7.) Salvation through Having a Mth 5:20
    Righteousness Greater than
    that of the Pharisees and
    Saducees
    8.) Salvation through Loving Enemies Mth 5:44-45
    and Praying for those
    that Hate You
    9.) Salvation through Not Judging Mth 6:1-2
    10.) Salvation through Forgiving Debts Mth 6:12
    11.) Salvation through Forgiving Mth 6:14
    Other People’s Sins
    12.) Salvation through Asking for Mth 7:11 the Father’s Good Gifts
    13.) Salvation for Many from the Mth 8:11
    East and West
    14.) Salvation through Mercy, not Mth. 8:13
    Sacrifice
    15.) Salvation through Enduring to Mth. 10:22
    The End, through Hate Mth. 24:13
    16.) Salvation through Acknowledging Mth. 10:32
    Me Before Men
    17.) Salvation through Receiving a Mth. 10:41
    Prophet
    18.) Salvation through Receiving a Mth. 10:41
    Righteous Person
    19.) Salvation through Giving a Cup Mth. 10:42
    of Cold Water to the
    Least of These
    20.) Salvation through Failing to Commit Mth. 12: 31-32
    The Sin Against the Holy
    Spirit
    21.) Salvation through Your Words Mth 12:37
    22.) Salvation through Doing the Will Mth 12:50
    of My Father in Heaven
    23.) Salvation for Righteous People Mth. 13:49
    24.) Salvation through Losing His Life Mth. 16:26
    for My Sake
    25.) Salvation by Being Rewarded According Mth. 16:27
    to Deeds
    26.) Salvation through Humbling Themselves Mth. 18:4
    as a Little Child
    27.) Salvation through Receiving One Little Mth. 18:5
    Child
    28.) Salvation through “Cutting off Hand and Mth. 18:8-9
    Foot” or “Plucking out Eye”
    29.) Salvation by Sheer Virtue of Being a Mth. 18:10
    Little One Mth. 18: 14
    30.) Salvation through Forgiving your Brothers Mth. 18:35
    From your Heart
    31.) Salvation through Sheer Virtue of Being Mth. 19:14
    a Little Child
    32.) Salvation through Keeping the Mth. 19:17
    Commandments
    33.) Salvation through Selling Possessions, Mth. 19:21
    Giving to the Poor, and Following
    Me
    34.) Salvation through God, for Mth. 19:26
    Whom Nothing is Impossible
    35.) Salvation through Leaving Houses or Mth. 19:29
    Family or Fields on My Account
    36.) Salvation through Being One of the Mth. 19:30
    Many Who are Now Last
    37.) Salvation through Being a Repentant Mth. 21:31
    Tax Collector or Prostitute
    38.) Salvation through Bearing Fruit for the Mth 21:43
    Kingdom
    39.) Salvation through Being Invited to the Mth. 22:8-10
    Wedding Banquet, Whether Evil
    or Good, and Wearing Wedding
    Clothes
    40.) Salvation through Satisfying the Law’s Mth. 22:36-40
    Requirements by Following the
    Greatest 2 Commandments
    41.) Salvation For the Faithful and Wise Mth. 22:45
    Servants of God Who are Feeding
    God’s Household
    42.) Salvation through Being Faithful Over a Mth. 25:21
    Few Things
    43.) Salvation through Feeding the Hungry Mth. 25: 35-40
    44.) Salvation through Giving Drink to the Mth. 25:35-40
    Thirsty
    45.) Salvation through Taking in a Stranger Mth. 25: 35-40
    46.) Salvation through Clothing the Naked Mth. 25:35-40
    47.) Salvation through Helping the Sick Mth. 25: 35-40
    48.) Salvation through Visiting Prisoners Mth. 25: 35-40
    49.) Salvation As Often as You Did This to the Mth. 25: 40
    Least of My Brothers and Sisters
    50.) Salvation through Discipleship, Baptism, Mth. 28:19-20
    and Obedience to Everything I Have
    Commanded You

    CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT:

    1.) Salvation through Having the Mth. (…)
    Correct Conceptual Configurations of
    Who or What I Am
    2.) Salvation through Asking Me to Come into Mth. (…)
    Your Heart and Be Your Personal
    Savior
    3.) Salvation through Believing the Correct Mth. (…)
    Things about the Metaphysics of My
    Entries Into and Exits Out of this World

    …all this, plus all related (or identical) statements from Mark, Luke, and John, are part of EXHIBIT B, for Christian pluralism

    As the song goes: God’s got friends in LOOOOOW Places. Now that it is evident that, if we are to prooftext, all of us have satisfied or will satisfy one or more of the various ways of “being saved,” can we please get back to the joyous task of creating with Beloved a world of Love and Justice for everyone?

    “Thy Kingdom Come; Thy Will be Done, On Earth, as it is in Heaven.” -The Real Jesus

  • Ok, consider Aesop’s fables. Beautiful little stories with rich meaning. The meanings offered the truth, a lesson to be learned, something the reader or hearer could gain from the stories, often more than one meaning. The stories themselveswere fiction/myths.
    So many of the stories in the Bible are like that. The stories themselves are myth, but the multiple insights to be found there, the lessons one can learn, the how to or how not to do something…that is where the truth lies. It is a compelling and very effective teaching method, something sadly, us moderns aren’t as good at grasping anymore.

  • DrewTwoFish

    Well, kudos to you for at least doing some serious research…but was it perhaps a bit lopsided? Just asking.

    I don’t believe in God anymore, and certainly not the God of the Bible. I think there are too many contradictions. At the very least, the Bible often paints an unflattering portrait of God or an inconsistent one.

  • So Jericho was never rebuilt? Anyone ever find the city of Ai? Who witnessed the discussion between God and Satan when that bet was made? Was Samson really that stupid to be tricked by Delilah that many times? Did Jesus and his family go to Egypt, or stay in Palestine when he was a baby?

  • Andy

    Good idea. I’ll ask John.

  • Andy

    So where’s a good place to start reading him?

  • Andy

    I really like this!

  • The bathroom. On the couch. In your backyard. Really anywhere’s okay.

  • I think yes. For the first hundred years there literally was no Bible. What texts were there were hard to come by, and even with a little accessability didn’t mean people could read what was there. For the next 1000 years, things were taught through art, music, drama, through storytelling because of a largely illiterate population, creative lisence was taken, and some of our modern church traditions are a result.

    Dependence on the Bible in the first half of christianity’s history? no. So, the question remains, if every copy vanished this instant, could the faith continue? Is it based on a book or a God?

  • DC Rambler

    The original followers of Jesus, those who heard and witnessed his life, would have only heard parables and stories from the Torah. The very Jewish Jesus was calling for a return to obedience of the scriptures in preparation for the coming of the Son of Man who would rule as a just King and reverse the misery caused by the Roman oppressors.
    Many believe that Jesus never set out to start a new religion, that was done by others after his death. I see so many comments that see Jesus only in a NT context which removes his Jewish roots. It’s like studying the history of the American West and only celebrating the brave settlers while completely ignoring Manifest Destiny..

  • Andy

    Hahaha. Perhaps I should have used different words…

    Is there one of his works that we should start with?

  • Jill

    Great points. So I’m just musing… what if a Christian church removed all its bibles from the sanctuary? Even as an experiment for like a month. No scripture references, instead talk about faith like those who never had a bound volume. I would be at minimum intrigued by a church that can pull itself away from a crutch (my opinionated word choice) and instead experience, share and live its faith beyond it.

    I say this because, as I weed through the wounded dynamics in my own heart on this issue, there isn’t anyone I’ve found who is addressing the horrible things found in that book in the same way that they are loving on it. People may sometimes comment loosely on the misogyny, the genocide, the god-approved rape and pillaging, etc., but many can easily quote John 17:3, Matt 24:14, etc.

    Because there are heavily-armed and funded groups that use the darker side of the scriptural force to justify all sorts of meanness all around the globe, I believe there has to be at least equal time given to facing up to that, or the Bible as the Book of Books and a platform for the Church is being misused in another way imo.

  • Your question was, what do I base my faith upon? I believe I answered that question.

    Perhaps I should have led with: I believe in the historical Jesus, but not the Bible as the word of God. I no longer call myself a Christian, even though I believe Jesus was something more, something larger, than human, a man worthy of following.

    Philosophically, the notion of self-consciousness (Descartes) speaks of a divine spark, outside of myself.

    Personally, I’ve experienced events that have convinced me a spiritual plane exists, one which is not typically visible to our human senses.

  • tyler

    i was never big on christianity myself. it was probably all those judgmental folks slinging around words like “lazy” and “entitled” without knowing a thing about the people they’re referring to. those guys are dicks.

    on a slightly less ornery note, what is the deal with people accusing other people of being “entitled” when they try to take care of themselves? i think i’m entitled to live my life without allowing myself to be abused. i think everyone else is entitled to that, too.

  • Jill

    Talk about being literal, hey Andy? 😉

  • Jill

    You describe mine as well.

  • buricco

    The method by which the stories that became the Bible were transmitted is really no different, as you describe, than a telephone game.

  • Julie

    Why would there be a fundamental issue with your faith in Jesus if the Bible is not always as literal as some assume it to be? Why must you have certainty in order to have faith?

  • Julie

    Such a good post.

  • R Vogel

    So I think we need to define out terms here. What is this ‘Christianity’ people are leaving? Are they saying they no longer believe in G*d revealed through the person of Jesus? That is one thing. If they mean they are leaving the cultural construct that is ‘Christianity’ that is something entirely different. Jesus doesn’t really care how you label yourself – in fact, he wasn’t a Christian himself!

    Going with your painful pool analogy, (not a criticism, I really felt for you in the final paragraph!) as you said at some point you need to get fresh water and build a fence, but in order to do either effectively you have to get out of the pool!

    If I have to stick with pools, and I think I do, what I think is going on it a lot of people suddenly realized they have been swimming around in other people’s pools, and they woke up to the fact that it’s a cesspool. So now they are leaving to go find their own pool. This is a good process and should be encouraged. We all have our dark nights of the soul (even doctors of the church! http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2012/02/meditations-on-little-way-epilogue-dark.html).

  • R Vogel

    Regenerate Man should be a comic book hero! Or at least a T-Shirt.

  • R Vogel

    We would appreciate it if you would no longer be a part of this particular world as well. Thankee

  • R Vogel

    G*d, no. Christ, probably. Not sure how I would work that one out without an instruction manual. But I’m a religious pluralist so…..

  • R Vogel

    Test Everything: Hold Fast to What is Good.

  • R Vogel

    Not to be a pedant, but my bible is a literal book. It sits there quite nicely on my bookshelf. 🙂

  • Michelle Par

    IF something is not accurate, it is not FACTUAL. That doesn’t mean that something that is inaccurate cannot illuminate truths.

  • R Vogel

    speaking as a dude, I have no problem believing Samson was that stupid. Just sayin 😉

  • R Vogel

    The clear teaching of the bible is, there are no clear teachings…. 😉

  • R Vogel

    Ooo, this is a fun question, here is my position: The bible creates a language and conceptual framework with which to think about and talk about matters relating to G*d, faith, morality, and meaning. It could be removed but then at some point it would cease to be Christianity as a new language developed. So it is important. Like all languages it changes over time, or it should, or it dies. The hardcore literalists to me are very ironic in that they are actually killing their own book. If, for instance, people’s views on the bible’s position vis a vis slavery did not change, then the bible would have eventually been discarded as simply another hopelessly obsolete product of antiquity. That it has been allowed to change has kept it alive lo, these several thousands of years (referring to both the Christian and Jewish scriptures dating and not necessarily the combined cannon). The degree to which you accept non-canonical books into the mix, the more your language will change. For instance, both Christians and Jews read the Tanakh, but they speak in a very different religious language. Christians have the addition of the Christian scriptures, Jew have the addition of the Talmud. Different flavors of Christians speak slightly different religious dialects depending on what books of the cannon they emphasize. So think of your bible literalists as the old pedant who rants about the ‘rules of grammar’ as if they are chiseled in stone (because they were dervied from a dead language, so they were, duh!) versus everyone who who accepts to one degree or another that language has to change with time. 😉

    Interestingly this reminds me of an interesting post from my friend Sabio Lantz, How do Polish Dogs Bark? [http://triangulations.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/ironic-prejudice-how-do-polish-dogs-bark/]

  • R Vogel

    Can we all hold hands and sing ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ now?

  • R Vogel

    I don’t think a month would be enough – enough people in church know enough about the bible that they could still use the same language from memory. A year would interesting. Eventually people would run out of verse they know and forget the ones they did. Then they would have to invent something new. If you can get your hands on a copy, Pete Rollins book, The Idolatry of G*d, has 3 case studies at the end that are really about disrupting the language of Christianity through performance art that are really interesting.

  • Don Lowery

    The very definition of faith is not certainty…but doubt. It’s the HOPE of things to come…of things UNSEEN. Anything other than this isn’t faith…but the fundamentalist background I left where faith/doubt is the one thing you better not have…but certainty is what your belief structure is built on in that belief structure.

  • R Vogel

    You had me until Manifest Destiny. I’m not sure I follow that analogy. Can you elaborate?

    Sidebar: NT Wright is so damn popular that whenever I see NT in print, I think someone is going to quote him. That really annoys me because I think he’s a git. Thank you for not quoting him. End Sidebar

  • It is an intriuging idea, and one that’s been rattling around in my squirrel inhabited brain for several years now.

  • Faster than a congregation leaving worship,, stronger than a never laundered choir robe, able to hurl scripture in a single bound. Its a pew warmer, a wanna be televangelist. It’s Regenerate Man!

  • Roger Morris

    If the pool is full of pee all the time, perhaps there is a problem with the pool – a design fault that attracts pee, makes it too easy to be peed in and too many idiot pee’ers constantly in the pool to ever let it be anything but constantly full of pee? Perhaps then the solution is to leave that pool and go look for another pool that doesn’t have a pee problem or a whole bunch of pee’ers constantly lounging around in it?

  • R Vogel

    Ryan Bell , former 7th Day Adventist Pastor, is doing a Year Without G*d and blogging about it. He was already harboring some pretty serious doubts to begin with so it might not be a great example, but it intriguing to follow nonetheless.

  • Al Cruise

    Good question . What did all those people do before the Bible was available? I won’t even get into the billions of people who live/lived where the Bible isn’t or wasn’t available.

  • R Vogel

    In the evenings he only needs to switch out one letter for his alter (altar?) ego….

  • ha!
    Mild mannered strip club accountant during the day, Hellfire and Brimstone Crusader at night. His weapon? a Bible (its weighted for extra heft)

  • Bobananda Das

    I have no need or desire to ever set foot in a Church ever again. My wife and I have tried out two, extremely liberal churches (compared to us, Obama is a right-leaning conservative), and have found there was was nothing there for us. There was a very active social scene at both Churches, but we never encountered anyone who was even remotely like someone we would find compatible in an “outside of church” capacity. And the “religion” was mega-lightweight.

    You are finding something there that neither myself nor my wife have any need for.

  • Al Cruise

    One of the difficult problems to deal with though, is some people, especially some of the so called preacher folk, have huge bladders. ie Mark Driscoll, Pat Robertson. It can get very tiring draining the pool and putting fresh water in all the time.

  • jan

    All you need is love. The rest is just commentary.

  • Greg Oliver Sr

    I gave up on churches 8 years ago. I will never give up on the Anointing. First let me tell you the point where I guess my self-excommunication began. The pastor at the last church I attended questioned my questioning of his doctrine. I told him at the time without thinking, “I have it left to God to oversee the Truth for me.” Since that time, I have found myself further and further from the evangelicals, and have found that through looking at things from the 2 greatest commandments quoted by Jesus that I have a sound doctrine that will not allow me to offend “the least of these”. I am at peace with God and man, and run from judgment as fast as I can. More Light, less judgment! Also, I decided some time ago that righteous discernment as it is used today is just judgment with a different name.

  • Mark

    According to the scriptures, God created the World, and all within it, and at every step pronounced it “good.” I am of this world, and a creation of God, and I am not waiting at a bus stop for the next place. The Kingdom of God is here, and now.

  • Mark

    It is a bit of a paradox, isn’t it?

  • Mark

    It must be very difficult being a pastor, and trying to live up to your standards. I mean, it sounds like you believe you have to have certain, unchanging, unchallengeable answers, for yourself and, I assume, for your congregation. But then, the answers do change, don’t they? Slavery was OK, now is not, for one.

    I no longer need my pastor to have all the answers. My reality is that no one does. And most of what I don’t understand, I now realize I don’t need to.

  • exactly

  • I never understand why a text has to be ‘literal’ in order to be true. If I said “the sun set at 7:16pm yesterday”, it might very well be true, but it certainly isn’t literal – the sun does not move, it’s Earth that does.

    Meanwhile, the idea of biblical inerrancy and infallibility is a relatively new concept. Christianity survived for centuries without it, and I doubt their faith and belief in God or Jesus was any less sincere or solid. I can fully believe in my friends’ and families’ testimonies of how God worked in their lives without believing that every single thing they say is literal truth and free of any remote error. It would seem obvious that what they say can never be infallible, because they are only human, but it doesn’t at all take away from God’s evident direction and hand in the events they relate. Why can’t we do the same to the records of the writers in the Bible, many of which did not even achieve biblical status until centuries after they were written?

  • Literal =/= certain.
    Things can be non-literal and certain.
    Things can be literal and uncertain.
    The two words are not the same at all.

    /pedant

  • I like you.

  • Now no one has any reason to leave.

  • Ah yes, I agree with that, then.

    I’ve just too often heard people talk about how we should edit/revise Christianity – even rewrite the Bible – purely for the sake of ‘relevance’ and being appealing to various groups of people, which to me is intellectually dishonest and defeats the purpose of it still being Christianity- one might as well just create a new religion, then, since it requires the assumption that any truth in Christianity is arbitrary. But if you’re referring to changing the approach and how Christianity should be lived out, then yes, I have no argument there.

  • Well, we’ve had different experiences then. The religion in my current church is far from lightweight; we’re focused a lot on living what Jesus actually taught, i.e. that whole thing about loving your neighbour, loving your enemies, taking care of the poor and needy, bringing justice to the oppressed, etc. It’s challenged and enriched my spiritual life in a way my previous conservative church never did. It makes me guilty in a good way (e.g. for being a jerk to people) while affirming my humanity and equal worth to others and pushing me to want to live a life that would make Jesus proud; vs how most of what my previous church accomplished was to make me guilty in a bad way (e.g. for being gay) and angry and hating everyone and wanting to kill myself.

    My current church provided a lot of much-needed spiritual healing and a support network of friends all genuinely seeking to fulfill the Bible’s call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, and if it weren’t for them I know I’d be in a much worse place right now. My previous experiments with secular groups didn’t have what I needed. So I’m glad you don’t have a need for that kind of community, but there are lots of us who do.

  • Julie

    That may be true, but what I often hear is that if one can’t
    take the Bible literally, one can’t be certain of anything in it and therefore it cannot be trusted. So, I ask: Why must one have certainty to have faith?

  • Guy Norred

    The more I hear that, the more convinced I am that the over riding issue is fear.

  • Yeah – the whole point of faith is that you *don’t* have certainty. With certainty there is no faith.

  • Andy

    Yes. If you are certain of something, no faith is needed.

  • Brandon Roberts

    I don’t hate the church but I think that you can praise God anywhere. And I rarely ever go anymore and no I don’t see anything wrong with that

  • Chris Eyre

    You sound as if you’re in a good place. It’s probable that I’ll stick with Anglican, as there’s a wide choice of “flavour” or congregations, and the denomination (if not this particular congregation) is theologically broad.
    I may, of course, find that the Big Guy tells me to move somewhere else in due course, but I think there’s a decent probability I’ll be sticking where I am. It does some really good outreach…

  • Kim Qitqat Brechtel

    I don’t consider myself to be Christian, mostly because I don’t want to b clumped with those who profess to be christian but have taken the lessons of Jesus OUT of the equation. I happen to like he lessons of Jesus Worthy of trying to live by. And I work to call them out……

  • Kim Qitqat Brechtel

    paul is the one who wanted the churches…..Jesus didn’t care!

  • Jill

    Sorry, I try not to include buzzwords in my comments, but they occasionally show up anyway.

  • Gary Roth

    Jesus said something about “casting pearls before swine.” I think that’s what he meant. He wasn’t talking about not proclaiming the Gospel to “those” people, or engaging in conversation with someone who actually wanted to talk about it – he was talking about guys that already have their minds made up, and just want to pee in the pool. I agree – giving up on something because a lot of people out there misuse it is foolish. What are you going to replace it with? It’s like saying, “there’s this wonderful drug out there that relieves pain and is a real life-saver, but I’m not going to use it, because it might be misused” (oh, wait – they’re doing that!) In this case, though, we’re talking about something that’s central to life, the core of what we are. Give that up because some jerks have tried to take over the label?
    Some say that they have given up on church because of it. Also foolish. The fact is, you can’t just go out in the woods and get it (ticks, yes, a good, healthy relationship with God, no!). You need other people, which is why Jesus said he’s there “where two or three gather in my name.” Two or three others who want to explore this relationship with God helps keep you honest. My last church was down south, where if some guy had an argument with the pastor, organist, or sexton, he’d start his own “church,” usually comprised of himself and whatever family members he could cajole into hearing him pontificate. They preached a lot of stuff you’d never recognize as remotely “Christian.” That’s what we’re stuck with, when we’re by ourselves, meditating on a log in the woods. We need others to hold us accountable, and to, now and then say to us, “WTF?”
    Thanks for the post, John. Keep it up!

  • Gary Roth

    The problem is, there are enough jerks out there, that all the pools have pee in them. I should know – used to be a lifeguard! Uck! The solution isn’t to keep jumping in other pools, hoping for better results. Just clean your own pool, and keep guard. The pool analogy breaks down, because what we’re talking about isn’t pools – it’s that which gives us our basic understanding of who we are and out place in the world. You don’t change that like changing underwear (sorry for the new analogy), like, “Well, I used to believe in a triune God, and in the resurrection, but I didn’t like some of the other people who said they believed that, so now I’m into reincarnation – let them come back as ants so I can squish them.” The fault design may not be in the pool, but in those who keep wanting to pee in whatever pool they get in. You know, the warm water relaxes their bladder, and they haven’t the sense or decency to go before they get in the pool.

  • Gary Roth

    DC hasn’t responded yet, but I think the “Manifest Destiny” allusion was about the fact that many in this country had this idea of Manifest Destiny – in fact, it ruled the way we dealt with indigenous people. The idea was that everything west of the east coast, all the way to the Pacific Ocean, was ours by right, no matter who happened to be living there. God had given it to us, so we had a right to take it. To understand the history of the west as just brave pioneers, setting out to make a new life for themselves, without understanding some of the idea of why they did it – this darker side, that they had a right to take it from the folks already living there – is to not understand the settlement of the West at all.
    The point of connection is that often the church doesn’t see this other side of Jesus – that he was, first and foremost, Jewish. What he taught was largely in keeping with the teachings of Judaism, and had been taught by other rabbis as well. I disagree with DC that Jesus was just calling or a return to Torah, to prepare for the coming Son of Man to throw out the Romans. The NT scriptures suggest otherwise, and it being the case that that’s all we know of Jesus, and it’s doubtful that his disciples would have turned his teachings on their head, it seems likely that he understood himself as this “Son of Man,” but had little interest in throwing out the Romans – in fact, he seemed to preach against that idea.
    I don’t think Jesus set out to start a new religion. Neither did his followers. They saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish Messiah – just not the one the Jewish people were expecting.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Ditto “church discipline,” which sounds like a good thing but turns out to be a way to kick people out that are doing things you think they shouldn’t do, like accepting their gay child.

    I’m sort of thankful that my church has two names–Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)–so I can say, I am a disciple of Jesus; I want to learn from him and follow him and do my best to act like he did.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    I’m not entirely sure Paul would recognize the churches of today, any more than Jesus would. When Paul talked about churches he was talking about assemblies of people seeking to follow Jesus together. A lot of time the “churches” he was writing to were gatherings small enough to fit in one person’s house. They certainly wouldn’t have been our gigantic personality cult, building-worshipping megachurches.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Maybe it would be better to wall THEM off in their own, increasingly polluted, pool, while the rest of us take portable pools out into the world and follow Jesus like Jesus wanted to be followed…

  • Gary Roth

    The Jewish rabbis always talk about the “written Torah” and the “living Torah.” Both, they say, are necessary, but the “living Torah” is more important. The scriptures help give us the long view – to see how people have understood God over time. Some of it has been good, some not to good. It helps us to see the results of these “theologies” as well. It also gives us material to look at to compare our faith with – such as the sayings of Jesus. All of that is important. Without it, we’re pretty much starting from scratch, and left with our own, rather untested, ideas. The “living Torah” is even more important – it is the living context of our faith, where “the rubber meets the road.” It is where “two or three are gathered,” to discuss how our faith impacts our lives (like here), and how the wisdom which has been passed down through the ages speaks to our situation today. So both are important.
    Feeling God in the sunset, tears of compassion, etc. is important. In theological circles, that’s called “natural revelation.” But there is much that we can’t know about God from that. The evidence from natural revelation is unclear – as Luther said, I may be walking in the woods, enjoying my little talk with God, and hear a twig snap behind me, and think, “It’s a bear, and I’m about to die!” Suddenly, I wonder about the God I’ve been talking to – maybe it was a setup, and he/she/it is not such a kind and loving God! That’s where I need the testimony of scripture to help me understand, through Jesus, what kind of a God I’m dealing with.

  • Gary Roth

    They did have the Torah.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    Well, and nobody takes every single verse of the Bible as equally literally true, regardless of how much they claim they do. I suspect that more than a few of the people out there noisily proclaiming that the Bible is absolutely inerrant in every detail are wearing cotton/polyester blend shirts as they proclaim the literal truth of Genesis 1; they are enjoying their shrimp scampi while insisting that gay people are an abomination; they ignore the Biblical commands to care for the poor while they make their dioramas showing Adam and Eve riding dinosaurs.

  • Gary Roth

    As a pastor, I don’t take everything in the Bible literally, and understand that it is neither infallible nor inerrant. It is witness – and that is the way it understands itself. It has contradictions in it, things that are not factually accurate, and uses a great deal of symbolic language to express itself. It is not “perverted” to claim it has inaccuracies. It is to claim an “incarnational” theology concerning scripture – that, while it reveals God, it is also fully human. You, like everyone else that approaches scripture, choose what you will believe as “true” and what is not – which is why we have so many denominations, let alone the various heterodox understandings of the faith. A fully “literal” reading of the scriptures is impossible – everyone picks and chooses, even literalists – who, incidentally, disagree with one another as well over the meaning of many scriptures. No, the Bible should not be used in smorgasbord style. It is witness to what he is doing and has done; like other witnesses, each writer has their own perspective. In the whole, we come to a better understanding of who God is, and how he acts.

  • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

    Certainty is the literal opposite of faith… I don’t believe one can be certain and have faith at the same time.

  • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

    Preach the good word, sir.

  • cjs

    To preface, I am a gay man, raised by formerly conservative (emphasis on “formerly”) Christians (United Methodist–>Lutheran) and a man who experienced his fair share of abuse. I still struggle with keeping from lashing out at everyone who calls him or herself a Christian — including LGBT Christians — as seriously, there are many allies identifying with this faith and alienating people does nothing to improve the world.

    Moving away from the “I’ve been hit over the head with a Bible and hurt” thing, I’ve tried myself finding a progressive congregation, and trying different denominational flavors of Christianity. Trying to find that faith again. In 2010, I experienced a horrible congregation on Easter Sunday (where part of my family goes to, mainly went to satisfy the wishes of elderly grandparents and save their feelings) when my partner and I were there. I felt hurt, but still tried to seek out some sort of reconciliation with Christianity. There is good in it, and I won’t deny what many people of faith have done to make this world better.

    Honestly, though, when I pray? I feel *nothing*. And I can’t exactly believe in the trinity, the whole “blood for our sins,” original sin (I don’t think babies start out with notches against them) or other concepts I learned in confirmation/catechism classes. I feel uncomfortable with the concept of trying to join a community (a lot of it dealing with extreme social anxiety, requiring a lot of deep breathing and chamomile tea/capsules) of faith, of any sort (UUs included). The putting down of one’s information as a visitor in order to be contacted later makes me nervous.

    I lean toward believing in a supreme being, a creator — perhaps pointing me towards Deism. I find value by reading the Gospels, the only four books of the Bible that matter to me. But I find value in readings from other faiths. And I find two things that inspire me: A lyric in M83’s “Midnight City” comes to mind — “the city is my church” — I find wonder in the life of cities, of the communities that build themselves up, street art, street festivals, working to make things better in areas that once were abandoned. And the other? Forests.

    I do not see my dis-labeling myself as a Christian as something about “peeing in a pool” at this point in my life, though horrible people still do horrible things in the name of God. At this point, it’s an honest matter of having explored my personal beliefs, and stating that I can’t believe as I used to — not because of some notion that all Christians and all Christian institutions are douchebags.

    May you all find happiness on your personal journeys.

    (As to “formerly” conservative Christians — my parents now attend a liberal Disciples of Christ congregation and are completely accepting of me and my partner.)

  • nicole cushing

    I’m not sure I understand what the big deal is. I left religion several years ago and have been far happier since. If people are happier without Christianity, shouldn’t everyone (including Christians) be happy FOR them, too?

  • Hello all, I have really enjoyed this conversation. I have to play the middle road here again. For me what I want to experience in my community is where we can allow each other our own path. Where we can think from a literal perspective or from the smorgasbord and know that only our actions matter, only how we live and follow matters. I think differently than Mr Nobody and many others but his conversation has been respectful and open to listening. I don’t see why we have to change anyone’s mind. When we judge each others journey then we are also judged. All I know is that old way is really not working. That way marginalizes the other and prevents open dialogue. I want to finally be free to express what I think and listen to others as well. Thanks everyone for participating in a fairly non-judgmental conversation here. Let’s keep moving in this direction and continue to be open to letting others be different than we are. I think it’s going to pay off!

  • You would think so. But there are some within and outside the faith that don’t want to be happy unless everyone thinks just like the,…OR at least can have a handle on control of their ultimate destiny.

    Personally, I find such endeavors an exercise in futility.

  • JenellYB

    I hate to sound like a member of the tin foil hat club, but….
    What more effective way to destroy a religion (or many other things) than to orchestrate it’s destruction from within? To influence it from within to become something so offensive, disgusting, absurd, and repulsive that no decent, reasonable, thinking and caring person would want anything to do with it?

    The rise of the influence of and further extreme rightward tilt within American Christianity cannot be separated from the further extreme rightward tilt within American politics and a major portion of our conservative leaning presence in our society.

    I’ve had to wonder, in considering the massive wealth being accumulated by the “religious ministries” on what I’ve come to call the “religious entertainment industry,” the now massive industry of Christian tv and radio networks and channels, the “super star” preachers and mega-churches, how that many ordinary people can be donating that much money to them, in contrast to the financial crisis many actual churches in our communities are struggling just to survive, losing members, facing budget crisis as donations decline.

    Could the same big money interests backing the right wing political and social trends be backing the “religious entertainment industry” as well? Such influences in right wing politics and social thinking as Ayn Rand and her Objectivism philosophy, , the Koch brothers with their connections to the John Birch Society, all staunchly atheist, vehemently, even militantly atheist.

  • nullhyp0thesis

    That doesn’t square with Luke 14:23: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

    How is this a message to “follow Jesus in love”?

  • Robert H.

    Like it or not… there are no such things as fairies, demons, angels, gods or flying spaghetti monsters.

  • The biggest problem here, in my long-held opinion, is that people conflate Christianity the FAITH from Christianity the MAN-MADE RELIGION. And yes, by that I *do* mean “organized religion,” the man-made rules intended to enforce compliance and control behavior rather than the one-on-one relationship with God that SHOULD take precedence. People are abandoning the faith because too many people who claim to adhere to it aren’t actually adhering to the FAITH, they’re adhering to the RELIGION.

    That being said, I agree entirely that the best response to those religious zealots who claim to know better than you do who God is is quite simple: “fuck ’em.” They’re just as human, they’re no more or less capable of educating themselves than you are, and if they’re going to proceed to tell you what’s right and wrong, you tell them right back. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t give in. That’s what Jesus told us to do. I’m sure there were plenty of people who felt beaten down by the Pharisees in His time, and He beat them right back and, in modern terms, “trolled” them so hard that they literally conspired to kill him. And that’s the example we’re supposed to live UP to! Don’t listen to them, correct them. Set them straight. They hold no power over you or your relationship with God. Nothing can. Take comfort in that fact.

  • Your disbelief does not make anything less real.

  • Al Cruise

    I agree. Unfortunately outsiders are blind to see the walls, and can look straight through them to the water. And to them water is water.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    True. But I wonder: If more of us were out there with our portable pools and clean water, would they be better able to recognize the difference between true living water and the pool Mark and Pat and their ilk have polluted?

  • Josh Magda

    Hey Al, good to see you.

    Nothing substantive to offer, just popping in for a witticism break.

    *clears throat*

    “310 comments later, all these pool analogies are making me go off the deep end!!!”

  • nullhyp0thesis

    I do believe that Elizabeth’s point is that she has taken this part of the bible seriously and believes that she has interpreted the state of the world to be a sign from god that we are in the end times. People like this scare me.

  • OffCenter Larry

    Wow. Somebody who “gets it”. I’m still a Christian. I just like to say that those pee-ers are NOT Christ-ian. They don’t get it. They take “seven days” literally, but not “feed the poor”? Nah. They have cherry-picked the religion. Hell, I don’t even “follow” the O.T. Too much hate therein. Jesus talked about LOVE. He loved everybody. Modern Christians (I’m thinking Republicans hiding behind Christian rhetoric, but I don’t want to go all political) don’t love women, blacks, young people, or poor people. And “God help you” if you’re more than one of those!

  • Mark Dooner

    Some of these “Christians” were never truly Christians. Never gave their lives over to Christ for His will. Jesus said we would be persecuted and we are in more than one way. One current way is the lgtabc agenda and the liberal media’s backing of un-Christlike behavior. You would think that 50% of the population is practicing immoral sex, when only a small 2% are, but they are very loud. Stand up for yourself and be proud of Jesus teaching. this world is a mess because many have walked away from God.

  • Brandon Roberts

    Ok. And I honestly believe that church isn’t necessary for praising god that it can be done anywhere

  • Mark Dooner

    Did not mean to not mention immoral sex of the hetero-sexual nature. Sin is sin, and the Bible never changes.

  • Jeff Preuss

    We gay Christians have not walked away from God. The Bible never changes? It’s been translated and re-translated for years, altered by others with their own “agendas” – look at the Living Bible for an example.

    You do not get to decide if someone is a true Christian – that’s up to the individual believer and God.

  • bonj100

    Many of these “Christians” would turn Jesus away from their door because He loves all gay and straight alike. But you can call yourself a Christian and not TRULY be one. Christian has become nothing more than a label, instead of what it was intended to be – a way of life. Christ, the original Christian, did not judge because He knew that was not His place. If only we could all be a little more Christ-like in our Christianity.

  • Guy Norred

    God never changes but the Bible is not God.

  • I have to admit that I found the post and the comments a bit… well, sad. I could not help but think of the verses in Hebrews (10:24-25): “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near”.The church is not supposed to generate all this… angst. It is supposed to be there to give us “stimulation toward love and good deeds”, and “encouragement”… the fact that it is failing at that in so many people’s experience is an illustration of how damaged it is. But as a gay Christian myself, I find that such communion, fellowship, (all those church-y words) is an important part of my spiritual growth.

    It is terrible to experience that the church has been poisoned as badly as it has been… but I also believe that it is a institution that God established in history. I’ll illustrate my conservative roots: the church has been under attack by the forces of evil (or whatever you want to call the not Good/God/Love forces of the world) since its inception. Perhaps working within the church to renew its perspective and recreate it as the body of Christ is (or will be) ultimately futile. But it is nonetheless something that many of us feel called to do.

  • Al Cruise

    Yes totally agree with you. By no means should give up or quit. Just need to vent sometimes. And Thank You! you speak wisdom.

  • Al Cruise

    “Off the deep end”…………. nice pun!

  • Bones

    Unless it applies to polygamy, eating shellfish, wearing clothes with different materials, women dressing as men, killing unbelievers, genocide, mental illness as demonic possession, geocentricity, young earth creation, incest, slavery, taking war brides, cutting off your wife’s hand if she punches your opponent’s balls, planting more than one crop in a field, mixing cattle, killing your kids for cursing, killing witches, whores and people who worship other Gods, giving all your money to the poor, divorce for domestic violence, capital punishment and don’t forget to love your enemy.

    But the Bible never changes.

  • Mark McRoberts

    John I like what you are saying. I just don’t know. I’m planning on leaving the Methodist Church if in 2016 the conservatives have their way and the UMC becomes all about the law in our dicipline that the conservatives in the church control and prosecute and impoverish pro LGBT Pastors. I just can’t be a part of supporting a church who conducts “witch” hunts. And heck I’m the last of my family who was one of three founding members of the Church I’m 5th generation and my Grandson is 7th. I’m just done with my religion but not my faith. They can’t take Jesus from me I’m just going to quit my UMC religion.

  • Robert H.

    If you have any evidence for the existence of fairies, demons, angels, gods or flying spaghetti monsters, please provide it.

  • Robert H.

    Religion doesn’t make any sense.

  • Robert: We get it: Christian are idiots. Stop now.

  • DonRappe

    The collection of writings we refer to as the “Bible”, both the original “Hebrew Bible” and the later “Christian Bible” were both collected well after the foundation of the Church. Thus, the Church not only can be so founded, it was so founded.

  • DonRappe

    I’m pretty sure it was either Sartre or Camus who said (undoubtedly in French) that Hell is other people.

  • L’Enfer, c’est les autres.

    JP Sartre.

  • If you have any evidence to prove they don’t exist, it’s on you to provide it. You made the point, the burden of proof is on you.

  • 2%? Does that include rapists? Of course not. instead let’s ignore an authentic immoral sexual practice one that causes harm, fear and trauma. instead condemn people who prefer to fall in love with those of their own gender

  • It doesn’t matter what I believe… or what YOU believe, for that matter. I cannot prove the existence of God, and you cannot DISprove the existence of God. Simple as that.

  • DonRappe

    Thanks.

  • DonRappe

    Sorry about that. I’m pretty sure that hymnbooks and psalters are the natural grandparents of the Bible. If it doesn’t make us want to sing, it may not be inspired 🙂

  • billdrayton

    I was at one point an evangelical Christian who was hiding in the closet and not aware of the rhetoric, aimed at the gay community. But then coming out in November 2011 was like being born again and having the scales falling from my eyes so I could see. I have been fortunate recently in that I have joined a very loving congregation. They accept me for who I am. They believe that knowing God loves you is more important than anything else. Has this cancelled out all the pain and hurt I have experienced through the response of homophobic parts of the church where I am consigned to hell for “choosing” to be gay and have a gay “lifestyle”? I would say: Not yet, but it will eventually. I can quite understand why so many decide that Christianity is not worth it and become secularist and atheist. Before, I often used to say to such people: I envy you. It is good to know that we who are gay and being persecuted are in good company with Jesus.

  • Bob Hutton

    You need have no fears, Mr Shore. It’s all in line with the sovereignty of God. Jesus taught that all the people given to Him by His Father will believe in Him – (John 6 v 37) .

    Every single one of God’s elect, given to Jesus, will repent of thier sins and accept Christ, not one will fail to do so.

    Moreover, the Bible does predict that before the 2nd coming of Christ there will be a great falling away of people from the faith as professing Christians reject the faith that they once claimed to believe in – 2nd Thessalonians 2 v 3.

    Regards

    Bob Hutton, a Christian evangelist.

  • It’s called progress away from medieval thinking.

    Regards,
    Nicholas King, an atheist.

  • Sharks are attracted to piss almost as much as they are to blood, or so I’ve been told.

    Come to think of it, my source for this might be Terry Pratchett’s Nation which, though it’s a wonderful wonderful novel, is perhaps not the best source for science. But I think I’ve also seen it somewhere else.

    TRiG.

  • Bob Hutton

    You are absolutely right, Mark. Many of these “Christians” made “decisions” while attending “churches” that are nothing more than social clubs.

    I know a Baptist “Church” in Broadstairs, England (just a mile and half from where I live) that is packed every Sunday – BUT they don’t teach repentance and encourage people to believe that Jesus loves them “Just as they are”. Consequently, a “decision” based on such false teaching is likely to fall away just as quickly as it appeared.

  • Teresa Jean

    The way I see it is that Christianity is about your relationship with God so I’m a bit confused on how what someone else is doing with their relationship affects yours. Also, when people talk about Christianity I’m getting the impression that they are talking about the institutions that have grown from other followers of Jesus and not a personal relationship with Christ. Yes, there are many who are toxic to the LGBT community and there are some individuals who, it seems, just don’t like the idea of gay men having sex because it’s icky and are using their religion as a vehicle to do harm but if we really read and study the Bible we can tell they are full of shit. To use the pool analogy, they aren’t peeing in my pool as my relationship with Christ is fine. They are peeing in their own.

  • Amy

    I’m Catholic and on the verge of walking away for good. In 2006 I began having debilitating pelvic and abdominal pain. I was told I needed to have a hysterectomy @ age 36. My parish priest told me that this pain wasn’t a good enough reason to lose my fertility at such a young age. His answer affected me profoundly, but I had the surgery and stayed in the church.

    I started paying attention to politics during he debate about the ACA. I saw that my church was willing to throw everything under the bus in order to prevent secular companies from having to cover birth control. I read so many lies in the bulletin in 2011 & 2012 to try and influence people to vote GOP. I began to question the church’s teaching on BC, abortion and same sex marriage. All of the hypocrisy and hate coming from the right toward the president horrified me. The lack of compassion and the vilification of the poor sickens me. It became more and more apparent to me that this is in no way, shape or form what Jesus had taught. I began to see how easily people are manipulated through religion.

    I think I still believe in God, but I sure as heck have lost all faith in organized religion.

  • Alliecat04

    It strikes me as bitterly hilarious that a man who has thrown away his own fertility for no good reason (since the Bible’s only word on the subject is in Titus, which states that a bishop should by the husband of one wife) would have anything to say to you on the subject.

    Not all organized religions are the same. Some are extremely bullshitty. That’s why the world even has Protestants, because other people noticed the same things you’re noticing. Now the Protestants themselves are mostly a hot mess and we have groups like nalt Christians protesting the Protestants. There’s no magic that makes an organized religion – if you and another person are religious and you decide to meet regularly, bam, you’re organized. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in his name…

  • Alliecat04

    You would think that 100% of Christians were bigoted, ignorant nitwits who wouldn’t speak to Jesus if he sat next to them at the church breakfast, but you’d be wrong. It’s a much smaller percentage, they are just very loud.

    Dude, get saved. Start by not thinking about how YOU are being persecuted. Jesus was stripped and beaten and hung from a cross and he didn’t whine as much as you do when absolutely not one bad thing has happened to you. Then when you aren’t thinking about yourself, maybe you will have the free time to start thinking about your neighbor who IS being persecuted. Jesus calls you to help him. That means that Jesus wants you, yes you, to speak up for gay people and help them achieve full rights. I have told you now, so when you stand before the throne of God you can’t claim you never knew.

  • Andy

    Also, he was probably brown-skinned, not white. He spoke about the evils of things like greed. He encouraged people to pay their taxes and care for the needy. Fox News would have a field day with him.

  • Andy

    The burden of what? I’m sorry, I don’t know what that is. I just wander into conversations, make assertions, and tell other people that they have to prove me wrong instead of just accepting my claims.

  • Linnea912

    Hey Mark, I’m also UM, and attend a small congregation that is totally affirming and welcoming. I don’t know what’ll happen to us in 2016 if the conservatives get their way. I hope and pray we can continue to more or less fly under the radar (the Annual Conference here is pretty GLBT-friendly) and offer a safe haven for GLBTs and allies.

    As long as my congregation is progressive and welcoming, I’ll remain UM, at least nominally.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    If it’s any comfort, I’m starting to get people contacting me to say they are returning to Christianity. So hopefully it’s all just part of the process.

    I have long thought that mainline and progressive Christians were falling into the trap of.allowing “conservative” Christians to set the terms of the conversation. We’re in this unhealthy co-dependent relationship which is often highly reactive. What we need, really is to be doing and building our own thing without too much concern over what the other side is doing. I think people are ready to hear a positive version of Christianity that can stand on it’s own.

    At some point when breaking a co-dependent dynamic, you inevitably realize that you are waiting for the other person to agree with you and are being held hostage by their refusal to do so. I think this is where we are with the “conservative” church. What can be said has been said. All we can do now is follow God rather than men and make something beautiful in the world as a result.

    But John is right; don’t let them in. God’s already secured the victory for himself and doesn’t actually need our help. Let someone else put in “tending to fools” duty for a while. It’s a process, after all

  • Meltone

    I find very few progressives left in the pews in my area. The few passionate progressive churched folks I know are frustrated with their churches. The witness of Christians at both the personal and corporate level regarding social and theological issues in combination with a very confused and disconcerting cosmology pushes them away from “church.” I asked a friend who had dropped out of church after years of active participation to share with me why he left. He said that he came to the conclusion that participation in the local church was a hinderance to his spiritual growth. I asked the same question to another friend who said: “I believe the Christian Church has outlived its right to exist.” I do see some folks coming back to the church but few are truly progressive.

  • jmjm208

    There is no such thing as a gay Christian. The Bible clearly states that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (1st Cor 6 v 9). Therefore you need to repent of your perversion and submit to Christ as Lord and Saviour – or face Hellfire when you die.

  • jmjm208

    Gays don’t need “rights” they need repentance.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Meltone, please explain further “The witness of Christians at both the personal and corporate level regarding social and theological issues in combination with a very confused and disconcerting cosmology…”

  • Rick Faircloth

    Rebecca, would you clarify what you mean by “a positive version of Christianity that can stand on its own” ?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Teresa, would you please explain how you have read and interpreted the Bible so that it supports LGBT?

  • Rick Faircloth

    No, Nicholas, Bob is correct. It’s called abandoning Jesus because some have begun to find His teachings unacceptable. Those who are falling away are like those described in John 6:60: “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” And, John 6:66, where the Bible states, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

  • And yet, it seems that your god does change, depending on which branch of Christianity you ask. Some consider him unchanging and immutable, others consider him changing from the old testament doom and judgment deity into a more forgiving deity after the crucifixion.

    Personally, I find it all rather disrespectful. If you cannot act as a moral human being without a celestial dictator telling you to do so, you are not a moral person to begin with.

  • The idea of divinity is fluid, constantly evolving, and has been since man first hit upon the idea that we are not alone, and that someone must have had a hand in our being here.
    Morality is a cultural entity. Yes some tie it in to God, but it is a loose link at best. Morality is also subject to debate. Although most agree on some moral concepts, most also disagree on others.

  • Guy Norred

    I would say that our understanding of God changes.

    As to your second paragraph, I will give you very little argument.

  • I would call it less of an understanding and more of a cultural interpretation. Culturally, the concept of god’s plan and purpose will shift to suit the emergent cultural paradigm.

  • Which is your interpretation. Were I still a believer, I would probably agree with you.

    One of the key problems I have with religion is that there is no consensus. Each branch of a given faith emphasizes some aspect more than all the others in that given faith tradition. And the kicker is that each one is convinced they have the true interpretation.

  • And thank you for committing the No True Scotsman fallacy. As well as playing the persecution card.

  • Andy

    A lot of people around here are not “convinced [we] have the true interpretation.” In fact, in this regard, many of us are on your side. Open-mindedness and tolerance are very important to us.

  • Andy

    Our understanding of theology, like science, has evolved and will continue to. Some ideas that were once held as gospel — both scientific and theological — have since been disregarded. The curious mind is never satisfied, always wanting to know more, or to consider a possibly better explanation.

    “If you cannot act as a moral human being without a celestial dictator telling you to do so, you are not a moral person to begin with.”

    For sure, most of us agree on this.

  • Guy Norred

    There is truth in your statement. Culture absolutely affects all of our theology. But as you point out earlier, there are many, many interpretations. I do not believe any is completely right. I certainly don’t believe myself to be completely right–just as close to right as I know how to be. I do not agree with everything I thought last year, much less any further back, and I suspect in the future, I may find that something I believe right now is wrong.

  • Just as the idea of divinity is fluid, so too is the idea of religion. It is a mistake to assume that all religious thought and practice is rigid and convinced, just as it is a mistake to consider that all religious partakers are thus.

  • BarbaraR

    Every meaningful experience common to humans (and, I suppose, dogs and hamsters too) is different. Some people love to eat, others eat only for fuel. Some reject the entire institution of marriage while others fully embrace it. I know people who would do nothing but attend school full-time to learn; others will never read another book. I see no reason that religion and faith needs to be cookie-cutter precise and exactly the same for everyone.

  • Guy Norred

    Not only does it not need to be, I don’t think it can be.

  • I don’t think so either. Why? Because people won’t fit into precise cookie-cutter personas. I’m glad. I don’t think the world could handle everyone being just like me.

  • Guy Norred

    Too many more of you and we might be in trouble, but a few more might be a good thing. 😉

  • Jeff Preuss

    That reminds me of what was written in my Mom’s highschool yearbook: “Thank God someone like Mona came along…but God help us if another one like her comes along.”

  • If one wishes to claim that a faith is the absolute truth for how the universe works, then there should be some precision. The fact that religion continually splinters lends more credence to my stance of atheism than it does to your stance of theism.

  • Does that include the commands to murder an entire city if there is one unbeliever in it?

    Or how about the one that says a rape victim must either marry her rapist (provided said rapist pays blood money for deflowering the father’s property)?

  • What you call interpretation, atheists like me call “cherry-picking”. You pick the verses in scripture that reinforce your pre-existing biases, prejudices, hatreds, and fears.

  • Andy

    Did you mean me specifically, or all Christians? Because the latter would be painting with a broad brush, and if the former, I’d like to see some evidence of that.

  • Where would you like to start? With Christians who claim we can ignore the Old Testament, except for the 1st version of the 10 Commandments and the Levitican law against male-on-male sex? Or the Christians who pick the verses about damnation and God’s wrath while ignoring the commands to love your fellow human beings as you love yourself? Or as an added bonus, Christian women who ignore the commands in the New Testament for women to remain silent members of the church under the belief that their God would not limit their choices?

    Take a stroll through the Evangelical, Catholic, and Progressive Christian boards here on Patheos (as I do weekly). See what verses are picked out from scripture and how they’re used. And then find the verses in the Bible that openly contradict what the writer is using that 1st verse to say.

    Or if you would prefer one more example: Premillenial Dispensationalists. There is an entire group of Christians who think the Rapture will occur first, followed by the Tribulation, and then the 1000 year reign of Christ (Tim LaHaye is the most well-known of this group). Here’s the thing: it’s based on splicing and reinterpreting scripture from at least half a dozen books (primarily Revelations and Daniel) to fit a narrow point of view. The problem is that much of what PD Christians do is cherry-pick verses out of context and/or come up with a different interpretation from what the text actually says.

    All religions cherry-pick. All of them.

  • Andy

    I do none of those things. Does that make me not a Christian? I think you’re painting with a broad brush.

  • Andy

    I’m game, except I’m a tenor 2, not an alto, and not a very good one at that, so I’ll need a lot of people to drown me out.

  • Do you follow all the laws of the Old Testament? If not, why? Consider for a moment that your Christ actually states that all those who do not hold to the Law (as in the Mosaic/Levitican laws) shall be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven?

    I paint with a broad brush because I have the experience to do so, both from my time in the faith and from my years outside the faith looking in.

  • Andy

    If you want an explanation based on another verse, try Matthew 5:17. Not going to say I necessarily agree with it, but there it is.

    If you were turned off by oppressive Christianity, I’m sorry. (Note: I’m not out to convert anyone or “win [anyone] back”, but I am continually miffed by people hating in Jesus’ name.) I’m sorry because I find that antithetical to the greatest commandment. Nothing matters more than that to me.

  • The Law is more than the 10 Commandments (keep in mind there are 3 versions of those). The Law encompasses the sacrificial laws and the everyday living laws. At best Christ could represent a substitute for the sacrificial laws.

    And yet, Christ contradicts the laws many times through his actions and his statements. So one must again wonder: why is there no consistency from a supposedly omniscient deity?

  • scarlettphoenix

    I left – but not because I gave up. I broke up with jesus and fired god because there was evidence that the bible was untrue.

  • BarbaraR

    I think you’ll find that most folks who hang out here don’t take the Bible as absolute literal indisputable truth. There are churches and faiths who teach that it is, that everything happened exactly as it was written (especially in the KJV). Those faiths tend to rely on “Because God said so” and “Satan is putting those thoughts in your head” kinds of explanations when questioned about it.

    We don’t really roll that way here.

  • Bones

    Yes, you’re right.

    And….

  • There’s plenty in the Old Testament to tell you about Yahweh. There are repeated passages regarding this deity’s vanity, its wrath, its inability to allow others to worship something other than it, its bloodthirsty need to dominant all others.

    Basically, the god of the Old Testament acts a lot like Sauron, complete with the One Ring in the form of the Ark of the Covenant.

  • Jack

    I left because all the current research shows that Jesus was either a mythical figure invented by Jewish religious leaders for a variety of political/religious/cultural reasons, not the least of which was the devastating consequences to Judaism accompanying the destruction of Jerusalem 70 AD. OR he was an apocalyptic rabbi fully human preaching a new kingdom of God coming to earth, and by extension the overthrow of the Roman empire, who ran afoul of the Roman leadership for this and was crucified for sedition and buried–his corpse rotting like any ordinary man’s. Decades later his followers began invented everything found in the gospels and they based it all on Old Testament stories, current Greek literature like the Odyssey, and wild tales circulating about various mythical dying/rising gods. The fact that Jesus never wrote anything; that his own numerous prophecies of him returning in the clouds with the angels during the lifetimes of his disciples completely failed; that nothing about his life was written either by Christians OR secular historians for at least a half a century after he supposedly died, despite him causing all this supernatural mayhem at his crucifixion–all this is damning evidence that no such divinity ever existed on earth. This also makes the idea that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead completely invalid.

  • I think that when we make a profession of faith and turn our life over to Jesus that no one or nothing can take that away. I believe the literacy of the Bible. It is all truth. Can I prove it? No maybe not but that is where faith comes in. I my thinking, the Bible does not ask us to do anything but live a moral life and trust God. This is very helpful to me. It means that I have a place where boundaries are set and only good can come from it. My life is not perfect, it is subject to suffering, He never said I wouldn’t, and putting my life in His hands makes me safe. I believe everything that is in His Word so there is no question. I have had contact with people who call themselves Christian who lie, cheat, are mean in every sense of the word and who could care less about others. I do not accept them as Christians. You may say I should not judge but in His Word it is specific about judging the fruit of their lives and if the fruit is rotten then the tree is rotten. Folks can believe what they want, and God does not force us to follow Him and His Word tells us the consequences so whatever you want to do you can. As for me I choose to follow Him as I know He loves me unconditionally, wants only the best for me and is always there if I am in trouble and He helps me when I call out to Him.

  • zaxtervid

    That’s the problem with the concept of “God”. Absolutely anyone can speak for him. You can slice and dice the Bible anyway you want, or claim he “spoke to you” and told you gays must be eliminated from the planet or that we need to go to war. That has always been the case as far as I can tell.