The day I truly became “born again” was the day I quit being a Christian.
I can only imagine that some of those reading these first few words, are only doing so because you had an aneurysm when you read the title and your hand accidentally clicked through the link. If that’s you, please bear with me- it’s not what you think.
You see, during my seminary days I experienced a crisis of faith as isn’t uncommon for seminarians. Between homiletics, hermeneutics, theories on atonement, systematic theology, emergent theology, and the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I had lost sight of nearly everything I had believed coming into seminary– which was especially frightening since I went into seminary thinking that I already knew everything I needed to know. The process of letting go of old theology and old ways of viewing the world without having anything tangible to replace it, left me in a tailspin. My identity, and my faith, were slipping away before me. I didn’t know who I was, wasn’t entirely sure what I believed, and had no idea what label I was supposed to wear. I came to realize how
unfortunate destructive it can be to live under a cultural expectation that everything be labeled, nicely sorted, and placed on the shelf where it belonged.
It’s as if we don’t know what to do with something, unless we know the precise terminology as to what to call it.
For me, I wasn’t sure what to call it, and wasn’t sure I belonged anywhere. I didn’t know what label to wear, and I certainly didn’t know how to neatly compartmentalize everything I was thinking and feeling in such a way that avoided the tension of a shifting worldview. There was no avoiding it, and no getting out of it. People had told me that if I went to seminary the Bible would become more black-and-white, and I did, only to find out it was far more grey than I had ever expected.
It was a true crisis of identity. Until then, I had always self-identified as a Christian, and along with that, all of the theology and doctrine which had been passed down to me. My identity was clear, and doctrine was so spelled out that one was left to wrestle with very few questions. Until then, I was a Christian and I knew exactly what that meant.
But now? Now I didn’t know anymore. I was more convinced than ever that I wanted to follow Jesus, but realized how unfulfilling it had been to blindly follow American Christianity.
In the midst of the tension I met my Pastor friend, Joel, and confided in him about my crisis of faith– which was really more of a crisis of identity, because my faith wasn’t diminished, I just didn’t know what to do with the faith I had. During our conversation, he told me: “It sounds like you are experiencing a reorientation of your faith around the person of Jesus. It sounds like you’re no longer oriented on a tradition, or specific doctrine, but simply oriented on Jesus.”
For the first time in months, I experienced clarity like never before.
I just wanted to follow Jesus, period. I wasn’t interested in the Americanized version, wasn’t interested in black and white fundamentalist thinking, and wasn’t interested in the never ending garbage unfairly gets associated with him.
I just wanted him- because his way seems the best way, the most exciting way, and certainly the most radical way to live.
So, I quit being a Christian so that I could better follow Jesus.
Today, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with the label of Christian and I obviously wouldn’t refuse it, I prefer to self-identify simply as a follower of Jesus which has been tremendously helpful in transforming my life. Here are my reasons:
1. The term Christian means “Christ-like”, and that doesn’t describe me.
Sure, I want to be “Christ-like”, but no matter how hard I try, I’m not. I am broken, insecure, imperfect, flawed… to the core of my being. The only thing I ever found compelling about Calvinism was the concept of total depravity– I get that, because there’s not a single area of my life that’s pure. There’s not an area of my life that is actually “Christ-like”.
Jesus, is everything I am not but everything I wish that I could be. So, if I’m to be completely honest, for me to call myself a Christian would be the sin of dishonesty, because I’m not anything like him. He is totally different than me.
2. The term Christian implies that I have arrived at something, and I haven’t.
Probably a more accurate way to use the term would be to say that “I am trying to become Christian” (Christ-like). But to say I’m already there? I’m not. Anytime I can get just one small area of my life to actually be Christ-like, I celebrate as I look over my shoulder and see 19 other areas of my life that are totally not-like-Christ.
When I think of being a Christian, I get tempted to think I’ve arrived. When I get tempted to think that I’ve arrived, I start acting like I have- which breeds laziness, arrogance, and keeps me disconnected from the broken world around me which hasn’t arrived at anything yet either. I don’t want to separate myself from a broken and messy world- instead, I’d prefer to be right next to everyone else who’s like me (which is all of us) so that I can point towards the one who is gentle, loving, slow to anger, and who will one day clean up what’s messy and fix what’s been broken.
3. The term “Jesus Follower” seems entirely more accurate and appropriate, so that’s how I self-identify.
When you’re following someone, it’s because you can’t get there on your own. It’s because you don’t actually know where you are going, and you have no hope of arrival if you’re not closely following behind someone who actually knows where they’re going. THAT is a far more truthful description of where I am at… I don’t have a clue how to get where I am going, but I’m happy to simply be on the path in the direction of Jesus.
Second, the term follower implies that I am attempting to do something. I so desperately want to be like Jesus- and each day is simply an attempt, as I follow. But, I fail more than I succeed, which proves even more that the title of “Christian” would be completely inaccurate for me to own.
4. When I quit being a Christian so that I could better follow Jesus, the Bible made a lot more sense.
Before my reorientation of faith around Jesus and following his example, I missed a whole lot in scripture. Since my orientation was around doctrine, there seemed to be a reason, excuse, or a loophole for everything. There were justifications for war, violence, the death penalty, greed… but once I reorientated my life around Jesus, I started to pay attention to what he said and take it much more seriously.
Stuff like “turn the other cheek”, “put down your sword”, “love your enemies”, and “whatever you’ve done to the least of these…” started become statements that I never again wanted to avoid, dodge, or explain away as I used to when I was a Christian.
As a Jesus follower, the “red words” become the lifeblood of faith and the compass for daily life. I see all the rest of scripture through the filter of the life, teachings, and example of Jesus.
So, while there’s no running away from a term that’s been here since Antioch, I’m personally not a fan of it for the simple fact that it’s not the best way to describe me.
I’m just a Jesus follower.
A messed up, broken, follower.
And, I’ve grown to be very okay with that.
The first in a 7 part series on the core-convictions of being an Anabaptist.
Anabaptist Core-Conviction #1
“Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer, and Lord. He is the source of our life, the central reference point for our faith and lifestyle, for our understanding of the church, and our engagement with society. We are committed to following Jesus as well as worshiping him.”
[1. Muray, Stuart. The Naked Anabaptist. Herald Press. 2010]
Image (C) Evgeni Dinev, freedigitalphotos.net
My experience in conversing with atheists is they insist that the Bible must be understood in a particular way as they know they can then use it against Christians and their beliefs.
Genesis is a good example. Ive found many to insist that it must be understood literally, as a scientific textbook. End of conversation. They then use that to mock such beliefs. If you then argue that the Bible has different genres, not all historical, then you are accused of trying to ‘explain away difficult parts’. Even if you point out the text itself indicated it is not to be taken literally, eg how can you have a literal 24-hr day without the sun (not ‘created’ until day 4)?, this is also dismissed.
I know Christians often have their own agenda, but it’s obvious so do atheists.
Maybe the passage of time isn’t linked to the sun. In which case I could dismiss that apparent problem as a concept that disqualifies the Genesis creation account as obviously not to be taken literally. IOW, if I think (or want to argue that) the folk(s) who wrote the creation account(s) meant them literally, that particular point doesn’t persuade me that I’m wrong.
Query: how do you know when you are encountering fundamentalist atheists who have plethora of fetid assumptions and festering prejudices?
//My experience in conversing with atheists is they insist that the Bible must be understood in a particular way as they know they can then use it against Christians and their beliefs.//
This is my experience too! Often I think they are in denial about some childhood traumas regarding being exposed to caregivers who were religious addicts. Literal interpretation is all they know and, in my humble opinion, they’ve been hurt by it and that hurt keeps hurting them. They’re looking for somebody to blame for that!! In a pinch you will do!! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/77ee955125b786f64069b7b15b018bbf100604c75d86bfe85f9dc6efc3328349.jpg
I don’t always agree with you, but this post is spot-on.
Even though I’m an anti-theist, I have many Christian friends.These friends all take the bible in the the way you describe. The problem is that there are many Christians that take the bible, especially the old testament, 100% literally and do not make that distinction..
Christians shouldn’t be taking the OT in any way at all. It was decided only a few years after the Crucifixion that gentile converts to Christianity were not at all engaged by OT rules.So unless these fundie “Christians” are recent converts from Judaism, they shouldn’t be bothering with the OT.
“It was decided only a few years after the Crucifixion that gentile converts to Christianity were not at all engaged by OT rules.”
No offense, but you need to study the early christian church more, because this statement simply isn’t true. It wasn’t until about 50 years after jesus’ death that they made the decision to allow gentiles (council of jerusalem). However, there were still sects that practiced jewish law.
So no, it wasn’t decide just a few years.
Seen from a perspective of two thousand years, fifty is “only a few”.
Does it matter if it is “only a few years after” or “only a few decades after”?
I’m a secular humanist, and a fan of Hemant Mehta’s writing, but I have to acknowledge that you make a good point. Teasing a teenager is a bit unnecessarily mean, as well – low-hanging fruit. However, as Walter LeSaulnier points out below, many Christians – especially those of the traditions that this young lady appears to subscribe – do read the Bible in this uncritical, unintelligent manner. But good blog post. Intellectual honesty requires us non-believers to permit our own sacred cows to be gored.
If God was real, you’d think he’d have released The Bible v.III by now, just to clarify a bunch of stuff and to say that things like pedophilia, slavery, and treating women like chattel are no longer cool and tattoos, cutting the sides of your hair, and wearing mixed fabrics are totally fine now… unless God thinks pedophilia, slavery, and treating women like chattel are still cool and he’s still against tattoos, cutting the sides of your hair, and wearing mixed fabrics are out and we’re all sinners bound for hell for even suggesting all humans have certain equal rights… I just don’t know…. hopefully The Bible v. III will clear that all up… But who will be the prophet that writes the Bible v. III – Joel Osteen? Franklin Graham? Ray Comfort? Which human is closest to God and most likely to actually speak for Him? ….OR is this Bible stuff just stories made up by ancient people and we should treat the Bible the same as a book of Greek mythology…?
If God was real, you’d think he’d have released
The whole point of Dr Corey’s article is that it is an error to “believe” that God wrote/writes the Bible. And that this error is particularly egregious coming from atheists who aren’t supposed to believe in the Bible at all.
It is nonsensical for atheists — people who do not believe in God and therefore cannot believe in the Bible — to base any of their argumentation on that Book.
If one’s argument is to point out problems with the Christian doctrine as presented in the Bible, why would one not use it?
Almost all “Christian doctrine” was developed long after tje writing of the books of the New Testament (as well as the books that didn’t make it into the NT). Christ Himself gave us just one single commandment: love God and your fellows.
Clobbertexting is the refuge of the intellectually incompetent.
It is absurd for atheists to define “Christian doctrine” by any process whatsoever… because there is no such thing. Christianity has been marked by divergent doctrines since its inception.
The same error is made by anyone who speaks of “Christian doctrine”, but it is particularly egregious coming from atheists, who also often take note of the division among Christians, as though thinking and debating are forbidden to persons of faith.
It is understandable that a “person of faith” believes that their own doctrine is the “truth”. That is intrinsic to faith: one “knows without proof”.
OTOH, an atheist declares having no faith, and therefore may not generalize about “Christian doctrine” without documenting the generalization. Good luck with that! Attempting to define “Christian doctrine” leads atheists to exactly the error that Dr Corey’s article underscores: clobbertexting!
In any serious conversation about “beliefs”, we quickly find that there are almost as many Christianities as there are Christians. Progressive Christians have long since accepted each other’s differing approaches to Christ. So… How does an atheist acquire the authority to define “Christianity”?
You certainly may debate any one person’s beliefs. No problem! But you are debating a strawman if you define the arguments against which you then debate.
Sometimes you have to put on the armor of absurdity to fight the absurd.
Historically, Christians have placed the Bible at the foundation of an ongoing body of written tradition, which seeks to clarify and reinterpret its principles for each new generation. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches still insist that it is the Church, rather than the Bible, that defines Christian doctrine. The Anglican Church and its offshoots take a similar approach, but with a more complex interplay between church, tradition, and scripture.
While it’s true that fundamentalists take a radically different approach, that approach is much more recent. Even the original Protestant reformers–despite all their talk about “sola scriptura”–never imagined using it the way today’s fundamentalists do.
So there’s no need for a Bible v.III. Many Christians are quite comfortable recognizing the Bible’s flaws as well as its strengths. What is needed is to make sure those who would use the Bible as a weapon don’t have the power to do so. (And work to remove them where they do have such power.)
You mean, the Book of Mormon? Not looking for a fight, but what you described is literally the founding argument of the LDS faith.
Also, the Quran is supposedly the Bible vIII if you believe that kind of thing…
“Long story short: the vast majority of Christians for the past 2,000 years have felt little compulsion to follow most of the ritualistic and cultural practices of our religious ancestors ”
For the fast majority of the time, when a Christian wants to speak to an atheist about the Bible they want to show how stupid we are for not believing.
They tend to be Evangelical fundamentalists (William Lane Craig, Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, etc.) that hold a literal interpretation. As a result many atheist especially those with no Christian back ground end up reading the Bible as the fundamentalist.
As a result we do make mistakes by assuming as Hemant (who’s blog I read “religiously” 😉 every day) did that the young lady followed a literal interpretation. I agree with the other atheist on the comments like Michael Reid and Walter LeSaulnier. And fully realizing that I will be recognized as a No True Scotsman; I grew up in a Progressive church, became a fundamentalist, then back to progressive Christianity and now am an atheist. I do know ‘the vast majority of Christians for the past 2,000 years have felt little compulsion to follow most of the ritualistic and cultural practices of our religious ancestors’. The problem as I see it, those are not the Christians go out of their way to interact or engage with atheists.
One of the reasons that I started reading this blog is because I was searching for common ground with progressive Christians in hopes that together we could advance those areas we agree.
I have struggled with this as well. While I don’t still “believe” after 50 years in the church, I acknowledge that faith satisfies certain needs for some people, and it does provide a sense of “hope” that atheism doesn’t pretend to offer. I have come to the realization that much of what Jesus taught, at least as far as how to live one’s life in community, is universal and it would benefit humanity as a whole if we all followed those teachings. But you don’t have to buy into the theology of Christianity to do that. Jesus, if he was a historical figure and if he actually taught what the Bible claims he did, can be seen as an enlightened teacher without having to believe him divine.
I agree as atheism is just a rational conclusion based upon lack of evidence for a supreme being. And most atheist are really agnostic-atheist who if presented with overwhelming and credible scientific evidence (repeatable, demonstrable evidence) would believe in a supreme being.
As for “hope” that is why I believe in the Humanist philosophy. I know that being a ‘secular humanist’ is a term that, especially evangelicals, start casting as a sign of the devil back in the 80’s. But studying the philosophy it is easy to see how much of what Jesus, as described in the bible, taught is as you say “universal and it would benefit humanity as a whole if we all followed those teachings”. The same could be said for Ahmadi Islam and some of it’s teachings. Or even Buddhist quest for knowledge and truth. These are tenets that could be used to create a sense of unity in what I believe is our one and only chance at existence.
I do not see the opportunity that has been granted to us with our limited lifespan as a negative but at a chance to make our lives, other peoples lives, our children’s lives and this one world that we all share better. Right now the only reality we know with any certainty is this world that we live on is the only world can support our human existence. Unless we realize this and work together as a human race our species, intelligent as we maybe will face an extinction event. Then all of Trumps Towers, our systems of government, wars fought, monuments built, rivers tamed, space travel, science, literature, language, philosophy, nationality and arts mean nothing. If we truly, want to be immortal then we have to actively do something to make this world better.
Sorry I got “preachy’ there. But short story long: I agree Fred.
I think you have the right idea. I keep coming back to the analogy of the hive. The “hope” that secular humanism offers, is the hope of making the world a better place not only for ourselves, but for future generations. That somehow, in our short but magnificent existence on this planet, the individual can not only have a meaningful existence, but accomplish something that improves the chances of survival of the human species. For despite our intelligence, and our ability to influence/control our immediate surroundings, we are just another species that fortuitously popped up, came to dominate our environment, and could just as easily be permanently eradicated by natural causes or by causes of our own creation.
Okay…. I’ll try to explain it to you as plainly as I can.
The “enemy” is not the liberal leave ’em and love ’em Christian like yourself. The folks out their trying to get their religion in our science classes and their ridiculous religious beliefs legislated are the fundamentalists. We have to read the bible like they do or they would never, ever understand us, just like they don’t understand you. You can try to “correct” their misunderstanding… believe me, I’ve tried (I’m a former Bible scholar) but it won’t work. So, we fight fire with fire, literalism with literalism.
If a no begin and no end spirit, all caring, God exists, influencing in all space, requiring no physical space to function wholly as a single They, with all hearts, souls, strengths, minds synchronized as one, then there are none of the human species, on this earth, who can bear the heat of literalism. We all get burnt when left without metaphor and allegory to picture outside common understanding. Thank God that forgiveness is real because I just explained it to you as plainly as I can!
It is not the literal that convinced me to seek God as portrayed by Christ. It was the projected upon fact that fighting fire with fire (eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth) leaves a trail of ashes, even from the backfire. Fighting imperfect literacy with imperfect literacy, which includes us all relatively speaking, leaves a trail of evidenced destruction without end. To love my enemy, empathetically possible for any within my species, enough to die for, in the off chance that they might learn to live constructively actually makes more sense for the good of my species. I guess that would not be necessarily true if each one of us were not so certain to die as we each are.
I agree, Vin, that it is the fundamental literalists of any religious bent, even religiously atheistic, who are the enemy. Christ made it very clear that the merciful are my good neighbors and that the covetous, the subjugaters, the intimidaters, the manipulators, the confusers, and the narcissists are my enemies. I cannot fight them in kind and expect to win for any of us.
Thank you for your effort in explaining it as plainly as you did!
Good to hear from you Herm! I found this quote earlier today and it seems cromulent to this discussion in my humble opinion! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6e98ffee66a51271504afbdf531d69be3c93859c2ece06436ea8042663e55d1f.jpg
And this:Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.-Frantz Fanon
And this! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5450615ebe192535e14c59d8cdb4328f0103e4b4adc5d2b644ea126237bdc3bd.jpg
The more intelligent a person is, the more desperate they are for answers to unanswerable questions.
I don’t know if I count as intelligent and have no ready means of gauging such with any accuracy I’d trust, but I know that my desperation to have answers has waxed and waned throughout my life, and presently sits at “not really excited either way.”
I agree that such “answers” are
a luxury to have; maybe even vain.
But what is a man’s life without some collection of vain things like coins, or cars, or cigars, or answers long sought after by countless generations before his own? By those who left them to him, his successors and descendents, to continue to try to figure out anyway? Especially since for many people, the consistancies of these answers’ progenitors’ findings were all of what remained of their legacies for them; for their students, apprentices and apostles, to inherit?
What a science it is to understand the universe, say, that contains so much useful information like atomic fusion, but which thus far has not fully been understood by generations alone?
I will not be arrogant and say, “Their work was all in vain.” I will not say Jesus’ teachings were worth no more than their face values. I will concede the contrary; that the answers they offered were products of the unanswerable questions of their times, regardless of the ages, genders, intelligences, convictions etc. out of which they arose. These answers were men’s luxury items, but these men’s sole legacies nonetheless. They are therefore worthy of inquisitive interest, I think; they are in need of research.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say desperate. The more I learn, the more I do and the more I just simply sense, the more I realize how little I really know and how little I can be assured to control my own future.
I really didn’t care about eternal life, for it is beyond my finite understanding, until I realized, at the age of 40, that it would take me at least that long to experience all the possible adventures left untried even if I lived to be a healthy 120 years of age. I have been very comfortable since that time taking moments out of every day to savor. I actually do feel blessed to have even this opportunity of a short little flicker of life to be aware of and influential in.
I still would value more time to live for I can clearly see now, at age 73, that it is just past the end of eternity that I will finally have no more unanswerable questions to pursue. Can that be considered light at the end of the tunnel?
I, too, believe that can be considered the light; the light of attaining wisdom.
The more I learn about concrete things, the more I realize something I thought I knew can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways by its beholders. That irony brings me the desperation, I think; perhaps more like an unquenchable thirst to fathom, for example, why a train is a transport vehicle to some and a monster to others. So, the more I learn, the thirstier I become to understand the many possible iterations of a thing and, so, I often find myself referring to the Holy Bible or the Quran and other texts to gain some perspective on even “mundane” things like humanity.
This thirst is unquenchable because, of course, I could never know all the different faces of anything. But I will aspire to the wisdom inherent to some thing; some universal truth that must remain therein.
One might argue that that truth is Wisdom. Such a drink is not quite as thirst-quenching as coconut milk, when gathered for the sake of seeing why a train is transportation to some and a monster to others. But it does work rather like cool, natural spring water for me when I’d like to gain some insight on the paradox of perception. Bottoms up!
Speaking of trains I thought you might like this video of the world’s most extreme trains.
“Why Do Intelligent Atheists Still Read The Bible Like Fundamentalists?”
So that we’re better prepared to have discussions with fundamentalists…
It’s the HYPOCRISY of Christians that stinks in my nostrils. They pick and choose which verses of the Bible they’re going to adhere to.
Did you read the article? Explain your point, please.
Well MY response would be that (e.g. from the article) – Christians tell us that the bible supposedly tells us how to live our lives, but the moment that we quote a dozen passages (e.g. a female mixed fabric wearing preacher who eats shellfish etc etc etc) we get the usual HYPOCRITICAL logical fallacy responses.
If the author of the bible (GOD supposedly !) had intended to convey a particular message – you would have thought that he could have done it without contradicting himself – or making it so unclear that even Christians themselves cant agree what it means – hence THOUSANDS of sects.
Christians tell us that the bible supposedly tells us how to live Read the article.
Well, God didn’t write the bible; men did. Men are fallible.
Also, the bible doesn’t tell us how to live our lives. It tells stories about men’s experiences (or believed experiences) with God. The best (although not 100% unique) advice is via Jesus.
But yes, there are fundamentalists who read the bible literally and give a multitude of illogical arguments to defend that stance. There are others of us (like Dr. Corey) who read the bible recognizing what it is, and don’t feel the need to defend it’s accuracy or whatever.
We seem to be hearing a lot of this sort of whingeing from xians lately. It’s become a bit of a routine, perhaps to be wheeled out when short of a blog topic?
I think many if not most atheists are aware that xians disagree about all sorts of things, including how literally to take which bits of the bible. But we end up talking to xians with all those different views, so if I respond to a fundamentalist by criticising some fundamentalist position it doesn’t mean I don’t know it’s not the only possible position that xians hold.
I’m sure there are xians who are so non-fundamentalist they think the resurrection and god are metaphors or symbols of some kind. But apart from them you’re all fundamentalists to a greater or lesser degree, as far as I can see.
Fair enough. As long as we agree on humanist topics, me thinks we can be friends.
I am very late to this discussion, but here goes. The image of Christianity in popular culture has, since about 1980 or so, been of a Fundamentalist. Compare this with, say, Reverend Sloan from Doonsbury. Our Atheist brethren have more often than not grown up thinking that Christian=Fundamentalist. And who has been at the forefront of this message? Fundamentalists, of course. They are only too happy to affirm, should the subject arise, that Liberal Christians aren’t really Christians. Of course “conservative” Christianity often is anything but conservative, and “liberal” Christians’ understanding of scripture is in many cases far more traditional, but the lived experience of the typical American runs the other way, hearing how “conservative” Christians are holding onto traditional religion while “liberal” Christians are making it as they go along. Most people, whether Christian, Atheist, or something else entirely, aren’t students of history. Historical discussions don’t resonate the way lived experience does.
The irony is that the modern Atheist firmly asserts that Fundamentalists have lied to them about everything except this. Who counts as a real Christian is the one topic where Fundamentalists are utterly reliable.
If one could see one’s own hypocrisies, then they wouldn’t BE hypocrisies!
Atheists need to know the bible to defend themselves from the bible-worshippers, fundamentalist Christians.
Oh? YOU’RE not “one of those type Christians”; do you regularly condemn fundamentalist for going overboard by trying to create a theocracy, to set public policy based on bronze aged writings?!
The hypocrisy here is, Christians won’t police their own, so it’s up to atheists to do your dirty work.
(transitive, figuratively) To enforce norms or standards upon.
to police a person’s identity
A follower of Christ (as opposed to some random person who calls themself “Christian” on the basis of belonging to a congregation with a cross on the lawn…) must “love one another” and “turn the other cheek”.
Kinda hard to “police” others’ behavior!
My point — and I think we actually agree, fundamentally — is that “policing” anyone else’s behavior should preclude that person’s usurpation of the label “Christian”.
A follower of Christ (“love one another”, “turn the other cheek”, …) cannot “police” the faith of anyone else. If you see someone trying to impose their norms and standards on others, that person does not FOLLOW Christ, regardless of what label that person usurps.
Question. Can one “follow Christ” without necessarily believing he is divine? If so, call me a Christian, or at least an admirer.
When debating the bible with christians it boils down to one of three responses from them :
1) The passage says exactly what I believe – the bible is the literal word
2) The passage says parts of what I believe – the bible needs “interpreting”
3) The passage says the exact opposite of what I believe – the bible is didactic;
it is teaching us what not to do.
So what we are doing is pointing out to Christians that ANY book would
function as a bible. Literally ANY book would meet that requirement !!
We are pointing out that THEIR BOOK IS IRRELEVANT – and that BOTH OF US, atheists AND christians – obtain our morality from our peers and society – and NOT from the bible.
As we sometimes mock (yes) christians, “are you telling us that the only reason that you dont kill is because of a passage in a book from bronze age illiterate goat herders – and without that passage there would be blood and carnage ” ?
You betcha! Just point us toward any other collection of religious texts compiled over a few millennia. I’m sure they’ll be equally useful.
Why not just leave the religion?
Friendly atheist here! I think I can explain this one.
Atheists who appear to be reading the Bible literally (or other religious texts) do so neither to build a straw man of the religion, nor because they mistakenly think that all adherents do the same. They do it specifically because they want to target the beliefs of religious extremists.
This leads to some unfortunate misperceptions of atheism, including by atheists themselves. Richard Dawkins is a great example of this. People think of him as an evangelical atheist, and he’s clearly brilliant, but he rarely says anything related to atheism. He wants to attack particular beliefs, and his attacks rarely hinge on atheism in any way.
Why do some atheists do this? It’s because the people who hold those extreme beliefs and interpretations are the vast majority of people responsible for specific social and political positions that most atheists consider harmful to society. This is most notably a problem in the United States.
The people trying to remove data about the geological record from children’s textbooks are generally the same ones who believe humans used to live for centuries and ride dinosaurs. The people who defend reparative therapy despite overwhelming evidence it increases suicide are those who strictly believe not only literal stories like Sodom and Gomorrah, but also interpretations of those stories which are authoritatively handed down to them by their denomination. There are plenty of other examples, but you get the idea.
This isn’t only a problem in the US, either. You’d be hard-pressed to find an atheist who thinks it would be a good idea to go to African countries ravaged by famine and AIDS and tell them they shouldn’t use condoms, but the Catholic church continues to do that today.
In short, the reason some atheists seem to read religious texts literally is that adherents who do so as well are the primary adherents that atheists would like to critically examine and question their beliefs. The primary motivation is sociopolitical, not religious. Atheism has almost nothing to do with it.
That would be legitimate… on the condition that they say that that’s what they are doing. If they just say “Christians believe that…”, then they are not addressing just extremists. They are addressing all Christians, as though they are all extremists.
Agreed, of course.
I’m wondering if the pigeon holing of all Christians in the fundamentalist camp isn’t exactly the same thing as pigeon holing all Muslims in the Jihadist camp.
People are uncomfortable with “hating”… but hatred is also a natural emotion. So it’s nice to find a perfectly despicable target for hating. We can happily hate those awful monsters who behead helpless prisoners. … But in fact, we never encounter those monsters, so we have to make do with whatever comes closest among those we actually do encounter. It’s cruel, stupid, … and very human.
This reminds of a Catholic woman, who when asked about the Pope reasserting the church doctrine banning birth control said “well, that’s his opinion”.
It’s your faith, believe whatever you want, but if you use some version of the Bible to justify that faith, don’t be surprised when someone points out the glaring contradiction between your actions and what is purported to be the written word of a god.
If atheists are reading the bible as if it does not obviously lead one to 21st century Western liberalism…they aren’t wrong.
If atheists are expounding on it like 21st century Christian fundamentalists, then they are utilizing a very extant lens that is prominent in 21st century America.
What we see is Christians of all stripes agreeing that yes, the Bible really does have the right answer for 21st century issues, when interpreted “correctly” and you all just disagree on the niggling detail of how to do that. You want atheists to stop pointing out where fundamentalist interpretations of the bible lead to? Convince your religious brethren to drop the premise that the bible has all the answers to today’s social and political and environmental problems, and then atheists will stop caring what it says.
Athiesm is just a decision to rely on the rational to guide all thought and belief. I’ve always been good at that. And many athiests are irritatingly dismissive of the experiences of divinity and revelations that have affected people since prehistory. Good luck with that, we are more than we know. Doctinal faith passes down codes and rules that have been established socially by previous groups, conditions, and efforts to codify inspirations and motivate people. But these are stultified by time, and lack of transferability. There are other modes of experiencing divinity, and the times I have been confronted with it, I could hardly give word to describe, because there is no road for words there. I just have to trust all will have their chance.
As a liberal Christian I appreciate that nuanced statement.
I am not trying to be dismissive, I really am not. But a lot of the “divine revelations” of other religions are discarded or mocked by those that accept the revelations of their chosen religion, in this case Christianity. (think Joseph Smith or Mohammad, or L.Ron Hubbard). My point being that the human mind is a mysterious thing, and we don’t really know exactly how it works. I have dealt with people who believe, no they “KNOW” they are hearing voices telling them to do things. It is REAL to them. But the source of the voices is not some invisible being, it is mental illness. (yeah, I know, straw man fallacy).
I will concede that there are certain things and experiences in my life that have inspired great awe, even reverence. But I would stop short of attributing them to divinity. And for the same reason I don’t find any compelling argument to believe in a supernatural god figure; there is simply no evidence to support it.
I will leave it at this. No one has all of the answers, and probably never will. I am willing to concede that there may be a divine being, and if he/she/it ever reveals himself/herself/itself to me in a way my scientific rational mind can accept it, I will do just that. But in the spirit of intellectual honesty, I think every theist should also acknowledge that their particular belief system has been significantly influenced (dictated?) by the beliefs of their parents, their family and the community they were raised in. I would go so far as to say that a substantial majority of theists simply adopt the religion of the geographic region of the world they were born into without ever questioning.
My biggest problem with “debating” religion with an ardent adherent of any religion, is that while I am a strong skeptic, I will at least acknowledge that I could be wrong. Try to get that admission out of theist.
Ooo, ooo, me! Though I guess I’m not a 100% ‘theist’. I will say the only way to learn is to be open to new ideas.
The only reason I believe in something divine/supernatural/god is that I have had a few (less than five) crazy experiences that I cannot explain. But I don’t care, because I don’t pursue those experiences anymore. I only care about how I treat my fellow man. More humanist than anything else now, I guess.
It’s so refreshing to hear an atheist admit they might be wrong. I confess you’re the first I’ve run across. Yes, the claim that those who “hear” God are mentally ill is a bit much. But, I agree with you, humility is not a strong point among many Christians. We are taught that the Bible has “all the answers,” and that we are to be ready to give an answer to anyone who questions our faith. The result is a bunch of Christians who don’t “hear” what others are saying, because they are only thinking about pat answers or spouting off Bible verses.
There are a growing number of Christians authors who are raising the alarm about “unquestioning faith” of evangelicals, the belief that questioning one’s religious assumptions or wrestling with disturbing aspects of the Bible is tantamount to a lack of faith. Pete Enns, ‘The Sin of Certainty;’ Derek Flood, ‘Disarming Scripture;’ Rob Bell, ‘Love Wins,’ What is the Bible?;’ Gregory Boyd, ‘Crucifixion of the Warrior God;’ Thomas Oord, ‘The Uncontrolling Love of God;’ Eric Seibert, ‘Disturbing Divine Behavior;’ and ‘A More Christlike God’ by Bradley Jersak to name a few.
I respect your view. I find truth in a lot of places. When you say we don’t fully understand the human mind, I think of Descarte and Kant. But I also think of my study of neurobiology. Is the “mind” the same thing as the brain? Does the brain do more than percieve, react, and reflect? What happens to the “mind” when I, as an anesthetist, block the brain from doing those things? Do I shut ‘you’ off? Are ‘you’ still there? One could ask if the human mind is a pinnacle object, in it’s plastic magnificence, or a step in evolution. And what is it’s purpose? All are good intellectual exercises. None would account for the power of an unbidden healing experience, entering your heart, revealing all of you, and letting you taste infinite love. I don’t need an explanation. I won’t try to ‘convince’ anyone I know more. One of my favorite Buddhist verses from my early reading was ” When they curously beseech thee, asking what IT is, affirm nothing, deny nothing. For what can be said from a land where the charriot of words can find no track?. So when they curiously beseech thee, offer them silence onlyl. Silence and a finger to point the way.”
I will concur with ya on that point, for ever since the imagination came into focus in primitive man…it is in our ethos to invoke supernatural beings as bigger than we are.
I don’t knock religion, in fact I do not even like the name tag, atheist for it almost becomes a religion unto itself, except that it is a non prophet organization. It appears to me though, that religions are more atheist than I am for they are constantly disclaiming other religions and their deities as false and there’s as the only true path. If there was one god, then there should’ve been only one religion, especially if that god had indeed revealed himself. The only way the three religions of the old Jewish god (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) revealed their god was through man and was either through force or annihilation. I say, no matter what religion, let them believe in peace, for a lot of folks…all they have is their religious faith to fall back on.
Let it be as long as they do not attempt to force it upon others…
A-theist is a man whose religion is his brain, very limited brain with an expiration date.
A man of religion is a man like Cain believing God but reliance on his own work hence all these scandals in all religions including Christendom. A man who believe in the Savior somehow confessed by mouth and then spirit live in heart that Jesus is the beloved son of God who died and now lives with and in the man like Abel.
Even if she did “violate” the Biblical teaching, why would the friendly atheist question her devotion to her faith? Why do we expect that “religious” people must be perfect at all times? She has a lot of positive attributes and the only one that becomes the subject of a post (and criticism) are her tattoos?
We expect perfection from them because they judge secular society by our lack of adherence to the moral codes they claim to get from the Bible. They use the code they claim to get from the Bible to try to control how the rest of us live. It’s right and good that we should point out their hypocrisy at every turn. Otherwise we let them make sheep of the rest of us and destroy the quality of our lives.
People in America have the right to engage in the political process. This is as true for conservatives as well as liberals. Congress is supposed to represent all of us, remember? How exactly do these conservatives manage to “destroy the quality” of liberals’ lives? Look around you: America is ruled by liberals. It’s hard to stop playing the victim, isn’t it?
You’re answering a bunch of arguments I haven’t made. Did I say conservatives don’t have the right to participate in the political process? Never in my lifetime have I said anything like that. Did I claim to somehow be a victim of something? Again, never have I made a claim like that. So it’s difficult to know what you’re talking about.
Here are a couple of facts:
1. Congress is more conservative than the general public. The Republican party has achieved it’s narrow majorities by gerrymandering and vote suppression–thus the consistent 20 percent approval ratings for Congress.
2. If America is ruled by liberals, why do Republicans hold both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the federal government? Maybe you are thinking of the fact that people all over the country tend to live like liberals, not that they are ruling the country. That’s because conservatism is out of touch with how people want to live, it’s not really a conservative country, just has conservative leaders.
Finally, Three issues around which conservatives tend to destroy freedom and culture: LBGT rights, abortion rights, health care policy.
I am a liberal Christian and absolutely NOTHING you just said applies to what I believe and do. And there are millions of liberal Christians who don’t believe one iota like you just accused them.
If you are not trying to re-shape the general society in the shape of a harsh, judgmental religion, then you are not who I am talking about. Christians have done a lot of good in the world. The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s was led by Baptists, and many third world orphanages are run my American missionaries, and in his nineties, Jimmy Carter continues to build houses for the homeless and teach Sunday School.
If that’s you, you’re not the problem. If that’s you, other kinds of Christians are today determining how Christians are seen by the rest of the world.
Atheists wouldn’t push back against the fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible so strongly if it weren’t for the fact that some of the Christians who cause the most problems are, in fact, interpreting it that way. They’re called “fundamentalist Christians”, maybe you’ve heard of them.
If you could get them to stop, or at least to stop proposing laws based on their extremist views, then you wouldn’t have to listen to people arguing against their viewpoint so often.
That said, there are also millions of liberal Christians. Liberal Christians who would agree with atheists on some of their criticisms of Fundamentalism. But most atheists act like there are no liberal modern Christians. Are they ignorant of this fact?
Where are the liberal moderate christians?
Where are they when Christians try to remove the right to secular marriage from people who are not harming them?
Where are they when Christians use trans people as the punching bad du jour?
Where are they when school employees make participation in christian prayer a requirement of attending one’s own high school graduation?
Where are they when christians make movies that lie about atheists and other non christians?
Where are they when christians in the pay of oil companies deny global warming?
If you let the fundamentalist christians speak for you, what exactly do you expect? We act like there are no liberal modern christians because they are rarely heard from.
Marching and protesting for reform, in soup kitchens feeding the poor, preaching love in churches that embrace the LGBTQ community, voting for women’s rights, Gay rights. Over the past 100 years liberals and progressives, both religious and non have led the charge for equality, and end to poverty and global warming, all sorts of progressive agendas. Ever hear of Sojourner’s? Fundamentalism is largely a knee-jerk reaction to Liberal and Progressive religion, an attempt to halt and turn back social reforms instituted by liberals. So to answer your question, we’ve been in plain view for a long time.
I’m with you Larky….
We’re fighting ignorance together….
Though I’m probably more of a Christian agnostic.
That said, there are also millions of liberal atheists, who acknowledge the existence of Liberal Christians and would agree with them on some points. But many Christians act like there are no liberal modern atheists. Are they ignorant of this fact?
Dude, don’t make the same mistake as some of the more foolish, naive and/or loudmouthed atheists, only in reverse. Seriously.
Yeah, but a lot of atheists and people in general now a days tend to stereotype all Christians as that fundamental one. Like in the article here. Why bring that up about the tattoo to a random contestant? Like that’s just hate. Hatred toward the fundamentalist a-hole Christian geared to all Christians. I actually had one guy tell me I am not allowed to talk about science with him because I was a Christian who believes the world is 3,000 years old, and I don’t believe that the world is 3,000 years old. I believe in evolution. Ice Age. Hell Ancient Egypt goes back to at least 5,000 BC. And science? I got an A in Physics and Chemistry. I love reading about it. No matter how great my comments were like, “Sub numbers into this equation to get an idea of how the variables interact,” I was still an idiot because I’m a Christian. That’s the issue many Christians are facing, much like Muslims. We are all being stereotyped AND BLAMED for what the small, minority of loud jerks are doing in God’s/Allah’s Name.
This Muslim gives you a thank you for that, and agrees.
Agreed. I once had an atheist tell me I wasn’t a true Christian because I didn’t “believe” the Bible, i.e., I am not a Fundamentalist. Many atheists seem totally unaware that there are millions of modern, liberal Christians.
Which begs the question, why should they be aware that there are millions of modern, liberal Christians, when you let the fundamentalists so loudly and consistently speak for you? If liberal Christians actually believe that those people are wrong, why aren’t they out in the public sphere saying that that’s not what Christianity is? Your silence is deafening, and the timidity with which you defend your religious tradition tells the rest of us that the fundies are the real Christians, and that you are not.
I happen to know and believe that there are extremist Christians and moderate Christians, and I’ve known that my whole life. Apparently a few other atheists are stupid and/or rude and don’t want to believe that. Are you going to stereotype ME based on THEM? Just after you got through explaining how YOU don’t want to be stereotyped based on what a few other Christians are like?
I’m sure you can find people who DO stereotype Christians inaccurately, and people who DON’T stereotype Christians, among atheists, among Muslims, among Buddhists, among Jews – and probably even among Christians. If someone says something stupid or bad, blame and criticize that person. Not whatever group or groups he or she happens to be a part of.
Or if you prefer to engage in stereotyping others, well, I think you’ll have a harder time talking other people out of stereotyping you. Lead by example.
As a Christian who doesn’t subscribe to what’s called fundamentalism, I’d like to ask you something in response.
What do you mean by “letting” fundamentalists speak for me? What exactly am I supposed to do to stop them? I’m just one man, and not a particularly famous or powerful one.
I sign petitions against the kinds of hurtful policies you mention. I speak out against them on comment boards like these, and on Facebook. What else are you looking for? What do you want to see?
I have atheist friends too, but my guess is, it’s easier to trash religion reading the Bible in a literalist way, than in a more nuanced and multifaceted way. The way it should be and is read by intelligent, educated Christians and Jews.
But the problem is, literalist/fundamentalist Christians and Jews think they’re intelligent and educated too. They think you’re the one who’s reading it wrong.
This was incredibly well written, and one of the most intelligent perspectives I’ve read in a while. I may have to look into getting Ben’s book now.
It’s seriously one of the best I’ve ever read. I’ve went thru it twice. It’s all marked up now though
But what if the tattoo law is really God’s law and he doesn’t want folks to have tattoos? Maybe Miss Teen USA would, based on criticism…even criticism that is founded in hate (if it was) , repent for getting tattoo. God could be using someone’s criticism is God’s way of getting the message to her.
While I am equally frustrated with the atheist tactic described in the article, there are some basic terminology issues here – in the article and in the comments.
People are confusing and conflating three different terms.
A fundamentalist is a person who believes that the Bible is the word of God and has the authority and reliability that comes with that.
A legalist is a person who believes that Christians are required to obey the Old Testament rules.
A literalist is a person who believes that everything in the Bible is literal, not figurative.
Atheists commit errors of legalism and literalism. They never commit errors of fundamentalism.
A fundamentalist recognizes that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works. The standard fundamentalist view on obedience is that it is an act of worship, not a means to salvation.
Indeed, the most forceful preaching against legalism comes from fundamentalist circles.
And, I’d dare say that there is no such thing as a “literalist.” Every Christian takes at least some of the Bible literally. And nobody takes it all literally. (Is there anyone who thinks that Israel was literally engaged in prostitution? Does anyone think that a literal multi-headed beast will rise from a literal sea?)
The real question is about where to draw the line. The fundamentalist viewpoint – as explained by the guys who started the movement – is to let the text be the guide. Is the text written in a way that suggests it is literal? If so, then treat it that way. Is it written as a parable, metaphor or some other literary device? If so, then treat it that way.
The atheists described in this article are not following that proper hermeneutical approach. So, they’re not reading it like fundamentalists. Rather, they are being disingenuous hyper-literalists and/or hyper-legalists.
I disagree. It is not that fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals base their theological frameworks on whether the text is to be taken literally or not, or even letting the text be the guide. Rather, theologians such as Charles Hodge and Wayne Grudem have based their theological musings, not on the original intent of the writers, but on the assumption that scripture contains mainly propositional truths about God and creation. This forces a modernist understanding onto a pre-modern world view that is expressed in scripture. The assumption being that God would not present anything not ‘true’ from a modernist perspective.
And this is the battleground on which atheists and Christians have traditionally battled and why Christians are so uneasy around scientific findings. The almost universal acceptance of Adam and Eve, the Flood, that God told the Israelites to slaughter women and children, that the parable of poor Lazarus and the rich man accurately describes hell, and is to be taken literally, underscores that conservatives generally take most things literally in scripture, then develope doctrine based on the literal understanding.
I didn’t see the notification, so I apologize for the delay in responding.
I get where you’re coming from, and I agree somewhat with your criticism of those who would impose modernism onto the scriptures. But, there is a middle ground.
It reminds me of the debate between Calvinists and Arminians. One of my Bible mentors used to say that both sides were correct in what they affirmed and incorrect in what they denied.
I’d say that’s true of the ancient vs. modern debate. Just because Genesis fails to mention nuclear fission, that doesn’t mean the Bible denies the existence of nuclear science. It’s just silent on the issue.
Likewise, naturalist/atheists are being pretty silly when they argue that X didn’t happen because it’s impossible. The premise of the story is that a divine being intervened to do a miracle – something that is, by definition, impossible.
There is a lot of fertile ground there if you want to debate the existence of God, etc. That’s fine. But, to argue that God doesn’t exist because miracles are impossible is really just a circular exercise in question begging.
My problem with Liberal Christians is really very fundamental. Simply put, if there was no literal Adam, then there is no literal curse. If there is no curse, then there is no need for a savior. It seems rather strange to reject the premise of Christianity and then still believe in it anyway.
They’re basically treating the Bible like it’s a big “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book.
I agree that the way the argument was presented in the Friendly Atheist article you linked to was a bit shallow, but I think the point it was making was not entirely unwarranted. Consider this page from GotQuestions.org, a major conservative Christian website. It is mostly agreeing with Hemant and disagreeing with you that having a tattoo is not something a good Christian should be doing, despite the fact that the injunction only appears in the Old Testament.
Ultimately, it seems to me that arguments like the one Mehta is making come down to an accusation of inconsistency. This girl is saying that she’s going to be abstinent (from sex, alcohol, and drugs) because she believes that’s what God wants. But even if we agree that Christians are not beholden to follow all the Old Testament, the fact that such a law was given by God in the Old Testament and never specifically abrogated in the New Testament is one point in favor of not getting a tattoo being something God wants, and no points in favor of getting a tattoo being something God wants. So there is a legitimate argument to be made that she’s acting inconsistently when she abstains from those other things in the name of God, but sees no problem with having a tattoo.
Ah, interesting observation. Although the NT writings, especially Paul, free us from the Jewish observances (as Gentiles we were never under the Law in the first place), conservative Christians have been traditionally uncomfortable with the freedom following the ‘law of Christ’ brings. It seems a part of human nature to want clear cut boundaries. Hence, the general cherry picking of OT laws and artificial division of ceremonial and moral laws.
And, yes, she is acting inconsistently by abstaining from some actions but indulging others. This is the hermeneutical problem with the Law that conservatives face. The Mosaic laws were meant to be followed in totem, not divvied up, and they were meant for the Jews, as a covenant. So, she is exhibiting a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity as a legalistic framework rather than a transformation of one’s thinking about life.
Bigger question. Why do Gentiles need a scapegoat?
“The Bible isn’t a choose your own adventure book where everyone can just make up their own meaning.”
–Benjamin L. Corey
If the Bible is so flawed that every human can reasonably interpret their reading of it to fit whatever worldview best suits their own personal interests, then where is the value of the Bible?
“Reasonably interpret” is the key here. Forcing the Bible into a mold it was not intended for is to disrespect and misrepresent the original writers. Unfortunately, we have for centuries molded the Bible into something we can control, or use to control others. That may have been true to an extent within the Pentateuch, but was not true of the New Testament. There is much to learn about human behaviour, altruism and greed, love, hatred, war and peace in scripture, but above all, it tells the remarkable story of a man who preached something unheard of at that time…love for one’s enemies.
I still read the bible and I still go to church.
As it is said it is better to know your enemy, in this case it is better to know what you are up against.
Just like any confrontation the better equipped the better you are ready for the battle.
Not sure why this is making the fb rounds again, but there you go! Jesus was not the ‘Founder’ of Christianity, Saul of Tarsus was. Jesus never even heard the word ‘Christ’, more less used that word. And Jesus never said word one about abandoning The Law. To the contrary – “not one jot nor title”, and all that. Is the Earth still here? (looks around) Yup. Thus not ‘all’ has been fulfilled, and thus The Law still applies – unless Jesus was misquoted…. Cherry picking the data to find the conclusion one wishes to reach doesn’t tend to provide reasonable conclusions. The logicians tell us that if you assume contradictory postulates to be true, you can ‘prove’ anything you’d like. Thus it is with Biblical interpretation. Anyone can ‘prove’ anything they’d like by cherry-picking Bible quotes. (It was also Saul of Tarsus who spread the idea that adhering to Jewish traditions/laws like circumcision and avoiding pork/shellfish weren’t necessary so as to be more able to market his new mystery religion to the Greeks and Romans who were his target audience.)
The bible has many contradictory things in it. What we take out of it, atheist or fundamentalist, says more about us then the bible.
As someone raised in a fairly liberal church, and now seeing myself in the agnostic atheist camp, I fully agree with this article. I have invested a great deal of time studying the Bible and much of it has been in trying to understand the _context_ of the texts. One isn’t going to really understand some of the eccentricities of the Bible without really doing some serious historical and linguistic research, but I think the more reactionary atheists would rather skip over that part.
One of my core practices in studying the Bible is to embrace the reality that it is not just a Christian text. It is also a Jewish text and rabbinical literature is a great source of information when attempting to engage in exegesis. Rabbis, for instance, will tell non-Jews that most of the Torah does not apply to gentiles, which is consistent with much of the New Testament teachings regarding Jewish law. Circumcision, dietary restrictions (aside from the consumption of blood), rules against tattooing, etc. are all non-applicable to non-Jews, a reality that the uninformed, cherry-picking Christian fundamentalist and their militant atheist counterpart are likely to either ignore, or be in total ignorance of.
Moreover, if we dig even further back to a time before the Rabbinical age, there was a time when the applicability of Leviticus to non-priestly Jews was a matter of legitimate debate, which makes the fundamentalist fascination with passages from this book even more confounding. But Leviticus is a powerful, albeit crude, weapon for extremists on either side of the theism debate to wield against their opponents.
I, too left being a “Christian” for just following Jesus . . . if the word “just” means anything.
To me it means that God cares more about loving us than he does about the doctrines we argue endlessly over.
It means that the real nature of God IS love, and that even though we may do many wondrous things in His Name, if we don’t do it in love, it don’t mean crap! I Cor. 13.
It means that Jesus is the most important thing in my life, that I do my best to be just like Him as much as I can (I usually fail, but He just keeps loving and supporting me!)
I’m sad to say the “Christians” drove me away with their constant bickering over who was or was not saved, and who better understood the Bible, but Jesus and His unconditional love captured me!
Thanks for writing this blog. It’s so wonderful to know there’s more like me.
I don’t think it’s about they interpreting the bible literally, but rather, it’s about holding people to the standards they profess. If they claim that the entirety of the bible is literally true and infallible, then they should be held to the standard. The only real problem I can see is if they hold all Christians to a standard, even progressives who don’t maintain a literalist or inerrant view of scripture.
So, if we look at what her church believes (and it’s fairly safe to assume that she holds these beliefs too, given she’s reported to be involved in the student ministries team there, at least until she gives us a reason to believe otherwise), they do subscribe to a literalist view of scripture “Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error.” http://www.wearecalvary.com/beliefs/. I think given this context it’s not unfair to hold her to her professed beliefs…
Interestingly, I thought your article was right on point. Although, raised in Pentecostalism have grown spiritually to what I call a radically inclusive philosophy and in discussions with my Atheist friend who constantly reminds me that my interpretation of Scripture isn’t a true interpretation. I call him the 1st. Atheist fundamentalist, sanctified and filled with the Holy anti-ghost and with fire. He still manages to be more fundamentalist than a fundamentalist Christian in his debates.
Liberal Christians were much more active in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the National Council of Churches with protests about various social issues.
One reason that I don’t discuss liberal or progressive Christians very much is that I have very little idea of what they believe. I was raised in a Methodist Church, and I could not tell you then or now if they had any communal beliefs. The liturgy was pretty traditional, but clearly a lot of the adults didn’t believe in miracles, or bible stories, or that Jesus was a savior. When I tried to talk to the youth minister, he always answered a question with a question — to this day, I sympathize with the Athenians who executed Socrates. I talked to the main minister when I was old enough for him to bother with me, and asked what it meant to be a Methodist, but there was an embarrassed silence until I took pity on him and changed the subject. This was about 45 years ago, but I often talk with two people who have belonged to the church for decades, and are very active; neither of them have been able to think of anything either. Someone argued on the internet that the Methodist Church has the Book of Discipline, which spells out their beliefs. But as the first comment said, the bishops ignore the Book of Discipline so surely no-one expects anyone else to take it seriously.
Maybe progressive/liberal Christians need to make themselves more visible if they want people to take them more seriously.
A prominent atheist once remarked that debating a progressive Christian is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Which I think captures it perfectly; there’s so much hand-waving going on that you can never get down to the actual subject, but instead waste your time on rhetorical games and unsuccessful attempts to define terms.
The fundamentalist, by contrast, is more than happy to state firm ideological commitments, and to vigorously defend them without resorting to obscurantism. But fundamentalists tend to be literalists, and so an atheist ends up debating on those terms (that is to say, the fundamentalist’s, not the atheist’s). Since the interesting, attention-grabbing squabbles are usually between fundamentalists and atheists, observers like Dr. Corey get the impression that atheists as a rule share the literalist views of their opponents.
That’s my hypothesis, anyway, and I’m stickin’ to it.
Blocked! Bye, bye Duane!
Do not fool your selves.
many Atheists may defend with you, agree with you and are on the same side of many social issues with, but are NOT on the same side when it comes to believing your Religion like you.
Fundamentalist Christians source and often espouse their morality from the BIBLE and the god portrayed in it!!
Where do Liberal Christians source their morality from?
I use secular reasons for my explanations, for better or worse.
This is more an exercise in trying to keep the Religion LOOK palatable to outsiders, when in reality it is a house of horrors.
Atheists intelligent or not, will not rate these mental gymnastics a high score.
because there are fundamentalist Christians that read the bible like actual fundamentalists.
Let’s not sweep these inconvenient Christians away, that I am confident wipe the floor of liberal Christians when it comes to understanding and knowing their Bibles!
Liberal Christians can fault their fundamentalist brethren’s all they wan’t, however they don’t engage them enough on a theological level that’s considered impressive, because they get and often source their moral judgments from the very same book Liberal Christians do, and if using more secular arguments and reasons is the preferred method to engage fundamentalist Christians, why continue to use the Bible as the guild to morality?
The question is why do “progressive christians” read the bible like liberals….is the answer
Because that is the style of interpretation that is most vocally used in public policy debate on issues we disagree with them on.
We read it the way they do to point out their inconsistencies and hypocrisies on women’s and LGBT rights as opposed to how they want their lives governed.
We do not have to underscore liberal readings of the Bible to vocally agree with liberal Christians.
And frankly, liberal Christians do the same when arguing with their conservative brethren. Only they don’t get mad at themselves for doing so.
I think it’s because that’s how people, as a rule, get knowledge.
They take the words of an authority as literal truth. They all do, atheists and theists alike. The only difference is choice of authority.
Which is probably much the same way that people in societies have been getting their knowledge since forever.
Maybe 0.0001% of the population gets their knowledge from firsthand experience. These are the artists, scientists, mystics and such.
The other 99.9999% gets their knowledge from authority, ie convention, teacher, guy on tv, etc. Directly or indirectly.
They basically live in a story.
Embedded in society like liver cells are embedded deep within your body. Only the skin cells touch reality.
Then why do Christians insist on having the Ten Commandments thrust upon society? Why not the laws of Hammurabi? If y’all want us to follow your rules, then first you must follow your rules.
What is a “fundamentalist” then? Your interpretation is pretty “fundy” as far as I’m concerned.
Neither Christians, Jews, nor Muslims can agree among themselves on what their holy books say, or the meaning they convey. Their disagreements result in dysfunctional acts that range from individual social isolation, to inter-religious squabbling, to “Holy” wars. Yet every group, and most sub groups insist that their interpretation is the one that is correct. Others claim to take a more laissez-faire attitude, avowing that other interpretations are OK (so long as its not this or that particular group’s method). In the middle stands the whip lashed Atheist, called to account for his/her faulty views. I’d laugh at the absurdity, if history and current events didn’t make clear how dangerous religions can be.
I love it when Atheists feel free to put words in my mouth and intent in my faith. It’s almost as if they have an inside understanding of all Christians and can therefore write us all off with equal measure. Fundamentalist atheists are as difficult as Fundamentalist Christians. Angry, or bitter, or something to prove, it has often been my unpleasant experience to realize they don’t listen or understand much better than the intolerant person of faith.
Oddly, the only true parts of the bible are the parts that the Christian you are currently talking with agrees with.
For any Christian objecting to this characterization, let me then ask the question: what parts of the bible are true that you think are false, or vise-versa?
I think perhaps part of the reason this happens is that fundamentalist readings of the bible are a large contributor to the creation of atheists. Many of them read the bible this way because that is how they were taught to read it by Christians.
so long as progressive christians don’t refer to the bible as a moral guide i don’t really care
Because it isn’t……
You just wrote that the Bible says you don’t have to do what the Bible says.
The problem intelligent people (Atheist, Fundamental, or otherwise) have with this is that it’s subjectively selective. It gives you the ultimate out. It allows you to simply scan through and find passages that agree with your moral code (whatever it may be at any given moment) and discard the rest that don’t. The consequence of this approach, when distributed across many people and applied to social norms, is tremendous variance on what constitutes both acceptable behavior and “good character.” The thinking person, or one who strives for a set of rules that are uniformly fair (or at least universally applicable), finds this broad disparity unsuitable for use as a system of belief. After all, how can any of us play by the rules if we don’t first agree what the rules are?
To answer the question that seems to elude you: Atheists use passages in the Bible to discredit fakers and charlatans. It’s easy to respect a person who does what they say they’ll do, but it’s another thing entirely when someone says one thing and does another. In this case, our supposed “Christian” beauty queen, who claims to follow the Word of God but clearly doesn’t. To those who seek truth and fairness in a hard world, such behavior is reprehensible.
Because, many self-decribed “Christians” persist in making moral judgements about other people, citing the Bible as a moral authority.
Do you hear me? I’m trying to answer your question.
For example, in recent years many SDC’s claimed that the Bible taught that a “marriage” was, and could only be, a formal commitment between “one man and one woman.” But, in the OT there are many prominent people, supposed followers of God, who have multiple wives and concubines. And, cover to cover, there is not a word against polygamy.
So: No, it doesn’t teach that marriage is between “one man and one woman.” THEY MADE THAT UP. That is a little fact worth thinking about. THEY MADE THAT UP.
So, when SDC’s make a claim that “the Bible says this” or “the Bible says that”, the simplest and most direct rebuttal is “No, it doesn’t.” And the only effective defense of either claim is the “plain meaning of the text”,… if you have to “interpret” the words to support your reading of it, you are essentially saying that the “plain meaning of the text” favors your opponent’s position.
I am hardly the Bible scholar that you are, but once I did a study of the ethical teachings of Jesus. I went through the four gospels and collected everything Jesus is reported to have said about what his followers should DO, and abstain from doing. Reading over what I had collected, I was surprised to find that it all hung together, it all made perfect sense, given his starting assumptions. And it did not REMOTELY RESEMBLE modern Christianity.
Since then, I have found that whenever I quote the words of Jesus to a Christian, always, without exception, they immediately reply “He didn’t mean THAT.” Since the day Jesus left the scene, church leaders, starting with Paul and including many other since, have been “explaining” that to get into Heaven, Christians didn’t really have to follow all of that stuff. Or, indeed, ANY of that stuff. They say, “we are not saved by works”, and ethical behavior is works. All the “theology” I have ever heard from “Christians” I would describe as a theory, by someone OTHER THAN Jesus, explaining why we could ignore what Jesus plainly said in Matthew, Mark, and Luke., specifically that obeying and following ALL of Jesus’ commands to his followers was a necessary condition for being saved.
God is still speaking in my humble opinion. I found contact on the 3rd step in a 12-step program. He helped me get clean and sober. I stay centered in his presents on a daily basis. I’ve been following this simple program 15 years. I’ve never been happier than I am now. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ec3fbea2b39f222a235076676168beab627c2404c11d44cb51b415047c6ab84.jpg
As a person whose only dog in the fight is also having a tattoo, it seems to me that the point of mentioning the tattoo on the young lady was clear, to point out the general hypocrisy of ‘christians’ to take a fundamentalist view of some passages (Leviticus being a biggie), while completely ignoring other ones right next door.
Also, it is another sign of hypochristianity to go digging in the ‘deep album cuts’ of the Biblical text, while largely ignoring the more direct exhortations of the person they purport to follow. I dont really know anything about the situation or the young lady in question, but if I had to make a $5 bet on it, what she believes is probably closest to ‘Free Market Jesus’ with a little ‘Mark of Ham’ thrown in for good measure. In her understanding of the texts ‘The sin of Onan’ was probably the ‘spilling of seed’ rather than a flagrant violation of a woman’s rights of autonomy, property and fair treatment.
I have had the fortune to know people from all over the world of all different religious and spiritual beliefs, with a range of ‘devoutness of practice’. In the end, it isnt the religion that matters, but the level of hypocrisy demonstrated between their expressed beliefs and actual conduct. With that in mind it seems to me the point wasnt the cheezy tattoo, but the willingness of many ‘christians’ to selectively choose which of the ‘illuminated words of god’ they value and the order of precedence each violation takes.
The point at which your religion requires (or promotes) you to believe that the world is ~6,000 years old, or that there was a ‘flood’ and an ‘Ark’ (with dinosaurs), it is difficult to distinguish religious belief from mental illness. Oftentimes the claims of being a ‘christian’ is an implied claim to moral superiority and pointing out logical or factual inconsistencies in such a declaration should be expected.
With the overwhelming support that the ‘Talibangelical’ community in the US for Donald Trump, it is clear to me (among others) that many ‘christians’ have thrown aside the cloak of their ‘beliefs’ for another set of beliefs and desires far less wholesome. If someone is going to mount that ‘high horse’, their own flaws and shortcomings become more visible as well.
Have a great day!
Tattoos are common, 61 were found on the iceman’s frozen carcass found in the alps dating 5000 yrs ago. Tattoos are found on mummies and ancient drawings of leaders all around the world (done while the person was alive). The canaanites because the jews, they were the same people thru time. The canaanites converted to judaism mostly by force due to the ten commandments, a constitution for a state religion.
I became an atheist by reading the bible trying to get closer to god, I read it cover to cover twice. God kills 158 times in the bible and orders others to kill whole cultures. Once I found the bible stories were not historical (using archeology/outside texts and carvings/carbon dating) I was angry at first. Then I became curious how this ruse came about, how so many people fell for this conspiracy theory. Very few of what the old and new testaments say actually happened, very few of the names are verifiable outside the bible. If we compiled only what is provable (with real rules of evidence) in the bible it would be a pamphlet.
As an atheist I am still fascinated by religion in general, christianity, the writing of the bible (who, what, when, where). I normally only look something up when I’m verifying a memory or refuting a comment. I also study slavery, our religious history, our founders, the gnostic gospels, and whatever gets my curiosity up.
I recently read on st augustine, the man who made sex a sin for christians in the 5th century. He was bisexual, had sex with his mother, was never faithful to anyone admittedly. When his sexuality waned in his later years he decided sex was a sin (for others). He also invented original sin, which was adam and eve not being able to control their sex drives and had to put clothes on. According to him our original sin is that we get horny, and it’s out of our control.
Is he interpreting the Bible like a fundamentalist though? I mean Fundamentalist don’t follow Jewish levitical law eithier, they eat pork and so forth. I think Friendly Atheist just hasn’t kept up on 2000 years of discussion on Christian relation with Old Testament law. I mean Christians are all about not commiting murder or adultery, so why so lax on circumcision?
Because that is what the Bible says. Might I remind you that this is the purported word of God. Once you start “Interpreting” the Bible it becomes anything you want it to be. The interpreted Bible is how you get 30,000 one and only true Christian faiths.
Are you going to risk a tattoo for eternity? You might note that in eternity the age of the universe is so infinitesimal you would never find it on the time track.
People who get tattoos, work on Sunday, mix the threads in their clothing, trim the corners of their beard, fail to give all their money to the poor are risking an eternity of hellfire in which a trillion trillion times the age of the universe is so small as to be insignificant.
Clearly you don’t really believe the Bible but then, who does? Not me. I think it is silly. Go get some more tattoos, make some false prophecies, check your bank account, watch the latest on Porn Hub and know in your heart you are going to Heaven.
It is the cherry picking that I find obnoxious.
A. With one verse, it is “This is the word of God, how dare you question it?”
B. The very next verse is “This is obviously a description of an ancient culture, how dare you take it seriously?”
Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Like watching an hours long tennis volley.
There is no apparent difference between the two types of verses. The “descriptions” sound an awful lot like “prescriptions” when the plain language is read. “Thou shalt not” and this is “an abomination” are pretty dang clear if you ask me. “If they do this, stone them to death” seems to imply that the perfect, unchanging deity thought it was kinda important.
But there are some very easy things to consider when determining which verses are “A” and which are “B” –
– Does the command cause inconvenience to the christian?
– Does the command allow christians to flaunt their holiness?
– Does the command cause more discomfort to outsiders than insiders?
– Would obeying the command get you convicted of a felony?
“Honor the Sabbath” is quite inconvenient but makes the christian look holy. Sometimes this is still valid, sometimes it isn’t.
“Don’t pray in public” Surely you jest.
“If a married women is has sex with anyone but her owner/husband, throw large rocks at her until she dies.” God never said that.
“Don’t have unapproved sex” How dare you question the clear word of god?
Notice the things this lady said – She will not drink before age 21, she will not use drugs and she will not have sex until marriage. Two of those are not ever forbidden by the bible. The biblical teaching on sex focuses primarily on the property nature of women rather than the evil of sex. Sex with slaves and war captives is fine. Rapists are required to purchase their victim, after which there is no limit on the number of times the rapist may rape the woman. Virginity is important only because virgins were more valuable to the men who bought and sold them.
Very little of the Bible is actually applicable to a modern society where even women are considered to have human rights and genocide is recognized as evil. Very little of what modern progressive christians focus on is even found in the Bible.
Yet atheists are accused of being less moral because we don’t have the “unchanging absolute morality” beloved of christians.
It’s a catch 22. Progressive christians are kinder and to my mind, more moral, than fundamentalists because they ignore so much of the bible and make it up as they go along. But this doesn’t change the fact that your book, when read honestly, is repugnant.
This is brilliant. Spot on.
I would second much of what David Cloutman says below. I was likewise raised liberally (12 years of Unitarian Sunday schools among other things), and I’ve done a great deal of reading in the Bible, theology generally, as well as history and anthropology. I would have to describe a great deal of my concern in this area as a matter of basic self protection.
The problem is not Ben Corey’s theology or biblical interpretation. The problem is that there are literally thousands of other interpretations, some more or less mainstream; some admittedly on the fringe. Once you abandon a purely literal interpretation and start to construe certain parts of the text as allegorical or perhaps metaphorical, or argue that some of the provisions relate to some parts of history but not others, there really aren’t a whole lot of rules generally agreed upon as to how to make those distinctions.
This tends to set the stage for interpreting the Bible according to one’s internal preferences. Not infrequently, this leads to Christians arguing that all of the other priestly laws described in Leviticus are now no longer binding, although with the exception of the abomination of homosexuality. Often that’s the only law they feel that still operates in full force. What kind of argument can you bring to bear against that? There aren’t any formal criteria set forth anywhere for making this decision, other than the fact that a whole lot of people in the society find even the thought of homosexuality to be pretty icky. It’s a short step from icky to abominable, when you have a Book of Leviticus at hand.
I have no problem with anyone getting tattooed or pierced or otherwise body-modified, although I don’t happen to have any such modifications myself. On the other hand, I do have a problem with tattooed people arguing vehemently that Leviticus 18:21 proves that I’m an abomination who ought not to have the same basic civil rights that anyone else has. I don’t regard any text as divine or outside the range of human interpretation, although I understand that other people do. You can perhaps understand why I’m a bit skeptical about this whole process of picking and choosing which parts of an ancient text ought to justify persecuting me, and which parts are really just anthropology or advice. Absent formal rules, it seems that the process of scriptural interpretation is often more about finding justifications for personal preferences that it is any kind of consistent or rational exegesis.
Yes, I agree with you. When I saw Hemant’s post on that, I did wonder what was the point.
I’m atheist and I agree with you, Benjamin; Hemant’s article seems like a cheap shot. (BTW: I subscribe to his blog and yours.)
I have seen atheists quote Leviticus verses when a fundamentalist uses Leviticus to justify condemning homosexuals. (I do this, and have been doing quite frequently lately, regarding those who condemn same-sex marriage as a sin. Though, I’ve never used the “tattoos are a sin, too!” response.)
Many have come out of fundamentalist circles and that experience, unfortunately, has colored the way they view all of Christianity.
I don’t speak for Hemant, but I think he was probably just poking fun at Christians hypocrisy and cherry picking, and I would say the cherry picking criticism actual applies more to liberal Christians than fundies.
Yeah, I get this a LOT. And in some cases fundies bring it on themselves by citing Leviticus as something Christians SHOULD be following.
None of us are where we ‘ought to be’ in our walk. Even Paul said ‘the things I want to do I don’t and the things I don’t want to do, that I do’. But to call yourself Christian means you are ‘In Christ’ or in other words Christ is in You. So it’s safe to call ourselves Christians and it is only when we receive our Glorified bodies that we will then ‘Be Like Him’. So I hope he comes to realize one day that he can call himself Christian no matter where he is in his walk with the Lord.
Very glad I found this article. I am someone who has had to let a lot of “church”, doctrine and “christianity” go so that I could rediscover my faith. I am currently wading through the book “why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed cross the road?” by Brian D McLaren. That, together with “So you don’t want to go to church anymore?” (jakecolsen.com), is helping me to get free of the religious chains and find Jesus to be real, involved and trustworthy.
I don’t necessarily look at the progressive Christian channel much. But, this was really great. Thanks for the post.
I believe the above to be a better decision than staying a “christian” if what is described above as “christian” is actually true. However, the problem of waiting for goodness (Christ) to engulf all that is and is done on earth still remains. Follow Christ – wonderful! Still get screwed, see all manner of hell on earth (ISIS, et al) and see nothing done about it? – not so wonderful. God need not wait a trillionth of a second to make all evil, everywhere disappear, so why wouldn’t he do this? What is he waiting for? THIS is the question that TRULY needs answering, but I am not holding my breath.
I struggled with the same issue for a long time(Totally get St Paul’s helplessness to change himself, totally get total depravity and St Augustine).
The good news of Christianity is that impossible is now possible. A grown person can change, in totality, inside out. We can be Christ-like because God gave himself to us to unite with us. It’s not a metaphor or a doctrine we are obliged to believe although it doesn’t manifest itself in real life at all. It’s a real, experiential thing. It’s not like constant self-discipline to do good according to the Word outside of us, but it feels like a natural manifestation of your own personality, except for the fact that it’s technically not. It’s God’s. The Word is a person, a person who resides in us! He’s not a set of rules, or a disciplinarian outside us.
But to reach this point, I believe the soul should go through something like a second conversion, where you love God for God Himself and Himself alone, not even for good and godly things He gives. This is subject to the person’s walk of faith but God knows very well how to get a soul there, if you are willing. A total surrender enables a union with God like never before. Because of this closest union between the two souls, you deify, become like God(A doctrine in Eastern Orthodox). I would have condemned this kind of doctrine as heretic but now I get it. Oh by the way I am Catholic, and my frequent confessions and Sacrament of Confirmation helped me get to this point.
Yours is a thoughtful reply, but ultimately, at least for me, not convincing. Why must we be god’s hands and feet when: a.)The best of us do a pretty lousy job of it. b.)When he is so OVERWHELMINGLY able to provide all he promises Heaven will be RIGHT NOW??? Why wait? So more can go to Hell, or be abused for god’s sake? Good grief, when does it end, guys?!!? It is a desecration of language to describe a god wh waits as all loving. I wouldn’t wait 2 seconds in bringing Heaven to earth if I was able (I’m obviously not) and I admit fully that I am evil!!! So what is god waiting for?!!? Please, someone, answer!! I really need to know.
I recommend looking up my church Wiregrass Church. Our pastor is Andy Stanley. ..Charles Stanley’s son, but oh so different than daddy.
Your final statement “I’m OK with that” You should never be OK with just being a follower, you should be striving to be more that just a follower. I also have quit following the teaching of the local church but I claim to be a disciple of Jesus be cause I’m always learning from His teachings and like you His teachings have become more clear to me sense I left the confines of worldly Christianity. I applaud you for sharing your message as you did. Your on the right path; keep Him in focus.
How is it possible to become more than a follower of Jesus? That’s the pinnacle.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone
wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to
become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow
me cannot be my disciple.
When Jesus said “take up your cross and follow me” He was
headed for Golgotha. Are you still willing to follow Him?
To just follow Jesus is one thing, there have been many
people who have followed, but there’s always a point where you’re not willing to continue because of the treacherous terrain (some where your just not willing to go); but if you’ve given yourself to Him in complete submission then you are not just merely following Him but you have surrendered to His guidance. Then where ever He goes regardless of the consequences or the cost, you will follow. This is being more than “just” a follower. Just being a follower can turn back at any time.
Sometimes things get ruff, sometimes money gets tight,
sometimes evil will seem to prevail in a bad situation; in these times people who have followed at a distance will give up because it would seem to them that God had forsaken them. Jesus was betrayed, humiliated, condemned and put to death, and He endured it to the bitter end… Yet through it all, after it was all said and done, God was Glorified… Some people are not willing to follow Jesus to the conclusion of a bad situation and see the Glorify of our Almighty God. So don’t just follow Jesus – Make a commitment to surrender to His will as His disciple.
Whym Johnny, when god is so hugely able to end suffering and evil right this minute?!!? No one ever asks why!!! Why would an all-loving god see more of his creation harmed, killed, raped, etc. instead of acting RIGHT NOW?!!?
Read the bible for yourself and ask ‘Jesus to come into your heart.
You are on the right road now. ‘christianty is a enemy of christ. Jesus is one spirit and christianity are many. Look at all the evil people in the world that sat that they are christians.
You do not need a church. Christ lives inside of those who loves him
just because a person labels himself ‘christian’ does not mean he is a follower of ‘Jesus”…..Jesus’ true followers knows this. christians are a group or groups of people who CLAIM to be christ-like but really or not. thank you.