October 27, 2013
According to christian theology: God expected humanity to consistently please him, obeying him all the time; and any actions of ours that don’t please him, that disobey his will, are called “sin”; and it is for the existence of “sin” in our lives that we need to accept God’s forgiveness.
Looking back, it’s incredible that I had at one time thought this belief to be realistic. How can anyone please or obey anyone else all the time? It can’t be done. It is highly unrealistic to even consider the possibility.
There was never a time when humanity wasn’t trying to learn how to improve their lives, trying things out, observing what does and doesn’t work. There was never a time when anybody consistently walked the proverbial “narrow path”. We are always off balance to some degree, weak, vulnerable to the unknown that lies ahead of us. Sure we try to center ourselves, walk whatever balance beam we’ve created for ourselves. But to expect us to never fall over one side or the other is not reasonable.
And yet, to become a member of the christian church, it is expected of you to accept God’s forgiveness for the existence of sin in this world through his human sacrifice 2000 years ago.
Of course, christians are free to believe what they want to believe, but I don’t see how it’s necessary to accept God’s forgiveness for the existence of sin in this world. And believing in a God that sanctions a human being to be tortured and hung on a cross until death to represent this forgiveness is horrifying.
A reasonable God would not deem the mere existence of sin worthy of being considered an offense. And a moral God would not expect a human sacrifice to overcome this offense, to represent forgiveness. Seeking forgiveness from someone is done after realizing we have hurt them. We didn’t kill Jesus. Nor should we consider the existence of our sin to have killed Jesus. And it’s not necessary to believe that God’s feelings are hurt by our inability to please or obey him all the time! No all wise and knowing God would stoop to such pettiness.
But I did. I believed it whole-heartedly. I lived it, breathed it, taught it, preached it. My past is a closet filled with all sorts of theological beliefs that are now my personal demons. And today I live with the embarrassment and shame, knowing that these ugly, superstitious views were once mine. Of course, I shouldn’t let it get to me. What’s in the past is the past, right? I need to forgive myself for painting the world over with a wide biblical brush, for categorizing or boxing in myself and my fellow human beings in iron age views that judged us for not measuring up to the standards of an imaginary supreme being.
But I didn’t just dabble in it now and then. I wasn’t a “Sunday christian”. My theological daydreaming consisted in believing in all sorts of crazy, egotistical things. There was a time in my past when I believed that I could sense the presence of angels. I once hallucinated that northern lights formed into a picture of a man kneeling outside of a fish’s mouth (read: the book of Jonah). I contemplated the destination of people who had died in my lifetime. I had opinions about what I thought was the “will of God” in certain situations.
For 30 years I believed these kinds of things. It’s not easy for me to get over this. In fact, I’m bitter. I’m bitter that the majority of my life consisted of this kind of behaviour, these kinds of beliefs. And even though I may have a special appreciation for secular humanism coming from an evangelical background, I envy “cradle atheists”. I know we are all guilty of all sorts of foolishness in our lives, atheist and believer, but the kind of foolishness which is my religious past weighs heavily on me.
September 23, 2013
If a christian relies on a substitutionary purpose for Jesus’ death, that christian is still practicing religion. That christian is still living by the archaic rules written in the bible. That christian’s lack of legalistic ritual in everyday living to satisfy salvific restraints still rests on the theological belief that there are sin-revealing rules aimed to condemn humanity despite Jesus’ interception. Any emphasis from that christian on the “freedom” Jesus provides is also an emphasis on those God-given rules.
It’s popular to paint religion as the enemy and Jesus the hero but, to me, the only way Jesus could be portrayed as a hero in this scenario is if those “holy” standards could exist apart from the existence of God. But God is said to be the beginning of all, and his standards are based on his character – which HE deems to be holy. So, these rules used in the evil practicing of christian religion came from God himself. And as much as these rules were/are able to train you in the way you should go they are also able to condemn you to hell if you don’t have a special loving, worshipful relationship with God.
For those believers who like to tout that their beliefs are not religious, non-believers like myself still manage to be condemned by “sin” said to be revealed in us through christian doctrine. How is that not a practice of religion?
July 28, 2013
Poor apologists. They’ve gone from ancient stories of divine demonstrations (or human illusionists) to claiming a remarkably specific yet abstract cause for the unknown beginnings of the universe.
June 26, 2013
I expect, this video will offend a lot of Christians. And more so within the church’s older population (who might as well give up trying to keep it from their internet-informed teens!). Apparently, the Saddlebacking phenomenon is real. And maybe, just maybe, purity parodies such as this one is what it will take to give Christian teens the courage to break through all the reality-hushing that surrounds sex-education dialogue.
June 11, 2013
My experience as a young adult in a Mennonite community included the naive assumption that all Mennonites were heterosexual. Which makes me wonder, was I THAT clueless, or was my community THAT good at making no room for any thoughts about it.
Check out this article from a cool Mennonite magazine: http://www.rhubarbmag.com/featured-content-title/
March 29, 2013
Demonology and the End Times are subjects that I’ve experienced very little education about in the churches or bible schools I’ve attended. I didn’t know if it was because the jury was still out on the biblical interpretations of these subjects or the cringe factor of these subjects alone. I still don’t know. But every now and then I hear Christians refer to Satan and his demons, or the End Times, when trying to articulate a past or future consequence.
This video I just watched draws attention to the need to separate the causation of evil from God…
…and it reminded me of my own struggle over the passage in Isaiah 45:7 that says,
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
This verse isn’t just saying that God can be a trouble-maker, but that he creates “calamities” or “discords”, which sounded (and still sounds) similar to the behaviours of the greek gods I’ve read about. (See also Amos 3:6; and Lamentations 3:38.) And though it’s obvious to some like myself that God (or the gods) is portrayed as a cosmic bully, I’ve heard many attempt to justify this behaviour as divine corporal punishment for the immoral acts of humanity. In other words, God responds to our actions he disapproves of with violence.
This is just another example of how I end up in a place that challenges the view of God being perfectly good. But when I express this result, I’m consistently approached by Christians saying that no one is qualified to challenge God’s moral behaviour. We can’t fault God… we have to blame it on ourselves if it’s a moral calamity and on Satan and his demons if it’s a natural calamity… Or.. I mean.. natural calamities are a result of humanity’s moral calamities… The science? …Well, I guess we just don’t know why natural calamities happen.. or why God chooses to let them happen.
This weekend is Easter weekend. What use to be a time to celebrate the heart of what my religious culture brought me up on. “Jesus Saves!” But saves me from what, exactly?
From death? How is that naturally possible or even good for the natural world?
From sin or imperfection? How is this accomplished with free minds?
From Hell? Really? He’ll keep me from anything good just because I don’t like the guy?
From Satan and his demons? Who’s going to admit to this… out loud… in public?
If God/Jesus exists, I wish he would save us from the disasters/calamities he supposedly said he creates himself. You know? If the so-called “Saviour” could start saving us from his own crap first, that’d be cool.
January 25, 2013
If someone lookin’ to kill me came at me with a club or a rope (especially a rope), I’d like to think I’d have a fighting chance to protect my life. A knife would be different – unless the attacker was horribly coordinated! I think if the artist put the killer in this picture in a wheelchair (just one example), the availability to kill with a gun would become far more apparent.
And what about mass murder? Compare a scenario where there are six potential victims (at least two of them adults) and one killer with a knife vs. the same scenario except the killer has a gun. The more skilled the gunman is the more distance he (or she) can put between himself and the victims (not to mention the emotional distance). The knifeman doesn’t have that luxury. The chances of all six of the potential victims being killed by the gunman is far greater than if the killer only had a knife.
I say, let’s have fun at a firing range all we want, and then leave the guns there – locked up.
If people want to be soldiers, they can join the army.
December 9, 2012
I REMEMBER struggling, as a christian, over the subjectivity of one’s own mind. I struggled with the basic facts that we are fallible and ignorant. And my response was: how do I know anything I believe is true? I can make a mistake about my beliefs and/or I might lack crucial information that would drastically change my perceptions of reality (or as I use to call reality: “The Puzzle”).
It’s like trying to count all the stars at night. What are the chances you over-looked or imagined a bunch of stars that were or were not there? And who said you could actually see all the stars that are out there anyway?!
There were many times when I was humbled by another believer’s insightful knowledge. And, the more I read from thoughtful believers about the faith we shared, the more I realized how little I knew and didn’t understand about what I thought I knew. And yet, I had so much to teach!
More and more, I became uncertain about many of my religious convictions. I became less attached to them as I use to be, some more so than others. After all, I felt I needed to prepare myself to let a belief go if I was shown by others skilled in the knowledge of the bible/theology that I was wrong.
But I wasn’t gonna hand over every belief of mine to be tested. Not just yet. I maintained my belief in God and the bible as God’s revelation. Even though I didn’t know how I could justify those beliefs. All I could say was: “I just know because I have faith“. And then I would find myself struggling over the subjectivity of one’s own mind, again.
Sure, I wasn’t the only person who said their faith gave them knowledge, but everyone’s faith is different. And, more likely then not, one’s divine knowledge contradicted with another’s divine knowledge (much like the writers of the bible). So, I reminded myself that no one has all the pieces of “The Puzzle”. But that reminder didn’t make it easier for me to preach across the pulpit about the meaning of one Puzzle piece without knowing what the whole Puzzle is about.
Then I wondered: how does God, even God, know the whole Puzzle if The Puzzle is never finished? After all, The Puzzle is always changing over time. And even if there was a beginning and end to The Puzzle, and therefore time itself, wouldn’t there also be a beginning and end to God?
“But God is beyond time,” is the cliche conclusive response I’m use to hearing in the church. But they couldn’t explain to me what that statement, they used, actually meant.
Time is the measurement between the beginning and end of a movement. If God is beyond time, then God is beyond movement. How can a non-moving God be alive? And how does a non-moving God create anything?!
Lewis doubted his thoughts but he wouldn’t doubt his feelings about the thought of God’s existence?
And are all thoughts equally distrustful?
And isn’t “upsetting a milk jug” a mistaken analogy for natural selection?