Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

What Does God Think Of Churches?

In Church, God, Hell, Life, Relationships on February 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24 The Message

For those who believe the Bible is God’s word, or inspired by God, here is God’s opinion of what I think very aptly describes religious Christianity, spoken through Amos the prophet.

When I was a devoted church-goer, I would have ignored the full brunt of this scripture on the basis of two aspects:  One, The Message translation is not a valid Bible translation and two, churches perpetuate justice so we don’t have to worry about God’s hatred of our injustice.

Although I wouldn’t say that anyone has to necessarily worry about anything, I now believe that The Message is a very valid translation and that institutional churches are most certainly unjust.

Let’s look at Amos’ same scripture passage in the New King James version, a widely accepted translation by Christians that is supposed to be true to its intent:

“ I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Although written to a different culture in a different era, the religious rituals of holy days, or a day set apart from the rest, assembling, offerings and worship music are still the subjects. And God still hates them even in the King James translation. This appears to be the case in the other major translations as well.

Does God only hate the religious ceremonies if there is injustice happening behind the scene? For the sake of argument, let’s say that God adores religious rituals even though we could make a strong case from the New Testament that God indeed, does not.

So now the question is whether or not the traditional Christian church is free from the guilt of injustice. I think it would be impossible to determine every individual heart in the matter and I’m not interested in doing so anyway. But as a general whole, what portrayal might the church system give to God?

Ah, where do we start? If you suspect that this blog post is a church-bashing, you can be sure that it is. And I think it’s about time that I personally speak against the system (not necessarily individual people) that claimed my “faith” in the name of God for far too long.

Should I mention all the money that has been poured into church buildings and the creation of a religious empire while the rest of the world faces the most detrimental threats to its existence in all of history? I’m not only talking about diseases killing off millions of children, or unclean water supplies or 40 million a year aborted babies or genocides. I’m also talking about environmental threats like nanotechnologies and other artificial life possibly destroying the planet in the future. Does the Christian church even care?

How can it care when it teaches its members that the world is evil and God is going to judge and destroy it one day after he pulls his favorites (whom he had chosen before they were born) out through some rapturous safety?

Or maybe we should talk about the so-called justice of hell. What kind of a God would punish people by tormenting them for eternity for not believing in him? Or why would he hurt the people we are commanded to love? Why would a creator create souls knowing their tragic end which is not only tragic, but a horrific nightmare of the worst kind that we could possibly imagine? Is that justice? Really?

Is it just to teach that salvation is not of works and then proceed to teach all of the things one must do to ensure their salvation?

Is it just to teach that a perfect and sovereign God expects humans to lead a perfect life after creating them with an imperfect human nature?

And is it just to say that humans have a free will when we are all created just as we are, in the environment that we live in, with the parents and culture and era we are born into, and with all of our severe limitations?

And yet this God demands that all peoples of every race and nation know the Bible, attend a Christian church and believe all of the Christian theologies? Is that somebody’s idea of a joke?

How just is it to “love” your own but hate the rest of the world?

The greatest injustice for me right now is the hate mail I have been receiving from proper church-goers who have a problem with my departure from the Christian religion. This is all in the name of love, of course, and in concern of my salvation. I have been called some very vicious names that I would like to forget. And I have been assured over and over again that God is going to judge me and send me to a very hot place someday very soon.

I suppose I should laugh it off. But the disturbing thing about it is that this was me not too long ago. I, too, was sending people just like myself… to hell.

Only now I can see that I did not love “those” people. I was not even allowed to love myself. I thought I loved everyone, but now I wonder if I even liked them. How could I love them if they were going to be judged and destroyed by God? And why get attached to people if I was only going to be separated from them in a very painful way?

Although I am still trying to shake off my shackles, after leaving the religious system, my beliefs have changed. I now believe that there is nothing I can think, say or do to increase or lessen God’s love for me. It’s not possible because God is love and I cannot change God.

And now I believe that love – love, love, love – is God’s idea of justice. I had no idea.

If God loves me, then I can love me too. I am now free to listen to my own heart and mind, and believe whatever I want to believe about God. I am also free to be my honest self, or at least attempt to discover who I am. I am free to be imperfect and even angry. I might still be a hypocrite, only I no longer have to apologize for it. God still loves me.

I believe that God loves the Christians too. But God hates religion. Why? I no longer have the arrogance to say I can speak for God or anyone else, but I can speak for myself. Personally, I think that maybe God hates religion and its empty ceremonial rituals because we hate it.

Truly, deep down inside, if we are allowed to and brave enough to embark on an adventure to our own soul, I think we would know that mere rituals disconnect us from reality. An artificial righteousness tears us away from living as we were created to live. Our dishonesty hurts ourselves. It destroys our relationships. Sending people to hell creates walls among our family and our friends. Pouring our time, energy and resources into a religious system steals our lives from the real community of the world around us.

The problem is that religion blinds us to all of these things. We think we are happy when we are miserable. We think we are rich when we are poor. We think we are singing to God with all of our heart when we are really only repeating theologies, enforcing our religious conditioning. We think we can see reality when we have been trained to focus on an illusion.

One day I will finally be free from my anger toward the injustice of the system that claims to represent God and teaches people to know “God.” I will have matured enough to understand that there is a purpose for religious injustice. God will have transformed this evil into good. I will no longer feel the need to defend myself against Christian hate mail. I will be able to see all of the beauty in the souls that call themselves Christians. And I will finally know peace between myself and my fellow human beings, religious or not.

But until then, I am now enjoying my freedom to be an imperfect human being, just as I was created. And I no longer make any apologies for taking responsibility for my own beliefs, nor living them out. I also am not sorry for being honest with you, my reader, whether it draws us together or (temporarily) tears us apart.

Personally, whoever God is, I think that religion is what God hates and Christianity is a religion. And I think that God hates it, because I hate it. And right or wrong, I hate it because of what it does to people.

  1. Sometimes, I wondered if you were baiting your facebook buddies with your well worded questions. But, I have come to the conclusion that you ask deep questions because you are sincerely looking for valid answers.

    As I have said before, You are a very gifted writer. As a single mom with all of those responsibilities, I don’t know how you find time to write. Keep it up. You are challenging people to think and touching lives.

  2. Don, yes I am sincerely looking for valid answers! Thank you so much for understanding that.

  3. Yur goin’ta hell Punky. I keep tellin’ ya dat. How do I repost this?

  4. I love that you have totally let it out with this one, Elizabeth. I am refreshed to see a deeper part of your honesty. Great passage in Amos.. wow! Sure describes churches today. It goes right along with Ezekiel 34 and how he feels about pastors too. 😉

    • Lisa, I REALLY appreciate your comment. Although I’m finding that I have only begun to barely scratch the surface of honesty, I’m looking forward to the adventure. The freedom to be honest: As a Christian, I hardly understood such a concept.

  5. A fascinating post. I wholeheartedly agree with every point you make! I would describe myself as an open-minded atheist. I have no issue with faith, but have been dissuaded from belief in the goodness of any God by the actions of organised religion. Instead of encouraging harmony and peace, all monotheistic religions seem to be obsessed with control of people through fear and greed. They even attempt to destroy competing religions, as witnessed in the many religious conflicts in history and modern day, in order to strengthen their control. It is true that man is flawed and sinful. It is sadly ironic that many of these sins are carried out in the name of God.

    • Simon, if you’re on Facebook I hope you will add me as a friend. You can find my link under the “My Story” tab.

  6. I am so thankful I found your blog. What an inspiration you are.

  7. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. Quote Personally, whoever God is, I think that religion is what God hates and Christianity is a religion. And I think that God hates it, because I hate it. And right or wrong, I hate it because of what it does to people. endquote

    sorry…I have no idea how to do the quote thing in comments that some people do…This is such a great post and this last statement says a lot. While I don’t think that God hates religion simply because you hate it (just like I don’t think he loves it because some people love it) I DO think that religion tells us how we have to “be” so that God can love us….and that is where ‘religion’ fails miserably. I believe that God’s purpose in Jesus was to END religion…not make it more important…quite contrary to what most Christians say…but the problem is….Christians are generally religious and have turned the story of Jesus into the story of religion. I don’t follow how you get to your conclusion….but you get to the same one that I believe Jesus had in mind, which is very cool.

  9. thanks elizabeth. you have inspired me to start a blog where i can be brutally honest also. your deep, honest thinking–honest expression—articulate writing are all refreshing. i really like the quote about love being god’s idea of justice.

  10. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. — John 3:16

    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” — John 14:15-17

    If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:6-10

    The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live (just) as he lived. — 1 John 2:3-6

    Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. — 1 John 2:9-11

  11. I have the same questions as you do, unfortunately all I get in response from the church is: “you are not ‘saved’ and you better repent!” or “it’s OK to ask questions, just don’t question (authority).”…

    On top of all that, how can I repent if God hasn’t “chosen” me? It reeks of unfairness!

  12. Ummm…Anthony? Did YOU actually have a response to the blog? Not sure what you were trying to say there exactly…curious. Please, thanks.

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