Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Just To Clarify My Beliefs (At This Particular Moment)

In Everything Else on February 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm

While I no longer feel the need to have my theological ducks organized into neat little rows, for communication purposes, it might help others (and myself) to explain my current beliefs. Keep in mind that these could be different tomorrow. All of a sudden there are all kinds of different perspectives on life and spirituality to take into consideration when one becomes aware of the fact that they actually didn’t know it all.

I’ll do this in a conversational format in order to spice it up a little, as I (without much fondness) recall different questions that people have used to interrogate me.

Well-intentioned, ignorant Christian: Are you a Christian? (In other words, do you love Jesus Christ and claim Him as your Lord and Savior?)

Me:  I no longer identify myself as a Christian nor with any other religious label. As far as I know about the man called the Christ in the Bible, I’d like to think that I love him and every other human being as well. But love is an area where I think I am growing. I don’t claim anyone as my Lord and Savior because I am not a Hebrew, a feudal peasant, nor a Christian that speaks Christianese. 

Christian:  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Me:   Yes, I believe that the Christ in the Bible is the son of God. I also believe that I am a daughter of God, and that all of humanity makes up God’s sons and daughters.

Christian:  Do you believe in the deity of Christ?

Me:  Yes. I also believe in the divinity of humanity.

Christian:  So you don’t think there is anything special about Jesus Christ?

Me:  I think he is very special. Ghandi, Hudson Taylor and Joseph Stalin were quite special as well. So are you. And so am I. Everyone and every thing seems to have its own special and unique purpose in this world. Have you discovered yours?

Christian:  Do you believe in the trinity?

Me:  From what I understand about the institutional church’s doctrine of the trinity, this doctrine has been repeatedly enforced through bloodshed and the threat of it, such as in the case of Michael Servetus in the 16th century who was sentenced to death by burning for holding a nontrinitarian faith. Like everything, I think the trinity doctrine has some truth in it, such as the harmony between God and the Christ, but whether it is true or false, I cannot support a church doctrine that has caused so much confusion, has forced so many people to believe it for salvation and excludes so many souls from God.

Christian:  How do you define God?

Me:  I don’t think I will ever be able to come up with an adequate definition for “God.” I currently understand God as the source of life and all that exists. If it exists, then it is of God and it is good. I do not think that God can be confined to a single religion or belief. And that is about all I know about my belief in God at this point in time.

Christian:  Do you believe that God is evil?

Me:  If evil exists (as we might understand it) then I believe it comes from God, as nothing can exist apart from God, but I would not say that God is evil. I believe that God is good and that the plan for the world, even with all of its tragedies, is a plan of goodness for all.

Christian:  Do you believe the Bible is God’s inspired word and that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness? And do you believe the original manuscripts were inerrant?

Me:  I believe the Bible is inspired by God and that it contains a lot of beneficial insight for understanding God. I also believe that the entire world is inspired by God, which I think means, God-breathed. So no one is dependent upon a pen, the printing press, literacy or a Bible teacher in order to “know” the source of my life and your life, as far as that understanding is even possible. Since, thankfully, nothing is “perfect” in this world, I have no reason to believe the original manuscripts were inerrant.

Christian:  Do you believe in the virgin birth of Christ and in substitutionary atonement?

Me:  I don’t know, and no. I do not believe in a God who requires blood in order to atone for sin, nor do I believe that the shedding of blood removes guilt. But it can certainly add to guilt. As far as I understand, I think it was the demanding religious leaders who crucified the Christ for his supposed blasphemy. I also think that many religious leaders and believers still demand atonement for sins by way of repentance, which often means a change of behavior or adherence to a religious ritual such as prayer. Apparently, they do not believe in substitutionary atonement either, or at least they don’t seem to believe that the death of Christ was enough to atone for the sins of the world. Otherwise, I think that sin would be a non-issue for them.

Christian:  Do you think that sin is a non-issue?

Me:  As far as judgment might be concerned, yes. I believe that love, as opposed to the shedding of blood, covers a multitude of (all) sins.

Christian:  Are homosexuals living in sin?

Me:  We all live in sin and God dwells among and within sinners as well. Why do Christians point out the perceived sin of gays and fail to see the hate of doing so? If one is basing their life on the Bible, the Bible says that failing to show mercy is an abomination to the Lord. It also says that love is the greatest commandment. Is it possible that religious rituals and doctrines can blind us to our failure to love? I see much more love among the gays to their partners than I do from Christians toward Non-christians.

Christian:  Do you believe that humans are born in sin?

Me:  I believe that all humans are born with a severe case of ignorance but that we are capable of growing in knowledge, understanding and goodness to at least some degree.

Christian:  Do you believe in hell, which is everlasting punishment?

Me:  No. I believe in love. I think that any suffering on earth or in an afterlife is simply a means for all to grow in love and personality, and therefore to grow in our ability to experience life in its fullness.

Christian:  Shouldn’t you be afraid of the possibility of hell?

Me:  Now see, that’s manipulation talking. I no longer believe that making some human mistake is going to be so fatal that I will have to be punished for eternity by a God who created me as a human that makes mistakes. What is the point of living with that fear anyway? I don’t see any benefit to it.

Christian:  Do you believe in reincarnation?

Me:  Yes, I believe that death is a new birth. In what form the after-life exists for anyone, I do not know.

Christian:  If you do not believe the Bible is God’s inspired word, then what is your standard for truth?

Me:  I’d like to remind you that I believe the Bible is inspired by God, although I don’t prefer to use those terms. And the Bible does not claim to be the standard for truth. In fact, it says that truth is a spirit, and that this spirit of truth “dwells within” us. So I take responsibility for and determine my own beliefs according to what I believe is true – just like everyone else does.

Christian:  So everyone can believe whatever they want?

Me:  Exactly. (Apart from mind conditioning)

Christian:  Are you New Age?

Me:  No. I am too critical and “down to earth” to be New Age, but I’d to like learn from everyone’s beliefs or religions. I think that all people have something to contribute to our understanding of the world and beyond. I also think that every person, belief and religion is mistaken to at least some degree.

Christian:  Are you Buddhist, or Hindu?

Me:  Like I’ve said more than once very recently, I do not think I fit into any particular religion or belief system. I’ve been called different labels according to who is doing the labeling. I am considered a heretic according to Christians because I do not believe in many fundamental Christian doctrines. But I’d like to think of myself simply as your fellow human being. I’m tired of the pointless divisions and walls among humanity. I’d like to remove my own conditioned prejudices as well, as much as is possible.

Christian:  Why do you tear down Christians and Christianity so much?

Me:  I actually respect the beliefs of Christians as well as those who practice Judaism, Islam or any other religion. I think that religion plays a vital role in our world. I would like to see a greater freedom of religion, along with a greater freedom from religion.

When I question and challenge Christian doctrine, I am doing this for personal reasons. From the age of five years old until three years ago, I was very involved in a “non-denominational” Christian church – much more involved than the average church-goer. I attended many worship services, Bible studies and church activities. I served in ministries, went to Bible college, worked at my church, married in the church, and became a missionary for my church. Because it was a lifestyle that I would now like to abandon, it will take some time for me to replace the church’s indoctrination with my own beliefs, in my own mind.

So this is why I write. Together with friends on similar journeys, I am trying to unravel just what I believe and do not believe. I understand this can be offensive to Christians who hold these doctrines so dear to themselves, but as long as I am voicing my opinions on my personal domains such as in my own home, private conversations, my personal blog, my Facebook page or a network devoted to that purpose, I am not infringing upon anyone’s beliefs unless they freely choose to listen to them. I like to remind others to please return the favor when commenting on my personal property. Freedom of religion means nothing without freedom from religion as well, in my opinion.

With respect to my freedom to question my own beliefs, I think this will help people understand that I am not trying to upset or offend anyone. It is simply a personal journey of shedding off assumed doctrine so that I can decide for myself what I actually believe. I still think and act like I am bound by a religion at times, but my hope is that I will be able to truly love, respect and appreciate all persons and beliefs, while not becoming a mind slave to anyone or anything. I’m not there yet and I’m not sure that I ever will arrive. But I thank you for your patience. Besides some Christian resistance, the recent part of my journey has been quite wonderful and liberating. I have also met some very kindred soul friends along the way.

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  1. Very beautiful, open and honest. I like it.

  2. Oooooooo….Pun-keeeeeeee, yur goin’a H-E-double hockey sticks!!!!

  3. I understand that something in excess of two million Christians are leaving the churches of Europe and North America EVERY YEAR.
    I moved outside the walls of traditional Christianity almost 40 years ago – and then in 1995 I was forced for a second time to reconsider just about everything I had ever been taught. I cannot remember a time when I doubted the existence of God but even at the age of 14 I was questioning what I was being taught about the trinity and for the next 60 years I continued to ask questions. Finally last year I realised that I no longer have to defend my faith.

    I came to the conclusion some time ago that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH and I sense that Elizabeth has highlighted several of those differences in her questions and answers.

    On my blog I have drawn together what I have described as “Some of the Awkward Questions” that we as committed Christians need to consider if we are to be ready to share something of the true faith with others.

    I have said near the beginning of the blog, “If you are convinced that those who do not accept Jesus as their Saviour in this life will go to hell when they die you probably won’t want to read any further”.

    Elizabeth has said she is trying to unravel just what she believes and does not believe. I would suggest that this is an ongoing process and that there are few cut and dried answers – individually we are only seeing small parts of the jigsaw – and our views change as our understanding grows.

    Maybe some of the questions I have asked on my blog will help others to consider their own thoughts in more detail.

  4. I’m in much the same place. If only we could pass a copy of this out to everyone _before_ they began asking the same old questions and making assumptions. 🙂

  5. Keep on standing, speaking and living this because it is so beneficial to those who are breaking free and of course to you.:). Much love Elizabeth…much much

  6. From one heretic to another, great writing… let us hope it opens the door for others to follow.

  7. […] “Just To Clarify My Beliefs (At This Particular Moment)” by Elizabeth Related Posts:[Salvation of All] The Reconciliation of All ThingsSalvation Has Rescued Us From Ignorance To UnderstandingDoes 1 Timothy 4:1 tell us that we should not be trying to think spiritually?[Video Testimony] How Church Destroyed my Faith but Jesus Found Me: A Tale of Coming to Universal ReconciliationReflections on a Trinitarian View of the Cross test Filed under Blog | Tags: alive, all, believers, Christ, christian, church, commandments, cross, die, Father, God, inclusive, Jesus, love, mainstream christianity, New, new covenant world, non-believers, organisation, peace, Spirit | Comment (0) […]

  8. Thank you for the encouraging comments, all. They mean a lot to me.

    I updated my post by adding a question about gays. Here is the addition to the post:

    Christian: Are homosexuals living in sin?

    Me: We all live in sin and God dwells among and within sinners as well. Why do Christians point out the perceived sin of gays and fail to see the hate of doing so? If one is basing their life on the Bible, the Bible says that failing to show mercy is an abomination to the Lord. It also says that love is the greatest commandment. Is it possible that religious rituals and doctrines can blind us to our failure to love? I see much more love among the gays to their partners than I do from Christians toward Non-christians.

  9. […] Bible, or can the experience of the oppressed be a source of theology?  And this reminds me of a post by Elizabeth, whose blog I read fairly regularly.  Elizabeth said: “I believe the Bible is […]

  10. The total peace I have found is, for me, in Universalism, where God brings all his children home to him at some point in time. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned first, or, for others, punishment, whatever that may be. But, all will be there. Luke 3:6 All mankind will see God’s salvation. We need not live in fear and judgment of others, or worry about our children’s salvation. We need only find peace and joy as we can, and search for social justice as we are able.

  11. Elizabeth,

    I don’t know how to create a trackback so I will post here that I’ve written a post to link to this entry.
    http://chroniclesofachristianheretic.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-she-said.html
    Thanks so much for writing! I’m sorry if I didn’t respond directly to you on FB when I should have.

    Sandra

  12. […] “Just To Clarify My Beliefs (At This Particular Moment)” by Elizabeth […]

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