Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

If Salvation Is All About Fear I Don’t Want Anything To Do With It

In Freedom, Life, Suffering on March 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

One day I told my church friends that I was going for a walk… and I kept walking. Fast forward several years and I find myself still somewhat in the jungle of confusing Christian thought, but working to unravel its strangle from around my neck nonetheless.

In the minds of some of my Christian friends, I’ve walked away from God. I have abandoned the truth. I have stepped outside of the safety and protection of the church. There’s a root of bitterness in me. I’ve been deceived by Satan, enticed by the world, fallen into sin; I have made up my own God, I exalt myself as God, and I’m in danger of hell fire. If you can think of any other horrible things to say about me, you can add those to the list too. I’ve got a few people in my life who like to consistently remind me of this personal impending doom. And uh, gee, thanks guys. I wish you could see all the fear and manipulation behind your accusations.

From a different perspective – mine – my life has finally just begun. I know that sounds pretty narcissistic but somehow the guilt trips don’t work on me anymore. Maybe my conscience really is seared, but I still don’t give a rat’s ass. Being out of the church means, at least to me, that I get to live life. And how can I apologize for that?

But this new life of honesty isn’t all fun and games. Reality still isn’t so easy to accept, even if there isn’t a God of wrath and eternal burning sulfur.

I’ve had this one nagging thought that has been pestering me for quite a while. For the most part I have successfully ignored it but it keeps coming back to insidiously haunt me. So I decided to pretend I was brave and face the damn thing.

What did I have to lose? I don’t have to be afraid that it will make me feel bad. Negative emotions no longer mean to me that God is withholding his blessings from my life. They also don’t mean that God is judging me. In fact, I now think that any kind of emotional pain actually serves a valuable purpose….

But anyway, this has been my nagging thought:

What if I’m wrong?

This is a great opportunity for die-hard, traditional Christians to continue on with their accusations. In fact, they might have planted that idea in my head in the first place. But if you tell me that I’m deceived, how do you know that you haven’t been deceived into thinking I’m deceived? We could argue about it for the rest of our lives without ever resolving the issue. I mean, anyone could call anyone a false teacher no matter how many others agree with us.

Everyone has an opinion, and that opinion is biased.

I think it’s pretty funny when pastors preach on the concept of tithing. Whether the Bible supports it or not, and I don’t think it does, at least not according to the modern day general understanding of it, the preaching pastor really isn’t qualified to teach such a thing. Of course you believe tithing is mandated by God. Your entire livelihood depends on it, buddy. If it wasn’t true, then how else are you going to put food on your table and buy your kids new shoes for school?

The teaching pastor has a vested interest in the tithing doctrine. In the realm of politics, we call that “underhanded.” But somehow the pastor seems to have, in many ways, taken the place of God, and so what they teach goes mostly unquestioned. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised. What else would we expect when we’ve got a pulpit on a stage? Like the president of the United States, he or she can pretty much get away with anything.

… which I actually think is totally and completely fine. If someone wants to live their life this way, I think they should have somewhat of a freedom to do so. It would just be nice to call it what it is, instead of making people believe that paying their pastor is akin to giving to God. Unless one believes their pastor really is God. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about finding honest answers to our honest dilemmas. Exactly who can we trust? Probably not a pastor. How about God? I think that is debatable. God obviously allows us to be deceived, as well as for lots and lots of injustice in this world. We can trust God to send some dilemmas our way, and even death. And that’s a promise. But rock solid answers? I think we’d only like to think so.

Should we turn to the Bible? Since the Bible requires human interpretation, we’re right back to square one of placing our trust in Bible teachers with biased opinions or vested interest. Same with friends and mentors. They’ve got their own opinions too which might work pretty well for them.

I also wouldn’t necessarily trust an atheist or agnostic to tell me whether I’m right or wrong. As I pointed out in my last post, they are Christianity’s necessary and naturally created enemy. Christian belief is dependent upon an enemy in order to possess any meaningful truth of heaven and glory. Plus, atheists/agnostics are reactors – not creators of original thought. Just like the Calvinists came up with their five points to combat the points of Arminianism, so have the Atheists protested against belief in God. Without one, the other would probably cease to exist because they are generally two sides of the same coin.

Everyone has an opinion. And this opinion is biased because it’s influenced by environments, experiences and other biased opinions. I just don’t see any way around this fact. Ultimately we all make our own decisions no matter where we get our information. Just because someone said, “God says…” doesn’t make it true. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. It doesn’t make it not true either, but the point is that, one way or another, we’re the ones that decide for ourselves what we want to believe or who we want to believe. And our beliefs are biased. For me, this gives a whole new meaning to the term “heretic.”

If we decide for ourselves what is right or wrong, we might as well start learning how to make our own decisions. I mean, that makes sense to me at least. In the last few years, instead of depending on someone else to do my thinking, I’ve been learning how to consult myself like I’m a schizophrenic Gollum. “How do you really feel about that, Elizabeth?” “Well, Elizabeth, give me some time to really think about that….”

It’s okay for me to use my own mind as well as listen to my own heart. Put the mind and the heart together, and I call this the soul. I now get to live life from deep within my soul. And if anyone has a problem with this, they might want to file their complaint with the God they call creator. All I know is that I popped out of some womb and I had these limbs, a brain and an engine. From all appearances, it seems we were meant to use them.

Back to my nagging thought which I would like to go away. I think I’ve had to come to grips with the idea that although I have some pretty amazing cognitive ability, I am also mistaken in many ways – just like I always have been.

I am mistaken.

I just don’t know everything.

There it is. How do I feel about that? On one hand, it really kinda sucks.  I like to pride myself on my God-created intelligence. But apparently, I’ve also got some God-created ignorance. I get to work with both even though secretly I’d like to ignore my ignorance as much as possible.

On the other hand, to open my eyes to the possibility that I am probably making some detrimental mistakes that I will have to pay for later… actually feels pretty good. Now I get to be human. I don’t have to pretend I’m otherwise. I get to ask questions and even challenge my own self. I get to learn from a wider array of resources, because I need them. I get to explore, discover, debate, fall down, get back up, and then trip over my own two feet. Sure, it will include suffering, but suffering is part of life.

In short, I get to live. Because living also includes, rather than excludes, pain and dying, I don’t feel a need for an enemy. I don’t have to escape my guilt but I can listen to it. There’s no more room for judging because there is no more fear. Accusations just don’t hold a lot of weight anymore. Yeah, so I’m wrong. So what? You’re wrong too. Is that a problem? Are we so afraid of making a mistake and suffering for it that we avoid living life?

You can keep your fear. I want to live the life given to me.

 

Auto: On the axiom you will survive.

Captain: I don’t want to survive. I want to live!

~ from the movie Wall-E

 

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  1. Well said E!

  2. Tell me if I am wrong….you want to experience love and not judgement…freedom and not law…the fat captain and not the robotic Auto (Otto-I think of him as Otto). You want the freedom to be a complete screw-up…you want the freedom to doubt the absolutisms that are rampant in organized religions…you want, or more appropriately NEED the ability to use your mind and judgement to come to conculsions even if they are different from what is commmanded of you (usually by organized religion) and you want to freedom to be wrong because you know you often are. To be honest, you are starting to practice christianity for the first time in your life is what it sounds like to me. I never had that horrible experience…but I was always given freedom in my faith (it does exist)…and that includes complete doubt that there is a God at all. Although I have come back to Jesus, I have not come back to religion…two very different things. I thnk Jesus called the most religious that he dealt with as ‘children of hell’…pretty harsh. Of course…he was a bad-ass who hated religion.

    m

  3. Very Good job for my first read. After all these years there is some comfort that I am not the only one with close to the same thoughts. This line we walk is so fragile or do we just make it that way in our mind? We could cast of some of the worthless thoughts Satan love to tangle us up in and then we would have much more simple and focused to be more productive. Anyway thanks for the provoking thoughts. Keep it up.. Good to see He is fine tuning you still. 🙂

  4. Hey, E. Really enjoy your thoughts. I can relate to it. For me God is & he(or she) is about being. He (for simplicty’s sake) is a person. A someone who relates to us. I’ve found the better place to connect with this person is outside of the Church, which has too many agendae. I read your journey with interest, for it is a journey many are taking these days. T

  5. I hear you…however, the Bible clearly tells us that we will REAP that which we have SOWN (good as well as bad). You can not set aside the Word of God just because you don’t agree with something. God’s Word is ALWAYS the Truth…our opinions have nothing to do with it or are able to change God’s Word.

    Regarding tithing I understand your position. However, it is irresponsible of you to imply that a pastor teaches tithing just so he will have a pay check etc. Money collected in tithing is used to support the pastor as well as run the church and reach out to others. On the other hand, God ONLY wants a cheerful giver. If one give out of obligation instead of love then they are just going through the religious motions.

    Remember…the Word of God says that the workman is WORTH of his meat (pay)…and don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. The pastor is the ox that is there for those who are in need of prayer, food, clothing etc. If there is no finances to do this he or she will be totally ineffective for touch those in need.

    Thinks about things like this before your blog next time.

    Blessings
    Gregg Huestis

    • You sound brainwashed, Gregg. Tell me, how is paying someone for pastoral love and care any different than hiring a prostitute? Sure, she’ll give you all the love you need – for your money. If that works for you, then great but I’d rather have sex for love; otherwise, I think I’d always have to wonder if someone was using me for my money. I think the one being paid off would feel used too.

      You can’t turn relationships of the body of Christ into a payment plan. It destroys the natural love. The high priests tried to do it by exchanging the temple for a marketplace, and if I understand correctly, Christ was pretty ticked off about that.

    • Right with ya Gregg

  6. Just keep going for it…I cheer you on in your journey….let nothing or no one stop you!!
    My opinion is that it’s not so much about right and wrong or good and bad but evolving in consciousness and yes, choices….sometimes they are ones we wish we had done differently but still…lessons to be learned from everything we choose…one way or the other…not good or bad…just what is…and there is freedom in that…freedom to make mistakes and learn from them and not beat yourself up for making them…freedom from guilt and condemnation….hmmmmm, sounds like good news to me!

  7. Greg. U sound still quite religious to me. Hey it’s your choice. But tithing today is being abused from the pulpit. An interesting book is pagan Christianity by frank viola

  8. Yes to what Jacqi said! It’s not about good and bad, everything just IS. We do get back what we give out, but really, that’s just the wonderful way the world works. If we don’t like what we are getting, we can start giving something different back. We are always creating, just like the One Who Created us. Everyday we think thoughts and do actions that bring things into being. It’s all a grand experiment. And if we mess it up along the way, Grace is there to help us clean it up and make it all better. Valuable lessons are learned. Living is Great!

    P.S. Gregg, the bible in not the Word of God. The bible is not equal to Truth. The bible is much too small for that. Only God is truth, and He cannot be contained in a book.

  9. Elizabeth, Keep walking on the road to freedom. It’s an awesome road! Keep your ears open for that little voice of the SPIRIT and keep walking! GO girl!! Blessing

  10. Thanks for your comments, everyone! I love to hear your thoughts whether you agree or disagree.

    • WOW….Elizabeth, sounds like you had a very rough life, you saw and experienced things that molded your thoughts. You have made choices in your life(that you obviously feel regretful for)and I feel that your current thoughts derive from your own feelings of iniquity…you FEEL judged…so you have chosen to pull away and feel Free.
      WOW!! It appers to me you fear judgement, thus you chose to depart yourself from the bible because your GOD given conscious causes you to feel bad…so inorder to escape your mind has formed your own understanding of GOD. AND you as many well educated people, follow the thoughts of scolars in “their: books…that is the same mentality the the TV persona: Oprah Winffrey has. She too, has had a difficult life, and has made her choices, and she feels judged. So, she denies Jesus Christ as the only way to get to the “Light” aka GOD. She literally stated that her good deeds will get her to the “Light”. She is currently relying all her energy and beliefs into what some author of a book believes. She is blindly following his believes. And she too, is leading many to her believes. She gives away excessive amount of money and gifts and helps many but, she denies Jesus Chrsit. In the “Bible” Jesus said: “NO one comes the the Father but through me” and “It is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Obviously, a camel would not be able to pass through the eye of a needle…so a rich man (Oprah) would not be ble to get to the kingdom of heaven.
      So what’s the difference, We believe in GOD, She believes in the light, We believe GOD wants us to walk the narrow path, She believes her good deeds will get her to her light. The difference is your faith…and walking through the narrow path. would it be fair, that we all inherit the kingdom of GOD, even those who blasmphemy?
      Elizabeth…I feel you have chosen to pull yourself away from the bible, and you have your intelectual reasoning behind it. (The BIBLE…which was written and inspired by GOD, how do I know by FAITH.) You asked, “how do we know that it’s his word”, and I say: “because the spirit of God which dwells amongst us on earth assures us of it”. I believe in GOD, It is his devine mercy and grace that has allowed his only begotten son to die for us, but (correct me if I’m wrong} your understanding is that regardless of our decisions he will forgive us, that it’s okay to continue making choices that could ultimately bring you and/or others harm…because GOD loves us and forgives us. Whether you believe in the bible OR NOT…the FACT is that scientists and theologists all agree as evidenced by: documentation that Jesus Christ and his disciples exsisted, Historical fossils such as Noaks Ark, and many other evidenced that GOD is REal, that jesus exsisted, and that the bible was inspired by GOD and written by documented men that walked side by side with Jesus Christ..
      And your claim is that there is no judgment and there is no hell. I am speechless to that…it sounds like you personally hold yourself responsible for you decisions…and you are running.
      GOD…is amazing, he is love, he comes to us in spiritual form and he gave us a conscious to guide us through our choices.
      Elizabeth, the bible states that “the heart is wicked, is seeks self satisgaction (gratification)”…
      GOD gives us all the freedom to choose…and you CHOSE. You made your choice. The way I see it your blogs, are a method you are using to preach your believes…(beware that you are not brainwashing people) you are preaching your beliefs, and GOD in the bible states…WOOOe to him/her who misleads my flock. You seem young…and you have many questions. I just hope and pray that YOU are not wrong…. May GOD guide your thoughts and written words and may he have mercy on your Soul and mine when we stand before him on judgement day, it’s coming whether we believe it OR Not.

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