Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Religion Is All About Unbelief

In Deception, Everything Else, Life, Suffering on March 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

Christ, the king of the Jews put an end to the Hebrew religion. This religion had served as a mediator between humanity and God. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the people of God no longer needed a priest or sacrifices or a symbolic holy of holies. (And they never did.) A person could relate directly to God through the soul, and that seems to be the intimacy God wanted with all people, all along.

Three hundred years after Christ put an end to the Hebrew religion, an institution in Rome claiming to be THE church reinstated that religion as… you guessed it, Christianity. It has all of the characteristics of the old Hebrew religion yet it is now under the disguise of Jesus Christ – the very one who put an end to religion as a mediator between God and humanity.

Oh, the irony.

It’s a brilliant deception in my opinion. The same religion that deceived the Jews is currently deceiving the Gentiles; and it’s nothing that it claims to be and everything that it warns against. The unknowing Jews who may or may not have understood their own words authored a Bible which is the same cornerstone of the Gentile religion.

And yet everyone is having a really hard time accepting the end of the story. In the end, all is reconciled back to God from where it originated. But of course, there would be no purpose for religion if anyone actually believed this.

(The deception is so brilliant that I have to wonder if God himself isn’t behind it for some wise and sneaky purpose that goes beyond mere human capacity to understand. But that theory is for another blog post.)

That the religious deception centers on Jesus Christ adds another interesting element to the story. When you take the simple words of a great man such as, “Love one another” and turn them into a monster of a religion, the simple words get destroyed. At least this is what happened to me and to many others I have encountered.

As if I couldn’t get any more heretical, I’ll most likely be writing in the future about how I believe the Christ of Christianity is nothing like the real spirit of Christ, nor did the man ever claim to be God the Son. This is a reversal of his claim as the son of God, of which you and I are the same.

But for this post, I’d like to share a couple of solutions I’ve discovered for relating to what, I mean who, might be considered extremely annoying Christians and their degrading theology – especially when they post this degrading theology on say, your personal Facebook wall. You’re damned if you agree with them and damned if you don’t.

In the past I have resorted to giving up on any communication with Christians whatsoever. This is because it seems that communication just isn’t possible unless one speaks either Christianese or Theologese. I’ve had enough of both of those “languages” for half a lifetime to make me happily want to live in hell for eternity.

But as hard as I’ve tried, there’s just no escaping the Christians. There’s either too many of them or there’s too many of them in my life. Plus there’s no getting around the fact that there are dear, precious souls just like you and me or anyone else underneath the dogmatic persona.

They are my brothers and sisters and I’d like to learn the best way to love them without discrimination, or to at least be at peace with them. Since I was a Christian not too long ago myself, by finding peace with Christianity and Christians, I can also be at peace with my own past and therefore my own self.

Theoretically, my pursuit of peace doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult, but two problems inevitably arise besides the ones aforementioned. 1) The hypnotizing religious beliefs are not only still a part of my own conditioned thinking but they relentlessly continue to pour forth via the mouths of Christian friends. And 2) Being okay with what I believe is spiritual abuse and murder isn’t much different than being okay with physical abuse and murder taking place in my own backyard.

I mean, how do you accept something like that without freaking out? Especially when it was your own soul being used and annihilated not too long ago? On one hand, it seems wrong to keep quiet but on the other hand, it seems pointless to speak out. In one sense, I need to let people figure things out for themselves, but in another sense, we all help each other figure things out. Yet, exactly how much can a brainwashed person hear?

And then there’s the whole presumption that I know the truth and someone else does not. This sounds suspiciously like religion talking again. How do I know I am not equally ignorant and deceived except under another new form? Technically, I don’t know, but I don’t want to fight over the truth anymore. I just want to be happy and thankful that I don’t have to be religious anymore, whether I am deceived or not.

What I mean by religion is the act of wasting a lot of time and energy on symbolic rituals when we could instead be living in the reality of what the ritual symbolizes. For example, instead of attending a church building to worship God, we could be the living church and worship God as a lifestyle. We could replace the ritual of communion with an actual community of love. The ritual of prayer is, in its place, the unspoken words of the soul. Theology turns into the wisdom of life experience, tithing into a giving of our natural talents, church programs are actual friendships, the baptism ritual is actually a transformed life, and so on.

What is the purpose of observing the symbolic religious rituals when we can enjoy the reality of  life instead? Christians would defend their religion with all kinds of sentiments such as, “There is something special about corporate worship at church” or “I go to church because it draws me closer to God.” If it wasn’t for the numb, glazed look in their eyes which says, “I’m only repeating what I’ve been told,” I would believe them.

I actually think that a symbolic ritual can potentially be quite meaningful. But it’s a special occasion, like a wedding or a funeral procession – not a lifestyle. When the symbol takes too high of a priority (like it did for me) we forget about the reality. We lose sight of the essence behind truths such as, “Love one another.” Love loses its life and vitality by focusing on what is not real and far too often.

And I think that is the bottom line for why any of us are deceived by religion. We are trying to artificially accomplish what we feel we do not already possess. We are trying to gain God, even though God already dwells within and all around us. We are trying to obtain righteousness, failing to understand that God does not hold our sin against us. We are trying to grab a hold of love, because we so just want to be adored, just as we are… since we don’t know that we are unconditionally loved and always have been…. no matter what we think, say or do.

Religion is all about unbelief. Because we don’t believe that God really does love the whole world, we live in fear. We fear purposeless suffering. We fear hopelessness or meaninglessness. We fear emptiness or loneliness. We fear so much because we don’t know that we and others are loved, and this makes us vulnerable to become slaves of a master religion.

It is no secret that too many people go to their grave with an already dead soul that couldn’t figure out how to enjoy life.  Personally, I think that religion is the primary culprit behind lifeless souls. Through its false promises, it feeds on lives sacrificed to it – lives that thought their creator said they were only worthy enough for a burn pile. And so religion kills and steals our soul.

So this is no reason to be mad at anyone. This is only a call to compassion and understanding. We understand that if a sibling is suffering, so are we. And it very well could be us anyway since we all suffer.

Christians might be the tools used to cause the soul killing but only because their own soul has been taken. Of course, they would say I’m crazy and that they are perfectly happy in their beliefs. But only a souless creature could be okay with God torturing the majority of the world while they are being rewarded in a so-called heaven – at least in my opinion.

Sure, I might be deceived too. But at least I don’t have to kill people anymore in order to defend my religion. For that, I am thankful, as well as indebted toward understanding all of my brothers and sisters. I also have a lot of catching up to do as far as living life goes. I owe it to my own soul as well as to my fellow human beings. If religion leads to more unbelief, living in reality leads to the contrary… for myself as well as for my precious fellow human beings.

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  1. Excellent post! For myself i’ve found that i am wary to take a flying leap out of religion – i would prefer to “UNDERSTAND MY WAY OUT” if that makes any sense?

  2. Lots to stuff to ponder in this post. I’m with you in many areas … processing others.

    Love this line and have been asking myself a similar question recently … “What is the purpose of observing the symbolic religious rituals when we can enjoy the reality of life instead?”

    And this is also so true … “Sure, I might be deceived too. But at least I don’t have to kill people anymore in order to defend my religion.”

    I know you didn’t discuss this thought in this post, but I wonder about your 6th paragraph which begins with “The deception is so brilliant that I have to wonder if God himself isn’t behind it… ”
    That almost sounds like an old religious thought to me … thinking that God would need to use something negative/deceptive to get humanity to find him. If God truly is love, then won’t he make it easy for us to ‘find’ him and lean towards using positive things?

    • Good point, Janet. Would love to hear more of your thoughts about that since it’s something I’m wrestling with, myself.

  3. Did you reach into my soul to write this??? You have put into words all the little pieces I think about daily. Thank you.

  4. After reading your blog, two Scripture verses come to mind immediately.

    “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”–Jesus.

    “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.”–Proverbs.

    God Himself instituted the old system of animal sacrifices and Temple worship. Jesus Himself testified that He had not come to do away with them, but to fulfill them. The problem was not with the system that God instituted…the problem was that the Jews of Jesus’ day had substituted empty ritual for heart-felt worship. They had become blatant hypocrites (note that this is different than true Christians just having normal human failings). Jesus said to Nicodemus when he came to Jesus by night to question Him, “Art thou a teacher in Israel and knowest not these things??!” Jesus seemed incredulous that the most fundamental teachings of Scripture (in this case salvation…being born again) was unknown to the very ones who held the very highest teaching positions of His people. In many other places in the Gospels Jesus uttered similar frustrations with the religious elites of the day…for instance, to the Pharisees Jesus said on one occasion, “But go thou and learn what this means, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice.'” And the Apostle Paul expounded on the emptiness of the Jewish religious rituals in this way, ‘But the Jews, going about to seek their own righteousness (by attempting to keep the law, which no man except Jesus ever did or ever could do), missed the righteousness of faith,’ [please note this is not a direct quote, but I think catches the gist of what Paul was teaching].

    • Allan, have you ever heard of bible thumping? If not, here is a definition for you: A pejorative phrase that describes someone who spiritually beats the crap out of another person by using or quoting scriptures with a presumed biased advantage for the purpose of damaging or destroying another soul. The term alludes to a preacher thumping his hand hard down on the Bible to emphasize a point during a sermon.

      • Soooo, in answer to my question is it safe to assume that “not Bible thumping” would be a good place to start!? 😀

        I’ll just go ahead and not Bible thump the best I can and take it from there!

  5. So I am wondering Elizabeth, what would it take for someone as myself who holds the scriptures in high esteem such as myself to be ok in your book? I am not asking this to challenge you, I am simply wondering.

    I’ve been called a heretic by many denominational Christians when I was in a cult and didn’t know any better. Then I was violently rejected by my cult when I openly called the direction into question.

    Now I feel empathy for folks such as yourself who seem to simply to be reeling from legitimate shortcomings your particular experiences left you with. And even though I am challenged by your points I find that stimulating even if the points don’t dramatically change the things I believe about those harsher judgments spelled out scripturaly.

    For whatever it’s worth I probably equally annoyed by self-righteous Christians who wield the club of judgment neither intelligently nor wisely in that they ignorantly condemn innocents.

    • Jeff, I hold the scriptures in a much higher esteem now than I did when I worshiped the Bible god. I also believe in the judgments of the Bible. I just don’t define them the way Christianity generally defines them.

      For example, I wouldn’t say that suffering in this life or the next is God’s judgment, but God’s wisdom that contains a loving purpose of ultimately destroying that suffering. I also wouldn’t say that any suffering (for anyone) lasts for eternity, but it is only temporary. And natural suffering is not a means of religious control, but a means of discovering strength, peace and freedom.

      While Christians might justify their hatred (which is really only a fear of love) with the judgments of God, I find absolutely no grounds for doing so. In fact, it is our hatred and judgment that causes much of our own suffering and death… but all is well that ends well. There is no more fear.

  6. Elizabeth, I don’t always agree with you, but I think I am finally beginning to see you come to that place I had to come to several years ago–our loved ones who are still proclaiming the broken forms of Christianity are not “them”–they are us. We have to find a way to lovingly deal with everyone, whether or not we agree with them politically, religiously, or otherwise.

    You’ve touched on some ideas here that really ring true, and even in the things I don’t agree with (!), I can still follow your thought process and see what you are working out in your mind. It is definitely a process to unlearn all the mindlessly repeated language of church and theology. I appreciate and share your journey!

  7. You are becoming quite the writer! I’m enjoying this blog. I don’t know if I agree with your assessment that religious ritual is all a waste of time and energy, but I’ve certainly seen it abused in just this way. Maybe it’s just like food and alcohol and such, where it can be overly relied upon, leading to a broken life. Certainly, if the signifier is in the way of the signified, than a serious-minded person ought to remove or replace that signifier. It sounds like in your case, ALL of the signifiers were doing that. But be careful not to over-universalize your personal experience, assuming that your mind is the way everyone’s minds work. I see your caution in “And then there’s the whole presumption that I know the truth and someone else does not. This sounds suspiciously like religion talking again.” Which is one of the faults of religion: taking a specific program of growth, and universalizing it, assuming that God works the same way for every person ever.

    Personally, though I feel kind of like I graduated from theology into mysticism, I recognize that most people simply aren’t emotionally equipped to handle the misty gray and lack of absolutes that come into play when one leaves a religious system. So I still go to my Foursquare church. Still teach Sunday School, help my pastor with sermons, and all the rest of that jazz because I see a lot of people that really do NEED institutional religion in their lives in order to cope, grow and thrive. I don’t mind their obsession with the signifiers because I know most of them can’t deal with a life without them. I do see an eventual end to institutional religion, but I think humanity is still far from that point. In the mean time, I put my energies to what I think helps my brothers and sisters.

    I also have an opinion on this statement you made: “The deception is so brilliant that I have to wonder if God himself isn’t behind it for some wise and sneaky purpose…”

    I think all of us parents are aware of how we challenge our children with various obstacles in life that helps them to grow and mature. We let our babies struggle with learning to stand and walk. We don’t just pick them up and carry them around all their lives. When my oldest son turned 13 I created a cerimony where we climbed Mt. St. Helens, and I made it an ordeal by putting rocks in his backpack and blindfolding him near the top. These all hold symbolic significance which I explained to him. I think the struggles and suffering in this world are all like this, planned and put in place by a perfectly Loving God for everyone’s ultimate benefit. And once we have become One with God we will be eternally grateful for all the shit He put us through.

    • GREAT comment, Josh. And thank you for respectfully pointing out some areas of weakness in my viewpoint. I can see what you’re saying and I think I’m growing in the direction of finally finding peace with the Christian religion. Hallelujah.

      But here is my dilemma. Because of my personal experience with Christianity, in my mind, churches are akin to concentration camps. So I need to either change this association (without force) and/or be okay with the idea that religion destroys souls.

      It’s one thing to understand that all things work together for our good, but it’s quite another thing to feel no remorse while driving by Auschwitz.

      I would like to know more about how you believe churches help your brothers and sisters, or more specifically, what is the benefit of avoiding reality under the disguise of God’s truth?

  8. Great article Elizabeth. Gotta read it again, to absorb it all.

  9. Well, I’m no expert. Just like you, I’m just doing my best to figure out this darn world and the way it works. And like you, I spend a LOT of time thinking thinking thinking. So I’ll share my thoughts. Maybe some of them are even scratching the surface of the True. Who knows?!

    “in my mind, churches are akin to concentration camps.”

    It sounds to me like your experience in church WAS like a concentration camp. And I’m sure that’s the case with many others. But I’m guessing that your personality type will feel that way in almost any institution. And conversely, there are those who NEED the trappings of an institution to thrive. As I insinuated above, most people can’t handle a worldview with a lot of absolutes, and that’s exactly what institutions like church, military, school, government, scouts, etc. give people. There’s definitely a big left/right brain divide here. And since no one is purely left or right brained, but exist in a continuum, they will have more or less reliance on institutional reassurances. From reading a lot of your writing I can tell you are very much on the right-brain side of this continuum. You have the mental agility to handle a largely formless and contextual worldview that most people don’t. I’m very similar in this regard. And while this sounds great and so mature, it’s got its downsides and weakness as well! For instance, if our government and military were run by folks like you and me our society would probably collapse and be overpowered by those who DO have what Nietzsche called The Will To Power. Then all us creative types would be rounded up and executed for being heretical and corrupting the youth with our anti-authoritarian, anti-institutional ideas.

    “religion destroys souls.”

    If you believe in the the Ultimate Reconciliation of all things than this statement is impossible. Nothing is destroyed. All is reclaimed by Love. It is true that YOUR soul was being hurt or stifled, or misused in the institutional church, but for those who need the comfort of an orderly, understood set of foundations that they can refer to in order to live their lives, it is LIFE for their souls!

    “I would like to know more about how you believe churches help your brothers and sisters, or more specifically, what is the benefit of avoiding reality under the disguise of God’s truth?”

    The words you choose here show me where your trouble lies. “Avoiding” and “Disguise”. To me, the rituals and symbols in church are not avoidances in and of themselves. Like letters on a page, they are there to communicate something beyond themselves. Ritual was developed because most humans need constant reminders. Especially those who lack the capacity or desire puzzle out a workable world-view or philosophy. They need a set of rules to follow in order to feel good about themselves and justify the sacrifices they make in life. These kinds of people (which I believe are the majority of humans) will get this direction from SOME institution, whether it be the church or school or business or government. And I find a lot of value in much of what my church promotes. I think their theology is full of holes. And it has details that can derail people into unloving modes of thought and action. But that is a feature of EVERY institution. And LOVE can saturate ANY system where people are open to God, even if their doctrines have stumbling blocks. I see a lot of Love in my church. Love that a lot of folks could not manifest without the structure of institutional religion guiding them. I know this from their testimonies about how they lived before and after their conversion.

    I guess what it comes down to is that the shit that you found suffocating, they find nourishing. I’m guessing that God made that range of human needs for a good reason. And I don’t mind working hand in hand with those who have different needs than I.

    Wow… sorry so long!

  10. Hm… I don’t see a why to edit, so let me fix this sentence so it makes sense:

    “most people can’t handle a worldview with>OUT< a lot of absolutes, and that’s exactly what institutions like church, military, school, government, scouts, etc. give people."

  11. As for the scriptures, I have intentionally put the bible down for awhile. It’s not that they don’t serve a wonderful purpose, I just think that for me it was a time to do what Jesus asked us to do. Go to my room, be quiet, and wait. It has been truly amazing for me to make the effort to drown out the noise and just sit with God. I walk away knowing I am loved. I can’t ask for more than that.

    A bit of food for thought when reading the bible.

    1. Read it in the order it was written. Takes on a whole different look
    2. Take away chapter and verse. These were inserted by someone for a very unknown reason. All of the writings were either first person descriptions of the life of Jesus, or in the case of Paul, they were letters written to people groups that he had a relationship with. They were love letters. We need to be very careful to cut and paste as that takes the message totally out of context.

    3. The scriptures, in my mind, are a glimpse into the spiritual world that is waiting for us if we are willing to be patient enough to see it happen in our lives.

  12. Thanks for sharing your journey of faith, Elizabeth. This blog offers much food for thought.

    I agree with your view of the church in the new covenant world in which we live today that is free from rituals, which you described here: “What I mean by religion is the act of wasting a lot of time and energy on symbolic rituals when we could instead be living in the reality of what the ritual symbolizes. For example, instead of attending a church building to worship God, we could be the living church and worship God as a lifestyle. We could replace the ritual of communion with an actual community of love.”

    From my understanding, since God has reconciled all things to Himself, and the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh since the last days of the old covenant age in AD70, we are all new creations ever since then. We are all children of God (whether we call ourselves buddhists or christians or muslims or hindus or atheists) – we are the living church. In Him we live and move and have our beings. The only thing that remains for eternity is love – loving our neighbour as ourselves, for love does no harm to a neighbour. That reminds me of this verse: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

    May more and more people come to realise their oneness with God and with one another, and see that we are all created in Love’s image.

  13. Elizabeth, I always appreciate how you let your thoughts flow out without dogma..it’s much easier for me to glean from when I’m not being thumped with twisted verses. ‘concentration camps’ snicker* ummm yes many of them are..maybe they need that kind of concentration to keep them from disrupting our peaceful Sundays at Starbucks? I can be glad about that. 😉 I have been to other churches and they aren’t all alike. Maybe if people stayed in them for a long time, never questioning the teaching and not listening to other perspectives..I think anyone can become brainwashed.

  14. […] Elizabeth at Unravel reminds us that the Christianity of today is closer to the religion that Jesus rejected, rather than the way He taught. […]

  15. Oberservations and thoughts …

    I have many friends who passionately believe in Christ as their savior, the strength of their conviction enables many, with out surface fear, to openly share love and compassion … or atleast embrace the teachings of Christ as a role model for their own behavior. As one begins to experience the love of God via the path they are on … feeling this love, a personal experience for each, a testimate to the path they have chosen, one can begin to understand their zeal to share.

    Our culture creates an environment where people are encourage to live into expectations, to ecsape, in lieu of living in the moment. The moment, not the past or future is the relm of God. This dicotomy we encourage creates a conflict in direct contradiction with the teachings of Christ, “Christians” are forced to reconcile. Which can’t be done.

    This conflict, I am suggesting, results in an inability to live from the heart, and an inauthenticity.

    So, regardless of the path each of us takes to God, if we are truly living in the moment, free of judgement, heart centered, one with God, we can take no offense from the dogma espoused by another. Knowing they are on the path they have chosen for themselves, everyone right where they need to be, at this moment, being the best they have learned to be.

    Much Peace and Love
    Tim

  16. “And I think that is the bottom line for why any of us are deceived by religion. We are trying to artificially accomplish what we feel we do not already possess. We are trying to gain God, even though God already dwells within and all around us. We are trying to obtain righteousness, failing to understand that God does not hold our sin against us. We are trying to grab a hold of love, because we so just want to be adored, just as we are… since we don’t know that we are unconditionally loved and always have been…. no matter what we think, say or do.

    Religion is all about unbelief. Because we don’t believe that God really does love the whole world, we live in fear. We fear purposeless suffering. We fear hopelessness or meaninglessness. We fear emptiness or loneliness. We fear so much because we don’t know that we and others are loved, and this makes us vulnerable to become slaves of a master religion.”

    thank you thank you thank you! this is the foundation i’ve been building on for about 20 yrs. Recognizing God’s unconditional love for me; that i’m 100% forgiven & really what that means has freed me up from being fearful of His wrath, judgment& condemnation. awesome post! 🙂

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