Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Five Good Reasons To Forgive Christianity Seventy Times Seven

In Deception, Freedom, Good and Evil, Life, Suffering on March 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

What happens when we observe a symbolic religious ritual over and over again, week after week, year after year, decade after decade? It deceives us. We begin to believe that the symbol is the reality.

This is why millions of Christians across the world say that the church is not a gathering in a building but they live entirely as though it is. This is also why a Christian believer might say that one does not have to go to church to know God but all of their other words and actions reveal otherwise. Apparently there is a vast chasm between what a Christian might say and what a Christian actually believes. This is because religion deceives people.

What happens when we hear the same (unquestioned) message over and over again, through sermons, “worship” songs, Bible studies, Christian conversation, and Christian culture day after day…? Our mind is being conditioned or to use a more derogatory term, we are brainwashed.

In that case, not only does our faith rest primarily on academic concepts of the mind, which may be void of life experience, but our faith is not even our own. It belongs to our preaching pastor, or our church denomination, or our theological disposition – or all three. Our thinking is under the control of another, and yet, because we chose to give our mind to another, we believe they are our very own thoughts.

Christians are notorious for what Non-christians call hypocrisy. What a Christian thinks they believe does not always match up with what outsiders might see. In order to protect the only security that they know, Christians have counter-defenses for this accusation. A common one is that, “Non-christians are blind to the truth of God; they are deceived by Satan.”

As a Christian myself, it never crossed my mind to honestly consider an opposing view in order to fully establish my own. Heresy was dangerous. It could lead me astray from God and even end me up in hell. Fear of God’s judgment kept me completely isolated in what I was led to believe was the unquestionable and absolute truth of God. But my beliefs were not mine. They ultimately belonged to my church denomination, and so did my soul.

I remember when I was beginning to awaken from my religious conditioning. I thought, “Oh my God. Can the Non-christians see something about me that I don’t see?” I’m glad now that the Non-christians said something. Eventually, I understood what they meant. I am now a believer in the principle that it is sometimes a really good idea to tell people, “You suck.”

Although I stopped attending the church institution several years ago, how much of my soul is still owned by it? Probably more than I’m willing to admit, or that I’m even able to see. But the only way to remove its noose from around my neck is not to resist it or fight it, but to “forgive” it, as well as “forgive” myself.

I say “forgive” because I’m not sure there is really anything to forgive as much as, through life experience, we simply gain a new perspective. And new perspectives are always indebted in some sense to the old one. Our first understanding, although incomplete, leads to the next and remains part of our overall wisdom forever.

This is why I no longer believe that an earth is ever completely destroyed in order to usher in a new world order called heaven. In order for a heaven to exist, so must an earth. In order to appreciate the destination, the journey must still be alive and well, at least in the makeup of our soul. What does strength of character mean apart from the suffering or the hell it took to earn it?

While we might one day rise above the sting of pain, conquering it, I think we will always carry with us the scars of the painful path we took to get there. In fact, the path and the destination may very well be essentially one and the same. My friend Jeff shared this quote recently:

“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.” – Nikola Tesla

Like good and evil, or grace and law, although our virtues and failings are totally and completely unique from each other, they also walk hand in hand in order to make up what we call, life. One is just as much a necessary part of life as the other – two sides of the same coin, with one being dependent on the other even to exist. Destroy one, and we destroy both.

Okay, so let’s assume there’s some truth to that notion and let’s apply it to letting go of religion and religion itself – two sides of the same coin. One gives meaning to the other, and both make up the whole of my journey and maybe yours too. I couldn’t experience the wonder and glory of being awakened unless my eyes had first been shut. And my eyes are still shut in some ways, yet being awakened is still other ways. It’s an ongoing process in which one enemy works off of the other, causing me to grow. The friction between the two is what creates the metaphysical force or energy to keep my life in motion, and therefore, in existence.

While I’ve been trying so hard to get away from Christianity (and especially some certain fundamental Christians) I am realizing more and more that it/they will always be a part of me, and rightfully so. They may always remain a scar and even a sour annoyance, yet I think I will get to the point where I could wear that scar badge with a sense of honor.

I’ve heard people say that we need the law of religion when we are young, and then when we are older, we naturally outgrow it. There might be some truth to that, but I’ve met too many people who haven’t been so exposed to religion and are free of the abnormal issues that go along with it. They might have other frailties, but religious hangups aren’t one of them. [Ahhh, wouldn’t that be nice?]

But I would have to agree that, at least according to the Bible, God is the one who set up the whole religious system in the first place. It began with the first mythological command to Adam and Eve to refrain from the fruit of the tree that God himself placed right in the middle of paradise. Ten more commandments, cultural standards and meticulous details of the tabernacle system would come from God a little later in time. If anyone is to blame for the existence of religion, it would be God.

Yet, if this is true, then why did God give Israel the religious system? And why was Israel God’s chosen race to publish God and God’s prophecies to the rest of the world?

Personally, from my experience, I’d have to say that God gave humanity the legal religious system through his people, whether the Jews or the Christians, in order to show us what doesn’t work. Religion does not directly result in life. That would be death. Religion, when we try to live by it, doesn’t awaken our soul; it blinds us and destroys us.

So now we know. Or at least we have a better understanding of what it means to live… by means of understanding how not to live. I understand that there is a purpose for the Christian religion. But I disagree with its own claim of that purpose. It entices us with promises of eternal life, but is a deceiving religious system which brings guilt and destruction instead.

But then death results in life, I believe. So in an indirect sense, religion really does lead to life. Religion, or death, is just another God-created means of transformation. And death seemed to be part of God’s plan for life all along. It was built in to creation before Adam and Eve disobeyed God because that is how things grow and stay in motion, or existence. Just as a seed must die in order to produce a life-giving plant or tree, so we need the death of religion. We depend on it just as much as we need growth, change, transformation, or life itself.

So transformation is necessary for life, but I think we should still call life what is life and death what is death. When the religious leaders were torturing and crucifying Christ (another example of how religion kills) he wasn’t on the cross singing praise songs of glory, hallelujah. The man must have experienced excruciating pain. He experienced the glory of suffering (life) after the fact, but it doesn’t change the fact that death is still death.

In fact, the joy afterward reveals an even greater distinction between life and death. The more we experience one, the more we can see the depth of the other. They work hand in hand.

Just as there is a cost to every good thing, the pain will always remain an essential part of the later joy. But the cost is the cost and the goodness is the goodness. In my opinion, religion is the cost and awakening from it is the goodness. To mix them up by saying that religion is the goodness is to be deceived.

Still, the deception is part of the whole dynamic of the religious killings. If we knew we were deceived, well then the deception couldn’t accomplish its purpose. And then religion would lose its existence in the lives of many. This seems like a good thing until we realize that life itself would then cease to exist.

Plus, I don’t think that religion is all death. Part of the reason it deceives us is because it contains a lot of truth and goodness as well. A sense of death might be its end goal, but there are happy and alive moments along the way. We can appreciate it all just the same.

So, to summarize some reasons to forgive, or to be at peace with Christianity, I’ll end with a short list. For me, to  let go of the pain of my Christian past is essentially to reconcile myself with the religion as well as with Christians themselves. I’ve explained some of these reasons in further detail in previous blog posts.

Five good reasons to forgive the Christian religion seventy times seven:

1) We were deceived and there was really no way to know we were deceived. The deception originated with God to show us what results in death and what leads to life.

2) Our minds were conditioned or influenced to believe doctrines that we really didn’t believe in our conscious mind because we didn’t know there was any freedom to question them. Discovering freedom, however, is built upon the life of a slave.

3) Religion may have killed our soul, but death is a natural part of life, and always will be a part of life, at least in our consciousness. Religion and awakening are essentially one and the same because they work together in their unique ways, and often through friction.

4) Religion may be a source of unjust suffering, but it is through suffering that we attain strength of character and fullness of life.

5) In all of our diversity, we really are all brothers and sisters. It is our diversity, and the energy friction it creates, which serve to grow us all together into one body called human life. I think that we will eventually see how this wise, albeit painful, plan of God all worked together for the good purpose for all. Until then, we are free to be human, both frail and strong.

  1. […] Read the original post: Five Good Reasons To… […]

  2. Fresh and insightful..I agree, we cannot begin to know how influenced we still are, some of us after decades of being free of the yoke of “Church.” We are who we are and by being ourselves we allow for real change to take place. I too have concluded that we are all Brothers and Sisters, because we all have the same Father, even the church folks…:)

  3. You say: ‘But I would have to agree that, at least according to the Bible, God is the one who set up the whole religious system in the first place. It began with the first mythological command to Adam and Eve to refrain from the fruit of the tree that God himself placed right in the middle of paradise. Ten more commandments, cultural standards and meticulous details of the tabernacle system would come from God a little later in time. If anyone is to blame for the existence of religion, it would be God’

    The God I’ve always know outside of religion and whom I’ve come to know outside of religion, is not a God obsessed with systems and religion – our interpretation of ‘The Bible’is however so tainted by relgion, that it is almost impossible for us to read it & ‘see’ anything (or any One) else.

    For me, seeing a non-religious God took time & revelation & challenging everything I was taught. It is not so much a cognative issue, more an existential one (for me). For example, religion often speaks of the fall and its consequences, but never speaks of the curse to which we are subjected by God, and yet The Bible speaks of that curse?

    Selective reading strengthens religious brainwashing.

    Comprehensive reading opens new understanding and the Old Testament (which Christians & Jews hold collectively and which even Muslims read, the first bit of) seems (to me) to be quite truthful in revealing something ‘else’.

    I still like your thoughts & I enjoy the conversation you’re having. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth,
    As usual, I enjoyed what you had to say: Death was brought into existence so we can have life, Darkness so we can see light, Coldness so we can feel warmth, Religion so we can comprehend freedom, Weakness, so we can know what true power is all about.

    When we awaken from all of this “life”, we are left with one simple truth:

    When He loved and died for His “enemies”, we humans received in our character what was missing: The ability to truly love our enemies.

    The First Adam actually had a chance to lay down His life for Eve. But he instead chose to try to bypass the “process”. So most likely it is as you imply. The “process” (this world’s suffering) was inevitable.

    Our suffering, like Job who cracked under pressure, was partly to show us weren’t yet ready to be “Sons of God”. Something, some “maturity“, was missing. We simply did not appear to be capable of loving our enemies to the point of death? If we were, the 12 apostles would have been crucified with Him.

    Also, our suffering is something we once longed to (or God knew we would long to) experience (“when the stars shouted for Joy“), because we wanted to share in His suffering as a way of thanking and encouraging Him to go through with bringing about our “maturity”.

    Christ is our ego fully developed. He is our invisible power of Love at the right hand of the Father. We know Him, and we appreciate Him. And finally, through “suffering” we accept Him as the Way to our maturity.

    There are probably other reasons for suffering. But suffering to develop character only makes sense if you see it as a weakness (suffering) given to us so we can better comprehend what true strength is all about.

    But the character itself was a completely free gift.

  5. Beautiful work, Elizabeth.

  6. Very thought provoking work you have on this blog. And if I were caught reading it, I might be in trouble. But I ‘ve been here for years and it’s okay. God is doing what He does. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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