Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Chuck That Baby Jesus Out As Far As You Can Throw It

In Deception, Everything Else, Freedom, God, Jesus, Love, Universalism on March 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’ve heard the annoying phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” so many times that I’d like to not only throw the baby out, but torture and annihilate it too. But for purposes of considering opposing viewpoints, I’d like to take an honest look at what some people consider to be the baby.

If I understand correctly, people are generally warning me to throw out religious wrongs yet hold onto Jesus, as far as Jesus might pertain to the true spirit of true Christianity. When I talk about the Christian religion in a negative light, somehow this worries people, and they want to make sure that I don’t throw my belief in Jesus out altogether because of “a few Christians who may have hurt me.”

At first glance, this appears to have a very kind and loving intention behind it, as well as a loyalty to some real faith that might exist out there somewhere. But I see that deceiving tendency of religion written all over it, and I will explain why.

It seems apparent to the entire world that Jesus is associated with the Christian religion. Who doesn’t think of Christianity in some form or another when they hear the name, Jesus? I think it’s a valiant attempt to salvage, defend, protect or proclaim the real spirit of the Christ but in my opinion, it’s a losing battle. The power and influence of institutional Christianity, and its monopoly on Jesus, as well as the God of Jesus, is far too powerful and influential. It pretty much owns God as far as the western world might know God.

And this is exactly what an institutional religion in all of its glory should be – powerful and influential. But I think that the nature of religion exists at the expense of love and reality; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a religion which is based on primarily upon symbolic rituals, hierarchical authority and strangely, money, among other things….

One of the ways religion deceives people is by mixing together some very tempting truths and promises as well as lies. If it taught blatant lies, well nobody would be attending religious institutions, now would they? Churches teach plenty of truths. The problem is how religion uses truth.

I’ve seen the truth and promise of eternal life used in a way to enslave myself and many others to a soulless religious lifestyle. For this reason, I’ve got a lot of negative associations with terms such as, “Christianity,” “church,” “Bible,” “prayer,” “Jesus,” and even “God.” And those associations do not disappear overnight, especially when they are continuing to be reinforced through the Christian influence upon our entire world.

I’ve met people who have rarely set foot inside a church preach the Christian gospel to me: “If he doesn’t get off of those drugs, hell is going to be mighty hot for that guy!” I’m actually surprised how many non-church goers believe in heaven and hell.

Anyway, because of the mind conditioning, what is the best way for me to abandon the wrong idea of Jesus and adopt the right spirit of Jesus? What I have been trying to do is to pick and choose which parts of Christianity I should get rid of, and which parts to hold onto… but I’ve discovered that everything is pretty much getting thrown out as soon as it gets sincerely questioned. Religion is religion and the religious Jesus will always be a religious Jesus, at least in my mind.

I have no issues with anyone who wants to straddle the fence (ouch!) We’re all at different points in our different journeys and I think it will all work together in the end for us all. So, if you feel this post is some kind of threat to you and your beliefs, you are free to keep them and go in peace. But for others who might be able to relate, I would like to encourage you to keep moving forward even if you are worried that you are going to completely lose your faith in God.

That fear was planted in us by Christian teaching and was meant to keep us dependent upon the institution. The Christian institution gives us the idea that God is only found within it (even though it might claim otherwise.) So, the further we walk away from the religion, the further we might fear that we are walking away from God.

But I do not believe that God is the institution, or at least that God is limited or confined to it. I was actually taught by Christian leaders that God is omnipresent. If that’s true, then we do not have to be controlled by the fear of being separated from God. If God is the source of life, and if we exist, then it’s simply not possible to be far from God except maybe in our ignorant, religious mind.

And if God is as great and powerful as Christianity claims God to be, then I don’t think we have to worry about questioning or even abandoning God. In fact, I would think that God would be up for the challenge. I mean, what does he have to lose except maybe a little bit of insecurity? If something is absolutely true, then it will remain true no matter what we think, say or do…. correct?

I might take this idea even further and say that it is not only okay to abandon Jesus or God, but that it might even be vital – especially if we’ve been believing in the wrong Jesus or God, or if we’ve been holding onto wrong beliefs about them. But how do we know that we’ve discovered the truth as long as we are in a position where that truth is not allowed to be questioned? How will we know what is the right Jesus until the one we hold onto is honestly challenged? And how can we challenge it unless we are willing to face our fear of finding it empty?

And this is exactly what needed to happen with me. I couldn’t stand to even hear, let alone say, the name of Jesus until very recently. I still don’t like it, and thankfully, the Jewish Messiah who walked the earth never knew the Greek misnomer as far as I understand. But even if it was his name, Jesus signifies everything I believe the real Christ was not.  “Jesus” is owned by a religion while the real Christ seemed to be all about unconditional love, saving the Jews from religion.

So, with my unfortunately extensive background in Christianity, the only way for me to get from point A to point B is to be willing to let go of point A. I must be willing to allow point A to be entirely redefined so that point A is no longer even recognizable. Only then could I be free from the clutches of religious point A so that I could move forward to a non-religious point B.

I don’t think anyone who has let go of religion and has come back around to a new concept of God and Christ worries so much about anyone abandoning God. That fear seems to come from someone still stuck in the desperate grasp of a religious God.

And this is in spite of the fact that our new concept of God actually still retains some of the old. Maybe it’s not so much of a new God as much as it is a new perspective of God – a non-religious one. It is an understanding of God apart from and outside of the religious mindset and yet it still (unrecognizably) includes it.

God never changed. And we are still ourselves. I am the same person who professed Christianity less than five years ago. What changes is our viewpoint. And the viewpoint changes because we are in a different place in our journey than we were previously. We can now see a different side of God than what we saw before. It appears to be a different God. And we appear to be different people. But really, it’s only a new or wider understanding because that’s what naturally happens to people when we grow.

But we’ve got to be willing to move on. The loss can be somewhat scary and even painful. When our own children are born and start growing, there is a sadness to losing that life phase forever. We can’t hold our babies in our arms anymore because they don’t fit. But the beauty of watching them learn to feed and care for themselves is equally priceless.

Still, how can our children eat on their own as long as I am forcing them to let me feed them? It doesn’t work and there seems to be something very tragic about dependent adults. We can be thankful for the baby stage and it will always remain a memory, good and bad. But in order to see our babies thrive, our sense of control must come to an end. Unless we want to always fear and worry about their welfare, we need to trust that they have the natural ability to learn on their own and can eventually care for themselves independently. That’s how life seems to work. In a growing sense of freedom, we grow.

Maybe I needed to finally open my eyes to all that was wrong with religion in order to let it go. Sure, there seems to be something innately good and evil with everything in this world, but religion was my god and master that controlled me. It has been imperative for me to not only abandon it, but separate myself from it as far as the east is from the west in order to be able to not despise it.

By gaining my freedom through a rather fierce battle, I am now free to consider the idea of the real existence of God, and without flinching from the metaphorical whip of slavery. I can now drive by a church and actually feel love for the souls within it. I might even be able to see the beauty of a symbolic ritual. But I couldn’t get there while anyone was trying to pressure me to be there out of their own sense of fear or insecurity.

I first needed to know that I had the freedom to hate all of those things and yet the real God would continue to exist. I needed to know that I could throw the whole religion out and that God would still love me. Otherwise, a constricting God wasn’t worth holding onto. And, there is now room within me for a new and different part of my journey and maybe even a greater depth in my connection to God.

This part of my journey accepts all into God’s kingdom, not only some. But I had to first remove the chain that kept me trapped in the “some.” I think that’s where I’m at now. And I can already see the sun rising as I am willing to once again accept Jesus into my heart. Only this time, he’s got a new name and it sounds like Love and while it’s not a religious Jesus, he accepts the religious and the non-religious into the beloved just the same.

It feels so good to breathe the free air, where the omnipresent spirit of Christ and God dwells.

 

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  1. Religion and Judgment kills…Grace makes alive….pretty clear from your experience.

  2. Wow. This one was good.

    I can admit I want to throw it all out but there is a slight fear that keeps a sliver in me still.

  3. I had to throw it all out to rediscover what Love really is. What I discovered is that Love is a universal language and I can’t get Love out of my mind or my heart. I can see Love manifesting all around me..even when I’m not reading the Bible. And by logical reasons alone I can throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater, because “baby Jesus” doesn’t make the water “dirty” So that baby in the bath water must be the wrong baby. Moses’ mom threw the baby out into the Nile. He came back and freed the people. 😉

  4. Awesome post E! Letting go of Jesus is the hardest thing to do. It’s like he must die (in us), so that God can resurrect him.

  5. Great post Elizabeth. If you like to read blogs here is one I think you will like http://gropingtheelephant.blogspot.com/. Hope you have a great week.

    • I’ll check it out and I plan on making a blog roll one of these days. There are some really great blogs out there written by people with similar experiences.

  6. Wow Elizabeth … there’s so much in each of your posts that resonates with me.
    Religion did suck life/love/hope from me … and I didn’t even realize it for a long time. And I was in a okay church community … not great, but not awful either, but yet it was lifeless.

    Because I have an appointment and no time to type it all out … here’s a short excerpt from my yet-unpublished memoir about the day I quit God/religion.

    “After throwing around the idea of starting over in my mind for a few weeks, I figured there was no way of knowing without trying. I stood in front of a mirror. (somehow looking in a mirror made the moment more real)
    “God, I quit.”
    Breathe Janet, breathe …
    “I’m done with you as I know you. I have too much confusion and frustration, I can’t go on like this. It’s over.”
    I breathed deep and felt … nothing. No lightning bolt struck me, so I breathed again.
    Then a twinge of guilt nudged me. I questioned where the guilt was coming from. Though I’ve had questions about religion over the years, I’ve always believed that no one other than God should make me feel guilty about my spiritual walk. After all it’s about him, not others. I realized my guilt was coming from years of legalism and doctrine, so I didn’t dwell on it.
    I took another deep breath and walked outside on the deck. I had ‘broken up’ with God, so I couldn’t use that name. It carried too much baggage with it. I looked up into the blue sky. “Hi. I want to learn to know you. A clean slate. A fresh start.”
    As I stepped from the deck into my flower garden I thought of the saying often used at weddings, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” and that was how I felt. A lightness. A freeing. A peace. This surprised me — I realized I had expected to feel terror and devastation.
    I had quit ‘God’ as I knew him, but I still believed in “something” … a creator, a spiritual being, a divine being, a life source. I experimented with various names to try to find one that expressed what I felt. I see words as being sounds I say to express what I feel. So when speaking to the divine, it’s not about which words I say or don’t say, it’s what I mean by them.”

    • I’ve been reading about the power of words lately. Sound frequencies seem to have some sort of energy in and of themselves, but it seems to me too that our definitions and associations of words makes up the bulk of that energy. I also don’t have a name for Jesus at this point because his spirit seems to encompass so much in life, if not everything, but I refer to him as the Christ or the Jewish messiah when referring to the Bible. The latter is what needed to be redefined in me, going from a religious point of view to an entirely different one. (Point A is virtually unrecognizable and I hope it becomes even moreso.)

  7. You pretty much explained my experience, too! It is even the same time period.

    One day I decided and prayed “God, I want the truth at all cost. Even if it goes against all of the ‘big guys’ teaching (meaning the well respected teachers). I had to let go of everything that I held dear, if I was ever going to soar like an eagle, to walk and not faint, run and not be weary…

    You see, the Holy Spirit of God (God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit) is compared to a wind that we don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. We can only see it’s effects. Eagles don’t struggle to soar. They just jump put out their wings and expect the wind to hold them up. They navigate the wind. Eagles cannot soar when they are hanging onto the nest or cliff. The eagles become one with the wind. The wind doesn’t look majestic without the eagle, and the eagle cannot be majestic without the wind. We are inspired when eagles soar.

    What would happen if we saw one climbing down the cliff (of understanding) trying to maintain its grip on “the truth”? That would look silly and would most likely cause the eagle to fall….

    We worship God when we place our complete trust in Him and not religion.

  8. Thanks for sharing all that so well, so pointedly. My encouragement would be to let everything go, just as you’ve said, EXCEPT for the very best you can hold onto from Jesus/Christ/Whatever. Only hold onto the best – which it looks like you’re doing from what you’ve written. I’ve seen folks deconstruct Point A so far that not only is it unrecognizable, it’s now no long necessary – and I think that’s too far. From what you’re written, I think you’re in a good place on a good journey hoping to find that it was all worth it as time goes on. Good stuff.

  9. There are some things that your recent posts have me considering.

    Paul records that people were blaspheming God because of the Jews that Paul “himself a blasphemer” said he still loved, and according to Paul’s own doctrine that God would have MERCY still on those same Jews and he also said this same God would show mercy on the gentiles too.

    Have the gentile churches done a better job than the Jews are reported to have done by the New Testament scriptures? NO, not a freakin chance IMO!

    And, if mercy is the stated end to the Jewish and gentile unbelief, maybe we should give pause before we arrogantly condemn anybody to Hell.

    • Yeah, it seems to me that Christianity – the Gentile religion – is pretty much a carry-over of the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament. There are some distinctives of course. Instead of a temple, we have church buildings; in place of cleansing rites, we have baptism and we’ve replaced the old covenant sacrifices with the atonement of Christ, etc. Basically, there are just enough differences to deceive us into thinking Christians are not Pharisees.

  10. I love reading your posts mainly because of your transparency & you don’t even know me. I am inspired. I am in a similar place of recognizing that Gos still loves & will love if I chuck all the religion. It does feel great to know that the Lord accepts & loves us no matter what & we are exactly where we need to be. Thnx for sharing! 🙂

  11. *oops* I meant God not Gos still loves & will love me if I chuck……

  12. I had a conversation just the other day in which I said, “People worry about throwing out the bathwater and….there is no baby in the bathwater.” We don’t have to afraid of throwing out the baby if we understand God must be bigger than that.

    I’m enjoying your posts, though I admit to skimming them. You really must consider writing a book, which would give you room for all you have to say. It’s not like you’re losing focus, which you maintain admirably. But for a blog (and this is no rule), I skim once the post reaches a certain length (anything that requires scrolling the page).

    I also really enjoyed the last post, which I still intend to cite on my own blog.

    • Thanks for the advice, Andy. I’d like to shorten my posts just for the fact that I really don’t have time to even be writing them… since I’m juggling work, kids and school. But my blog is like a counterpoison for me – very healing and therapeutic. And yes, I found the religious baby to be rather anorexic and even lifeless. I plan on writing in the future about how Christ has been pretty much strangled to death, forgive the morbidity. At least from my experience, religion seems to crucify people – over and over again. In that sense Christ really did become a punishment for sin, but it wasn’t God punishing him. It was religion at its finest.

  13. Louise, thank you for what you said….”Letting go of Jesus is the hardest thing to do. It’s like he must die (in us), so that God can resurrect him.” I needed to hear it expressed just like that. I’ve had fear over letting go of Jesus, even though I haven’t really believed in the Christian Jesus for quite some time now. It’s like I’m afraid to admit it to myself….like I’m hiding from myself. Strange.

    I remember the day I said within myself, “if God has always loved me anyway, no matter what I’ve done, then why do I need Jesus?” I think I’ve been hiding from that fact ever since. I’m afraid to let go of Jesus. But I don’t know what to do with him either.

    This has been really good for me. I know I’m going to be free because of reading this post and the comments, especially yours Louise.

  14. I’ve read the comments on how your essence just gels with everyone, as it certainly does with me. It is not the man Jesus, we should aspire to know today, it is the risen Christ who died for a sinful world, and rose because that world was made righteous. It’s a tragic irony that Jesus today is the ultimate representation of that wihch killed him, namely religion. It’s a well known fact that he’d rather spend time with the so-called sinners (non-religious, poor, sickly, beggars) of that day. He was called a glutton and a wine bibber and when ever he got the chance he intelligently rebuked the religious leaders with beautiful and poetic parables. The risen Christ calls himself our brother and but the firstborn among many. The prophetic dream of Daniel, I believe, has more to do with the church structure we know today, that anything else.

  15. I’m really thankful to discover your blog – I’ve only read a few posts, but I resonate so much with what you’ve written! I’ve been “out of church” for 8 years, and I think it’s taken that long to get most of the conditioning and pre-conceived notions out of me! (I’m sure there’s more that I just haven’t recognized yet!) My reliance on commonly held views has been torn down and many of my traditional assumptions have been abolished on this journey. I was afraid of where many of my questions and insights were leading me for a long time, but when I finally began to really allow myself to question the major Christian doctrines, I just found myself letting go and going with it. In the absence of the fear-induced resistance, it just all fell apart very rapidly: the doctrines of hell, atonement, the trinity, the deity of Jesus, original sin…basically everything. None of ‘em make any sense to me anymore! But in the midst of that I also discovered a more intense awareness of the Love of God and a far greater freedom than I had ever known. Ah, truly it is for freedom that Christ sets us free! That, I celebrate with you!

  16. I really liked and agree with the following statements totally;

    Institutional (added) ”Jesus” is owned by a religion while the real Christ seemed to be all about unconditional love, saving the Jews from religion.

    It has been imperative for me to not only abandon it, but separate myself from it as far as the east is from the west in order to be able to not despise it. (I supposed you were talking about Institutional ”Jesus”).

    It feels so good to breathe the free air, where the omnipresent spirit of Christ and God dwells.

    I enjoy watching you wrap your mind around concepts both exterminating and nurturing them (concepts) squeezing out both the poison and the sustenance within them. You are quite the philosopher.

    I hope your pilgrimage fills your deep need for truth. ♥

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