Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

To Remove God Is To Finally Accept God – Wow

In Life, Relationships on May 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I think the idea of removing God from our lives would probably scare the crap out of some people. I would have resisted it myself not too long ago, but I’m at a different place in my life now – not a place of Atheism, but a state of more peace as far as God things are concerned, than where I was before.

Allow me to explain.

After a thirty plus year relationship with Christianity, I decided to exit it. But a Christian can’t just say goodbye and walk out the door. The teachings and doctrines I heard and studied are still very much a part of at least my subconscious blueprint called the mind. I’ve had to come to terms with these beliefs just to let them go.

Thus, the incessant Facebook statuses and blogging on my part. I’ve had to talk a lot (re: complain a lot) about Christianity just to get past Christianity, and for a while it seemed that it was never going to go away. I realized that the only way for me to get untangled from its sticky web was to accept it. And reconciling my soul with what I believe are some very soul-damaging doctrines has not been an easy battle.

But I can finally listen to a Christian talk, and even sentence me to hell for my beliefs, without getting offended. I can now drive by a church on a Sunday morning without cringing. And I can even hear one of those child brain-washing Sunday School songs without worrying, or being thoroughly annoyed.

The reason? I don’t believe that stuff so much anymore. The threat only holds weight if we believe it.

And here is another revelatory thought. If we truly believed the good news gospel of salvation, we would no longer need it. I think the only reason why we preach it over and over again is because we’re trying to convince ourselves that it’s true. And this would go for anything.

I remember when I transitioned from a fast food lifestyle to an organic one. This took some time, some conscious effort and quite a bit of falling down in the process. I researched underground health information incessantly. I became friends with health advocates and signed up to receive daily emails containing all-natural food recipes. I used to talk about what I was learning to anyone who would listen and some of my friends really got tired of hearing it. But I was in the process of convincing myself that it was true.

After I became a believer, I didn’t need to study the bio-dynamic method of farming and talk about it so much anymore. Instead I could spend more of that time enjoying my healthier lifestyle. I grew in my understanding of it primarily by living it.

I’ve used this analogy before, but I think the best way to experience oxygen is to simply breathe it. We don’t need a pulpit with a microphone, a seven point study, weekly symbolic rituals and evangelism crusades to help people breathe air. Oxygen is already a natural part of our very existence, and while it’s simple enough for a newborn to take a first breath, there are many different ways to experience it while being conscious or unconscious of it. To me, God seems to be the same.

The Bible says that God is all and in all. “In him we live and move and have our being.” How much do we really believe this?

While we’re on the subject, how much do we really believe the Bible? It seems that we try to believe it by memorizing scripture in AWANA. Or we use exegesis to tear apart and study every original Greek word study we can find for a single biblical term. Why do we study anything? It’s because we don’t yet understand it.

Word studies might come in handy, but I don’t think that is how we finally grasp living truth. I can’t tell you how often I have biblically strained out a gnat only to swallow a camel. I missed the forest for the trees. I tried to find my life in the Bible when life was all around me all along. The whole point of the Bible seems to lead to the idea that we don’t need the Bible to know God anyway. Can we really hear its message by dissecting it to death?

Even if we could understand the red letters by reading them over and over and over again, there’s a time to move on already. As my friend Stephanie would say, “It’s time to get off the boobie.”

I’ve got friends who have recently become Christians. My perspective of the Christian religion doesn’t make a lot of sense to them, nor should it. We’re each traveling different journeys. I’ve also noticed that some people can be Christians for decades and have an entirely different experience of it than I did. Whether religion is any part of our life or not, all of our experiences make up our learning ground. An experience is not our identity but a simple means of forming it, and I can see how everything in life can be useful to that end.

As a Christian, my goal was to avoid hell and go straight to heaven. Now I think that the path to heaven is actually paved with hell. Christ was a pretty good example of this. I’m sure he had a few laughs but his life seemed to filled with hard work and some excruciating suffering. But afterwards, we are told, he entered in to glory.

As I’ve said before, we can’t get to point C until we’ve first passed through points A and B. Otherwise, point C doesn’t hold a lot of meaning. How much more depth will we find in the promised land after we’ve been enslaved and then wandered around the desert for about 40 years? An awareness of one aspect of life serves the context of the whole.

So for me, I thought the ride on the Christian merry-go-round was quite an adventure but my more recent goal has been to get off and go enjoy the rest of the playground. I’ve been “Thru the Bible,” through the church membership program and even through the process of tearing down my idol of a religion. I can now take what I’ve learned and apply it to a broader spectrum of life. I can also now see how God might be too big to squeeze into a church building.

I’ve been trying to think of some practical ways to move forward and my first thought was putting an end to this blog. The only problem is that I’m a writer, and writing is good therapy for me. Even if I’m tired of listening to myself write about Christian lies, there will always be another personal dragon to slay. So I can keep writing about my dragons. Not only that, I can keep writing about Christianity because it will always be a part of my life, like my parents are a part of my life. Sure, I think they may have been a little misled, but I can still relate to them on a new level.

As a matter of fact, it’s amazing how much common ground one can find with a very different person only because we are both human beings. And words are highly versatile. There are many different ways to say the same thing, even while coming from different perspectives. Let’s take the idea of Christ dying for our sins:

  • Christ died for your sins, so you no longer have to feel guilty for them.
  • Religion makes people feel guilty for their sins, but there is some good news for that. You no longer have to live by a religion.
  • When you do something wrong, you can learn from it and move on. And you now have compassion for others who do wrong.
  • Guilt and forgiveness are a natural part of life.
  • The yin and the yang continue the cycle of life.
  • The energy necessary for life to continue is created through struggle and friction.
As you can see, it’s possible to say essentially the same thing to a diversity of people coming from different backgrounds. We might have different understandings of the terms but that doesn’t mean we can’t converse with unique people about unique subjects using religion, science, psychology, philosophy or plain old surface conversation.
When we insist on our truth as the only truth, I think we are only afraid to connect with other people.
And we probably don’t yet fully believe what we’re incessantly preaching anyway.
But that’s okay. All of it is part of life, and it’s how we grow.
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  1. Bravo, Elizabeth,
    I appreciate timeliness. Just posted this on a different venue.

    The problem with doctrine and dogma is: First we hear it, them we accept it, then we embrace it, then we defend it, then we depend on it, then we proclaim it, then we forsake all others to preserve it…The common word here is “IT.” Doctrine is an it, a thing…it is not alive and is not life giving. Doctrine cannot serve us well, and will ultimately demand that we serve it. Doctrine divides, Love consumes….just sayin

    I can relate to so much of what you express and sense the “maturity” that comes from those experiences you relate. You keep writing and I’ll keep reading..Grace

  2. oooo, Stan, I like that!

    Elizabeth….just, wow! Loved that a lot. And you’re right. If we feel the need to go on and on about something, it’s because we don’t really believe it. That part really hit me. I’ve wondered why I’ve become so quiet, when I used to want to discuss things to death. But that’s the reason why, because now I believe and therefore live the fact the God is Love and not beliefs or religion. So I don’t need to talk about it anymore, nor do I have the desire to do so. I just want to wake up and live my life every day.

    Excellent post. You’re a great writer, so I’d love to continue to hear about your dragons. The thing about a writer is they are able to put their experiences into words. I don’t seem to be able to do that very often. So I really appreciate it when others give words to my own experiences. You do that really well for me. So, thanks!

  3. Wonderful and true. I’ve had similar thoughts re: needing to preach/talk about things over and over to convince OURSELVES it is true. I am a recovering alcoholic/addict and I had to say that many times before I believed it to be true (deep down). Nowadays I’m not so caught up in the label; but I am what I am -still.

  4. thank you 🙂 this i can engage.

  5. Love the Google ad for CanyonCreek Church at the bottom! 😉

  6. Yaaaaaay!!! Can you hear me applauding….as in standing ovation?

  7. This all makes so much sense, and again, I chuckled and laughed through the whole thing. Not that it all was so funny, but that you have a neat way of slicing through ‘stuff’. That is why we appreciate humour, not just because it’s funny, but because it cuts through all that ‘stuff’. The air analogy is perfect; get out of my way, I’m breathing.

    Keep writing and be kind to your dragons and may they only breathe fire thru their nostrils

  8. Simply amazing post. Please don’t stop blogging. So many need this blog as a point of balance. Your being used to speak some truth into peeps.

  9. Awesome truth! Thanks E!

  10. That “letting go” is perhaps the hardest part!

  11. I like this. Just had a friend send me your blog and it’s always refreshing to find company on the journey away from institutional church. From your writing it seems we’ve had quite similar journeys, and my blog is called Unlearning:) but I think the sentiment is the same.

    On this post; you have to get hold of an audio message by Peter Rollins called ‘Pyrotheology’. I found it so liberating to listen too. His premise is that all Theology has to ‘burn up’ and be destroyed, and that the only good church is a burning one, but it’s strangely positive. Google it, but if you don’t find it email me and I’ll send it to you. Trust me.

    He also wrote a deeply challenging book called the Fidelity of Betrayal which is a very heavy read, but really. He suggests, like you in a way, that the only way to be faithful to God is to betray Him.

    Anyway, nice to have found your blog. Will check in again.

    Peace.

  12. I’ve really appreciated following something of your recent journey and the endless questions you have been dealing with.

    I’ve been questioning for more than 60 years now, but it was only last year that I realised I had a faith that I no longer had to defend. My faith is based on my own experiences of life (not on the experiences of other people). I can’t remember ever doubting the existence of God, but even at the age of 13 I was questioning the nature of the trinity. For over 20 years I was a member of a church that has not unreasonably been referred to in the past as both a cult and a sect.

    At last I KNOW that I don’t know all the answers, and more importantly I KNOW that I don’t have to know – because individually we are only seeing a small part of the overall picture.

    They say that there is a book in each of us. Instead of writing a book I have written a series of articles on my blog giving some details of a very long journey together with many of the questions that I have been asking over the years – all of which have convinced me that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION and the Christian FAITH.

    Unlike Elizabeth, I am not by nature a writer – but perhaps because of my age I sense it’s time to step back and let others share their thoughts. I would like to think that I have recently created a SAFE HAVEN where a few people might like to discuss some of their unorthodox views of the Christian faith.

    My blog is entitled “The Room of Grace” – a title that was inspired by a talk given by John Lynch a few years ago describing the difference between “The Room of Good Intentions” and “The Room of Grace”

  13. Great post… I have a feeling that I might need to spend some time looking around the playground as well. I spent so much time on the merry-go-round, I forgot there were other things to play on as well. LOL

  14. We cannot grasp the NEW unless we let go of the old – resurrection follows death. If resurrection does not follow, we didn’t die to religion, we just substituted it with a different kind – same rotten roots in the tree of human knowledge of good & evil. After 32 years of Churchianity, and taking off layer after layer which I had put on Christ, I think I’m beginning to see a little of Jesus. I find Him beautifully frightening. This person I have no control over. He does whatever He pleases, which is seldom what I want. But I think – (think!?!) – I trust Him – but to tell you the truth, I’m shit-scared. (sorry for the swear word) This Lover consumes His beloved. He digests us. It’s all or nothing. Which is what YWAM told me 25 years ago, and I didn’t understand: “He’s either Lord of all, or not Lord at all”. All or nothing. Death leads to life. There’s no other way.

  15. I’ve really enjoyed becoming familiar with your thoughts Elizabeth. And even if it might be a fault in some peoples’ eyes I have enjoyed at times exchanging with those who have treated your journey as a threat to (in no general order) God, their church, the integrity of the scriptures, the honor of the gospel, and/or their conscience. Oftentimes it has been a certain enjoyment in the fact that it’s helped me see how I can relate to some of them while simultaneously desiring to find out where the end (so-to-speak) of our considerations lead you.

    One thing I do find amazing even though it makes sense also is that you aren’t declaring yourself in any fundamentalist sense I can perceive, but just seek to learn, grow, and move on. And I appreciate how you seem to feel that your spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be, should be organic & unforced. I’ve enjoyed reading it as you describe your desire to find your own thoughts. And after what you’ve been through it seems perfectly understandable, even admirable that you haven’t completely written off either Christianity, or even atheism for that matter. 🙂

    One thing I’d like to add from my own perspective is that in my dangerous religious organization they were extremely patterned in their biblical teaching patterns. And all teachers to some extent shared a detailed and consistent manner of sharing using biblical tools such as concordances and scriptures. I won’t bore anyone with the details, but I am still somewhat amazed that even with a fairly rigid scriptural teaching platform the results worked counter to human decency and free thought. For us it was as if nobody that didn’t speak according to this certain platform was to be regarded at all. So in effect, all the anal and thoughtlessly rigid teaching pattern did was to actually blind us to many real issues that could have been dealt with otherwise. not to mention how this rigid formula actually blinded us to very sickening abuses that went on mostly behind closed doors. In a terrible way it was form substituting for substance and produced brainwashed automatons who could nevertheless quote scripture ad nauseam. Perhaps if the hidden abuses in my case wouldn’t have been so terrible I might not struggle with patience as badly when I see other fall into their own version of these thoughtless and formulaic thought reforms.

    For whatever it’s worth to you, I hope any of these people who happen to read your blog posts that used to be aggressive and defensive understand that you’ve needed to recover from a very hard thing and needed to “remove God to accept God.” A very, very cool though IMO!

  16. I think the conclusion of this post sums up everything for me:

    “When we insist on our truth as the only truth, I think we are only afraid to connect with other people.
    And we probably don’t yet fully believe what we’re incessantly preaching anyway.
    But that’s okay. All of it is part of life, and it’s how we grow.”

    This realization is one the many that helped me to engage my spirituality in a manner that, for the first time, was neither demanding nor pretentious – and the understanding that my ‘truth’ is not necessarily a universal truth helps me to remain humble in my expression of faith to this day.

    I’m glad that you have found peace with the Christian faith, Elizabeth, even though you have walked away from it. Like you, although I am not a Christian anymore (at least not in the traditional sense) I have come to terms with the reality that the foundational principles of the faith helped me to develop into the person that I am. To that end, I am grateful beyond words.

    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts into the future.

  17. […] what someone wrote here, doctrines become an it that people defend and depend on. May more people choose to commune with […]

  18. Just 1 thing: Jesus said He is The Truth

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  20. […] “To Remove God Is To Finally Accept God – Wow” by Elizabeth Dahl Kingery […]

  21. “As I’ve said before, we can’t get to point C until we’ve first passed through points A and B. Otherwise, point C doesn’t hold a lot of meaning.” Are you referring to personal spiritual growth through experience and insights, or is it simply a matter of hitting ourselves in the head with a hammer repeatedly because it feels good when we stop? I have a severe bipolar disorder. Earlier this evening, I was in an intense rant. I was (and still am) extremely angry with God over personal issues. Part of me fears punishment from God, and part of me believes that he understands my limitations (duh). I’m on a paved road to hell IF God either hates me (which would run contrary to his position regarding that whole hanging on the cross thing) or is indifferent to me (see last blurb in parentheses). But then if he hates me for not being able to control myself, then why did he make me this way? And why do I fear eternal damnation for screaming obscenities at him, spitting on my bible, and throwing in the wastebasket? Maybe I’m projecting myself onto God; maybe I would send someone like me to hell if I were like the image of God which most of us have come to believe in.

    Ultimately, however, I don’t think God is like that. If he were, then why did he create this fantastic universe, this world, and us?

    What would have been the point?

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