Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

I Really Only Have One Problem With The Christian Religion… The Rest Is Seriously No Big Deal

In Controversial Books, Deception, God, Good and Evil, Life, Relationships on June 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm

With all of the discussing and debating that goes on between myself and advocates of Christianity, I thought it would help to narrow it down to one primary issue. This is when I realized that all along there had only been one reason important enough to disagree out loud. And it was the one reason that had been unwittingly driving me.

So, what is it? It’s not a wrong doctrine or theology. It doesn’t concern a law being broken. It isn’t about the exclusivity or the heartless division that might characterize Christianity… Well, it might concern some of those things but none of those things can sum it up.

It’s about the value of the human soul.

This is the one thing that ticks me off enough to speak out against a religion that may have plenty of other redeeming qualities. I believe this one issue, however, is at the heart of human suffering. And while I think pain is part of life, I would still like to see it end in this manner for as many individuals as possible.

Because I think it affects our entire eternal lives, and our lives affect the entire world.

As a church-going evangelical Christian, I didn’t learn that the human soul is worth a big, fat zero. It was much worse than that. Thanks to original sin, humanity’s worth resides somewhere in the negative multiple digits. We don’t just deserve to be ignored. We deserve to be punished – forever. And somehow we were all just born this way.

This is why we need to work so hard to appease some holy God. We need to make our religious sacrifices, whether it’s with the blood of a goat or another dressed up Sunday morning at church. We need to somehow get on God’s good side because he controls the weather and the success of our crops. Or he controls disease, and whether or not our spouse is going to be healed of cancer.

If we want our prayers to be answered and to one day receive our glorious reward of heaven, then we’d better repent, or show evidence of our salvation if us sinners want to have “a relationship” with a righteous God. Our human nature is so bad that a perfect, sinless man, a son of God, had to be brutally tortured and killed just to save some of us. And if we don’t deny ourselves and pick up our own cross, then our souls are still only good enough for eternal torture.

You know, I’ve got quite a few Christian friends who value human life and I really don’t think Christians want to believe half the stuff they’re taught every week. But if I had a heart attack or I got into a car accident, or if something happened to one of my kids, I’ve got other friends who would probably think I deserved it. It would be the “just reward” for my heresy. Or it might strike fear in them as my consequence for speaking out against the traditional church institution, the representative of God’s infallible truth.

This thought makes me nauseous, and not just for me but for them. I vividly remember thinking along similar lines when I was a Christian. The sad part is that it kept me from enjoying any deep or intimate relationships with people who might have God’s curse upon them. Why get close to someone who is only going to be rejected and tormented in the end? It is much too painful to watch a friend suffer, so I will just detach.

This detachment carried over even onto my kids when they were first born. I didn’t want to get too close to any human being. What if my own kids became apostate? Sure, I would do everything I could to make sure they believed in the proper gospel. I would enforce it in fact. But there were so many rebellious Christian teens….

I really regret this detachment which permeated my whole life. Serving with church ministries in the community was so unfulfilling because I think these charities thrive on detachment. They only go so far. They only solve so many social issues. They only get so intimate to the impoverished soul which brought his own curse upon himself. And there was always a sales pitch to join our church.

If you haven’t read Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins, I highly recommend it. It floored me. It humbled me. Bitter. Sweet. Humbling. Which is more powerful? Man’s wicked heart or God’s expansive love? Rob does an amazing job of portraying just how expansive that love might be, and that powerful and patient love makes a lot of other things seem really insignificant – like sin.

But even Rob Bell mentioned a twinge of that human unworthiness. He talks about things like abandoning our ego-driven way and submitting to God’s way. Or returning to God. Or no longer rejecting God.

Nooooo…. Why? Why is the natural human being such an enemy of its creator? Where did this thought originate? And why is it continually being perpetuated from pulpits across the globe? Why?

If God is that expansive and that omnipresent, how is it possible to leave or turn away from God? Wasn’t that Adam and Eve’s mistake when they tried to hide from the All-Knowing? Did God really create a world that got out of control and now things are not the way they are supposed to be? Because God created something good, but we are bad? Is God really that much of a wise creator and at the same time, that much of an idiot?

The Bible, as well as everyday life, speaks of sin, and suffering… and death. I can’t deny this. There are even consequences for our wrongs. But it’s not the end of the story. This is only one potent but meager episode. There is so much more – far more.

I think that everything points to restoration. The whole world and everything in it will one day be “reconciled” to God. After forty years in the desert, the promised land was symbolic of the peace and joy that comes after suffering for a while. The old covenant prophets spoke many words and used many metaphors to show this new covenant between humankind and God. The life, death and resurrection of Christ was another sign of this reconciliation. The new city of Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, which has gates that “never shut” is just one more picture of God’s intended restoration for the entire universe.

The human soul isn’t the disease. If there is a disease, I think it would involve rejecting the human soul. I do not believe that God, whoever or whatever God might be, does such a thing. Instead, God (or whoever is in charge of this joint) seems to value the human soul enough to allow us to go through a severe refining process in order for us to turn out as pure gold.

Nothing in our world ever disappears. It only changes. Everything is being transformed.

Sin isn’t a problem. It was part of the world that God created. Suffering doesn’t mean that things have gone bad. It is through struggles that life grows. Death isn’t some sort of victory of Satan. Death is the doorway to new life.

Evil, wrongs, poverty, hatred, misunderstandings, murders, mistakes, rapes, betrayal, ignorance, regrets, horrible and awful stories in the news…. It’s all going according to God’s good, loving, wise plan. Can we believe it? I admit that it would take a tremendous amount of faith, and one that the Christian religion does not generally support.

Without evil, good could not exist. There would be no meaning to life. There would be no value. Sin doesn’t take away value. It’s a fundamental part of our worth. Without it, we would not exist.

Our human frailty actually gives us a precious veneration. Weakness gives us something to conquer, something to get past, get over and get through. But more than that, it gives us depth. Sin and suffering painfully carves deep within our soul something unique and significant. Where there was previously no compassion, now we can truly relate to another human being who is hurting. We know what it feels like. And that is true character. It makes up an intimate relationship. That is really living life.

Within Christianity, self-esteem is often taught as psychobabble. “The ego is selfish and it resists submission to God. It doesn’t want to go to church. It doesn’t want to tithe. It doesn’t want to do what is right and good.” This teaching keeps many people from leaving the inner religion that bounds our soul. It also keeps many of us cowering in the dark. It keeps the spirit which was meant to soar… subdued. It keeps us lurking in failure, when our lives could be so much more intelligent, attractive and successful.

But as always, this deceiving idea that God wants you to reject and sacrifice your precious soul to him has its benefits too. Even the most atrocious religious evil can lead to our strength. That which controls us for its own gain is only biding time as our deepest self plans and prepares for its escape. And when we escape, we find that the confinement only served to empower us.

Like a butterfly before it breaks free from its cocoon, our treasure within is hidden. But it is growing. It is in a constant state of refinement. The outside can look pretty ugly at times, especially if we’re putting on a fake outward appearance. But it’s no matter. The ugliness is only another integral aspect of our beauty. It’s all part of the plan. It’s all part of life – deep, fulfilling life. Can we believe it?

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  1. Wow, those are some interesting thoughts. I must admit that even though I don’t really consider myself a christian right now, it causes me to squirm…mainly because it’s a new idea exactly opposite of what I’ve been taught my whole life. Thanks for making me think!

  2. I know I can’t really explain much within a comment box, or change your mind on anything, but this being so important to me I thought I would just leave a bit of the Christian POV. It sounds like you’re saying that Christians believe that souls are worthless (or worse) unless we do something to be good enough for God. And that seems wrong since God created us anyways, so isn’t it his own fault for making something that would sin (Adam and Eve). Correct me if that’s not quite right. Also please know I’m not trying to be argumentative or start a fight – just to explain.

    So here’s how the bible explains these things, and why I think things are actually quite the opposite from what you’ve been taught – mainly the incorrect belief that souls are worthless to God before redemption.

    1. God is perfect. Nothing imperfect can be with God.
    2. Sin entered the world when humans defied God by eating the forbidden fruit. Hence, we could no longer reach God on our own without an intermediary.
    3. Why could God’s creation fall? Because he loves us and gave us free will. If we couldn’t sin, we would be robots. Would you want your children to be forced to love you, or to have to choose?
    4. Because God values us SO MUCH (not so little) he sent his only son to suffer and die for all sinners. I can’t imagine sacrificing my own child for a convict, but somehow he loves us each that much.
    5. Whoever believes this and asks forgiveness is forgiven and nothing can separate them from God’s love.
    6. We are then able to truly be ourselves. It’s not that God “claims” or takes away our soul. We can finally commune with the God of the universe, one of his popular names being Abba Father which translates to the way a child would say “Daddy”.

    Taking this into account, the common theme of the bible is incredible love for all people by a compassionate and personal (daddy) God. This is why people quote John 3:16 so much. It is Christian’s job to spread this love, and yet somehow many Christian’s take the opposite stance spreading intolerance and hate. But when you read how Jesus lived, loving and spending his time with sinners and correcting the “religious” people – you can see how Christianity is truly supposed to look. A true Christian doesn’t say “be good like me”, he/she says “I am the worst of all sinners but God’s grace forgives me”. It has nothing to do with being good or rejecting yourself.

    • Thanks, Kennedy. I believed your perspective for about thirty years and I’d like to think there was a good purpose for that viewpoint in my life….

      However, if you can find the freedom to take a deeper look at those words, and honestly question them, you might find that they are one big contradiction. “I am the worst of all sinners but God’s grace forgives me” has its entire premise based on rejection, in my opinion.

      Without rejection, there would be no need for forgiveness. The only forgiveness we need is the one religion (“you are guilty and therefore separated from God”) tells us we need. But I believe our creator loved us unconditionally long before religion showed up on the scene.

      Smiles, Elizabeth

      • I appreciate you expanding your points so I can better see what you mean. I think the reason you see a contradiction and I do not, is because we are reading different stories. You see that we cannot be with God by default, and that means that he must be rejecting us. I see that WE rejected him, and he loved and valued us so much that he chased us down. It is because of his unconditional love that he wants us back despite us leaving him. The analogy the bible uses is that we are a lamb that walked away, and God left everything else behind to come and take us back. I don’t hear “rejection” in that.

        (Again, I may be misunderstanding you so don’t take offense if I’ve missed something.)

        So to my point, one might say, “So why doesn’t he just let everyone be with him? If it is unconditional love then he would unconditionally let us spend eternity with him.” That argument requires one of two things to be true:

        1. God CAN allow imperfect things into his presence. Sinful, flawed, unforgiven (whatever word you choose) people can be with him, if he would just choose to let us.

        OR

        2. Ok, sure – God can’t allow imperfect things into his presence, but it doesn’t matter, because people are not messed up in the first place. Maybe there’s no such thing as right and wrong.

        Both of these go against what the bible teaches. To point number 1 – it is not that God chooses to keep us away, any more than the light chooses to expel the darkness. It is the nature of God. Can a shadow walk into a bright room and still exist? When anyone touched the ark or entered the holy of holies in the temple, they died instantly. It is a quality of God’s holiness. Actually, the word holy MEANS set apart.

        To point number 2 – you either believe people are screwed up or you don’t. I can’t prove it to you.

        Now my purpose is not to make you believe any of this – that is not my job. I just want to make sure that you if you have a problem with Christianity, then you actually have a problem with what Christianity truly teaches.

        Only wish you the best, Elizabeth

        • “People are screwed up.” ~ Christianity

          Yes, I definitely have a problem with what Christianity teaches. And I do not think the Bible teaches that people are screwed up. Incomplete, possibly. Screwed up, no.

          And how does it make you feel to share the message to people that they are screwed up? Ah, but your “good news” depends on it, doesn’t it? I wish I could explain to you how damaging that “good news” is to the human soul.

          If you would like to see a person live in righteousness, I suggest you don’t tell them that their God-created nature is screwed up. If you want to see a human being thrive, let them know that their creator is good and that he pronounced his world good as well. People will become what they believe they are.

          With all of the astounding, intricate and unfathomable molecules, atoms and particles that make up life matter, with the way the universe works together perfectly, the way our bodies function, and our brains can create skyscrapers and computers…. it’s surprising to me that anyone would insult our creator by saying we are “screwed up.”

          If God is the creator of this world, the source of all life, and all that exists, and if “we are God’s offspring” which the apostle Paul told unbelievers and if “in him we live and move and have our being,” then I’m pretty sure God is not separated from the human being, nor from sin…. unless you would like to take credit for the existence of life or come up with another life source, that is.

          Thank you for the discussion. 🙂

          • That is what I thought I’d addressed in the original post. God DID create a perfect world with perfect people in it. Originally we dwelled with God, until we left him. See #2 in first post.

            Also, the bible is directly states that all people have sinned. That all are born into sin.

            Honestly not trying to be confrontational but there are a lot of things you say Christians believe that we do not. So. Kind of hard to watch you criticize something without understanding it. Truly just trying to help clarify.

            • How is it possible for anyone to leave or be separated from an omnipresent life source? If you could explain that one to me, I’m all ears.

              You know, it’s like we’re speaking two different languages and asking each other why we can’t understand. I can see how it appears that I am misrepresenting you, and I’m not really sure how to solve that problem….

              The difference in our perspectives on God seems to be a matter of his success. Your idea of a perfect world fell apart because of sin. My idea of a perfect world continues to thrive as sin plays the role for which it was intended.

              But my belief does not require you to believe it, and my blog does not require you to read it.

              Peace, Elizabeth

            • Kennedy,

              I think your interpretation of the fall/redemption story is cool. I love to run across Christians who actually believe it without getting stuck the “it’s your fault” premise that still exists. Honestly, I’d never met any until this last couple years–and that’s after 25 years as a preacher’s kid and another 20 years as a heathen. If that had been the spin on the story that I’d learned, saw, understood, experienced in my childhood, maybe I wouldn’t have had to spend the next half of my life untangling Christianity out of my psyche.

              But it WASN’T the story I heard. I breathed Evangelicalism from birth in a parsonage, watched it lived through my preacher dad, my missionary uncle, my ordained brother, and four grandparents who dripped Christian doctrine through every conversation. I am the third generation of well-intentioned, educated, and very smart people who got really fucked up by Christianity telling them how vile and unacceptable we are from our very conception.

              If anyone isn’t understanding the Christian story as generally taught in Sunday School, church pulpits, and evangelical seminaries across the country, it is you. I’ve spent 25 years hearing it; Elizabeth heard it for 30. We’ve both been missionaries whose job was to preach the story. If we had it wrong, we were certainly in positions to be noticed and corrected. It is telling that no one ever suggested we had it wrong until now that we admit to being heretics.

              • Sandra I’m sorry people have let you down. I can’t explain it. But I’m sorry. I have travelled to hundreds of churches and met amazing people who DO get the gospel, so I don’t know that I am COMPLETELY out of touch with churches. But a false-teaching church is always a stones throw away, it seems. Just turn on the tv anytime and you can find 4!

                I’m sorry there are Christians who make people like Elizabeth feel like trash, or would rejoice in her death. I’m sorry that the way Jesus lived is nothing like how most Christians live. I’m sorry that people like this Steven Ray guy think they are helping ANYONE by throwing stones. I’m sorry that I have to be lumped in with that. I try to be as non-preachy and open minded (even if you can’t tell how much I DO think about the other point of view before I say anything) and discussion-oriented as possible.

                But I can take a hint from Elizabeth 🙂 If you ever want to connect, feel free to reach out, but I think at this point I’ve started to piss her off. @kennedypittman

                • Not pissed at all, and I appreciate the sensitivity and respectful dialogue. Thanks. 🙂

      • You’re right in a sense, Ms. K. That particular premise is based on rejection. But you’ve got it pointing in the wrong direction. The problem began when we, mankind, rejected God.

  3. I consider myself a Christian Universalist, with ample scripture text to support it. There’s a huge difference between what you described and what I’ve learned.

  4. Thank you for your honesty. I am now your follower on twitter 🙂 keep pressing in!

  5. How is it that I come here and find that you’ve put into words what I’ve been struggling to articulate for so long? And you do that over and over? Do you live inside my head? No, really.

    Ever since I began to explore and investigate Christianity again as a means to integrate my childhood with my middle-aged self (and maybe find some healing along the way), I’ve been sooo hung up on Original Sin. The Fall-Redemption story line permeates all of Christianity and most of Western cultural thinking. Yet, as you say, it is built on a faulty premise: that out of all of Creation, seen and declared “good” by its Maker, humanity is just one big epic fail for which humanity is at fault.

    To continue holding such a deep-rooted fundamental belief is slowly killing me (through chronic disease that at my deepest level of being I don’t believe I deserve to heal) yet I cannot root out this belief. Statistics that I have read but cannot find to link here bear out my situation: American Christians are more depressed, obese, chronically diseased, and divorce (slightly) more often than the population as a whole. If Christianity didn’t keep pounding into our psyches how less-than-worthless, how deserving of death and infinite pain and torture, how revolting in the sight of God we humans are, maybe we could actually begin to experience the love of God that was marketed to us and maybe we could feel so loved and welcomed and approved and delighted in that our souls would overflow with it, spreading the love around.

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been trying to say, and for doing it so well!

    • That’s funny, Sandra because I feel the same way about the things you share. I’m sorry for your battle with the chronic disease. I had some health issues about ten years ago and I can say now that I’m glad I had to face them. They were the motivator I needed to completely change my lifestyle to a healthy one. Although different degrees and forms of death might be part of the life cycle, I too think that finding respect and value for ourselves works hand in hand with our overall vitality. xoxo

    • Sandra, but, in Christ, the Bible says that CHRISTIANS are a new creation. Original sin is no longer counted against us, though we still battle the flesh with its sinful tendencies and temptations. Weren’t you told the GOOD news (the Gospel) as well as the bad news? Jesus calls Himself the second and last Adam, He came to undo what Adam did in the garden of rebellion.

      • The GOOD news was that God would rather kill his own son than acknowledge me as a worthy participant in his creation. Yes, I’ve heard better spins on the story (John 3:16) but this is how it got filtered through my family and my teachers. No, they didn’t put it as baldly as that but I like calling a spade a spade.

        I never understood the whole “new creation” thing because nothing in my inner life became new–I still was told I had attitude, I still was belittled for questions and doubts, I still had mystical and psychic experiences that I was told were tantamount to Satanic possession. What, then, had God saved me from? How was I new?

        If Jesus was a second Adam to reverse the conditions of the first, why was I expected to adhere to statements of faith I couldn’t accept, to behave in particular godly manner of music, dress, language, etc? Even after I said the sinner’s prayer (and why was that even necessary if Jesus’ act overrode Adam’s), I was still the same unacceptable no-good person to God–as explained by countless sermons, books, and teachings on godly living.

        • Sandra, I have heard LOTS of sermons and I have never heard a preacher or a teacher say that God was mad at Christians or that we were unacceptable. I’m sorry that in your experience that your questions and doubts were ridiculed. My Christian environments have not been that way.
          IF God thought people were worthless, He would not have sent His WILLING Son to bridge the gap; to reconcile us back to God.
          We say the “sinners prayer” because faith is still required to appropriate the blessings of God.
          Check out Key Life ministry.

          • Sermons sound much different when one has found their freedom to question what is authoritatively being taught from this medium. Also, what is spoken and what is implied are so often two very different concepts. How is it even possible to see the actual implications when one has pledged their mind to a pulpit week after week? Things look a lot different from the outside of religion.

          • If nothing was required from me to be incarnated as sin, nothing should be require of me to be re-created as holy. If I’m a sinner through no fault of my own, why is it then my responsibility to mouth some magic spell to change my acceptability to God?

            I am very, really truly, happy that you (and apparently many others) have found in Christianity a spiritually nourishing path to communion with God. I wish that it had been so for me and the thousands of others who found instead a dogma of debasement. Obviously, Christianity would not have survived the millennia if people did not find fulfillment in the stories and doctrines.

            Unfortunately, I and so many others got the Pharisaic version of Christianity. Having that ingrained into my very Being for generations before my birth and for the whole of my formative years, it is difficult-to-impossible to experience Christianity any other way–even if I want to, even if I learn intellectually another way to interpret the stories.

            So I will continue to commune with God in my own way, outside of religious affiliation, and to speak up for the many, many ways the Bible can be used for good and for evil.

  6. This is the most confused path of disarray I have read for some time. Elizabeth doesn’t begin to grasp the holiness and perfection of God and why our fallen nature estranges us from eternity. I detect Eastern philosophy, Taoism and other eroded perspectives throughout the commentary. She understands servitude and submission within Christianity as works justification, which is erroneous perception for gazing only upon the external. The commentary as a whole drains from a heart who has never had a relationship with the one who breathed lift through Christ Jesus. She is on the outside trying to look in, and vaguely commenting as a unregenerate mind perceives.

    No one is justified unto perfection by anything they can do… How perfect would one have to be to be pure unto perfection? The answer: perfect! The whole message of Christianity is the soul is the ONLY thing that matters, yet Elizabeth arrives at a complete opposite assumption. The soul is not a disease, the pestilences of the base nature is the problem. Just because the initial premise that all souls are corrupt and are innately in opposition to good, thus alienated from the Spiritual One in whom all life emanates is not rejecting the soul. It rather is sounding the gong to unveil unto revelation the truth about the human condition, that a cure is needed. All have sinned, done wrong, lied, stole, hated, and fallen grievously short of the perfection. No one can redeem themselves by good works, it is impossible. Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah Witnesses, and similar institutions do teach works justification, but those systems are authored and governed by malevolent powers, enemies of souls. Not all Christ-based religions are works righteousness, but any that teach outward justification is indeed the UNHOLY.

    Light is pure, darkness is pitch. The path is wide unto the dusk upon eternity, and most follow upon it. The narrow way unto the light is difficult, and few find it. Except the Spirit beckon you, no one can attained unto the revealed nature of God. No one finds the Spiritual One by perception, God calls a soul by His Spirit through revelation. Academics and knowledge alone is Gnosticism, the cult of the early church… rampant even today. Knowledge alone is not sufficient. Our own perception is twisted at best, and a sure path unto dark night of the soul. Pride is the core of the fallen nature, in which sin vines and chokes the life out of its garden.

    Kennedy Pittman provides a nice outline which is based on light and truth. Either Christ is who he said he is or a madman unrivaled. He said he is the way, the only way, unto the light. Blood must be spilt from an innocent life to redeem the guilty, this is the justice of truth, not some evil plan of a tyrant. This is a spiritual law, that even the church of Wicca, Voodoo and other demonic systems understands. Christ became the lamb that was slain, so that through him, His life justifies our souls. What greater love was shown than for an innocent man to die for each soul that receives that free gift? It is a simply tome of truth, given so that a child might understand. But the corrupt, in their muddied intellect, give reason to deny that gift, and turn aside to perdition. Reason alone cannot control your course when the bowl breaks and the silver cord it cut. Once the soul departs from your decaying mortal shell, are you arrogant enough to say, “my way must be right, so I will trust in it”? The Morning Star said this, and his way is reason shrouded unto perpetual darkness.

    As it is known, that towards the end of human history, souls will no longer give ear to sound counsel, but follow after apostate teachers (Rob Bell is well know as a misguided Universalist) and to give homage to counsel that opposes God’s reveal word. When evil is called good, and good called evil, it is the universal sign of a great falling way unto familiar spirits. Unlearn what you know to know, whereas a cup half full is not privy to grasp the spiritual. God is spirit, and all who come to Him must do so in spirit and truth. They must empty themselves of preconceptions, or quickly be drawn away by other spirits which flood today’s spiritual landscape.

    • Uhhhh, yeah. Are you a machine?

      Personally, the first sentence of your comment bored me beyond words but I skipped to the end and it sounded like your soliloquy must be a very nice theological regurgitation. One would think that if a person found the one Bible interpretation to rule them all, that person wouldn’t feel such a need to insecurely label others as misguided souls but hey, that’s just more of my heresy speaking. 😉

      • I did not write the commentary for you Elizabeth, because the spirit of the anti-Christ dwells within you. I wrote it for misguided and seeking readers who might still have a chance before surrendering to soul-death as you have. As you should know dear Elizabeth, it is impossible for a person who have tasted the truth, to have been exposed to the light, for the Spirit of God to bring them back again to see it clearly, for to due so would be to crucify the Son of God over again. It would have been better to not have known of the way, than to have rejected it, for great is their loss unto eternity. (Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-21)

        To those seeking in humility as not to know, Christ was kind and gentle. To those who claim to know the truth, as eyes for the blind, while instructing in error, he was harsh and sharp with condemnation justly given. While you live, yet you are dead, because you have rejected the giver of life eternal. Repent Elizabeth, this might be your last call…

        • It’s funny how my dead soul can feel so alive… but I know you are only following what you believe to be the truth and voicing what you believe will help people. For that I thank you, but as for your coldness, let’s just say I won’t get my hopes up of being invited over to your house for dinner without feeling as though I would be the main dish. 😉

          Peace, Elizabeth

        • wow, I’m thinking ole Steven here is kinda proving your point, Elizabeth. How he’s passing on the Love of God by telling you how dead and evil and even the AntiChrist. (Not every heretic gets to be the AntiChrist–how lucky are you?) And then he thinks that name-calling diatribe should make you run gratefully back to the Christ he has already biblically proved will reject you?

          I’ve got those same verses thrown at me but I never got called AntiChrist. Elizabeth, you’re just cooler than I am!

          • Meh, AntiChrist is getting a little old. But I love being called the Whore of Babylon. I’m thinking about making that my new avatar with a tagline of “Their teaching will spread like a cancer of awesomeness” ~ 2 Tim 2:17, paraphrased

            • 🙂 Sorry ladies, Steve is not the author of these tidbits nor do I aspire to name calling with self-augumented entitlements. Try 2 John 1:7 for one “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” This is simply the title to all who speak against the finished work of Christ. Many more like this verse… Again, not Steve, but directly from the Sacra Biblia, inspired by God’s spirit.

              Additionally, The love of God is more than feel-goodism that the lost aspire too… Have you ever read Christ’s distain for the Pharisee’s in Matthew 23:28 “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Ah… The Father is Holy and fully deplores the wicked who call evil good and good evil. No more patience, no more love talk, no kisses on the forehead, when a souls steps out of the light unto darkness, only condemnation awaits. Jesus said, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life’” (Matthew 25:41, 46). We have all choosen sides.

              Herod the Great beheaded John the Baptist for speaking truth, and almost all the Apostles suffered gruesome martyrdom, and so shall the wicked aspired to remove the voice of truth in this age. As it is written, it shall be done. Maranatha!

              • Makes me feel so much more gratitude to know that Steven isn’t calling me names. It is God Himself. Does Steve refer to himself in the third person because he follows God’s example of speaking of himself in the third person in his Writ?

                Really, do you think that making me feel more disgusting and insignificant than I already felt will somehow bring me closer to that Person you say you’re quoting with these opinions? Why would I want to have anything to do with Someone who thinks so poorly of me?

                • 🙂 Surely you are not that naive, Sandra? Your claim of being a former Christian should grant you some revelation regarding the counsel of Scripture. Third person maybe, for I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. For I am full of words, and the Spirit within me compels me. (Gal. 2:20 and Job 32:18) I speak not of my own, but merely echo the ageless truths from the corridors of heaven.

                  Don’t mistake my comments as an effort to change your minds. As mentioned above, Hebrews teaches that there is no hope for anyone who has tasted the light of life, but then rejects it. I am not attempting CPR on any cadaver. However, what is impossible for men is possible for God, for who is like our Creator? As a fireman, I attempt to rescue the living from among the fire, those who have the sense to respond to the warning. Those who wish to resist the warning, their blood is on their own heads. (Ezekiel 33:5) If I do not sound the trumpet with an urgent and aggressive blast, then I stand responsible for not declaring the truth.

                  As John 3:18 aptly states “…but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Unbelief is a sin against the remedy. It springs from the enmity of the heart of man to God, from love of sin in some form. Christ is hated, because sin is loved. The wrath of God now fastens upon them; and their own hearts condemn them. 2 Thess. 1:90 states “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes.” And Mark 9:48 expands with “where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

                  Does these sharp warnings from Scripture sound loving? Are my verbatim quotes too harsh? Do you wish politically correct sweet talk like Kennedy Pittman provided, who doesn’t want to offend because he fears the approval of man more than God? The message I bear comes directly from the divine, as an ambassador of Christ. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade all. (2 Cor. 2:15-16 and 2 Cor. 5:11)

                  “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Luke 12:4-5 This is the message the apostate hate because they are in opposition to God. They killed the son, the prophets and all those proclaiming truth through the millenniums. God shows His love and mercy on those who follow His way… it is revealed, mostly rejected, and spurned as nonsense. Judgment and death stands at the door for those who reject the path to life.

    • Wow, people like you are the reason I don’t consider myself a christian anymore.

      • ummm… no such thing as a person not being a Christian anymore, you never was in the faith to begin with. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:1-9

        • Lol…your opinion. You know, if I don’t consider myself a christian, your bible verses mean nothing to me. Here’s a tip tho: you’re gonna get wayyy farther with that God thing if you show the love. Jesus preached love, that’s what I know. Ever heard the saying, you attract more flies with honey than vinegar?

          • Goodness, I keep being deified by calling the Scriptures “my” verses. I do not speak of myself or my own opinions. Of course verses mean nothing to you… how could they? They are spiritually discerned, meaning a person outside of God has no way of properly understanding them.

            You mean the ecumenical “all ways to God it good” Eastern philosophy hippy love? Jesus spoke more on HELL than any other subject defined by the gospels, 70 of 162 times. His warnings waxed harsh against those who denied His calling, and even worse those who rejected the Father who sent him. Why is it no one has any idea what they are talking about when they refute Christianity on this blog? “My people perish from the lack of Knowledge” is a great Scripture to consider. Do you have any idea the darkness you bring upon yourself by rejecting the light? If you reject light, you choose darkness.

            “But the unbelieving … shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” Revelation 21:8 GENUINE love warns of impending danger, eternal torment is the worst possible fate. False teachers focus on “God is love” and would not have any part sharing the dark side of reality that includes pain, misery and torment. Just tell us what we want to hear.. .make us feel good and accepted. Tickle our ears and we will commend you, even praise you. For the time has come when souls will not put up with sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their self-love wants to hear. (2 Tim. 4:3) I best not cast anymore pearls… God does not take kindly for His Holy word to be abused… I best not quote Matthew 7:6 for offense 🙂

            • Steven reminds me of those point-and-spin toys from childhood: point the arrow at an animal, pull the string, and hear the sound the animal makes. I loved those toys, played with them long past the target age-range. I was so fascinated with that mechanical noise that sounded exactly the same every time you pulled the string. I can’t seem to help pulling Steven’s string, and every time he complies by mechanically moo-ing and baa-ing according to his programming.

              The really cool thing is that a year ago, this conversation would have devastated me. I would have had some knee-jerk, trained from birth, fear that maybe all my seeking God was folly and that this angry, abusive, make-me-feel-like-filth voice really IS God. Twenty years outside Christianity and I still believed in this hateful god. Dogmatic, self-righteous, “bible-thumpers” could always reduce me to quivering steaming heaps of shit (even if they weren’t religious, I’ve been thumped with all kinds of authorities in a wide variety of venues by fundamentalistic “my way or the highway” rigid people).

              But this time, I’m pulling the strings on Elizabeth’s point-and-spin just for the fun of it; I know exactly what noises will come out. It is reassuring to hear the same crap over and over and realize that I don’t believe it anymore. Finally, I know, really know, that’s not God speaking out of the mechanical toy, it is the hatred programmed by men and women into generations of innocent psyches. I keep pulling the strings because it is like picking at a scab, expecting to find oozing nasty stuff underneath and instead finding that it flakes off easily, revealing healthy pink flesh–a truly new creation.

              So, thanks Steven, for showing me how much healing I have had, for proving to me that “yeah, it really was that bad” but it isn’t anymore. That was so not your purpose, Steven, but God uses the unlikeliest messengers sometimes.

            • What I meant by “your verses” is that you quoting them to me has about the as much effect on me as my quoting the Koran would have on you.

              I was also under the impression that what summed up the first and second commandments were LOVE…I see absolutely no love in the harsh words you are saying. I was also under the impression that only Jesus could truly know if one is/was saved or not; after all, don’t men look on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart?

              I was also under the impression that God was the only one who could really judge/condemn someone as to say they are the antichrist and the other names you were calling Elizabeth. Since I was also under the impression that Jesus said to “love your enemies”, I would hate to see what you call your friends. 🙂

              (I’m also curious how the “holy word of god” is being abused in this exchange.)

              • Abusing the Word of God is on MY head if I continue to share it to those who would refute it. Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6) which is idiomatic as to say not to give things of value to those who will not understand or appreciate it. Sandra turned and attacked like a rabid wolf foaming at the mouth with contenion, which is an expected response, using her string pulling analogy. I again must regress, as Jesus instructed, Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out, shake the dust off your feet as a sign. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that people. I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 1:14-15)

                • So why did you keep coming back here to drop your pearls of wisdom before us rabid foaming wolves? That aspersion is your own idea, I think, rather than a parroting of your God’s Words. Does that mean this attack is personal now? Why? Why didn’t you simply “shake the dust off your feet as a sign”?

  7. Elizabeth, I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have just been so delighted to read your posts. I am wrestling with so many of the same thoughts and ideas. I’m just happy to know that there are others out there like me. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is this very issue. Why the mixed signals? We’re worthless sinners if not for the blood of Jesus, right? (Thus saith Christian doctrine) Yet, in and of ourselves we’re so worthwhile to God that he SENT Jesus. HUH? Why would God send Jesus in the first place if we really were as bad as the church says we are? I don’t get it. So now it’s a matter of “striving for holiness,” “dying to self,” “trying to be more like Jesus.” Yet in Genesis it does say that we were created in God’s very likeness and image. If God created me to be who I am, then why all the craziness of trying to be something I’m not?

    I guess it boils down to the fact that I am worthwhile to the church in a “broken” or “fallen” state, because then I am dependent on them instead of God. But when I really examine my heart, I don’t feel broken. I don’t feel fallen. I know that God is with me always and that I love God. But I guess you can’t really get many donations based on that idea…..

  8. To be fair, I’ve only really been taught in churches that the human soul is of great value and worth being loved by God and others. Now this may be because I’m from England and we got rid of a lot of our Puritanical types to America. Christianity is certainly different here, except where it’s had recent American influence. I have a lot of contact with American Christians and I’m shocked by some of the things I hear. But yes, Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, which was quite a minor part of his writing, was taken and blown out of all proportion. I recommend Matthew Fox’s book ‘Original Blessing’.

    Churches here tend to be all lovey-dovey these days, but that’s in stark contrast to how the Church has been throughout most of history. Anyone with a knowledge of history would realise how recent this phenomena of emphasising God’s love is – a few mystics and minority groups aside. So is it trying to be something it isn’t or is it evolving or is it returning to what Jesus intended. I don’t have a problem when I read Jesus words but I do have a problem with some theology and more particularly with all the wet songs they sing in churches! I can’t see the point in standing in pews singing, although I love singing when it’s a decent song; instead we should be helping each other in practical ways. I don’t think God wants to hear all t hat shit they sing, He wants us to show love to one another but most people don’t have time as they’re too busy going to church services and meetings.

  9. Wow, wish I had a few days with you Elizabeth..I deeply appreciate your posts and share so many of your observations and conclusions.
    Let me speak first about the Bible…Most of us have had our head filled with quotes, scriptures and passages that have caused to believe whatever doctrine was being taught in our particular group. Through this process it has been ingrained in our thinking that the Bible is our means to salvation., We have thousands of denominations of Christianity, each proclaiming to have the inside track on Truth, Revelation and Spiritual Knowledge. If the Bible is “The Word of God” (It isn’t, you know, because “The Word” was with in the beginning with God, was God, Created everything that exists, and became flesh and dwelt among us) then how did God speak to His people for the three centuries between Resurrection and the “Cannonizing” of the “Holy Bible”? While the Bible contains some of the statements of and about Jesus, His life, Ministry, Death and Resurrection, one of the writers said that the Earth itself is not large enough to contain all of Gods words, works, knowledge etc..
    What the Bible has become is “The Golden Calf”, made of gold (symbolic of God’s Nature), yet made of man’s hand, and held up as something that requires men to bow down and worship it.
    While The Bible is made by men, it does contain some wonderful truths, premises and yes even laws.
    So lets, for a minute, take a look at The Bible…It is divided into two distinct part: The Old Testament (Covenant) and the New Testament (Covenant). I perceive that most readers here understand that the Old Covenant (The Law), was fulfilled and then put away, making place for the New Covenant (Grace)..Setting aside, for the time being, the Old Covenant, let us look at this New Covenant (Agreement, Contract, Binding Document). Any Legal Document has as its first order of business the establishing of who the parties to this agreement are. Matthew 1:1, which is the first verse, of the first chapter, of the first Book of the New Testament, does exactly that…It establishes who the parties to the covenant are…..”The book of the Generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” So the New Covenant is between God and “The Generation of Jesus Christ.” Not Jesus Himself, but HIS Generation. All the begats that follow are NOT the Generations of Jesus (who was called Christ) these are the Ancestors of Jesus. (Ancestors precede, Generations follow.) So the covenant is not with the ancestors, nor is it with Jesus..It is with US! His Seed in the Earth, His Christ. Please. please, please take the time to list and number the ancestors and you will find that the 42nd Generation is Christ, not Jesus, who is the 41st Generation.
    All Sin for all time, for all people was atoned for at Calvary, then Sin and The Law were PUT AWAY!. Calvary dealt with Sin, Resurrection was the beginning of the 42nd Generation, which people are in Covenant with God. Jesus was born, not of Joseph’s bloodline, but of Mary’s as she was with Child, of the Holy Ghost., Adam’s (and Mary’s) race ended at Calvary and Jesus’ Generation (Which are Sons of God) is what came forth on Resurrection. When Jesus was asked, by his disciples: “How shall we pray”, the next words from Jesus is the entirety of the Gospel (Good News), when He said pray: “OUR FATHER.” Oh my, we have the same Father. Remember it was God who desired, no, insisted, that there be a New Covenant between Himself and His People. We ARE Born of God, His Spirit indwells us, from Birth and that is by His plan. It is as He desired it to be.
    To tell someone they are a sinner is to deny the redemptive work of Calvary. Sin was put away! That means it no longer exists. The New Testament books (letters) were written to a race that was born under The Law, and yes that race had to “Accept” Jesus as the sacrifice for their sins. We were not born under that Law and where there is no there, there is no sin. We are born (not made) partakers of Life, and In Him, we move, live and have our BEING! So much more..It is called Grace, folks and Grace it is….Love and Peace to each..

    • Good stuff, Stan.

      I, too, see the Bible as a wonderful book until the letter takes priority over the spirit.

      The new covenant seems to only be new in the sense that we might discover it for the first time. I think you will find plenty of new covenant concepts such as “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” in the Old Testament. The Hebrews, however, didn’t seem to generally catch on to it until Christ showed up, or His Spirit rather.

      Just as humanity began in paradise, so does humanity seem to end up there according to the Bible’s promises of restoration for the whole world. Like Dorothy needed the adventures of Oz to realize what she already possessed all along, I think we each benefit from our own wanderings in the wilderness. For some of us, our wilderness might be the Christian religion which talks a lot about grace but deceptively functions primarily under the old covenant of the law, in my opinion. The law was intended to make people feel like crap under a load of guilt and always enforced with the threat of punishment. But life is found through grace.

      Either way you look at it, while religion (law) might serve a good purpose, I do not think it is our final destiny. Many seem to be breaking free from religion at this time in history. It’s a beautiful thing, although not without its challenges and plenty of opposition from those who are not ready for the freedom of grace.

      All I can say is that once you have tasted grace, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to go back to religion. What a nightmare.

  10. Elizabeth, I don’t know where you got the idea that Christianity devalues Human beings when the Bible says that our souls, the very core of us human beings, is so valuable that nothing can be exchanged for it?: “What good will it be for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” (Matthew 16:26a) In other words, what good is it for you to gain ‘freedom’ or ‘peace’ if you forfeit your own soul by dismissing the sacrifice Jesus Christ did for you in the cross? It’s like wondering, Am I good enough to dismiss a sacrifice that any of my friends does for me just because her family does not match to my expectations? It sounds silly, right?

    The Bible says that we are so valuable that an immense sacrifice had to be made, something we would never do for anyone else, something nobody would ever want to repeat, something unique – of course it had to be a great sacrifice the one Jesus made in the cross! It was necessary to show us – really show us- the immense value we had. Who among your friends today would accept to be killed for you? Seriously, how many?

    You exercise your freedom of speech and free will by criticizing “Christianity”. And, as we all know, this religion -as any other- has many flaws because it is practiced by people with flaws. Being a legalistic believer is so wrong and I am sorry you had to go through that kind of Christianism.

    But at the same time I wonder how many wonderful personal stories are you sending to the trash with your writing? My own conversion story, my dad’s amazing experience with the love of God that he never got from any human being, believers’ storied in Southern Asia who suffer persecution willingly because they believe in Christ?

    So your experience does not and will never erase the power of God transforming lives and giving love, peace and hope to people whose lives are literally destroyed. In my home country in the Southern American Cone, I’ve seen beautiful and breathtaking experiencies with Christ and I can only pray so many more will come to know him in Spirit and in Truth.

    Take care Elizabeth. You are valued and treasured by God, but I fear for you that having rejected the door that Christ offered to you, you may find nothing more than condemnation.

    • “…I don’t know where you got the idea that Christianity devalues Human beings when the Bible says….”

      I know the opening line was rhetorical so you could preach your sermon, but I’ll answer anyway: People like you who warn us that we’ve crossed some rubicon with God. People who bleat their sheeple hellfire-and-brimstone theology, who beat us over the heads with Holy Writ, who tell us we are doomed and rejected and have no hope of reconciliation and have the bible verses to prove it.

      If these are examples of God’s love, I don’t want it. God can keep his love and let his Son live, if his love to me is anything like what I experience from too many of the people who use his name and claim his voice. I think I find the patronizing warnings-in-love about how naive and ignorant I must be to have so misread my experiences because they don’t look like yours as seen through your Jesus-colored-glasses to be more annoying and grating that the all-out there’s no hope for you, you vile heretic venom. At least the second is more honest in its hatred and contempt, while the first thinks it is love and compassion.

  11. @ Sandra, I am also a preacher’s kid. I had been in church since two weeks old and up until the last 3 years never missed a service. I understand what you are saying. I have had some inner sense that something never added up with the message being preached. I have seen power struggles and misquotations of Bible scripture, even within this thread, that have led me to question everything. I guess, I never lived, as you call it, as a heathen. But generally, understand what you are saying. If Adam sinned, then why is that my fault?

    According to Jesus, the only way to enter the kingdom was to BE like a little child. I looked the verse up in Hebrew and the word for child is toddler, which means age 2. We are told in the modern age about the “terrible” twos. You know, that rebellious time in life when we don’t want anyone to control us and that we refuse authority, they tell us. As it should be. We were never meant to be controlled by anything. God didn’t control Adam after He created him. That would not be love, and God IS love. Yet, a law-filled, religious institution tells us that we cannot function as a society UNLESS there is law, order, and this notion that somehow we will never find God unless they “Train us in the way we should go, so that we won’t depart when we get older.” This is arrogance and a misunderstanding of what Jesus did, in my opinion.

    To you well-meaning theologians, I applaud you on your attempt at reconciling us back to your way of thinking. In the past, others would not even acknowledge those with questions, because “you don’t question God!”, As if their perspective and God’s perspective were the same. But I must say that these questions and concerns are real, and unless you come up with real answers, not the rote or scripted answers, you will not affect much. There is a contradiction in the Christian message. I love God with every fiber of my being, but your current perception of Biblical needs a rework.

    Back to Sandra – two year olds are curious and are trying to discover the world. They ask questions. Lots of them. And that is the way Jesus told us to be if we were ever to be/stay free from slavery to a system. Any system. It is wonder and amazement that should guide us. God is creative. The theology gets screwed up when we don’t recognize that Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection actually changed our relationship with God. Why? Because the Jews saw God through a religious lens. They could never measure up, even if they wanted to. No one could keep the law OF MOSES, well enough, unless of course you were an authority figure aka Pharisee, Sadducee, Scribe, Father, etc. In Moses’ law (this is what Jesus keeps calling it, while the Pharisees keep “correcting” Him by calling it the Law of God. If you are calling it the law of God, you just might be a Pharisee,look out!

    I could go incredibly long, here. In faith, maybe even write a book on the subject. Jeremiah, the prophet says in 29:11, God speaking through him “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope and a bright future.” Where’s the wrath in that statement? There isn’t any! Whether we acknowledge it or not, Jesus opened a door to God. Not one that God created, but man did. He opened a door that no one could shut, and shut a door no one could open. Since the law required a sacrifice, in our eyes, Jesus, sacrificed Himself.
    God did not require death of animals to bring life. The law did. Because of the Jews perspective, Jesus took care of it. He acted as a High Priest when He said “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” Christianity says that this was for those who crucified Him, but the truth is that statement was meant for all of those who needed the sacrifice to feel somehow worthy. Without law, there is no sin. Sin is a willful disobedience against the “law” of God. God’s law is love. God’s law is life. God’s law is direction, faith, hope, peace, etc. Anything that contradicts love is a breaking of God’s law. What does love look like? Besides using Jesus as a human parable of it, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:22-23, Philippians 2:1-11. All of Paul’s letters are about law versus grace/love/acceptance.

    Jesus IS MY HOLINESS, and it is a gift to me and those with a lawful, principled, systematic, theology. Jesus did everything. So I AM ALREADY ACCEPTED BY GOD, and all He DESIRES, not requires, in return, is me to love Him back. He is not a book of requirements and judgments. God IS love. It is not a by-product of His actions. He IS love and anytime love is shown, God is there. What is Love? I Corinthians 13. This is not some cute set of verses to say at a wedding, it is God’s essence. He cannot contradict Himself.

    Now because of what Jesus did on the cross, because we required it, the Holy God that created the whole universe and brings life to everything He inhabits (He IS life, too), we are tabernacles of the Holy Spirit. Holy Motor Home, Batman! God moves with us. Jesus said that the greatest in the kingdom is the least or servant of all. God moves into humanity on the day of Pentecost, “This is that which was spoken of by the Prophet Joel, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will dream dreams, and your old men will see visions.” And the Holy Spirit was poured out on ALL flesh that day. What made this prophecy so important was that only a few in the old testament could prophesy, but now everyone can. Now what we bless gets blessed and what we curse gets cursed. We have creative ability over ours and others’ lives. Jesus came to bless everyone, that is love. But to prove that cursing the religious system was going to work too, he cursed a fig tree. Jesus came to conquer that ol’ devil, religion. What overcomes religion? Love. I Corinthians 13 love. A Song of Solomon kind of love.

    What is more powerful IN us than is more powerful in a religious system? Love. Religious systems may produce people that do the right things, but for the wrong reasons, then they call that love. Just like the soup kitchens that Elizabeth spoke about. God, however is MORE INTERESTED in a perfect motive/spirit, which He gave us. Holy Spirit or Himself, if you will, since He is a spirit. What religion has taught us to do is override our conscience to follow these steps or keys to a saving of our soul, which is actually slavery to the system of steps and keys. When, since we are all so unique and different we all require our own path to God which Jesus opened the door to. Jesus said “I am the gate…where the sheep can go in and out of to find pasture.” In and out of? Wild horses were not made to be put in a zoo. They were made to run free. So are we. ALL MEN were CREATED EQUAL. We don’t become equal through human authority systems. We were not given this desire to be free by human pastors and authority. We were born with freedom in our blood. It is only then that we systematically get “dumbed” down to play within the guidelines and rules, and become part of this religious system, having our souls messed up, that now we need “saving” from.

    Why is it that while young we dream of growing up, but when we grow up, we desire to be young again? Youth is restored when the eagle is allowed to soar. No struggle. It all starts in our soul, aka, our mind, will, and emotions. 3 John says”I would that you prosper(shalom) and be in health as your soul prospers.” Shalom means peace in every area of our lives so that we can function and make decisions without any hindrances. Hopefully, you found this helpful, y’all. I, too, am not trying to stir things up, but good cakes, must be stirred before they can be baked. Sorry, gotta run.

  12. Sorry, My name is John Ferrell. I am not the same anonymous as before. Just didn’t sign in. That was my post….

  13. Thanks, again, Elizabeth. Such great insight into the bizarre stance current evangelical x-ty has with the human soul–it’s bad, it’s bent, it’s willful, it’s an enemy of g#d, yada yada. Yet, if just admit you’re a piece of dirt, g$d, in his expansive love, will redeem you (because he had his son murdered, you can be in a relationship with him).

    I hate that position now. What a perverse power trip. And I hate the Yahwist meme that started it all–we fell from grace (b/c of Eve) and were kicked out of the garden. What a powerfully destructive idea. An idea declares that we (the creators of the idea) are by our very natures, evil and only the idea can bring us out of darkness to light. No thanks. I’d rather be an epicurian:

    “The purpose of Epicurian philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia, peace and freedom from fear, and aponia, the absence of pain, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and evil, that death is the end of the body and the soul and should therefore not be feared, that the gods do not reward or punish humans, that the universe is infinite and eternal, and that events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.” Now that’s a philosophy I can live by–freedom from free, living a life of self-sufficiency surrounded by friends.

  14. With the world becoming more enlightened as a whole in its collective evolution, I was half wondering whether christian fundamentalists will become extinct.

    But it seems that there are still some trigger-happy christian fundamentalist terrorists who are very much alive (which is ironic, spiritually speaking) and kicking (and shooting Bible verses left and right, taken out of context to threaten and condemn others to hell and damnation).

    It is perhaps no surprise that they choose to unleash their ammunition here because grace and freedom has the knack of bringing the old testament god of vengeance and pettiness out of the closet from the heart of the religious-minded who have been eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

  15. Love, Love, Love this! Sharing, now.

  16. My only problem with Christianity is that it doesn’t make any damned sense.

    A loving, omnipotent god creates the entire universe. This is a large area, in case you haven’t given it much thought.

    Then he creates a very tiny planet with two individuals, Adam and Eve. He gives them their natures, good/evil, curious/incurious.
    He puts the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil right in front of them and says “Don’t eat from the tree.”
    Now, not having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve do not know that it’s “Good” to do what God says and “Evil” to disobey. The serpent in the garden (Where did the serpent come from? Did God put it there? Did God give it its nature? – Why yes, he must have, since he created everything.) tells them that it’s good to eat from the tree since they will become wise. They are curious and desirous of being wise, so they eat the fruit.
    God punishes Adam and Eve for 1) following the natural impulses he gave them 2) giving in to the temptation of the snake he created and put in the garden 3) eating the fruit that he put in the garden himself and 4) defining the entire chain of events as “sinful” rather than the natural result of setting up Adam and Eve. It’s interesting that god doesn’t want Adam and Eve to know the difference between good and evil, or to be wise, isn’t it?

    Now everyone is damned for all time…until…

    God sends an incarnation of himself to Earth as a blood sacrifice to himself, to atone for the sin that his creation (mankind) committed above. But the blood sacrifice is only good if you believe it without evidence, otherwise, all is null and void and you go to hell anyhow.

    Gosh, it sounds so silly when you put it that way, doesn’t it.

    • I used to wonder about why would it be a “sin” to eat from the tree of knowledge. Somehow in the past few years as I began to understand our relationship with the Father, it became apparent that man didn’t need that knowledge. Man already had it through Him. It was man’s own desire to be apart from God and to be” as gods” and separate, that that knowledge became necessary for man’s own selfish needs .It continues in the religious sense that man is still determining for himself and others what is good and what is evil. As we acquire the “mind of Christ”, we no longer will desire that ” religious” connection and will become secure in our relationship with the Father, as was Jesus. It is only through the”Fall” that man sees the need for that return to intimacy. We as human beings are not perfect because of our separation; we need that connection that was evident in the beginning. Certainly we have our nature as given by God, but we have a choice to reconcile it with God or not. Did God really punish man or was that punishment a result of the separation of man’s own choosing? Jesus was sent to be the “Way” for man(us) to return to the Father. If one chooses to look at the Garden in a literal sense it is difficult to understand and may sound silly, but symbolically it begins to become clearer (at least it did for me). I hope this helps, if not please disregard; I do not wish to be either confrontational or confusing. I certainly don’t understand it all, but for some reason the picture of the “Garden” is no longer so dark. One thing that has become so clear to me (since my exit from “religion”) is the assurity that we have a very loving Father that wants nothing more than our return to Him.

  17. Annie – I agree that view of the Christian RELIGION makes no sense at all, but then I believe that there is an enormous difference between the Christian RELIGION (or Christendom) and the Christian FAITH.

    I also believe that the story of Adam and Eve is symbolic – telling a story – much like the stories (or parables) that Jesus told.

    I’m inclined to think that the Christian understanding of the ‘Fall of Adam’ may actually be one of the biggest misconceptions of them all.

    Jesus is described as the Redeemer before creation. This suggests to me that God knew that Adam (or mankind in general) would fail – consider what that might mean!

  18. Yes, Peter, what DOES it mean? It means that the God of the Bible fits the definition of God–that as God, He is omniscient.

  19. Miss K, you miss the mark and offer proof of it right after she state it.

    The human soul is obviously not worthless, or God would not have sacrificed part of Himself to redeem human souls.

    The Bible says that the human soul is consummately evil. Being consummately evil is not the same as being worthless.

    In other words, we are not worthy, but we are worthwhile.

    So, since this was your only hangup with orthodox Christianity, I guess you’ll be returning to the fold now? 😉

  20. Sorry for the wrong pronoun case and verb/subject disagreement. I cut and pasted a little too fast. Oops.

  21. Hi Elizabeth,

    Firstly, thank you for all your blog posts. Your thoughts and reflections help me (and I’m sure many others) process my own thoughts and feelings about God, and in particular, Christianity.

    Secondly, thank you for this post in particular. I have had many differences with Christianity over the years, but have never considered things from this angle before. I really believe you just hit the nail on the head: all the multitudinous problems ultimately come down to one single issue – how Christians (explicitly or implicitly) value the human soul.

    No matter how much Christians talk about the love of God, it is always sullied by the view that we aren’t inherently worthy of love – that our souls are ugly and bad. The only way God can ever love you is to see Jesus in you, or by you being covered (i.e. hidden) by the blood.

    Or more subtly still, the idea is conveyed that, yes, God loves you even when you’re a sinner…but only because He’s such a great guy and has such a big heart, not because you are actually loveable (worthy, valuable) in any shape or form.

    No wonder most of my life I struggled to like myself – it was never very clear to me that God liked me either! I now know that’s not true: not only does God love me and cherish me, but He/She actually LIKES me too! Relief. And freedom. Finally.

  22. Brilliant Elizabeth,

    Here is my favorite part and so spot on!

    “Within Christianity, self-esteem is often taught as psychobabble. “The ego is selfish and it resists submission to God. It doesn’t want to go to church. It doesn’t want to tithe. It doesn’t want to do what is right and good.” This teaching keeps many people from leaving the inner religion that bounds our soul. It also keeps many of us cowering in the dark. It keeps the spirit which was meant to soar… subdued. It keeps us lurking in failure, when our lives could be so much more intelligent, attractive and successful.”
    Thank you so much for this!!!

    At this point, I truly believe what Christ truly came to set us free from is the church (in is current form as a means of religious bondage).

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