Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

How Do You Relate To Someone Who Is Not There?

In Church, Deception, Freedom, Life, Love, Relationships, Suffering on March 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Grief counselors often give a loose set of stages that a person commonly experiences after a loss. In order to get through grief, it is imperative that persons do not skip any necessary stages. During grief, we want to run and hide. We want to distract ourselves. We want to pretend that things are different, or still the same.

But the only way to get through our grief is to face our emotions, and allow ourselves to actually feel them. If we ignore our soul, I’ve discovered that it will come back to haunt us, and with a vengeance. And we certainly won’t progress past these difficult stages.

These stages can be, but are not limited to:

Shock

Pain

Anger

Sadness

Acceptance

And then finally, peace.

It’s good to know that those who have suffered loss such as from the recent tragedy in Japan have some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. But there are no shortcuts around the tunnel. The depth of peace can only be obtained through the full experience of the journey. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Religion Kills Love

In Atonement, Church, Jesus, Life, Love, Relationships, Sin, The Bible on March 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

In previous posts, I explained the way religion doesn’t relieve guilt but actually causes one to live in guilt. This is because general Christian doctrines and rituals are based upon the premise that holiness must be separated from sin; God is holy while humans are sinners.

Because of this, we feel a continual need to cover our shame, or even blame-shift as in the case of the atonement doctrine. If God must punish sin, then Christ is our substitution. He takes our blame. The only problem is that this idea only perpetuates some apparent need for blame. Whatever was dishing out the blame in the first place, it is still dishing it out every time we believe it has been (hopefully) covered.

For Christians, the need to cover guilt seems to be primarily seen through religious rituals such as Bible reading, prayer and church attendance.

But religion doesn’t remove sin; it only attempts to blind us temporarily to our guilt. The rest of the world can see it loud and clear. “Brainwashed hypocrites” is a common phrase from the mouths of non-church-goers about church-goers. As a Christian a few years ago, I remember thinking, “Hey, maybe that isn’t persecution from the world like I had assumed. They might actually have a point.” (But I wouldn’t be able to fully consider that possibility until after I had stopped going to church for a few years. I mean, who wants to admit they’re an asshole?)

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Christian Fundamentals Have One Purpose: To Separate You From God

In Atonement, Church, Free Will, Fundamentalism, God, Sin, The Bible, The Trinity on March 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

The title of this post is something that has been slowly coming into view for me as I’ve been attempting to understand God apart from the Christian religion. By wrestling through many faith issues which I address in previous blog posts, I’ve currently concluded that Christianity doesn’t lead people to God. Its general nature actually steers people away from God.

So here I am. It feels kind of like going to the doctor for the majority of your life and then realizing the doctor is what has been making you sick. I think I would be so much healthier (have a better understanding of God) had I not seen the doctor at all.

This is a pretty unconventional viewpoint. I mean, just like everybody “knows” you go to the doctor when you need to stay alive, everybody “knows” you go to church in order to grow in eternal life. After three decades of  living this kind of eternal life, however, I have to say that this supposed new life is intended to kill.

I was instantly fooled by institutional Christianity’s claim to Christ. Jesus seemed like a wonderful man, no matter who he was, so how could a church go wrong there? Yet it’s surprising to me just how much the love of a man could be twisted to portray not love but hate. Allow me to explain.

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Why I Fight

In Church, Life, Relationships on February 26, 2011 at 2:14 am

A few years ago, at the end of my 30 year saga with primarily the Evangelical branch of Christianity, I thought maybe I just hadn’t found the right church. So I began trying out different churches and even denominations in order to find a place that I could call my Christian community.

I found myself attending a different church every week for about three months:  Presbyterian, Lutheran, several different Baptist denominations, community churches, seeker-friendly churches, reformed churches and grace-focused churches. Over the course of my entire church relationship, I had also attended a Catholic mass, an Assembly of God college, and one visit to a Four-Square church was all I needed to know about Pentacostalism for the rest of my life. In addition to visiting churches, I researched the Eastern Orthodox denomination, Messianic Judaism, the Methodists, Anabaptists, Brethren, Quakers, emerging house churches and Unitarianism.

I can’t remember exactly when reality hit me, but I finally knew that I wasn’t going to find a church where I fit because they were all essentially the same religion under a different package. And I just couldn’t understand how a genuine community of friendships could thrive under the control of any organized religion. Read the rest of this entry »

Loving The Christians Without Conforming To Religion

In Church, Freedom, God, Homosexuality, Life, Love, Relationships, The Bible on February 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

After writing out my current beliefs in my last blog post I started to feel some empathy toward Christians. Since I’ve been developing my unorthodox beliefs for the last three years (by the sweat of my brow, losing friends as well as sleep along the way) I failed to realize how shocking my new beliefs must sound to the average church-attending pew sitter.

From my perspective, I just wanted to get out of a religion that had entire control over my entire life. My plan was to work through the doctrines I was conditioned to believe and replace them with some kind of non-religious way of thinking. For example, instead of attending a planned church event like a proper Christian might do, I’d rather get a couple bottles of wine and go bowling with my girlfriends. This is what I call moving from a religious ritual to real “fellowship.”

And one beautiful day in my future horizon, the sun comes up and I will have forgotten anything there is to know about Christianity, religion and all things associated with it. I will enjoy my kids, my job, my double/decaf/almond milk/with a dash of cinnamon latte in the morning, and then I will live happily ever after.

But the problem is that I’m not leaving a religion as much as I am simply changing my beliefs about God. Although my beliefs might be a stark contrast from the traditional fundamentals of Christianity, if I still believe in some kind of invisible creator power that I also call God, doesn’t this mean I am still at least somewhat religious? I mean, non-religious people don’t talk about God, do they? Read the rest of this entry »

How Deep Is The Love Within An Institutional Church?

In Church, Fundamentalism, Life, Love, Relationships on February 15, 2011 at 1:40 am

How deep can friendships go within the confines of a church institution, or any systematized hierarchical institution for that matter, such as a public school or prison facility?

Personally speaking, although not so black and white, I think we might as well ask how two people can make love in an airplane lavatory. It’s entirely possible as the mile high club might testify. It’s just not very convenient or conducive, as that is not the primary purpose of a toilet.

Now that I’ve got your mind on sex, I’m going to be really cruel and change the subject….

Even though I couldn’t presume to define love and its infinite expressions, I think I’ve had some glimpses of friendship love here and there within the church institution, but especially outside of it. Imagine my shock when, thanks to the invention of social networks, I became closer to people I met online within a few short months than to those I had known for decades at my church. How is that even possible? Read the rest of this entry »

Why God Will Not Destroy The Evil World (No Matter How We Define Evil)

In Church, Freedom, Good and Evil, Heaven, Life, Suffering on February 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm

In my search to understand what is good and what is evil, I found that both continued to elude me. What I once thought was good turned to evil. Such as church or even money. And what was so evil, such as sinners, became honest-to-goodness beautiful souls to me. But they could all switch places just as easily, especially depending on who you’re talking to.

Although I had heard the concept before, I was finally starting to believe that good and evil is not something outside of us, but it comes from within. Good and evil is simply my perspective on things, at least at the moment.

So, how does this affect my understanding of the Christian religion? Besides the psychological issues and the recurring nightmares, I’m realizing that injustice in the name of God is really not that big of a deal. And I’m wondering, is this what freedom from religion feels like?

This might sound a little heartless to all the people that suffer (including families of Christian suicide victims) at the hands of the religious institution; yet my entire blogsite might sound completely absurd to those who enjoy attending church every Sunday morning. And that is my point. One man’s treasure is another man’s suffering, and the reverse is true as well, depending on who we are and what we’ve experienced.

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What Does God Think Of Churches?

In Church, God, Hell, Life, Relationships on February 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24 The Message

For those who believe the Bible is God’s word, or inspired by God, here is God’s opinion of what I think very aptly describes religious Christianity, spoken through Amos the prophet.

When I was a devoted church-goer, I would have ignored the full brunt of this scripture on the basis of two aspects:  One, The Message translation is not a valid Bible translation and two, churches perpetuate justice so we don’t have to worry about God’s hatred of our injustice.

Although I wouldn’t say that anyone has to necessarily worry about anything, I now believe that The Message is a very valid translation and that institutional churches are most certainly unjust. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Atonement Doctrine Used to Control The Christian Masses?

In Atonement, Church, God, Jesus on January 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Did Christ’s death on the cross enable God to finally love sinners? Did God require innocent blood in order to accept sinners into his kingdom? Could people be saved or know God only after the death of Christ and only if they believe in it? I now think these are very grave misconceptions about God and the purpose of  Christ’s death. Please allow me to explain.

Where did the atonement, substitutionary death doctrine come from in the first place?

Romans 3:10-12 says,

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Romans goes on to say in verses 23-26

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

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Will We End Up Going Back To Church?

In Church, Life on January 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Life is fairly exciting after leaving a dogmatic Christian religion and discovering freedom. While it might include somewhat of a “dark night of the soul,” a whole new world opens up to us and dead theologies all of a sudden take on a new life of their own. It’s great.

But what about when this novelty wears off? After discovering new beliefs, new friends, new laughter and new alcoholic beverages… and we get settled in, then what happens? For me, I surprisingly found myself up against a wall of apathy. You get a new toy, enjoy it for a while and then… well, so what. King Solomon’s infamous line, “All is vanity” started to become a reality for me.

I apologize if this might burst anyone’s current bubble, but you know I’ve learned that living in honesty beats the slavery of others’ opinions… no matter what that honesty is about. Admitting I might have been wrong about something, or that my life isn’t much different from the religious one is something that comes a lot easier for me now.

But I don’t think I made a wrong decision or took a wrong turn somewhere. I think that apathy is a natural part of the life cycle. And even if I was mistaken about something, who cares? It is what it is and like any other part of my journey, I’m ready to tackle this challenging adventure as well.

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