The Blood Of Jesus: Views from the other side

May 22, 2007 at 7:00 am 45 comments

On MysteryOfIniquity’s post “My thoughts on Brian Flemming’s The God Who Wasn’t There,” there is a discussion on the blood of Jesus. Responding to HeIsSailing’s comment:

Remember the hymns “There is Power in the Blood”, and “Have you been Washed in the Blood of the Lamb”? Those were some of our favorites growing up.

Karen wrote:

Oh, absolutely. And to get even more graphic, how ’bout the ever-popular:

“There is a Fountain Filled With Blood”
“Nothing But The Blood”
“The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”
“Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?”

Yeesh. I’m officially weirded out now…

There are many who still find a strange comfort in meditating on the blood Jesus supposedly shed for their sins and sicknesses. I have to admit from this side of the fence, I agree with Karen, it can weird you out. I remember singing the chorus “Oh, the blood of Jesus” and feeling a very powerful connection to what I interpreted as the “anointing.”

On a previous blog on Redemption, I posted the following cartoon:

Redemption
[Art by Jim Huger from Dead To Rights, a parody of Jack T. Chick’s tract]

For those of you who do not have an understanding of the importance of blood in the Christian faith, here’s a video by Christian singer Carmen which demonstrates the importance of the core concept of Christianity – the blood of Christ:

These are difficult images for a de-converting Christian to watch because they once meant so much. However, the reality is the foundation of Christianity is based on the ancient rituals of a nomadic tribe who ritualistically slaughtered animals and birds to appease their god. If performed today, these practices would be considered barbaric, pagan, and downright evil yet they are revered by the over 2 billion Christians as commands of a loving God. The same God who later demonstrated this love by coming to earth himself and sacrificing himself (to himself) as an atonement for man’s sin.

This whole concept now solicits the following response from me:

HUH?

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Agnosticism & Atheism When a scientist interprets Scripture

45 Comments Add your own

  • 1. heartyheretic  |  May 22, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Huh, indeed. Thank God there’s power in the peanut butter!

  • 2. agnosticatheist  |  May 22, 2007 at 12:43 am

    There is power, power, wonder working power
    In peanut butter and bananas
    There is power, power, wonder working power
    in the precious pea-nut butter

  • 3. Jonas Lundström  |  May 22, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Ofcourse you are right, but also of course, this is an over-simplification. There are loads of christians out there (me, for example), that do not believe that God required a bloody sacrifice to be able to forgive. (For a recent theological explanation, see Denny Weaver – The Non-Violent Atonement.) In fact, I believe that a non-violent atonement is more biblical than the traditional alternative.

  • 4. HeIsSailing  |  May 22, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Believe it or not, even as an ex-christian, the shedding of blood for the remission of sins makes sense to me (Heb 9:22). I guess this is one of the reasons why it was so hard for me to leave Christianity. Yes, the science was bunk, the history was bogus, the miracles and promises hard to believe, but the mystery of the atonement made a lot of sense to me. From Christ dying on our behalf, to the blood of the Passover Lamb sprinkled on the doorpost, the blood of sacrificed offerings sprinkled on the mercy seat over the tablets of the law in the Arc of the Covenant, to the animals God had to kill to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, something always had to die to remove mankind’s sinfulness from God. Yes, it does seem barbaric to our modern ears, but as a Christian, I just felt that it was a relic of the times in which the Bible was written, and if that was God’s mechanism for atonement, so be it. According to the doctrine, sin is ugly, and so is the sacrifice that atones for it. At least that theme seems consistant throught the Bible.

    On the other hand, how one man can atone for the sins of another makes little sense. Will any judge accept my brother going to prison if I committed a murder? The only way atonement of that type makes sense is if sin is seen as a monitary payment that we owe to God. If we owe God a ransom, he should not care who pays it, as long as it was paid, and this seems to be the way he views Christ’s atonement on the cross. This to me rules out sin as being a breach of morality, rather a breach in Law. We commit a penalty, we owe God a fine.

    Heather once made a good point that it seems odd that Jesus never much talked about his own blood, instead he talked about following him. His blood really only comes up during the Last Supper discourse, for instance in Matt 26:26,27 which you hear the priest recite every time he performs mass. Paul’s letters are where it starts to get really bloody.

    No, I don’t believe it anymore, nor do I believe that Jesus died for our sins. I am just saying that I think I understand why the Doctrine of Atonement at least makes some sense to me, and why it was so difficult for me to leave Christianity. Hey, critical thinking means looking at all angles, does it not?

  • 5. pastorofdisaster  |  May 22, 2007 at 8:06 am

    This has been a major bone of contention ever since I have become an ordained Presbyterian minister. I have steadfastly refused to affirm a Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory in my statement of faith. I have been challenged on it by coservatives, but the fact is that the church itself did not have a uniform atonement theory until about the 11th century. The cross was not really an early liturgical symbol either. It also appears that there is not a uniform atonement theory in the Bible itself.

    This does not mean that it is not important to me that Jesus died. It is important to me to know that if Christ did exist he was a human and experienced the ultimate human experience, death.

    The centrality of blood atonement has certainly been more important the more fundamentalist/evangelical/pentacostal and somethimes Catholic we go on the spectrum of American religious practices. I do not believe that this mean that it has always been a requirement for belief.

  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  May 22, 2007 at 8:32 am

    HIS,

    I remember also thinking that the doctrine of that atonement made sense. In fact, in my early days of doubting, I made a decision that of all the religions, Christianity, at least, made the most sense.

    Then the Bible (first the O.T.) began to fall apart for me. I began to see God as a tribal god who was thirsty for blood (of the innocent – women, children, babies and of animals). The statement on the butchering of animals being a “sweet aroma” to God began to repulse me. I imagined the amount of blood and gore that must have been present in these rituals and the thought alone was repulsive.

    Why would God need this blood in order to pardon man’s sin? Why couldn’t God accept Cain’s offering of the fruit of the land vs. Abels slaughter of an innocent animal? Wasn’t he simply concerned with the state of their hearts? Why wasn’t that the judge? Isn’t God making the rules? Why make a rule that required cruelty to animals?

    The more I thought about it, the more babaric these practices became.

    As the foundation for the atonement began to lose it’s credibility, the next was the atonement itself. As the cartoon stated, why did God need to sacrifice himself to himself in order to change a rule he made himself?

    If Christianity was all about the matters of the heart – living a life a compassion, kindness, & mercy – doing good deeds, etc. I would still be a Christian today. I can actually almost go with James’ view of Christianity.

    So, for me, the whole concept of the atonement became just a bit wierd. If there is a God who is concerned about me – this God would look at my actions to make a judgment on me not whether or not I believed in this bloody mess.

    aA

  • 7. agnosticatheist  |  May 22, 2007 at 8:38 am

    *Jonas,

    In fact, I believe that a non-violent atonement is more biblical than the traditional alternative

    Please explain.

    *POD,

    This has been a major bone of contention ever since I have become an ordained Presbyterian minister. I have steadfastly refused to affirm a Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory in my statement of faith.

    Interesting stand.
    aA

  • 8. Heather  |  May 22, 2007 at 11:19 am

    I think this is interesting because the doctrine of atonement has never made sense to me. Not just for the reasons that aA mentioned, but because I could never understand how material blood was supposed to fix anything if God is Spirit and sin was focused on how it spiritually affects one’s salvation.

    ** The statement on the butchering of animals being a “sweet aroma” to God began to repulse me. ** Isn’t there also a verse in the NT about Jesus becoming a fragrant offering for God? Because the image produced with that is God ‘smelling’ the death of Jesus and becoming pleased, and that just … doesn’t lead to pleasant thoughts.

    **why did God need to sacrifice himself to himself in order to change a rule he made himself?** Isn’t the typical answer to this that God wasn’t changing the rule, but fulfilling the rule? As in, the sacrifice meet God’s requirement for justice, because He couldn’t go against being just? This reasoning also never made sense to me, because how exactly was Jesus punished? I’m not being flippant here, but he didn’t stay dead, when he resurrected, he went to heaven soon after, and even though the crucifixion was an agonizing way to go, he was only ‘alive’ for three hours. And even if all the sins were on him, and God was cut off, that is a total of three days. Yet our ‘punishment’ for rejecting God is an eternal hell and suffering. Somehow, the two don’t match.

    **The centrality of blood atonement has certainly been more important the more fundamentalist/evangelical/pentacostal and somethimes Catholic we go on the spectrum of American religious practices. I do not believe that this mean that it has always been a requirement for belief.** I don’t think so, either, because as you said, it wasn’t even a belief until the 11th century. Wasn’t the ransom theory the belief until then? In that Jesus paid the ransom owed to Satan?

    And then, of course, there’s the Eastern Orthodox way of looking at it, which is ‘Christus Victor,’ I believe.

  • 9. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 22, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    aA,
    I would also posit that it is the theory of salvation by the resurrection of Jesus that is the chief claim and the central theme of Christianity rather than blood sacrifice. There are two streams of thought here. The writer of Hebrews, which I believe is not Paul, is the chief proponent of the blood sacrifice theory. This writer, the preacher to the Jews, was trying to convince Jews that Christianity was just a continuation of the Jewish ritual system. Paul on the other hand, while speaking of sacrifice, said in one of the earliest epistles that if Jesus be not raised, then there is no salvation and faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

    Similarly, all through Acts, the gospel focused on the resurrection of Jesus as one of the central tenets, not the blood of Jesus, which is never mentioned. (See Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:2, 33, 17:18, 32; 23:6, 8; 24:15, 21). As agnostics and atheists it would make more sense to examine the validity of Christianity based on whether or not Jesus was a real person and/or whether or not Jesus rose from the dead than it would to debate atonement theories, which are clearly dogmas from “the inside” of Christianity and not something that the ordinary “street” Christian takes on willingly or with any particular doctrinal knowledge. Most just pass on what they’ve been told rather than examine it too closely.

    Sacrifices are a dime a dozen in the religious scheme of things, but Christianity’s CLAIMS of a resurrected God, while not unique, could provide an axis around which some good debates between Christians and atheists could revolve.

  • 10. storbakken  |  May 22, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    aA wrote: “…the foundation of Christianity is based on the ancient rituals of a nomadic tribe who ritualistically slaughtered animals and birds to appease their god. If performed today, these practices would be considered barbaric, pagan, and downright evil…”

    Many animistic cultures in Africa and around the world still sacrifice animals in religious ceremonies. Muslims sacrifice a lamb on Eid and Orthodox Jews in Eastern Europe sacrifice poultry as a form of atonement. Islam and Judaism are far from pagan. You might judge them “barbaric” or “downright evil”, but that is nothing more than self-righteous, ethnocentric stone-throwing.

    PoD said: “I have steadfastly refused to affirm a Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory in my statement of faith.”

    Check out Romans 3:25, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 3:18 and 2:24, and especially Matthew 26:28.

  • 11. Pedro Timóteo  |  May 22, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Many animistic cultures in Africa and around the world still sacrifice animals in religious ceremonies. Muslims sacrifice a lamb on Eid and Orthodox Jews in Eastern Europe sacrifice poultry as a form of atonement. Islam and Judaism are far from pagan. You might judge them “barbaric” or “downright evil”, but that is nothing more than self-righteous, ethnocentric stone-throwing.

    You’re saying that we can’t judge others for torturing and killing innocent animals because of irrational beliefs, because “oh, it’s a different culture, and we shouldn’t be intolerant”? What if it was the torture of people? Rape? Murder? Should we accept brutal acts in the name of “diversity” and “multiculturalism”? I don’t think so. I refuse to accept barbaric evil as simply “a different, but valid opinion”.

    What’s next? We should let serial killers be, because “it’s part of their culture”?

    Any being — fictional or real — that is positively impressed by any suffering or sacrifice of a living thing is nothing more than a sadistic monster.

    Call it what you want. “Intolerant”, “self-righteous”, “judgemental”… it’s OK, judge me as you will. :)

  • 12. storbakken  |  May 22, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Pedro,

    Actually, these sacrifices are often less cruel in the way they bleed the animal than the method employed in factory farms. In the times of Israel the sacrifice of animals was a religious event because they invoked purpose into the ceremony. If there had been no religious significance, it would have been called “barbecuing” rather than “sacrifice”.

    I am a Christian and believe there is no more need to sacrifice animals because of the blood shed on the cross. As a Christian, I also believe that everyone has guilt, jealousy, arrogance and other ailments that need to be be surrendered to God so that we might live a more full and wholesome life. It is only God’s righteousness that has the power to redeem us. When we try to save ourselves, we become self-righteous.

  • 13. pastorofdisaster  |  May 22, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Storbakken- Thank you for directing me to these scriptures. I have read them numerous times in my devotions and study. I do actually read the Bible and I am not denying that there are scriptures that hold to blood atonement. I simply do not agree that there is a unified atonement theory in the New Testament. I also believe that the early church was dynamic and held a variety of positions on this issue. I will not point out proof texts for you. My assumption is that it would not change your view of scripture.

    Peace

  • 14. agnosticatheist  |  May 22, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Storbakken,

    I am a Christian and believe there is no more need to sacrifice animals because of the blood shed on the cross. As a Christian, I also believe that everyone has guilt, jealousy, arrogance and other ailments that need to be be surrendered to God so that we might live a more full and wholesome life. It is only God’s righteousness that has the power to redeem us. When we try to save ourselves, we become self-righteous.

    The God of the Bible has all the “ailments” you listed – guilt, jealousy, & arrogance. Maybe if people quit trying to be like God, we’d make some progress :)
    Why do you feel we need “blood” to redeem us? Saving ourselves is actually a very worthwhile experience. It helps us to really change. Maybe being self-righteous is a good thing. Have a sense of ownership of our actions and being responsible is very beneficial. I like this post on the Seekism blog.
    aA

  • 15. Karen  |  May 22, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    HIS:
    Yes, the science was bunk, the history was bogus, the miracles and promises hard to believe, but the mystery of the atonement made a lot of sense to me. From Christ dying on our behalf, to the blood of the Passover Lamb sprinkled on the doorpost, the blood of sacrificed offerings sprinkled on the mercy seat over the tablets of the law in the Arc of the Covenant, to the animals God had to kill to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, something always had to die to remove mankind’s sinfulness from God. Yes, it does seem barbaric to our modern ears, but as a Christian, I just felt that it was a relic of the times in which the Bible was written, and if that was God’s mechanism for atonement, so be it.

    Yes, this is pretty much how I saw it also, HIS. It’s like you accept the validity and the virtue of everything beforehand, and then when you read barbarism and cruelty and injustice in the scriptures you’re already “programmed” to ignore the reality of what you’re reading. Because, of course, god’s word is valid and virtuous!

    It’s a completely circular, insular way of thinking, but it’s very tough to recognize that from within the circle. You have to find a way to step outside the insularity in order to grasp what’s going on.

  • 16. storbakken  |  May 22, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    aA said: “Maybe if people quit trying to be like God, we’d make some progress. Why do you feel we need ‘blood’ to redeem us? Saving ourselves is actually a very worthwhile experience. It helps us to really change.”

    By trying to save yourself you are “trying to be like God.” If you are dying of cancer you don’t try to heal yourself. You go to a doctor. If we want to be saved you turn your life over to God.

    It seems to me that many who reject Christ do so, not on the grounds that they are hung up on blood atonement (or other doctrinal points), but because they don’t want to change their lifestyle. People would rather boast about their own ability rather than humble themselves before God and acknowledge his sovereignty.

  • 17. Karen  |  May 22, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    It seems to me that many who reject Christ do so, not on the grounds that they are hung up on blood atonement (or other doctrinal points), but because they don’t want to change their lifestyle. People would rather boast about their own ability rather than humble themselves before God and acknowledge his sovereignty.

    That’s rather a presumptuous statement. My lifestyle has not changed hardly at all since I deconverted from Christianity. I’m still very much the same moral, ethical person – only more so.

    Instead of conjecturing about why people are not Christians, and inserting your own explanations, why not ask people directly – and then actually listen to what they say? Isn’t that the more respectful, and accurate way to reach a conclusion?

  • 18. beepbeepitsme  |  May 22, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    The focus on blood as having “special magical powers” goes a long way back in our human history. We are a superstitious lot and for many they intend to remain that way – whilst continually tightening the noose around those who find the whole concept barbaric and primitive.

    It is reminescient of other ancient blood cults.

    Among the Germanic tribes (such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norsemen), blood was used during the sacrifices, the Blóts. The blood was considered to have the power of its originator and after the butchering the blood was sprinkled on the walls, on the statues of the gods and on the participants themselves. This act of sprinkling blood was called bleodsian in Old English and the terminology was borrowed by the Roman Catholic Church becoming to bless and blessing. The Hittite word for blood, ishar was a cognate to words for “oath” and “bond”, see Ishara. The Ancient Greeks believed that the blood of the Gods, ichor, was a mineral that was poisonous to mortals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood

  • 19. J Crowley  |  May 22, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Hey. I’ve been looking around for blogs talking about Jack Chick, and I stumbled onto yours. You’d probably all be interested in my site, especially in what I call “Chick Dissections”, wherein I mock Jack Chick’s ‘Tracts’ panel by panel, partially with MST3K-type commentary, and partially by providing rational arguments to the message Jack is trying to espouse.

    You can check it all out by clicking on this link.

    Sorry for the blatant self-promotion, but I really do think you’ll find it interesting.

  • 20. o2bcd8d  |  May 23, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Jesus Saves

  • 21. heartyheretic  |  May 23, 2007 at 11:17 am

    …at East Cupcake Federal Credit Union. Shouldn’t you?

  • 22. Karen  |  May 23, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    The focus on blood as having “special magical powers” goes a long way back in our human history. We are a superstitious lot and for many they intend to remain that way – whilst continually tightening the noose around those who find the whole concept barbaric and primitive.

    Actually, given what we know now about blood-borne transmission of disease, the whole idea of sprinkling blood and pouring blood and bathing in blood is not magical, it’s downright dangerous.

  • 23. Jonas Lundström  |  May 24, 2007 at 5:41 am

    It seems I have left my computer for to long a time… This is an answer to agnosticatheist and Helssailing.

    I am a real skeptic myself, although my feeling is that it is easier to doubt for example our western, modern way of life more than the way of Jesus. But I can connect to what you say, that is why I have begun reading this page.

    To me, though, it seems that many “intellectuals” that leave the way of the Messiah do it because they have been raised in settings where there have been no space for different versions or believes related to God and God´s world. So you (?) end up rejecting a version of “christianity” which really are, historically, jus a small slice of the whole pizza, and than you say that you do not believe in God. In reality, you only have rejected a certain kind of christian God/version of the faith. This to me seems to be an over-simplification and I mourn the fact that the church often produces these kind of christians. (I have been one myself.)

    This makes it hard to have a conversation sometimes, since former christians often tend to have EXACTLY the same faith as before (only now rejecting it). So I sometimes get into the odd situation of having a former christians speaking for a particular, narrow, oppressing version of christianity, arguing despite good evidence, that this is the only thing there is.

    There is different believes on the atonement. I believe God has never liked our sacrificing animals (not for food, either) or people. The Torah can better be interpreted as a word to people that are already doing this, how they can do it better. Many of the prophets reject blood-sacrifice altogether. There are differences in the bible, but as a christian I try together with others to make sense of it as a story, culminating in Jesus. Jesus to, critizised sacrifices and took himself the place of the sacrificial victim, over-coming evil with good, turning the other cheek. God confirmed the way of Jesus by raising him again, over-throwing the plans of the powers that be, seating him and God`s right hand, giving his disciples his spirit. Jesus non-violent, self-sacrificial way is the true picture of God (compare Luke 15). The lamb that was slaugtered (by evil!!) is seated at God´s right hand (Revelation). Even Hebrews can be read as critizising the sacrificial system (chapter 10). Jesus obeyed God and have there by shown a better way, ending the felt need for sacrifice.

    God is, has always been, and will always be, a reckless forgiver, welcoming all who turn to God, but turning the back to those who freely walk away. This is my belief. So help me God.

  • 24. Agnostic  |  May 24, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Jonas,

    You say there are different beliefs on the atonement and then you share your beliefs. How do you know your beliefs are correct?

    What do you believe happens to those who freely walk away?

  • 25. storbakken  |  May 24, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Karen said: “My lifestyle has not changed hardly at all since I deconverted from Christianity. I’m still very much the same moral, ethical person – only more so.”

    You emphasize my point when I said: “People would rather boast about their own ability rather than humble themselves before God and acknowledge his sovereignty.”

    Our own goodness is like a dirty rag, according to the Bible. And we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. Many atheists/agnostics are very kind, charitable and ethical people. But it is not our goodness that makes us complete, it is our faith coupled with good work.

  • 26. Karen  |  May 24, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    You emphasize my point when I said: “People would rather boast about their own ability rather than humble themselves before God and acknowledge his sovereignty.”

    I don’t hold any god-belief, that’s right. So, doesn’t it follow logically that I’m not going to “humble myself” or acknowledge the sovereignty of an imaginary being? It would be rather crazy of me to do so.

    In terms of boasting? Hell, yeah. I am justifiably proud of the ethical and moral way I live my life, and of the reason and compassion that directs my decisions. I work hard to make the right choices and while I certainly don’t always live up to my own expectations, I acknowledge and accept my mistakes and work hard to improve. I hope I will continue to do better and live intentionally for however many years I have left.

    Our own goodness is like a dirty rag, according to the Bible. And we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God.

    I lived my life under that sad, mistaken and self-esteem-killing philosophy for way too long. It just ain’t true, however, and I’m very, very glad I realized that before I spent my whole life cowering in “dirty rag” status. Sheesh.

  • 27. Karen  |  May 24, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    This makes it hard to have a conversation sometimes, since former christians often tend to have EXACTLY the same faith as before (only now rejecting it). So I sometimes get into the odd situation of having a former christians speaking for a particular, narrow, oppressing version of christianity, arguing despite good evidence, that this is the only thing there is.

    Yes, Jonas, I understand what you mean and I’ve seen the same thing happen. People reject fundamentalism, or conservative evangelicalism, outright yet they don’t recognize that there are many other, more liberal strains of Christianity that are more palatable to modern life.

    I would suggest that the reason they don’t recognize those other forms of Christianity is because fundamentalism itself does not recognize those. Indeed, I was taught that “lukewarm” or “nominal” or (worse yet!) “carnal” Christians were worse than unbelievers. God seemingly had a special place in torment for them because they knew the truth but didn’t live it – or some such nonsense.

    Just for myself, I did briefly try some other non-fundy Christian churches before leaving religion entirely. I think by the time I considered those, however, I was already intellectually on the journey to agnostic atheism. And by the time the “cat’s out of the bag,” it seems very hard to put it back in again. Kind of like “unringing” a bell – pretty much impossible to do.

  • 28. HeIsSailing  |  May 24, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Thus saith Karen:
    “I was taught that “lukewarm” or “nominal” or (worse yet!) “carnal” Christians were worse than unbelievers.”

    ‘Carnal Christians’? Oh good grief that brings back memories. Did we go to the same church, Karen??

  • 29. Agnostic  |  May 24, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Storbakken,

    It is your faith coupled with your good works that make “you” complete. Don’t suggest because others do not share your faith that they are incomplete.

  • 30. storbakken  |  May 24, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Agnostic,

    If people are willing to openly suggest that there is no God and to engage believers in a discussion regarding the blood of Christ, then I feel that it is permissible to confess my faith and beliefs. I believe that every person and even all of creation is, in effect, incomplete, broken and failed in that people blatantly deny God and reject the Savior.

    J

  • 31. Karen  |  May 24, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    ‘Carnal Christians’? Oh good grief that brings back memories. Did we go to the same church, Karen??

    ROTFLMAO!! we might as well have – once you’ve been in one of those churches, you’ve been in all of them. They’re the palaces of groupthink. One of these days we should do a “Christian-ese” thread and compare notes on all the specialized vocabulary. ;-)

    “Carnal” Christians always brought pictures to my mind of a band of lusty, carniverous sinners who alternated between attending orgies, eating big platters of steaks and getting drunk.

    I don’t know where all these carnal Christians hung out (I never actually met one), but they were having a heck of a good time!

  • 32. Agnostic  |  May 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Go ahead J. Believe what you want to believe. Those who do not believe in God can’t deny/reject something or someone who is not there.

  • 33. Heather  |  May 25, 2007 at 12:10 am

    ** Indeed, I was taught that “lukewarm” or “nominal” or (worse yet!) “carnal” Christians were worse than unbelievers. **

    It seems that fundamentalism defines ‘lukewarm’ Christians as those who don’t share the same beliefs. It doesn’t really seem to be based on how evident it is that the ‘lukewarm’ person lives a life of love, or is obviously on fire for what s/he terms as God.

  • 34. Jonas Lundström  |  May 25, 2007 at 3:35 am

    Agnostic, for me it is not a matter of “being correct” or not. To me your question seems to belong to a modernistic view of truth as propositions corresponding (or not) to “reality”. I tend to be more postmodern, there are different realities. I have good confidence, though, that following Jesus and striving for the kingdom of God in the sermount on the mount-way, will lead to better results than other alternatives. My reading of history seems to give som credibility to this statement. In the end, though, it is a matter of finding out if the Jesus-figure of the gospels can be said to be alive in some tangible way in groups of people that belong to him. I have doubted this sometimes, but I still believe it. To be able to face the threat of christianity and its hypocrisy, I have to believe in a “fall” of the church. The established church is corrupt, I believe.

    For those walking away, I guess you are after the hell-question? I believe in a judgement and that the non-followerrs of Jesus will be excluded from the coming kingdom, but this will finally lead to their (freely) choosing to enter the kingdom and bow their knees for the loving Leader of the Universe. (Fil 2)

    Karen, maybe your experience has been framed by the modern division between fundamentalist and liberal christianity? More and more people now believe that this linguistic construction of christian alternatives are crumbling under the postmodern shift. (As in movements like New Monasticism, christian anarchists, emerging church and theologians like Stanley Hauerwas and Nancey Murphy). My way out was to find a post-liberal or post-evangelical faith.

    Jonas

  • 35. Agnostic  |  May 25, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks Jonas. It seems then to me at least, that you are not dogmatic or a literalist about your position. I’m just trying to determine where you are at. There are so many sects within Christianity, almost all of them declaring “their” way is “correct” and they use those terms but when I ask questions, then I get less of the black and white from them and more of the grey. :)

  • 36. Karen  |  May 25, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    My way out was to find a post-liberal or post-evangelical faith.

    I respect that Jonas, and I’m glad you found something that works for you. :-)

  • 37. HeIsSailing  |  May 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Thus saith Heather:
    “It seems that fundamentalism defines ‘lukewarm’ Christians as those who don’t share the same beliefs. It doesn’t really seem to be based on how evident it is that the ‘lukewarm’ person lives a life of love, or is obviously on fire for what s/he terms as God.”

    I don’t know Heather, I think it is more subtle than that. I figured that in my Christian faith, there were the bare essentials (faith in Jssus, his resurrection, his saving grace), and lots of other stuff that did not matter so much (young/old earth creation, charismatic gifts of the spirit, stuff like that). As long as you were with the bare essentials, you were a “True Christian” as far as I was concerned.

    But a Lukewarm or Carnal Christian was one who was truly saved, but did not fully live hellbent to glorify God in every aspect of their lives. Does a Christian go out and drink a beer after work? That is of the Flesh! Carnal! Listen to secular music that does not glorify God? Carnal! Hangs around watching TV when they could be down at the bus depot witnessing the Gospel? Carnal!

    Get it?

    Several years ago, I was shocked to see my pastor leave the movie theater where ‘The Fugative’ with Harrison Ford was playing. Shocked I say! Never mind that I had just left that same theater. After seeing that, I started to ease up on the whole ‘Carnal Christian’ bit, and see it as a ‘Carnal Guilt Trip’.

    By the way, ‘Carnal Christian’ was a cliche that I used to hear in Calvary Chapel circles back when I attended that church franchise. I stopped going there about 1992, and Karen reminded me of that cliche. Truly hilarious!

  • 38. Karen  |  May 26, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    But a Lukewarm or Carnal Christian was one who was truly saved, but did not fully live hellbent to glorify God in every aspect of their lives. Does a Christian go out and drink a beer after work? That is of the Flesh! Carnal! Listen to secular music that does not glorify God? Carnal! Hangs around watching TV when they could be down at the bus depot witnessing the Gospel? Carnal!

    Exactly – ‘of the flesh’ is the terminology that was used.

    I would nuance it a bit more by saying “lukewarm” Christians were people who went to church on Sundays but “forgot about Jesus” for the rest of the week. So, they didn’t attend bible study, pray, witness, etc. They weren’t “on fire for the lord” – which was the goal.

    The “carnal” Christians were the truly naughty ones who might go to church on Sunday but then went out carousing every other day of the week – with “carousing” defined as “watching the wrong TV shows,” drinking, having sex outside marriage and so forth.

    Of course, the irony is that for a faith-based belief system that’s supposedly all about “just trusting Jesus,” there sure was a ton of condemnation and control on what you did with the rest of your life!

    HIS, I remember the first time a pastor referenced attending an R-rated movie, The Truth About Cats and Dogs. He was making a point about how “messed up” the world was, but still – talk about shocked! (This was not at Calvary Chapel, by the way.) I think half the congregation was ready to fire him on the spot!

  • 39. Theodore A. Jones  |  July 19, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    You do well to question the contemporary churches’ explanation of why Jesus was crucified but is it wise to throw out the bath water with the baby in it?
    The crucifixion of Jesus is the sin of murder caused by bloodshed. And since bloodshed is the factor that took his life and relative to the fact that God demands an accounting for taking any man’s life by bloodshed an addition was made to God’s law that has made all persons responsible to Repent of the one sin of Jesus murder for the forgiveness of ALL sins.
    You people may not believe me, but when you get to the other side at least you will not be able to argue with God of not knowing why Jesus has been crucified.

  • 40. Karissa  |  December 2, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    I pray that God will help you to see the truth. I pray that you will recognize this, whether through conviction or through the sheer inevitability of seeking the truth. I pray that you will recognize God as a God of compassion and love. Our sin, wretched and ugly in his sight, punishable only by death, needed to be paid for by a man who NEVER sinned. He is the only one who could atone our sins because he had none. That is why his death for us is so monumental. God loves you that much! He sent Jesus, God in the form of man, to die in your place. That is how he saved us. We can stand in the presence of God because, through Jesus’ death in place of the death we as sinners deserve, we can be seen as forgiven! Amen.

  • 41. Quester  |  December 2, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Ah, good. Prayer. That should do the trick!

  • 42. Karissa  |  December 2, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    I will still pray. Just because you may believe that prayer is a farce does not make it so. I happen to not only believe, but truly KNOW that God does answer prayers. You may not be softened, but others may be stirred. You may not see the truth now, but God has amazing plans for your life. As much as you reject him, it does not change that fact that he is alway there, willing to have to back at any time. He is not to blame for the loss, confusion or emptiness you may feel, it is your own rejection of him that brings this. I continue to pray for you in love and God’s power will break trough, whether to you or others, whether now or later. He won’t give up on you even if you give up on him.

  • 43. Lucian  |  February 26, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    If performed today, these practices would be considered barbaric, pagan, and downright evil.

    Quite so: modern society consists of some six billion vegans, with no slaughterhouses anywhere in sight.

  • 44. Yurka  |  February 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    #43 Lucian! How *DARE* you?! Your argument makes no sense! And it shows you’ve never bothered to read anything ever posted on this site! You are obviously an undercover troll!

  • 45. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Oh my gosh.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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