I’m not religious, I’m a Christian!

July 11, 2007 at 11:25 pm 100 comments

CrossOne of my friends refers to himself as an “Irreligious Follower of Jesus,” another writes on her Facebook profile that “I’m in love with Jesus, its [sic] a relationship NOT religion.” Dan Kimball wrote a book called “They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations.” A recent commenter on this site wrote:

“Christianity is not about a religion… Christianity is about a relationship…” I even recall myself saying, on probably more than one occasion, “I’m not religious, I’m a Christian.”

What is this incessant need to disassociate Christianity from “religion?”

Is it because religion is too structured? Is religion barbaric? Is religion primitive and uncritical? What do these people mean when they say they are Christian, but not religious, or that the essence of Christianity is not religious. What do these Christians see about “religion” that makes them want to deny their religiousity?

Psychologically speaking, I am pretty sure it is an attempt to set Christianity apart from other religions. There are two problems with this. One, this is simply rhetoric. The distinguishing feature tends to focus on the idea of a “relationship with Jesus.” Don’t ask this person to describe what they mean by this because they will simply fling more rhetoric in your face – this is the rhetoric of relationship. The other part is the rhetoric of religion – what is religion? Of course they won’t define it – professional religious scholars have troubles defining religion, but I’ll get back to that. The second problem is related to the first: Christians, for the most part, know nothing about any other religion except their own. Sure there are comparative theologians, but their premise for investigation is apologetics, not actual unbiased scholarship. But try asking a Christian why their relationship with their man-god is any different from a Hindu’s relationship with the Brahma or a pagan practitioner’s relationship with divine spirits or the ancestor worship of various cultures.

The above concept of the irreligious follower is based on the attempt to distinguish Christianity itself from religion. But what about those who see Christianity as a religion, or that Christianity has been corrupted into a religion of some type, and see themselves on a more spiritual path? You see the same idea in Wiccan, New Age or Spiritualist circles, but some Christians have co-opted the idea for themselves. Rather than setting apart their entire religion, they set themselves apart from their religion. Apart from the pious arrogance involved, what is really going on here?

Religion has gotten a bad rap, mainly for all the reasons I wrote earlier: structure, barbarism, uncivilized, uncritical, etc. These, of course, are ways to describe some actions of religions (including, of course, Christianity), but they are not defining points of religion. The definition of religion has been problematic for various reasons for scholars of the subject. It’s hard to know what religion even is. Is religion simply a category? Or does it have an essence? I won’t get into the details, but lets take a couple very simple definitions of religion:

• “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.” (Oxford American Dictionary)
• “the service and worship of God or the supernatural” (Merriam-Webster)

Both of these have glaring problems in that they are too limited. The first finds its limitation by its use of “controlling”, yet there are numerous examples of religions that don’t have a “controlling” supernatural element – one could argue that even Buddhism is such a religion. Again, the second definition is limited by the verbs, as not all religions necessitate service and worship. These definitions, of course, are not a problem for Christianity, which neatly fit into either. Maybe these definitions are too simple. How about Timothy Tweed’s recent convoluted definition: “religions are confluences of organic-cultural flows that intensify joy and confront suffering by drawing on human and suprahuman forces to make homes and cross boundaries.” Tweed’s definition has its own issues, but no Christian would take this as anything but a compliment.

The commenter I mentioned above which distinguished Christianity as a relationship and not a religion argued that religion “is based on man’s ability to work or be moral enough to justify God’s love.” I think this is a fairly accurate representation of these people who deny their religiousity. Had this thought not been so prevalent among the evangelical community (or other Christians), I could merely disregard this writer as poor example. Yet if I remember my own reasoning from my youth correctly, I would have agreed, more or less, with this commenter. And it doesn’t appear to simply be the two of us: the idea that Christianity is not a religion because it is based on a relationship was used numerous times on the same thread (the now infamous, “Don’t Ask Me To Read Your Holy Book.” Yet as you can see from the three definitions above, is this really an issue? As far as I know, this would exclude many religions, including some of the major world religions.

My conclusion? These Christians are dishonest about their religiousity. They are dishonest because they are embarrassed. They are dishonest because they are ignorant. They are dishonest because they proud. They are dishonest because they are arrogant. They are dishonest because they want to be more special than they actually are.

-The Apostate

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A Carnival on Holy Books: To Read or Not To Read My HomoErotic Relationship with Jesus

100 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The de-Convert  |  July 11, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    I think many of us have gone through or are going through the attempt to separate Christianity from religion. We lump all the negative things of Christianity (such as a mean God) and label it “religion” then find the positive things (such as being compassionate) and call that “Christianity.” Problem is there is no method to the madness.

    Paul

  • 2. 20 gram Soul : Religion vs Christianity  |  July 12, 2007 at 12:33 am

    [...] a concept I hadn’t come across before – an irreligious Christian. The post at DeConversion centres around the quote from an apparently irreligious Christian: [...]

  • 3. Richard  |  July 12, 2007 at 12:36 am

    I think it’s certainly possible that this person is being dishonest about their religion, but that doesn’t mean that an irreligious Christian isn’t possible.

    I’ve outline my thoughts in this blog post.

  • 4. Simen  |  July 12, 2007 at 1:18 am

    I’ve lost the understanding of where the discussion thread on that post is going, so I don’t know who you refer to, but anyway: ask them to define religion. You’d bet they will have to include some kind of belief in the supernatural or gods, unless they want to exclude Islam, Judaism, Hinduism etc. (and if they do, they’ve simply made the word religion useless, necessitating another word for essentially the same concept.)

    I would also ask, then, if you’re not religious, why the hell are you claiming to have a relationship with a poorly documented guy 2000 years dead, who in his delusion believed himself to be God? If that’s not religious devotion, I dunno what is.

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  July 12, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Rather than find a concise definition for “religion”, I think it may be more helpful to see what needs all religions seem to address. From what I can tell, all religions, Christians or otherwise, address the problems of 1) suffering and 2) ignorance through transcendent means. I think that wraps them all up – at least the religions that I am familiar with.

    TA, I used to wear a hatpin that said “I am not religious, I just love the Lord”, and my reasoning was similar to your commentor’s. “Religion is a way for man to reach God, but Christianity is God reaching down to man” was the phrase I used, and at least a similar one that our commentor no doubt uses. And I think separating our beliefs from all those other “religions” (gasp) is a way for Christians to make their beliefs legitimate.

    Christianity is the only religion which saves through God’s grace. So the saying goes. Therefore it is not a religion. The problem I have with this logic is that any unique feature of a religious system can be combed out and used as justification to make it stand apart from the other religions.

    Case in point, the Buddhists:
    “If it is thought of as a belief in a supreme being to whom one prays for redemption, security, favors or relief from suffering, then, no, Buddhism is not a religion.”
    http://www.buddhistinformation.com/is_buddhism_a_religion1.htm

    The Hindus:
    “…contrary to popular perception, Hinduism is not just a religion in the tradition sense of the term. Out of this misinterpretation, has come most of the misconceptions about Hinduism.”
    http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/a/hinduism.htm

    The Jewish:
    “Judaism is not merely a religion! Judaism is a total essential being.”
    http://www.jewishmag.com/60mag/religion/religion.htm

    If I looked harder, I bet I could find lots more which reference nearly every “religion”.

  • 6. bry0000000  |  July 12, 2007 at 2:36 am

    I think the way to discover the roots of this disassociation of spirituality and religion can be found in the symbiotic relationship between Christianity’s need of people and people’s need of Christianity.

    Christianity, mainly those who benefit by the power relation granted via Christianity, needs a way to eliminate the stigma of religion while keeping the core ideology. Therefore, they embark on a relabeling campaign. They label adherence to the bible and a personal relationship with Christ as not religious while still keeping all the tenets of Christianity, therefore, not altering at all the power structure that Christianity creates.

    Christians wish to eliminate the stigma of religion but still keep their means of existential purpose. Due to rigid structuralism, Christians will engage in an illogical removal of a label that describes their faith while keeping the exact same structure that conforms to that definition. In doing so, they trick themselves into thinking they are not adherents to a religion but participants in a non existent personal relationship.

  • 7. Epiphanist  |  July 12, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Religion is a broad term usually referring to sets or systems of beliefs or values strongly held, usually in agreement with a group of like minded people, in this context about supernatural powers and deities, as mentioned. Being a broad term it is easy to apply it indiscriminately to lots of situations without actually making anything any clearer. The belief in a personal relationship with Christ would be the core belief of many Christians. The other beliefs in the set may not be relevant or attractive. Things like the Nicene or Apostle’s creeds can be hard to swallow as many writers on this site are eager to point out. So, I guess the argument here is whether one core belief constitutes a religion. Please yourself, I would say!

  • 8. superhappyjen  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I think the issue is thinking for oneself. An irreligious person doesn’t need the Pope to tell him what God wants. Whether theist or atheist, this person has his own morals and beliefs that are not seperate from (or at least not completely dependent on) the Church. At least that’s my take.

    And I don’t think using dictionary definitions is helpful in this case, since most people have their own personal (usually intuitive and difficult to express in words) definitions.

  • 9. superhappyjen  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:33 am

    oops I meant to say “seperate from” and not “not seperate from”. Not a Freudian slip I hope.

  • 10. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:41 am

    **The belief in a personal relationship with Christ would be the core belief of many Christians. **

    Does anyone know if this belief was consistent throughout the last 2,000 years? today, it’s often that one needs a personal relationship with Jesus, and yet that phrasing isn’t in the Bible. It would be an inference, if anything. So was it consistent, or is the phrasing a modern development?

  • 11. Brad  |  July 12, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Heather,

    The term is a modern adaptation (in language only) from the Greek phrase used repeatedly throughout the NT: “In Christ” or “in him.” In the garden before His crucifiction, Jesus prayed to God the Father that “they” (those who believed in him) would be “in him” as he is in the Father. He is definitely talking about personal relationship here, and John reinforces many times in 1John and elsewhere.

    TA,
    Also, considering how badly Christians are stereotyped because of the complaints raised against hardcore fundies (totally legitimate, I agree), how is an attempt to set themselves apart from fundamentalist Christians a bad thing? From the few snippets you quoted from this commenter, I would have to agree with Him. Yes, it is an attempt to distinguish from the common view, and yes, it is also an attempt to distinguish from other world religions. If one believes that Jesus truly is THE way, THE truth, and THE light (as the tenets of our faith and the bible proclaims), then one should also believe it is very different from the rest of the world’s religions.

    If this blog is truly a resource for skeptical or de-converting Christians, would not a better path be to engage in dialog with existing Christians in a way that doesn’t insult them?

    “My conclusion? These Christians are dishonest about their religiousity. They are dishonest because they are embarrassed. They are dishonest because they are ignorant. They are dishonest because they proud. They are dishonest because they are arrogant. They are dishonest because they want to be more special than they actually are.”

    Your conclusion is as close-minded and prideful as those you accuse. I believe Webster defines that as “hypocrisy.”

  • 12. Slapdash  |  July 12, 2007 at 9:22 am

    ***Jesus prayed to God the Father that “they” (those who believed in him) would be “in him” as he is in the Father. He is definitely talking about personal relationship here***

    I don’t quite follow how “in him” = personal relationship.

    I’ve asked before the very same question Heather has. It seems that the ‘personal relationship’ lingo is a pretty modern, western interpretation of what it means to be a Christian. IOW, I highly doubt Calvin and Luther were throwing the phrase around. I blogged about it here: http://slapdashgal.blogspot.com/2007/06/jesus-lets-cuddle.html

  • 13. lostgirlfound  |  July 12, 2007 at 9:50 am

    I’m struggling with what this all means, too. But I’m a part of a “religious” institution that I really don’t want to be apart of. Still, I have “faith” that there is a God who has created and sustains life. I no longer call myself a “Christian” because of what that means to so many people. But there are certain things — concepts, experiences, whatever — I believe to be true. I think this is where a lot of irreligious people fall. Not throwing it all away, but trying desperately to separate the crap from their faith. Not wanting to put their need to believe in themselves or “natural” phenomena, but so disappointed in “religion” and its institutions that they just can’t stomach being associated with it anymore.
    My most recent experience? “On the Edge” at http://www.lostgirlfound.wordpress.com

  • 14. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Brad,

    ** Jesus prayed to God the Father that “they” (those who believed in him) would be “in him” as he is in the Father. He is definitely talking about personal relationship here, and John reinforces many times in 1John and elsewhere. **

    I agree with Slapdash here. To say “in him” doesn’t really follow as a personal relationship for me. I have a personal relationship with my parents and friends, but I’m certainly not ‘in them’ nor are they ‘in me.’ So why does saying ‘in Christ’ automatically translate into having a personal relationship? It’s almost something that seems to be read back into the text.

    Plus, much of Paul’s letters also reference that it’s no longer him that is living, but Christ living in him, which would also cause complications in the ‘relationship’ aspect. I actually think using the term ‘relationship’ diminishes the concept of ‘in Christ.’

  • 15. The de-Convert  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Many many years ago, a Catholic co-worker of mine rocked my view of my faith with a very simple statement. I was attending what I considered at the time, the greatest church in the world. Worship was awesome and the preacher was charismatic & entertaining.

    I asked him if he ever attended my church – with an obvious smug that if he ever did, he’d no longer be catholic. After all, their church service was boring & scripted.

    He answered in the affirmative and said he hated it. WHAT? How could anyone hate my church?

    He went on to say that we (charismatics) attend church to “get” something out of it. We look to God as Santa Claus and do all these emotional things to “feel” God.

    On the other hand, he goes to church to respect and honor God. It wasn’t about what God could do for him or how God could make him feel or really about having God as a “best friend.” He simply believed in honoring God because he’s God.

    Those words festered in me for years until one of my steps away from fundamentalism included enjoying simple Lutheran worship services. A radical shift for a Rhema grad :)

    Paul

  • 16. The de-Convert  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Heather,

    I believe for many centuries, Christianity more focused on the traditions vs. having a “personal relationship” with God.

    Paul

  • 17. agnosticatheist  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Interestingly enough the idea that “I’m not religious, I’m a Christian” is really a step in the de-conversion process :) – but you don’t know it until you look at it in retrospect.

    Every Christian who is there today will vehemently deny that – however, check back here in a few years :)

    aA

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Heather asks:
    “Does anyone know if this belief was consistent throughout the last 2,000 years?”

    A personal relationship with Jesus, that is one as if we walk with him and talk with him like he was our best buddy first came about in the 18th century – I think. But for most of the last 2000 years, Jesus was worshipped through liturgies and creedal statements. I wish I could reference this for you, but I am away from my books at the moment.

    I had an interesting experience that was very similar to The de-Convert’s. I started attending Catholic mass about 2 years ago, and at first was not even sure if these guys could even be considered Christians. But as I learned why they held the customs that they do, why they recite liturgies and kiss certain relics and on and on, I at least began to understand why this *could* be a legitimate form of worship as oppossed to my old Baptist Church’s version.

    I also heard a few interviews with Eastern Orthodox clergy that describes their customs, and why they worship God the way they do, and I have to tell you, it made a lot of sense. Not that I necessarily agreed with all of it, but I at least understood that not all Christians are comfortable with a personal one-on-one with Jesus. Some would rather treat him as a more holy and regal figure – and I think that has been the dominant view through most of history.

    I have an article on my own twisted view of a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus coming out later today. Stay tooooned.

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Aa sez:
    “the idea that “I’m not religious, I’m a Christian” is really a step in the de-conversion process”

    You think so? I don’t know – I was saying that 20 years before I became an apostate. That is one long deconversion process!

  • 20. HeIsSailing  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Brad sez:
    “If one believes that Jesus truly is THE way, THE truth, and THE light (as the tenets of our faith and the bible proclaims), then one should also believe it is very different from the rest of the world’s religions.”

    I agree with this – Christianity does make claims that it is different, and even exclusive from all the rest. The problem I think is there is a jump that needs to be made from being different from the rest, to being outside that set all together. I cited a few sources above after a simple google search that shows how Jews, Hindus and Buddhists can all legitimatly claim that theirs is not a “religion” because of certain unique characteristics in each “religion”. It is, as you say, ‘attempt to distinguish from the common view’, but this attempt can be made by nearly any religion.

    I am not saying it is dishonest, because honestly, I held the view that Christianity was no mere religion for many years. I guess it is just now that I have broadened my scope a little, I see that Christianity really is like all the rest – and also has unique characteristics, just like all the rest.

  • 21. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Thanks HIS.

    **A personal relationship with Jesus, that is one as if we walk with him and talk with him like he was our best buddy first came about in the 18th century – I think. **

    I think this perspective almost sets my teeth on edge, just because it seems as though the Gospel writers, or Paul or James or any of them, would’ve been a little shocked over that perpsective. The one-on-one relationship seems to make it be too human, if that makes any sense. Although that could be because the concept of Jesus is often associated with a physical, human-shaped body — which you can have a relationship with the body. But given how Christianity treats Jesus as God, it almost reduces the whole spiritual aspect.

    That, and it keeps the focus on us as people, and much of the NT is about going beyond the self, and embracing something bigger. The ‘best buddy’ aspect is almost involving the human ego.

    Here’s another random question, and not asked in the insulting fashion: when Christians pray to Jesus, who exactly are they praying to? I know the automatic answer would be ‘God,’ but if the mental picture is the body that walked around 2,000 years ago, are the people in fact praying to the human personality?

  • 22. Brendan  |  July 12, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    The Christian myth has as one of its hallmarks, a lack of respect for “religion” and tradition. A “Christian” religion is an oxymoron in a sense, as one of the foundational teachings is that religious authorities and tradition are not a substitute for the direct experience of the “Kingdom of God.”

    But there’s a counter-revolutionary element that can also trace itself back to NT mythology. That’s why the Bible is a hopeless mess.

  • 23. Stephen P  |  July 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    It is true that it is very hard to define precisely what a religion is. However ever since the word ‘religion’ was first used in English (probably around the twelfth century) the main religion of native English speakers has been Christianity. So any definition or usage of the word ‘religion’ which excludes Christianity is about as sensible as a definition of the word ‘ocean’ which excludes the Atlantic.

    Someone who says “I’m not religious, I’m a Christian” is not necessarily dishonest – but he or she is surely pretty confused.

  • 24. pbandj  |  July 12, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    decon

    i think you are being a little unfair to christians who desire to express that they arent all about what people think christianity is. because that is the basic reasoning for saying they arent “religious”. because for many reasons, because of many “christians” who dishonor Christ, peopledont want to be assosciated with “religion”. personally, i try not to use the term religious, because it is poorly defined in most people’s minds.

    now, according to the etymology of latin roots, i am religious. according to the dictionary, i am also religious. but according to how most people (at least the people i know) define religious, i am not.

    i dont go thru mindless rituals for the sake of comfort or tradition or whatever. do i participate in rituals, yes. but are they the pt, no. the pt of my life is to love the LORD God with all my heart, mind and strength, not a ritual.

    is the ritualistic definition of religion fair? no. is it prevalent among today’s american culture? yes.

    so that is why i am careful to use the word, not because i dont know what i mean by it, but because other people dont always mean the same thing as i do.

    peter

  • 25. Intergalactic Hussy  |  July 12, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    A relationship with a zombie? That’s not grim… I like when it’s phrased as “reject god, follow Jesus”… that makes sense in that the myth of Jesus teaches to love one another and be nice (though according the the scriptures, it doesn’t appear that way). I can understand not being religious and believing in god (not Jesus as a messiah), that’s makes some sense. But once one invokes “the personal relationship with Jesus”…I’m sorry but that’s from a specific religion…therefore religious.

  • 26. karen  |  July 12, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I have read that Billy Sunday, early 20th century revival preacher and temperance promoter, was the first to popularize the “personal relationship with Jesus” theology. It’s certainly not explicitly biblical – non-Protestant churches don’t reference it.

    I think we can be pretty sure the concept is a modern one that followed on contemporary notions of psychology. We can be pretty sure that the Puritans weren’t talking about “asking Jesus into your heart” or “falling in love with Jesus”! :-)

    Interesting take, TA, on why Christians want to separate themselves from “religion,” and good quotes, HIS, on how other religious traditions have the same impulse. My feeling is that the basic impulse is shame: Frankly, religions have failed in their stated mission, and in their prophetic pronouncements, and everybody realizes this.

    Thus, the impulse to say, “OH, but we’re not religious like those other guys! That was part of my motivation, along with the desire to make Christianity seem more attractive to potential converts.

    Brad,
    Also, considering how badly Christians are stereotyped because of the complaints raised against hardcore fundies (totally legitimate, I agree), how is an attempt to set themselves apart from fundamentalist Christians a bad thing?

    Oh, I was saying “I’m not religious, I have a relationship” when I WAS a fundy. It had nothing to do with setting myself apart from fundamentalism. If anything, we were claiming fundamentalism and setting ourselves apart from those “liberal” Christians and “carnal” (!) Christians.

  • 27. Brad  |  July 12, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    To further clarify on the “personal relationship” phrase….

    We are all individuals. For the relationship to be personal, it should be as unique as the individual. For some, that may look more like reverence (as with the above Catholic example). For others it may or may not look very different. Because we all reflect the image of God uniquely, the way we worship, pray, praise, and even read scripture will vary from person to person and culture to culture.

    When Jesus prayed in the garden before His crucifiction for unity with believers in the same way that He is united with God the Father, it was intended to be very personal and very intiimate. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, as well as God Himself. The Trinity is comprised of 1 God in 3 persons. So, when he prays for the same unity as persons of the Trinity, He is praying that we would share in His identity. That’s pretty personal :-).

    To say that we have a personal relationship with God, is really (and unfortunately) a “popular” way of talking about Union with Christ. This union is manifested and expressed very differently (and should be) among different people.

  • 28. Dan Barnett  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    2 cents here:

    You started with Song of Solomon. I personally believe this book is really God showing us how to have a better marriage through sexual intimacy and trying to glorify God through it.

    Religion vs relationship? I think this is an abused statement by the church at large.

    In the terms of this conflict, religion is not really about traditions in the sense of honoring them.

    The whole conflict is what is the goal of what you are doing. If you try to keep the law and traditions and rules in order to please God, that is religion. That is what Jesus chastized the pharisees for. They thought they could find more pleasure with God by keeping a checklist of rules. Generally these are the types of people who have the skeletons locked away that they’re ashamed of.
    The relationship side is seeing God for who he is, and following Christ’s example of how to live our lives. I think many of the De-c’s here would agree that the teachings of Jesus on how to live our lives and serve others are very good.
    We can’t please God any more or less. We cannot add to what Jesus did for us.

    Traditions are good to follow and uphold, but only if they are followed to honor, not please, God.

    I think that’s it. There were so many comments, I forgot which ones I wanted to respond to.

  • 29. Dan Barnett  |  July 12, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Sorry. TA, that was another post with Solomon.

  • 30. Justin  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    As a Christian, I like to make the distinction about being spiritual over being “religious”. I wrote a post on this subject on my blog if you are interested, it’s titled Religion is too Religious

    A separation must be made between being a Christian and being “religious” because of the connotations that go along with “religious” today. I speak mainly of 20th Century fundamentalism which has unfortunately put a blemish on the faith. But regardless, many people will cling to the religion despite the fact that Jesus came to rid us of the guilt and fear religion has over people.

    As for the debate over having a “relationship” with God. I would expect the very bright individuals that come here on a regular basis to understand this concept. One phrase getting attention on this comment section:

    ***Jesus prayed to God the Father that “they” (those who believed in him) would be “in him” as he is in the Father. He is definitely talking about personal relationship here***

    Does it say “relationship”? No…quite an easy observation. But truths within the Bible require more than surface consideration. Let’s not do ourselves the disservice of reading everything at face value. In many cases, it takes moving the mindset to a theological one…which, I admit, isn’t possible for some (similar to those who can’t think from a ‘scientific’ paradigm).

    The fact that past theologians may have not harped on the relationship aspect (as one commenter mentioned) is irrelevant. That of course implies that theology cannot continue to progress…it would be equivalent to saying scientific discoveries today are unimportant because it wasn’t discovered hundreds (thousands) of years ago.

    A relationship is directly implied through the Bible. How? Well, as many former Christians in this forum know, the Bible goes into great detail about the love God (Jesus) has for people. Love implies a relationship – or at the very least, the desire for one.

    John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down His life for his friends.

    Relationship? Yup.

    God Bless,

    -Justin

  • 31. Heather  |  July 12, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Justin,

    For me, I think it comes down to the way in which the personal relationship is used in today’s culture. It makes the whole aspect too human, and Jesus is a buddy and friend. I don’t see that attitude in Paul’s letters, when he refers to the risen Christ. The ‘buddy and friend’ portion is what one would see in the Synoptic Gospels, but that was a very human element, and so when I see the ‘personal relationship,’ I think of that in terms of them having a relationship with the physical human Jesus in those Gospels. The way Paul uses Christ doesn’t include that human element. It was more of taken part in something bigger than one person, and went so far beyond the relationship that one has with another human. So that’s what troubles me about using the word ‘relationship’ in terms of God. It almost assigns ‘size’ to both the relationship aspect, and the entities involved in the relationship.

    I would just have to ask myself: would the NT writers be able to relate to the theology of the personal relationship with Jesus, as it is characterized today? Why or why not?

  • 32. Paul D.  |  July 12, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Good article, and as a Christian, I think this “I’m not religious, I’m a Christian” meme is as silly and illogical as you make it out to be. I’m sure it has to do with embarrassment and ignorance, just like you suggest.

    I don’t think religion is that hard to define, actually. It’s a belief and behaviour system comprised of three things:

    1. Faith in something (usually supernatural, like the belief in God).
    2. Dogma (i.e. a code of behaviour and ethics)
    3. Rituals (i.e. activities performed to reinforce or demonstrate one’s beliefs)

    Christianity has all three — faith (a belief in God and Jesus Christ), dogma (like the Ten Commandments), and rituals (baptism, communion, prayer, attending church). Thus it is a religion.

    As far as I can tell, all other religions can be similarly identified. When one of these is absent, what you typically have is a philosophy or a mythology instead of a religion — Shinto, for example, which has no dogma, and is therefore not a religion but can be combined with other religions.

  • 33. Thinking Ape  |  July 13, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Paul D.
    Thanks and I am glad you agree. However, don’t be to quick to write off religion as “easy to define”. You listed three things that appear common to the western and, especially, Abrahamic religions. Not only are there many religions (remember, I speak about “religions” as in reference to thousands – not just the 10 “major” religions or whatever number they are saying right now) that would have a problem with those terms (faith, dogma, ritual), but one could make an argument that sport or “environmentalism” is a religion (you DID say only “usually supernatural – and many sport enthusiasts and environmentalists definitely have faith in something (almost even supernatural).

    For anyone interested in method and theory of “religion”, be sure to check out any of the following:
    Crossing and Dwelling (Tweed)
    The Invention of World Religions (Masuzawa)
    Between Heaven and Earth (Orsi)
    Guide to the Study of Religion (Eds. Braun & McCutcheon)*

  • 34. Paul D.  |  July 13, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Hi, Thinking Ape. I’d be curious to see something considered a religion that didn’t fit my definition (and it’s not “my” definition, I’ve seen it elsewhere). In fact, I think it clarifies that a lot of belief systems mistaken to be religions aren’t really.

    Certainly, I think it’s possible for environmentalism to be a religion if the three pillars are present. Heck, I even think American democracy even counts, the way many people approach and practice it.

    Certainly, the dictionary definitions quoted in the article above don’t really work. Believing something supernatural doesn’t in itself make me religious, and the “supernatural” part might not even be a requirement.

  • 35. Thinking Ape  |  July 13, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Hey Paul, I think we’re more or less on the same page than it first appears, since we both are looking at religion as a collection of features than any one definition. The problem I immediately see, however, is that the features are purely arbitrary.You, and at least the original write of the features, think that these are good designations that can include and exclude religions – why?

    This is where I think you and I could really agree.We both see that “religion” probably doesn’t have a single “essence” or intrinsic value. It is a collection of features/characteristics that we can call “religion”. Some of us will include certain religions that others will not. It is very arbitrary, and hence, not “easy to define”. The one thing that I am sure that every religious scholar would agree on is that Christianity, or anyone who believes that there is anything supernatural about Christ, is engaging in “religion”.

    J.Z. Smith wrote that the problem is not so much that there are 50 definitions that can’t define religion, it is that there are 50 that can.

    If I am going to give a course in religions, do you think I could honestly include sports, environmental movements, and patriotism? Do you think that maybe there is a difference between acting religiously (i.e. I watch Saturday Night Hockey religiously) and “religion”?

    You said tthe “definition” or set of features you promoted could be a good way of excluding some mistaken religions – what examples? I think that using JUST those features, I could easily argue that European soccer, American football, and Canadian hockey could all be religions while Buddhism isn’t.

    And again, I still have problems with the western-centered concepts of “faith”, “dogma”, and “rituals”. What we might think as these terms are completely different than an Asian traditionalist or an Australian “primitive”. It also doesn’t help us that both “faith” and “dogma” are terms that we ourselves cannot agree on.

    Whoops… I wrote one of those paragraphs in the wrong spot. Hopefully it makes sense.

  • 36. Paul D.  |  July 13, 2007 at 4:07 am

    I always like a good debate. :)

    “You said the ‘definition’ or set of features you promoted could be a good way of excluding some mistaken religions – what examples? I think that using JUST those features, I could easily argue that European soccer, American football, and Canadian hockey could all be religions while Buddhism isn’t.”

    Hm… let’s look at those. A sport, like hockey, is dependent on procedural rules and organized events which could count as “rituals”. I don’t really see any dogma in there, aside from generalized notions of sportsmanship and fair play, but these aren’t codified (to my knowledge). I also don’t see that any special faith or belief is involved in playing hockey.

    Even fans, who may follow a sport “religiously” (the use of that term being a metaphorical hyperbole) and have their own rituals for sports-watching, don’t really have anything I could identify as faith or dogma.

    Some martial arts may have dogma, to the point of preaching certain lifestyles and a certain respect for your opponent, but they’re still missing the “faith” pillar.

    As for Buddhism, most schools believe in deities (devas), Bodhisattvas, reincarnation, and other un-provable concepts that surely qualify as “faith”. Buddhism is rich in doctrine and teachings on virtue and enlightenment (“dogma”). It has a wealth of rituals.

    However, some schools, like Zen, de-emphasize deities and other spiritual aspects to the point where there is little faith, and it is possible to practice Zen as a philosophy rather than a religion.

  • 37. Brad  |  July 13, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Man, Paul and TA, reading your exchanges are very interesting. I think I agree with both o you, and you definitely seem to be on the same page.

    The aspect of this post that you (TA) point out that I think is correct, is that many Christians throw the baby out with the bath water when they say that their faith is a relationship and not a religion.

    The attempt to shed legalism associated with “religion,” while right and justified, can often go too far in denying the whole history of our faith as well. In so doing, we can lose the reverence of God and pass Him off as a “buddy Jesus” so prevalent in pop culture. This can lead to things as wrong as legalism, but at the other pole.

    There is a relationship with Christ that has been much neglected in favor of legalism, but in no way should that relationship mutually exclude the church or tradition of religion.

    And one tradition I’d like to throw into the mix is Confucianism. Confucius never intended for his tradition of morals and ethics to be a religion, but MANY today and in history past have labeled it as such. I wonder how it fits (or if it does) into the three pillars you have laid out here.

    Killer conversation, TA. Thanks for getting the wheels turning.

  • 38. Thinking Ape  |  July 13, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Brad, thanks – I honestly didn’t see a lot of what the comments were seeing. Just like the Christian “bubble” that is so often created among Christian communities, students can often get stuck in their own academic “bubble.”

    After reading all these comments, I think it might be worth getting into a linguistic history of the term “religion,” since it seems like a lot of people of some misconceptions about how the word “religion” has been used throughout history. If I can make it relevant to this website, I will write another post on the topic.

    Paul,
    I knew writing my paragraphs sporadically was going to make my emphasis confusing. You understand “dogma” and “faith” to mean one thing, but it doesn’t mean that for everyone. You say dogma is a set of codes and behaviours, yet in most religions, that definition sounds a lot more like “rituals.” Actually I am quite confused about how you came up with that definition at all. Dogma signifies what a person deems to be true or false, usually incontrovertibly. This can be moral, but also historical, ontological and epistemological truths.

    “As for Buddhism, most schools believe in deities (devas), Bodhisattvas, reincarnation, and other un-provable concepts that surely qualify as “faith”. Buddhism is rich in doctrine and teachings on virtue and enlightenment (”dogma”). It has a wealth of rituals.”

    Buddhists MAY believe in deities, but it is hardly part of their “faith.” You could take away all those heavenly beings and Buddhists would still be Buddhists. But again, what is faith anyway? I’ve checked out several dicitionary definitions, but they distinguish religious faith from other sorts of faith (i.e. a strong belief in God or doctrines of religion – this, however, would start to merge your feature into one). However, I don’t want to argue whether Buddhism is or isn’t a religion, I believe it falls in the category, but many Buddhist scholars have concluded that it is not for a multitude of reasons.

    But my point was the arbitrary set of features you made, even if they were linguistically sound. You say a+b+c=R, essentially because R should = a+b+c . Why? Because it helps you distinguish what you want to put in your basket of religion. But how did you arrive at those features? In an earlier comment you said

    “I’d be curious to see something considered a religion that didn’t fit my definition… I think it clarifies that a lot of belief systems mistaken to be religions aren’t really.”

    Can you see how those separate statements create a logical problem? Your second statement says if a “religion” doesn’t fit your features, then it isn’t really a religion, but your first statement says it would be interesting to see if a religion that doesn’t fit into them – but if it doesn’t fit in, then you wouldn’t consider it a religion!

    See, I said I think we agree because we are using more or less the same methodology, I’m just coming at it from another way and I treat religion as a constantly evolving arbitrary concept. There are many features that classify “religion” – you have named three of them, but I would add about eight more and not restrict any core principles to religion. It is partly what makes the study of religion so exciting – we all act religiously, even when we don’t know it, and it was only up until the 18th century that we have ever compartmentalized “religion” – but again, maybe another post.

  • 39. Vincent Clubb  |  July 13, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I too call myself a Christian and stay clear of using the word religious. Religion is man seeking after God, where as Christianity is God seeking man. Religion is man’s attempt to redeem himself with God, where Christianity is God seeking after man. Simply, religion is man made where Christianity is the Truth. I know that it is not popular or politically correct to say this but I just want you to know why I believe some Christians say that they are not religious but Christians. Keep up the great work on your blog!

  • 40. Thinking Ape  |  July 13, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    “Religion is man seeking after God, where as Christianity is God seeking man…Simply, religion is man made where Christianity is the Truth.”

    Who can argue with that logic? The reason that such notions are not popular or politically correct is because they are absurdist to anyone except the person saying it. A Christian says Christianity is the Truth. A Muslim says Islam is the Truth. A Buddhist says we are all on the path of enlightenment – but they got the inside track. Why not define “religion” as any system that people think they gots da Truth?

  • 41. Brendan  |  July 14, 2007 at 7:21 am

    A non-superstitious, non-religious approach to makes a great deal more sense. Christianity is another version of the old mythology. Approached as such, it’s myths are full of profound meaning. Approached as history or ontology, myth is not just meaningless but dangerous and delusional.

  • 42. Rev : John Flipsen  |  April 1, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Why is for many the word Christian religion such a bad word,reason may well be their uncertainty of their, Today more and more Christian leaders do start to recognize the chair of Peter.It is this were Jesus was praying for under the Leadership of Rome Christ did pray for this that all may be one as we are one Father.Whether we like it or not that is were it coming to. Look back at the very latest ecumenical discussions which have taken place in early January.As the secretary of the WCC expressed it his hope is that within fifty years we have fullcommunion.

  • 43. Lucas H  |  September 17, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Wow. Imagine me, a Christian, fully agreeing with this essay.

    But you are correct. Those who claim Christianity is not a religion are either ignorant or dishonest.

  • 44. Mystery Porcupine  |  September 17, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    This is most interesting. I tried to skim the comments to see if anyone said anything similar to my experience, but I didn’t see it. I’m sorry if I missed it.

    When I was a Christian and said, “I’m not religious,” I did it for a different reason. I saw that people tended to talk about religion as if you could box it up on a package, as if it was only one part of a person. In society, religion could be separated from state, personally it could be put to the side for the sake of a certain type of decision or interaction and then picked up again when it was convenient. In some cases, religion was viewed as more cultural than day-to-day lifestyle.

    I thought (was taught) that a relationship with Jesus was much more than that. It could not be put into any kind of box in my mind or my life – it would influence every decision and every day of my life. Maybe I was trying to say Christianity was better than other religions – of course I was taught that it was. But the statement was not purposefully deceptive. I thought that Christianity demanded much more of me than following a religious code or participating in religious rituals, and that it was more fulfilling as well. It was a living interactive thing instead of a set of rituals or rules. Telling nonbelievers that I wasn’t religious was trying to get them to see that Christianity was a personal way of life, not just a book of rules (remember the Pharisees – that’s what I thought was religion).

    Now that I’ve written all that, there is something else. I knew plenty of people who went to church and it didn’t appear to influence their actions at all…going through the motions of “religion” and not even finding joy or fulfillment in it. That is probably why I was trying to distinguish my “living” faith from a religion.

    Of course, what I thought was a living, breathing, unboxed faith really was just me living out a creed to the extreme. I don’t think there was any way for me to know that at the time.

  • 45. Mystery Porcupine  |  September 18, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Perhaps I should add – the whole point of providing the above explanation is that I believe many Christians don’t think THEY are extra special. It’s not necessarily a problem of pride in themselves – it’s that they have bought that *Christianity itself* is special and is different from all other religions. It is THE way after all, so it can’t just be “another” religion. There are plenty of well-meaning, humble, loving people who truly believe this and believe that it helps when they tell other people that Christianity is “more than” a religion. That doesn’t make them right, of course. But it means that our calling them arrogant and dishonest probably misses the mark in many cases. Ignorance may ring true a lot more often – not stupidity, just a limited understanding of religion in general.

  • 46. Roy  |  September 18, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Well said, mysterious porcupine. I agree with you.

  • 47. Roy  |  September 18, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Off topic, but I must ask, porcupine: Are you involved in the Free State Project?
    http://www.freestateproject.org

    If not, what does your handle mean?

  • 48. Mystery Porcupine  |  September 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks, Roy. Yes I am a Free Stater. I ended up mentioning the Free State Project in a post here, and I realized if I used my real name that people might know me. I am not “out of the closet” yet about my de-conversion, so I chose a handle. Hopefully if someone figures out who I am they will help me keep it quiet for the sake of some family members who aren’t ready for all this yet. :)

  • 49. hedi  |  May 12, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Religion comes from the latin word: religere. It means overwriting. It has to do with following rules, the law. Jesus died for our sins and gave us a new life. Christianity has noting to do with following rules but has to do with belief. And gratitude and love for what God has done makes that we fullfill the rules. It comes from whitin, while other religions the rules comes from the outside. We do’nt have to works or do several rituals, pray fivetimes a do to come closere to God. God came to us and fullfilled everything. We just have to belief that we are saved. Thats why it is not a religion. I am not dishonest, i am not ashamed, í am not ignorant. 15 years ago i became a chritian and for i became a christian i was into boedism, hindoism, etc, etc. All these religions want to do good works and rituals to come closer to God and Yes Christianity is different from all those religions because Christians are saved by God and not by there own works of religion. Roman 3:23 It is what God did. Even Jesus was against religion, Farazees. Its about that God loves us.. He did the work. Its from the inside out.

  • 50. Kim  |  June 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    My perspective on this topic: I also say “I’m Christian but not religious.”
    Maybe my reasons are different…

    Since my faith in God was not acquired from exposure to religious practices (church, daily prayer, etc), but rather a pervading sense that God has always been in my awareness and heart, I have trouble with people’s expectation that I join in ‘churchy’ activities.
    I like being with my friends there, listening to the Pastor, and knowing Jesus is my Saviour. I don’t doubt for a moment that’s true for me.
    I simply don’t have a routine of ‘devotions’, or saying ‘just’ every 7 words or so.. I don’t even like to pray out loud – whether it be grace at the table or contributing to home meetings.
    I feel artificial somehow if I try to fit into this pattern I see amongst most of my Christian friends.
    It doesn’t mean I don’t love the Lord. I most certainly do, and I’d much rather skip some Sundays than be there looking vacant. I’m far more affected by music, dramatic illustrations of scriptural stories, and movies about Biblical characters.

    Maybe I don’t join in events such as worship rallies, or prayer marathons .. that doesn’t mean I’m denying Christ. It means I want to be absolutely myself in His presence, without habits that I can’t call my own.

  • 51. Kerberos  |  June 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    “What is this incessant need to disassociate Christianity from “religion?”
    Is it because religion is too structured? Is religion barbaric? Is religion primitive and uncritical? What do these people mean when they say they are Christian, but not religious, or that the essence of Christianity is not religious. What do these Christians see about “religion” that makes them want to deny their religiousity?

    Psychologically speaking, I am pretty sure it is an attempt to set Christianity apart from other religions.”

    ## Close. When people – typically Evangelicals of some kind – say this, they are making a theological point: that religion is what man does to go to God in his own strength, whereas Christian faith, by contrast, is in a God who “comes down” to man, to do for him what he *cannot do* in his own strength. God acts like this, in perfect freedom, because He is a God of grace, whereas man, precisely by being religious, has been trying to recommend himself to God by relying on his own works, rather than on God’s grace. What this means is that by being religious, man is digging himself deeper and deeper into the hole he is trying to escape from – & his very religiousness, far from being good, is sin at its worst, because it gives him the deceitful pseudo-certainty that he can find peace with God without relying on God.

    It’s a fairly basic Evangelical insight. With a lot of implications. More “catholic” types of Christianity have difficulty in accommodating the idea that Christianity is not a religion – they would be more liable to say that Christianity is religion in its true form, or something of the kind.

    The question of structures is not irrelevant, but Calvinism, which is Evangelical, has a very “high” doctrine of the Church, & is very keen on the importance of church attendance. It also pays a lot of attention to Church discipline. Other sorts of Protestestant Evangelicalism have a rather sceptical attitude to the Church and its structures – this is very marked among Dispensationalists.

    Disclaimer: I’m Catholic, formerly Evangelical, and very Protestant in some ways, & very sceptical in others.

    Hope that answers the question. :)

  • 52. Rachel  |  August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    When a Christian says, I am not religious they are basically trying to say it is way more than that. Religious is to me is a word that decribes follow a religion just because you believe in it. Which is true in Chrisitians, but Christianity believes in more than that, Jesus is the risen savor to them. A man who died and rose again, and will come back again in the comming years. Having a relationship with Jesus is a real thing, and they are trying to explain that they are different from all other Religions. Because their Savior is not dead like all the other “Gods”, he is real and he is alive in heaven sitting on the thrown.

    - 4 year Chrisitian

    I thought i would put my input in there. (: thankyou (:

  • 53. BigHouse  |  August 24, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Not that I’d care for you to expound on your point Rachel but there are devout followers of EVERY religion who take it as seriously as Christians take their “walk with Christ’. I don’t think Christians get any reasonable claim to some high ground for being above “religious”.

  • 54. Steven  |  December 10, 2010 at 9:42 am

    An article I wrote about the subject = since it would be too lengthy to post:

    http://justpaste.it/religious

    or go to http://www.wave1111.com ~ and look for blog article on the right side ~ I’m Not Religious

    love joy peace to you!

  • 55. Ubi Dubium  |  December 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Steven,

    Not going to follow a link from someone I don’t know to read a lengthy blog article that may or may not be relevant. I suggest if you want our attention that you write a brief summary of it to post here in the comments, with a link to the whole article.

  • 56. milehigh  |  December 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    This is a bit off topic. Just to let you know where I stand, at this point I have become an agnostic, leaving open the possibility of a god or no god.
    I recently heard a pastor speak about how the gospels record women giving testimony about the resurrection, which would not hold up in the court of law. So, therefore according to his logic, why would the gospel writers present the women as eyewitnesses when in Jewish culture, their testimony had no validity? Therefore “it has to be true”.
    I have some theories, but I’m curious if anyone here has addressed this topic and can give a sound answer to the logic presented by the pastor.
    Thanks

  • 57. Ubi Dubium  |  December 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Milehigh,

    My understading is that, in that culture, tending to the bodies of the dead was women’s work. That would make it natural to claim that the fact that a dead body was missing would first be reported by women. If a man were to report that he had gone into a tomb and found the body missing, the other men would wonder what business he had going into a tomb in the first place. It would be suspicious and perhaps unconvincing.

  • 58. milehigh  |  December 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Ubi Dubium,
    Thanks for your reply. Do you know if there is any info or good sources for the women being the ones to tend to the tomb in that culture?
    My initial reasoning was that ‘Luke’ (most likely a Greek himself) was writing to Theophilus, who was Greek. It was not intended for a Jewish audience, therefore the testimony of the women would not have been an issue.
    Any thoughts?

  • 59. Ubi Dubium  |  December 20, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I don’t have any links, just a memory of hearing that many years ago. The Hebrew Bible is very clear on dead bodies being ritually unclean, so that would also be consistent with Jewish men having little to do with them. Some of the more scholarly types here may have the citiations for the cultural reference.

    If we are looking at a Greek writing to persuade other Greeks, then their cultural expectations about burial practices would also be relevant. I know that there was a lot of Hellenization in the culture of the region at the time. I found a reference about Greek burial practices, with the women doing the anointing, and watching over two days of ritual viewings: http://people.uncw.edu/deagona/ancientnovel/kristina.htm
    So the Greek expectation would certainly be that women would be expected to be present.

  • 60. Justcurious  |  September 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Can anyone tell me why Jesus body would be placed in a tomb and not a common grave?

  • 61. cag  |  September 28, 2011 at 12:17 am

    #60 Justcurious, when a story is made up, any situation can be put forth. Fiction gives license. Biblical fiction is just fiction.

  • 62. Denny  |  March 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    The Christians saying they are not religious, are the same ones that always say they are suffering for Christ, everytime someone doesn’t agree with their views. They are deceived by their own works of self-righteousness. So beyond over this “I’m Not Religious” extreme of Christianity. If you aren’t religious, quit going to a church building. Christ could have easily set up a temple with walls, considering that he was a master carpenter and had the following to help him. His church is one without walls and its his so-called followers that put the walls up in the first place.

  • 63. EbbtOnline Publisher  |  April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Is having a relationship with your mother religious? The answer should be NO. So why should I place the relationship I have with God in a category such as religion? Religion is the aspect of doing something repetitive. The Bible shows God is a person, he is a Spirit, He has arms and feelings, and we we’re made in His likeness.

    Religion came to view in Genesis Chapters 10-11. Man’s way of working himself back to Heaven, but Jesus Christ said I am the door, the only way back to the Father.

    Christianity is NOT religion, because it is NOT repetitive. I could run religiously… I could jump up and down religiously… Think about it :)

    To the writer: rather than worry about religion vs. Christianity, why not just get saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once saved, always saved. Amen.

  • 64. cag  |  April 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Ebb, #63, the bible makes claims, it does not show. These claims are false.

  • 65. well... maybe once.  |  April 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Ebbt,
    I was once saved and now no longer believe. Thus, I am not saved, nor do I care to be or feel like I need to be saved. Though, I do tend to wear a life jacket when kayaking.

    Life is peachy.

  • 66. Alban  |  April 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Ebb,#63 Jesus was not slain to free people with his blood. He was slain because he offended the ruling hierarchy of the roman/pharicee/sadducee government because he was freeing people. You have to look no farther than today’s political environment to understand control of the masses.

    The spin of ‘first and last’ and (should be) righteousness were and are behavior modification techniques. It helped in collecting taxes and minimizing to a degree, the slaughter of christians.

    These murderers are the same people who knew “Jesus” would never be back, didn’t want the common man to know the Christ would always breathe and created an ascension and a holy-day (Easter) to commemorate the lift-off and the spun out implication of this brutal act.

    Although present day celebration is sincere, its root is twisted in manipulation, so that people will need the crutch of corporate authority to access the divine with an outer direction or focus vs. the inner knowing that Jesus (The) Christ preached and revealed to people the final 3 1/2 years of his life. How convenient to make it a one time appearance. The church obviously was successful in eradicating the thought of the possibility to feel and know what has no beginning and no end.

    Ah, the glory of the ‘mystery of faith’. It has only placed us in a bad sci-fy flick.

    Add reverance to some ridiculous slanted imagination and you have an entire portion of the human race looking the wrong way when the time to celebrate is each day and within each breath. Now, this day more than ever, even people who do not “believe” can have the access to be free without the myriad of rules and requisites, in some ways similar to the time of Jesus.

  • 67. cag  |  April 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Alban, where is your evidence that your jesus existed? The bible is not evidence.

  • 68. Alban  |  May 2, 2012 at 4:15 am

    That is a great question. Many authors including some not of religious persuasion have done research in remnants of census data and burial sites. The name, Jesus was not uncommon to that area in that time perod.

    James Cameron recently hired archiologists and carbon dating folks to investigate some family burial sites and did a documentary on the presumption that they had found not only Jesus’ family site, but also the remains of Jesus himself’s bones – creating quite a stir in Christian circles @ 2008 or 2009. (of course with the ascension, the bones should not have been there!)

    That’s a couple of objective leanings toward his at least possible existence.

    My ultimate determinant is from the ‘knowing’ I have written at length about in the 33 Reasons aren; knowing in the sense of being able to perceive thru the inner physical senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and feel what has no beginning and no end. That connection which you then may perceive as always present and everywhere, (more often when you place your awareness there but sometimes unconsciously as well) paves the way to some pretty incredible insight and fosters recognition of someone who has immersed themself in that realm.

    Like for instance, someone who has never been to, seen smelled or swam in the ocean discerning the difference between 2 wet or drenched people standing in front of them, one who just got out of a river, the other out of the ocean. Both could be observed as wet, but only a person familiar with the ocean can tell the difference of origin. Capiche?

    A good detective may notice subtle differences but even in those observations, had the detective not ever experienced the ocean, there could be no determination of the origin of those differences.

    So subjectively when I have read the quotes of Jesus in the bible and in the writings found in the dig at Nag Hammadi that pertain to the knowing I refer to, and noting objectively as a reader, the respect and reverance given to him as he spoke, someone named Jesus in that time period definitely experienced the ‘knowing’ and likely, because of the respect, was the living teacher/revealer of the knowing at that time…deferring most of everything else off to hearsay at best, legend to support social mores and political/religious agenda on the southside.

  • 69. cag  |  May 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Alban, did you read what you wrote? That is not evidence, just a bunch of maybes. Not convincing at all. Using the bible as evidence of its claims is not evidence, it’s begging the question. You will have to do much better than quotes from a book that claims that the earth was created before the rest of the universe.

    I can find bones and make any claim about their provenance, proving it is a different matter. Your jesus is just another of the thousands of gods that never existed.

  • 70. Alban  |  May 3, 2012 at 3:17 am

    cag, did you read what I wrote? There is no evidence from the bible. I again, plainly spelled out the difference of believing and knowing…and being able to differentiate. An analogy had to be used, otherwise our rationale is a poor perspective from which to see. As a race we have no ‘words’ that are absent of categorization. So we put all that we hear and communicate into boxes of acquired or add on knowledge.

    What I am refering to and the perspective it highlights is a timeless and boxless knowing. So when an intimacy with that experience is present one can separate as Jefferson put it, “diamonds from dunghills”.

    So, no evidence from the bible, only the diamonds that are obvious to me. The rest I dispatched at the end, even though there are several living practices in the bible that harness good sense and wisdom-akin to what should be obvious common sense.

    By tying in the scientific data from the Cameron research, short of being immortal and living/remembering clearly what happened 2000 years ago, yes the 2 major elements of the proof as written, push the probability of Jesus existing in the neighborhood of 1:1

    Unfortunately for you there is no independent 3rd party verification. You would have to utilize your own inner thirst to gain the ability to see, smell/taste, hear and feel what has no beginning and no end. There will never be a computer program or neutral party that verifies this possibility or experience in judgement. Nothing and no one is qualified or will ever be.

    You gotta find out for yourself. In the meantime and with the same perspective (although I’m not up on much the archeological evidence here) Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Muhammed, Ram, Shiva and many others, all one at a time, focused in on this knowing, making it available to thirsty, humble (but lunkheads like we all are) people of their time. Ram found a monkey, Hanuman to be the only qualified student in his time, so yeah, we’re still a work in progress.

    There’s never been much continuity after each teacher and that is because the devotees priortized the personal love for the teacher after his passing over the knowing that gave them the ability to REALLY invest in their own lives. Laziness, arrogance and judgement always have brought us back to this point. Religion simply capitalizes on these weaknesses and creates a structure to maintain order and speculation of real joy only in the afterlife.

    What is it that each of us overlooks that we by ignorance turn over , to an unconcious frustration that stirs up the whirlwinds of denial, of arrogance and of demands to prove the elements of our own existence when the answer(s) exist within, not from a 3rd party, or to be found in its simplicity, inside a book?

    It is a responsibility to ourselves that each of us while alive, owns. We have the possible union in our possession for a very short time,
    Skeptics and Christians each imagine the union doesn’t exist or is conditional. Sure does seem like one common theme keeps reminding us throughout history that we can find the true union, the real asset-the first and foundational asset within inside each one of us.

    So we are arguing about one of these people exhibiting that theme and whether or not he lived? Is that productive or would it be a better use of time to find thirst and humility inside so we can be available to really enjoy life in our union with It?

  • 71. Be True  |  May 3, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Alban: I don’t know what you been smoking or drinking – what concerns me is your lack on theology and sound doctrine. Therefore I must speak out against you as your new aged theology is a form of Godliness that deny the power of God, this form of godliness is despicable – Repent. I have already spoken out against that lying spirit that has your mind confused, it seems that you have not headed to my words, in fact you are a stumbling block to these people.

  • 72. Alban  |  May 3, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Be True: There’s nothing new in what has been said. Theology came along way after what is being pinpointed here. Individuals have the choice to want to know intimacy with the creator and sustainer of life which is pure contentment and contains in its essence an ability to use common sense in everyday life.

    Very beautiful possibility, plain and simple. Theology is something very different. People should understand the difference, or at least begin to sense the simplicity and accessibility of perceiving within…if they so desire.

    Remember, God has never made it impossible for Itself to be seen heard smelled/tasted or felt within…or don’t you remember? Man made that edict and with the nicene convention the catholic church rubberstamped that edict, declaring the glory of “the mystery of faith”. Whoever let those theologians in to this celebration…what do they call it partypoopers?

  • 73. Be True  |  May 3, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Alban: Happy goes lucky – does not cut it buddy. Have you been born again? is Jesus your saviour? – By no other Name will man be saved.

  • 74. cag  |  May 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Schism.

  • 75. Alban  |  May 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Schism? Is that like a delete? My reply WAS before deletion, “nope”…and now the rework.

    Until an individual understands,thru a clear non emotional sense of feeling what it is that can save within and what can BE saved, accepting Jesus is fine.but that is not salvation

    When the what and the what touch inside (via internal sense of sight, sound, smell/taste and feeling- first the feeling- then thru ever growing acceptance, salvation or fulfillment is savored – parallel to being born again but without a script and the necessary follow-up with like believing people.

    The name that saves individual is within each and every breath. It comes from a place where you can drink as much of joy or dine -however you name the action – consume until you are full. The Lord’s prayer as I recall mentions “daily bread”. Daily consumption is union as close as one can get.
    .
    There are no pages to eat or read, there is no judgement/assessment and nothing ever brings up guilt. The consumption of joy is wonderful beyond words and believe it or not you do have the ability to appreciate the infinite in its residence within you…like a single acorn that has a multitude of forests within and can go there whenever it wants. You contain the same possibility.

  • 76. Be True  |  May 4, 2012 at 3:24 am

    No schism here just viewfinder

    Alban:
    what do you believe in?
    what bible do you read?

  • 77. Alban  |  May 5, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Be True: Be clear and be assured, the aim is not to undermine faith . It is to make distinction between belief and knowing. The source of each is not the contention. The essential question is, if knowing were to made available, would there be any sincere interest by ‘believers’ or is faith alone enough…given the elevated opportunity to expand and appreciate to a greater degree the acceptance the source of all life?

    So the answer to your question is, given the ‘knowing’ I’ve been shown and accepted in its priority in my life, God exists within me and is available to immerse within myself, not making me any better or superior to anyone else, just alowing me the chance to intimately enjoy union with what is sustaining each and every breath, not in trust that it is, but in the direct perception that it is.

    The bible which is essential to the mystery of faith as conceived and prescribed by the Nicene Convention(s) is fascinating at times to pick up in my home and distinguish the editing from the reality. I have made a number of notes in the margins where it is obvious that misinterpretation or a particular slant is present. Otherwise, I take it for what it is worth, a guideline for people who need a compass for inspiration and direction in how to live WITHOUT knowing, but with the hint and hope of knowing that was unconsciously included by the anticipation of the second coming.

    That is the nature of the Almighty. Even with the deliberate attempt to misdirect our attention for ulterior motives, the calling card is always made present. To see it like this, you’d have to be in the realm of knowing.

    So I emphasize, though I do not condone what came about from the Nicene Conventions, it was impossible for them to entirely shut out the possibility that Jesus made available and suffered for.

    You didn’t ask if I am a Christian. My belief is so strong with the knowing I have been given that I have advocated for extra help to be given sincere Christians in this time because of the less than genuine efforts of the early catholic church to foster their concocted ‘mysterious’ union of believers with God. I understand the sincerity of a lot of believers and have ‘lobbied’ for their consideration fairly successfully.

    If you are interested, thats a story for down the road. Meanwhile understand the challenge I’ve presented is not akin to throwing the glove down. It is a request to go a little deeper and remember not a future prediction of a circus event, rather an opportunity that was not widely understood by those who did have exposure to Jesus in that time.

    Suffice to say we as a race, let alone as a culture at that time, were not ready for the opportunity he was making available, though the ones closest to him BELIEVED differently. They thought the kingdom was going to manifest physically right up until he told them about his impending arrest and demise.

    So don’t look at me as a wolf in sheeps’ clothing, but neither as a sheep in wolf clothing- not that it matters. If you can glean the essence of this message, then you will understand how incredible it is to be alive, here, now.

  • 78. Anonymous  |  May 6, 2012 at 6:49 am

    A very good verse for Atheist:

    Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

    And for the natural man:

    1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Amen.

  • 79. Anonymous  |  May 6, 2012 at 6:51 am

    78 posted by Ebbt Online :p

  • 80. cag  |  May 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Ebbt #78, quoting from a fantasy book will not get you any gold stars on a site dedicated to reason. Like all the other thousands of gods, yours never existed except in the minds of humans. Do you really expect to use a book that gets cosmology so wrong. Earth before sun, 5 days to “create” the earth and 1 day to “create” the rest of the universe. only a fool would even consider that to be reasonable, so take your fool comment to your mirror and take your talking serpent with you.

    A fool and his/her money are soon parted, go pay your tithe to the scammers and leave the sane people alone.

  • 81. Alban  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Cag, the age of reason has not been all it was cracked up to be. Plato and Aristotle extolled its wisdom to both understand and to rationalize what could not be understood. That is like using a saw to eat your food. There are many subjects however including philosophy that utilize both aspects.

    In their day, philosophy was key in the contemplation of religious understanding. Reason as they espoused moved away from the experiential notion (source) of faith in religion. Explanable actions and observable results appeared logical in deductive reasoning, but its widescale acceptence first of course by the church, removed unexplainable phenomena from everyday conversation. Not that the unexplainable didn’t continue to exist, just ‘buried’ from the common view. Miracles and saints would be judged by specially assigned committee with black and white rules, including the one that says God cannot be perceived within. (yet that was Jesus The Christ’s whole point)

    This would be similar to say owning a large gardenia garden where a unique but not rare soil composition would allow the seeds to grow, nevertheless writing off the possibility of those flowers to exist as there was one ingrediant unable to be perceived, understood or rationalized. Put it in the box of the unknown and take a picture (or draw one).

    Then kill the owner of the garden and let the picture stand as a tribute to that flower’s uniqueness…minus the aroma, the sight and the tangible enjoyment of any gardenia.

    This mentality played right into the everyday operation of the roman catholic church world empire.

    The time is here where fortunately, experience will become again the key to understanding – spiritual discernment is not exactly accurate as a term for this return to experience, but as words go, it is along the same lines.

    Both of those quotes are what Jefferson would have cited as “diamonds” as opposed to “dunghills”. So I don’t know if reason will continue to hang with or overshadow experience much longer. Something is beginning to push people from within that explanations will no longer placate and where the evidence that reason would seek is put into an entirely diffferent context of determination.

    Reason, including self-actualization where it applies to the union with what has no beginning and no end will become a relic as it has clearly displayed its inadequacy in explaining the purpose and meaning of life. This is not philosophy!! It is Human Being 101.

  • 82. cag  |  May 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Religion is a scam, which no reasonable person would accept without having it forced upon them as trusting children. Some of us are no longer children so we reject it as being the fantasy the bible proves it to be. Reason comes when one rejects the supernatural as an answer and seek to find the real answer. That we do not have all the answers is obvious as we are still doing research.

    That jesus you write about, where is the evidence that he ever existed? Until you have evidence that would convince me (you are so gullible that you believe your own scribblings), you have nothing. I will go partly along with you, the bible is a dunghill. It is nearly 2000 years without evidence, how much longer before it all collapses. No amount of apologetic screaming will overcome the fact that science has made your imaginary friends redundant.

    Dust off your sandals and be on the road.

  • 83. EbbtOnline Publisher  |  May 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    To this day, scientist cannot prove the Bible is fiction. In fact a man got thrown out of court for wasting the Judges time. I read recently of an Athiest converting to Christianity because he confessed he couldn’t be that arrogant and ignorant until he had read the entire Bible and made up his own mind. I guess God changed that mans heart for the better :)) I thank Jesus Christ that he saved this unworthy sinner.

  • 84. cag  |  May 7, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Ebbt, so you believe that the earth was created before the sun and the earth took 5 days to “create” and the rest of the universe one day? Do you also believe that one can see from the 4 corners of the world (flat earth)? The bible is worse than fiction, it is propaganda for a scam. You cleave to the fact that there are some historical details in the bible. That does not excuse the prevarication designed to deceive the gullible. It is obviously working because you bought into the lies.

    One uncorroborated atheist (not Athiest) converting to religion is meaningless without background. You may want to check out the many preachers who have read the bible and found it shattered their belief. See for instance Dan Barker or Teresa MacBain. There is the Clergy Project for more about religious leaders realizing that they were living a lie. I thank rational minds that these former liars for an imaginary deity have come to their senses.

  • 85. Be True  |  May 7, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Cag: You can read the bible literally and it would not make sense to you, the difference is that the bible is actually Spirit, if it is the word of God who is Spirit then it is Spirit. The problem I told you before is you cannot understand Christians arguments, you only think logically.

    I told you to give your life to Jesus then read the bible then we can argue. The problem is that you choose not to. the Choice is the same choice all men face. Seriously what have you got to loose, you are already a self professed ape and dying to nothing. What have you got to loose!

  • 86. cag  |  May 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Be True, thanks for admitting that christianity is illogical. Why would I ever want to believe the illogical? Christianity was designed to give power to the select few. I am not going to give them power over me. I’m not going to let my life be dictated by the sales pitch of some scam artists. I’m not going to give my life to a character in a fantasy book.

    Please learn the difference between lose and loose. It makes your argument silly when you confuse the two (admittedly it would still be silly with the correct use of lose). While we are at this, there is a difference between spirit and crap. The bible is crap, not spirit. To claim that the bible is the word of an imaginary deity does not reflect well on the deity. The fallacies in the bible do not get a pass from a rational reader, only those who are willing to gloss over the ignorance displayed in the bible would consider that ordure to be of any value.

    Why jesus, why not Paul Bunyan or Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne or Dr. Bruce Banner? They all have the same provenance. You have not given me any evidence that the first is any different than the last 4, all fictional characters.

    I’m telling you now to give your life to the natural, not the non-existent supernatural then we can talk. How can I choose the jesus delusion without being delusional? How can I accept the bible as true when I know it is full of Bullshit (ref. Dan Savage).

  • 87. Alban  |  May 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    cag and Be True: google Canon of the Bible. The fact is, except for the first 5 books of the old testament, none of the religions agrees on any sanctification. And human voting is what decided what went into the bible at the Nicene conventions! V-o-T-i-n-g.

    Hope and faith naturally have imagination built in, so cag cut christianity a little slack. How can you prove some elements of imagination – aren’t true when the ‘reason god’ that you follow decrees that all that is unexplanable doesn’t exist? You lose all credibility when you cannot prove that truth doesn’t exist. Reason by your own god’s decree does not sanction any justification by you.

    Why? because it doesn’t exist! An impartial judge might call the assertions of you both a “mexican standoff”. An old commercial used to ask, “where’s the beef” ?

    Most kids forgive their parents for pushing Santa Claus. Apparently this was a blow dealt to you that still stings. And you have to accept in your innate wisdom and reality deep down inside, that human beings created the problems we have today, not in your terms, an imaginary god, but all of us.

    Be True, I am unclear in your backround here. You’ve had training in exorcisms or is it fair to consider you a fundamentalist? Either way Santa Claus probably wasn’t an option for you, so you and cag both flipped- flopped in your own evolutions. Final Answer?

    We are weak and ignorant and filled with the impurities of this world. The case for Faith is equivalent to the rationale and the misdirection of reason when it comes to THIS subject. Morever when reason married faith the entire subject of human fulfillment went south geomterically…for a while…yet the actual pristine and impeccable subject was still prized and accessible for the very, very few.

    Thankfully the momentum is changing. It seems impossible for the oars in a rowboat to reverse the flow of the river when the horsepower of the runaway speedboat appears to direct the flow of the river the other way. Maybe only the vast imagination or the extreme openess of a child could think it possible.

    There is one unexplanable ingrediant in each of us that begins, sustains and ends our breathing, that when accepted and enjoyed, can overcome the ignorance and arrogance of our current science to then utilize a conscious effective ‘science’ similar to the story of David and Goliath. An almost childlike remedy. (for simple, humble children only)

  • 88. cag  |  May 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Alban, I have no gods, including what you call the ‘reason god’. Gods just do not exist. I do agree that what you have written is childish.

    Be True has shown true colors in a different thread, a homophobic bigot. That’s all you need to know about Be.

  • 89. Alban  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Okay Cag, no god or gods in theory for this question. In your sphere of personal experience, is there any inherent order or intelligence to implement that order OUTSIDE of what you have learned thru explanation or reading than can prove that there is absolutely no chance, not one smidget of a possibility that a transcendental pattern (beyond human understanding) exists at least in the animation of life itself in our universe? A process?

    Go at it.

  • 90. cag  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    There is much we still have to learn, but there is no supernatural force in the universe. It is up to the person making the claim to provide the evidence. None has been proffered in the history of humans, just bafflegab.

  • 91. Be True  |  May 8, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Cag: read up on Smith Wigglesworth.

    Alban: Rev. 3:16 – Go read it. You tend to lend your ears to some weird teaching.

  • 92. Be True  |  May 8, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Ubi, Cag, Alban

    This is my final warning – then I will leave this site.

    I have had the opportunity to witness your stubbornness. I have seen that your hearts is so calloused and hardened. Unless you Humble yourself and pray, you are heading for destruction.

    Take head to my warning it might be your last time you are warned. I will not respond nor look at any comments made hereafter. I believe a lot was said and enough information shared if you re look through some of the threads, to give your life to Christ.

    The choice is yours. I pray you choose Life.

  • 93. Alban  |  May 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

    First Steve #54. excellent witing style, insightful and uplifting. Especially liked the story of the 8 monkeys. And in relation to that, alot of us made it up the ladder – with a few bruises but who remembers amidst all the bananas!

    cag- you are so resolute and complicated in your hope! Open up your heart to possibilities. The best place to look, or to hide as the case may be, in the game of hide and seek was where? In the most obvious place…but usually it was the last place considered, wasn’t it? Gotta distinguish between head and heart.

    If there were a point or a place for something that has no beginning or no end to hide where would it put itself? In the last place you’d ever look – but not to make it impossible to find. When you used the word ‘proffered’ did you realize it essentially means discretionary offering?

    That type of offering has been made many many times in the past and the one who offers has discretionary latitude including now. A chip on the shoulder, show me or shut up attitude would probably be discretionarily put off, sometimes eliminated altogether.

    Imagine living in your imaginary Jesus’ time (your imagination) where the only way to be revealed the Kingdom of God within was to travel with the disciples. Put aside family, work and all other worldly responsibilities to understand what is the first responsibility. Not likely you admit. Thank you for the assumed honesty.

    Without technology now, rarely could anyone now put themselves in position to know the missing piece of themselves. This is a different time however, with multifaceted obstacles and the advent of technology, so the frustration of seeming slow speed realization of what can move humanity toward fulfillment – kindness- dignity- Peace and prosperity should not discourage. It can morph to hyperspeed in an hour’s worth of breaths, or for those poised, an instant – literally. The obstacles could also move as fast, but on the answer track they get left in the dust.

    First things first. You (!) sincerely want to learn-recognize-savor your own desire to know yourself while the answers are making themselves known quickly, then, as fast as you wanna go. This is not woo. You will need a seatbelt but no crash helmet.

    Be True: I have alot of Christian friends. They are used to me by now. The historical comments boil down to “you’re so close…why don’t you accept Jesus..” Even Wigglesworth says in ” Ever Increasing Faith,”…” the Holy Spirit never comes with condemnation…he is always on hand to help in the seasons of trial and test.” ( The Comforter who would come) What if out of nowhere one of these Comforters got pre-empted? A scheduled showing with an unscheduled appearance

    I like Rev 3: 20 instead. There is no need to be threatening. Free will is just that. There’s no condemnation in decisions on this subject. Sooner or later the best choice becomes apparent. I only suggest supplanting patience with a sense of urgency. Why continue to wait when available it is? Hate to cite scripture but Rev 7: 14-17 is literally applicable in the here and now. With one caveat.

    It’s not the glory of the revealer. It’s what is revealed that then makes the changes.

  • 94. cag  |  May 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Alban, I live a good life. I do not need any superstition in my life.

    Be True, goodbye you bigot. You’ve shown me that christianity leads some to actually believe Luke 14:26, and you want me to emulate that, no way.

  • 95. Alban  |  May 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Luke 14: 26 – the word,”hate” is wrong from its original translation. The meaning of that verse like the next one, 27 is to be able to let go in the sense of understanding priority. In that time there was obviously no efficent system of communication where a student of the ‘knowing within’ could on a daily basis ‘learn’ in an interactive sense.

    This notion of leaving home and work was frightening for many of the interested potential students in its implications just like it would be today if it were required (due to the same constraints which of course don’t exist)

    Could you imagine your friends and family talking about why you were following this teacher around forsaking your family and your job? Would it be complimentary or highly critical?

    The fear of that implication and in some cases, the actual reactions placed that fear ahead of what Jesus was proffering. The living students have the understanding that religion offers a path of least resistence because it is (was) easier to follow a dead master. Just go to church or temple and read (or before books, listen to the readings from) the book.

    What was being offered however is not found in any add-on component or measure. The value of knowing/perceiving within what sustains life is free of charge, but it has a price. Those who became disciples in that time had to decide, what was most important. Attachment to worldly expectation or the receiving of the ‘second’ most precious gift in life, life being the first.

    Almost all of them returned to their families and their work, but with different priorities from the perspective of the ‘knowing within’ that Jesus Christ had inspired and revealed and would continue to inspire even in physical absentia until his gift indwelt the next master/teacher.

    To this day the living students live the challenge(s) and the joy/ecstasy of ‘knowing’, fully comprehending the meaning of first seeking the kingdom of heaven and having everything else follow. (more appropriate translation than “shall be added onto it” – which implies more, in terms of worldly success)

    You can see where a couple of tweeks in translation tweek the meaning out of context. This is true in every scripture. Think about what the church was trying to discourage and encourage in their translations just pointed out. Do not look for or follow a breathing master teacher (ignore your Heart of hearts-it is fallible and will cost you dearly); just follow what we prescribe, and you will have a good life and afterlife..

    Which camp would current christians be in, er-um, which camp are they in?

  • 96. cag  |  May 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Alban, so you admit that the bible is BS. If the religious community wanted to send a different message they would have translated the bible differently. But as can be seen in modern translations, they still cling to the notion that the earth is central in the universe and took 5 of 6 days to “create”. This is just dogmatic stubbornness, contrary to what is known but aligning with the ignorance displayed by denizens of the Middle East 2 or 3 millenia ago.

    Superstitious nonsense does not age well so it has to be enforced. This is mostly accomplished through childhood indoctrination and threats of eternal damnation. It does not work on all of us, we can see through the nonsense.

    It matters not that there are mis-translations in the bible. It is used as the owners manual for christians, errors and all.

    You can sell your beliefs for free, they are still much more expensive than I am prepared to put out. No substance and bad meanings, no thanks.

  • 97. Alban  |  May 13, 2012 at 5:59 am

    In response. You seem to misunderstand. Maybe it’s tunnel vision and/or just ignoring what may turn out to be obvious for you down the road. To recap:

    The Bible is chock full of mistatement. I differentiate verses however on a ‘diamond vs dunghill’ basis.

    My ‘knowing’ is hardly a belief. When it was proffered to me I had to come to a place of humility, sincerity, simplicity and most importantly a faith in myself (faith in ‘God’ is irrelevant as without life we aren’t talking about this anyway) to trust a gifted teacher.

    The gift given is strictly the student’s realized ability to perceive, to directly experience what has no beginning and no end within inside that person including you, cag. See, hear, smell/taste and feel that “phenomena” (if that neutralizes your biases in labeling) when those senses are turned inward. For what ‘reason’ ?

    To know (intimately) unconditional contentment; to know (intimately) fulfillment. To be grateful for all of that, first in individual priorities.

    If you are misinterpreting that as superstition over substance, you better take your hands off your ears, refocus your eyes and stop saying La-la-la -la -la la.

    You have made your beliefs your identity. That is a tiny universe but you rule there, no doubt. I have only mentioned what is available to you outside of beliefs. That universe is experientially very, very big.

    You also have an identity in that universe,. Without knowing that, all the tiny universes pass away. That is their nature and we certainly agree on that. However to enter the big universe and stay there (Again, so you do not misinterpret, the direct inward physical experience) for as long as you want, you’d only have to really want to know.

    That’s not too expensive, is it?…and not woo-ish at all! But hey, this is only an option, not a requirement. I hope I never intimated the ‘should do’ concept…that gets into religion and that is not what this subject is about. It is more elemental to what it is you and many others want to accomplish (to make this world a much better place) in clear thinking. The best solutions begin in clarity, not relativity.

  • 98. cag  |  May 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    The best solutions begin in clarity, not relativity.

    So let’s have some.

  • 99. Johnny Conley  |  January 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve read the majority of the comments on this page, but I have yet to hear anyone mention how the concept of religion even came about or what the definition of religion is. First of all, this look at the English dictionary The New Lexicon Webster’s dictionary of the English language. I feel that up are going to make commentaries own certain things such as religion, perhaps we should educate ourselves more on the history of that particular subject, religion.

    The new lexicon Webster’s dictionary of the English language, might be a good place to start. Religion was began thousands of years before what is now called Christianity/religion. Let’s understand this thing about religions now according to Webster’s (man’s expression of his acknowledgment of the divine a system of beliefs and practices relating to the sacred and uniting its adherents in a community something which has a powerful hold on a person’s way of thinking, interests etc. football is his religion, his name in religion was Damian. Religion has been around for a long long time the Egyptians had their own type of religion, the Mesopotamians had their own kind of religion of their perceived God’s. Hinduism, Judaism, Shintoism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and even today Christianity. In short religion can be anything, your favorite ballgame, your favorite interest, you can even have religion in astrology. We see that religion has a very broad spectrum. Yet if you were familiar with the word or Bible teachings of both Paul and Jesus Christ you would know that what we now call Christianity i.e. religion was not intended to be a religion at all but completely and separately different from religions or religious aspects from the past.

    With so many different religions already in effect throughout the world by the time of Christ why would Christ i.e. God want to introduce himself through another religion? We have been so trained sense the beginning of mankind to believe that the only way that we can acknowledge our belief in something is that we first have to put it in a category, in this case religion, the way everybody else describes their feelings for their deity. So for not doing the same thing then are we all odd or or we just wrong by doing so?

    What I’m finding hard to understand about all of your comments is why you do not mention either Webster’s nor strong’s concordance. If you’re going to talk about religion shouldn’t you at least apply one or both? Let’s see what strong’s has to say about the word Christianity. The true Greek pronouncing of the word is (chrestotes) simply meaning kindness, goodness, gentleness or good. If you will proceed from here to the New Testament in act’s 11:26 you will see why the first apostles there were called Christians. Because they were good kind gentle loving caring nurturing uplifting people to the community people, the very people that made up the church. People are the church treating people good and kindly and lovingly and carryingly and uplifting and encouragingly helping others, rather it be furnishing them with food, clothing, housing and any other needs they may need while existing here on this earth.

    The word religion the word church the word Christianity all of these words have been missed used by others because of their need to be leaders and they teach false teaching about religion and the church and Christianity. Christ did not come down to create a new religion for himself, he came to teach us how to be caring and loving and supportiv of others. The fact that we have been taught that the only way we can support other he loving and caring to others is that we must be members of a religion followers of religious beliefs that we must do certain banks in order to in order to gain favor of a deity that’s religion loving one another caring for one another as brothers and sisters that’s not religion back is loving that is what Christ came to tea just to love one another to For one another to be friends to be family to be a community of loving caring people the church is not a building are a place where people go to of practice their religious beliefs to a deity the church is people people people people caring for people laughing people you can’t find this in this world anymore everyone is out for their own selves and they try to make themselves look good by claiming to be a religious person I question the real people the fact that you don’t even know these this little bit of information right here prove that you have no idea what you’re talking about

    ch y the helpless widows without children, orphans, encouragement for those with less self-esteem, sharing from our own abundance with those who have a less. There is so much more so much more so much more that can be said on this but the fact that you believe that the only way that you can center yourself

  • 100. cag  |  January 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Johnny Conley #99, have you ever considered proof reading before submitting? Talk about run-on sentence. I honestly have no idea what your message is, but it appears that you are some kind of religious person via the claim about “Christ did not come down…”.
    This is a site for people who do not believe in jesus or god or satan or angels or saints. Some of us do not care what the dictionary (probably compiled by a group that was majority christian) definition of religion is. To some of us religion can be defined as “ritualized lying by a bunch of lazy, power hungry individuals whose aim is to enslave the minds of other humans through fear and coercion, perpetuated by its adherents by indoctrinating children before they are able to reason, or, as in centuries past, at the point of a sword.”
    It’s all about the money and power.

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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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