Christian Feelings Toward Death

September 5, 2007 at 6:52 am 46 comments

A dead soldier in Petersburg, Virginia 1865 during the American Civil WarI am thankful for Justin’s article yesterday. It allows us to confront, and even express what our beliefs ultimately boil down to. But I want to here extend this question to Christians. I want to know the ‘modern’ Christian’s view of Death, and the Afterlife. As a Christian, I held the traditional Baptist view of Heaven as eternal paradise for the saved, and Hell as eternal torment for the damned. But since coming online, I am surprised to learn how many differing beliefs there are even amongst Christians.

Justin said in his last article,

Many Christians find it comforting in knowing that death has been conquered, relieving humanity from guilt and fear.

If you are a Christian, I would like to know if Justin’s statement is true for you, especially if you are one who believes in eternal damnation for the unsaved.

Like Justin, I am not trying to entrap Christians into engaging in debate (which I really am tired of). But I remember as a Christian attending funerals for people whom I loved dearly, but who were definitely on their way to Hell according to my belief system. I found the guilt, and the grief to be unbearable. I am genuinely curious how Christians deal with this reality in their own lives, and how it in any way relieves them of guilt and fear.

I am asking the Christians who come to this website (admit it, you are out there :-)) to make death a reality, reflect on how it makes you feel, and to discuss it in the comments section of this website. There is no “hidden agenda” (i.e. I’m not going to start harping on why you should abandon Christian). I merely wish to discover differing Christian views, and in the process, let other people (new Atheists, Agnostics, Theists) gain insight into different perspectives of the ultimate finality.

Are you scared? Are you anticipating Heaven? Are you anxious for God even though you believe? Are you okay with death?

There is no right answer. For as much as we talk about death and dying, we often separate ourselves from our feelings during such conversations. Let’s reunite them. Let’s start the discussion.

-HeIsSailing (with a little help from Justin!)

Entry filed under: HeIsSailing. Tags: , , , , , , .

Atheist Feelings Toward Death The Power of Belief

46 Comments Add your own

  • 1. papasteve  |  September 5, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I’m not too keen on the process of dieing but I do not fear death. I sat with my 5 year old grandson in the ICU last year after we almost lost him from some complications after his open heart surgery. He was born with multiple heart defects and we live with that reality every day.
    My sister is sitting up at MD Anderson fighting cancer.
    Some of those we love the most live in the constant reality that there are no guarentees in life. No one has that guarentee. We just live with the constant reminder. It causes us to “live in the now” and not take the ones we love for granted.
    And as I said when I started the reply, we do not welcome death but we do not fear it.
    I’ve spent much time researching the archeological evidence around the ancient, existing New Testament manuscripts as well as the evidence for the dating of the texts from the book of Isaiah found in the Qumran (Dead Sea) scrolls. I have concluded that there is more than enough evidence for a reasonable person to conclude that the claims of Christ, His life, death, and His resurrection are historically accurate. I, and my family, are people of faith. But we have a faith founded in historical, archeological evidence. It’s a living faith that allows us to see beyond ourselves, and this moment in time onward to a God that trancends time itself. A God Who calls us to live beyond ourselves and see our existence as something much bigger than a little dot on an infinite timeline.
    When my day comes I’m not thrilled about the details . . I’m human. I hope it is quick and painless. But my prayer is that whatever I’m called to, that I will be faithful . . that both in my life as well as my death, that the actions I take will be reflective of these words I write.

  • 2. Shannon Lewis  |  September 5, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Well, for one, I don’t ‘judge’ the person who – to me – appears to be an unbeliever: God is sovereign and just and will do what He pleases with them – I don’t speculate as to which individuals will be in ‘hell’ or not – I only know that there is no assurance of salvation outside of Christ. That is just to say that, though I believe in Hell, as Jesus spoke of it as often as anyone, I don’t presume to know who will be there – I only know that I deserve it, but by His grace, will not get what I deserve.

    Secondly, I should point out that the Bible doesn’t speak of our afterlife nearly as often as one would expect: nearly all references to “the Kingdom of God” have to do with God’s sovereign rule & reign here, within the hearts, minds, & lives, of Christ’s followers – not to some pie-in-the-sky, by & by afterlife. Though I disagree with much of his writings, Brian McLaren nailed this point on the head in his book “The Secret Message of Jesus”.

    With all that aside, I do not fear death. I do fear the process of death – our culture despises aging and it’s hard not to be influenced by our lack of respect for the elderly and fear growing ‘obsolete’, and the thought of a slow death bothers me greatly (many in my family lose their mental faculties a number of years before their body actually shuts down, which seems quite humiliating). If I had my pick, I’d go quickly – in a skydiving accident, maybe. ;-) Something abrupt and exciting.

    But no – I do not fear death, and I am confident that, if there is indeed an afterlife, as I believe there is, Jesus will be there to welcome me to the ‘other side’.

  • 3. Scavella  |  September 5, 2007 at 9:09 am

    I’m a Christian. And my answer’s in the other thread.

    Short version: I believe in an existence of somethng that is “me” after my body dies. But where that will be, what that is, what happens to it (I don’t think I accept the stories about lakes of fire and so on, just as I don’t accept the stories of streets paved with gold and milk and honey flowing all over the place either — and good thing too, as I’m not a big fan of milk and honey’s just too sticky), etc, I don’t know.

    Why do I believe this? Because my consciousness and my body are already separate entities. I don’t know what’s going on in my body, really. As a woman who would like to have children, I don’t know what makes a person pregnant, I don’t know why people miscarry. I don’t know whether that strange pain in my abdomen is a baby, gas or something worse, like cancer. And if I do become terminally ill, there’s not a whole lot I (the conscious me, who’s using those fingers life gave me to type this comment) can do about the outcome. Either I’ll get better or I won’t.

    The point I’m making is this: I know that my body isn’t me. I also know that it will die. What I don’t know is what happens to me at that time. Am “I” so entirely dependent upon my body that I will cease to exist? Apparently being atheist requires that one accepts this as the most likely assumption. (Maybe it is, but I would question that, simply because we don’t know where the “me” comes from. Are we not alive before we’re conscious? If we can’t remember being born/in the womb/much before we were two, three, four or five, were we not alive then?)

    Me, there are a couple of things I don’t accept. One, that the conclusions that we draw from an empirical study of the material world (which, by definition, appears to be the only thing that can be empirically studied) define human existence. And two, that my personal experiences, if they fly in the face of the “truths” as defined by the current infomation that we have gained from the empirical study of the material world, must be false.

    These two things, perhaps as much as my Christian faith (caution: do not assume that what I mean by “Christian” is the same as what you mean by “Christian”; my belief begins and ends at the divinity, death and resurrection of Christ, both of which I accept — and don’t ask me to explain why, because it’s my own business. The rest of the trappings that come with it are, to my mind, politics) define what I believe about death. It happens. It’s sad, specially for those who live on. I don’t believe it’s the end of “me” (or of any living thing, for that matter). What it is, though, I have no clue. Presumably the barrier between me and the divine will be removed, but who’s to say? None of the people who came to visit me after they died told me any of the details, so …

  • 4. girlwithnoname  |  September 5, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Hmmm…I don’t consider myself a christian anymore but when I lived in that “frame of mind”…I was scared of death. What if I forgot to pray to Jesus and ask him to forgive all my sins one last time before I died? Would I make it to heaven? Could I ever be good enough? Now I don’t believe in a literal heaven and hell. I believe hell is right here and now in many places for many people. I don’t want to die (right now…maybe when I reach 100) so to say that I am still not afraid would be true and false. I am not afraid of hell or the afterlife…if there is one. I want to live a long life so I guess I’m a little afraid of it being cut short. I do agree a bit with Dove from the Atheist Feelings toward death post…Quote:[ Everything moves in circles — electricity, the Earth, the seasons…the clock…so many circles…”everything goes around, comes around” … And so do we We’re energy (remember, Einstein). Energy doesn’t die. WE DON’T DIE. We always have been, and we always will be. And, babe, I can tell ya’ right now, until you KNOW that this is the truth, atheist or whatever, you won’t live in real peace and joy. Knowing this is freedom ] End Quote.
    Maybe to sum it up…who wants to die? An afterlife…don’t know…not to worried about it. I don’t want to miss out on the life I have now. I did that for too long as a christian.

  • 5. Eve  |  September 5, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Hels, thanks for asking. Tempering my theological view on death and eternity are my personal experiences with death. I have faced death myself, and I’ve held the hand of two dying friends as they died. I also held my 12-year-old daughter in my arms as she died. I can’t understand how any human being can hold the body of another person who was alive only moments before, and *not* believe in a SPIRIT.

    I’m not talking about comforting thoughts; I’m talking about reality… the fact that what made these people who they were was not their body. Their body merely housed the spirit.

    This doesn’t answer your thoughtful question, nor do credit to your kind and respectful way of asking it (I just loved this post!), but it gives you a real answer: I am a spiritual being with a mortal body. I am overjoyed to think of eternity, because I have an eternal lover and bridegroom who has been wooing me forever. For me, this relationship with my creator is not a hope that makes the certainty of death easier. It’s just a certainty, period. Death, from the mortal perspective, is never easy and it’s not good. It just IS. ~ Eve [eve3.wordpress.com]

  • 6. Brad  |  September 5, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    The brother/brother in law of a couple I know (both in ministry) was killed last week in Iraq. He was serving his second tour as an Army Ranger and Company Commander. Obviously, his death is incredibly painful to them, his family, and our church where they are a part of community.

    The comfort in this situation is that he became a Christian less than 3 months ago.

    Now, this is the first time I have known or mourned with someone who lost a loved one that was a Christian. I know how senseless and hopeless it can be, yet this time was remarkably different. This time there was a sense of comfort and hope that I have not experienced in my family or any other community. The fact that death is so abhorrent to us as human beings, to me, is great evidence that death itself was never intended.

    Am I scared?
    Sure. It is a great unknown in many ways.

    Am I anticipating heaven?
    In the sense that I am looking forward to the setting right of all that is wrong, the redemption of all things, and all of life being returned to the way it was “supposed to be,” absolutely. However, there is much of this that happens while we walk this earth, so I am eager to be a part of that redemption here and now, and look forward to God completing it. I will not wait until “heaven,” as I don’t believe that God is waiting to redeem many aspects of this world, so neither should we.

    Am I anxious for God even though I believe?
    YES! I do doubt sometimes. The nature of faith is that it is a reasonable choice to trust in God and His promises based on what he has done in history (both global and personal) and told his he intends to do in the future (both his record and his word). This is not against reason, but acknowledging that 100% “objective proof” is neither possible nor desirable (for what would faith be, then?). I have times of doubt. Because I hold to a perspective of critical realism, I weigh the evidence and give it a chance to speak to my beliefs. However, I do return to the essential foundations of my faith in God because it (he) has withstood the test of time and experience.

    Am I okay with death?
    Nope. Not at all. It sucks. It is horrible, devastating, and senseless. The ONLY good that can be gleaned from it, in my opinion, is that it increases our appreciation for life; whether that is life in general, rescue from death, Jesus himself, God’s faithfulness, and/or all of the above.

    In short, I far prefer life, and believe that the Christian faith/worldview/scriptures give us the absolute best explanation of reality as it pertains to life and death.

  • 7. lovesthewind  |  September 5, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Are you scared? Are you anticipating Heaven? Are you anxious for God even though you believe? Are you okay with death?

    I’m not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of a painful death. There are things worse than death, to be sure. I’m anticipating Heaven, but not a cherub-filled fundamentalist sort of Heaven (just as I don’t believe in a fire and brimstone-filled fundamentalist Hell). I’m not anxious for God because God is already here all around and within us and as the Bible says our lives are but a breath, in perspective we don’t have a very long wait. I’m okay with death and take the view to wonder why we grieve for loved ones when we know they are in a better place. We grieve for ourselves, for missing them, but must remember, our loved ones are in a peaceful, glorious place.

  • 8. astudent  |  September 5, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    HeIsSailing,
    You know the line, “I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”. No one knows exactly what Heaven or Hell will be like. One is the exact opposite of the other would be my guess. Even if Hell is not actually a fiery pit, it is somewhere I don’t want to be. It is a place without God.
    At one time I really felt bad when someone died that I thought was not saved. Then I remembered Rev 21:4 where it says, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. So though I mourn now I will not then. Having said that why would I feel guilty about what someone else has done? I have no fear for myself and I feel no guilt for someone who had the same opportunity that I have and chose not to honor God. The fear and the guilt is theirs alone, but that does not mean I am happy about their choice.
    I know that God sends no one to Hell. If they go it is because that is what they wanted and they decide for themselves to go. God grants the desires of ones heart; that’s all.
    Everyone seems to think God makes them do something when really He only supplied the two choices and the power to choose. Everything about God makes no sense without free choice and everything makes sense when one realizes they have the power to choose for themselves.
    I don’t view God as a tyrant, but as a doting Father, a pushover. All He asks for everything that is and everything that is possible is to put your pride aside, admit that you sin, ask for forgiveness, revere Him, and treat everyone as you want to be treated. Is that to much to ask? Of course that is not possible if you do not even recognize Him as God.
    I am like most who have commented. I do not fear what will happen after death it is getting there that I am not fond of thinking about.
    Yes, I’m OK with death, because it is as I understand and believe, a birth into a new and wonderful life with no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

  • 9. Thinking Ape  |  September 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    astudent, two choices? Are you sure? I would say Judaism and Islam are just as viable choices given by God as Christianity. And what Christianity? Many extreme Pentecostals believe only people who can speak in tongues can be saved. Many Protestants say Catholics won’t be saved and the vice versa. What about the early Christian groups that were eclipsed by Pauline Christianity? The gnostics certainly weren’t saved, but what about the Jewish Christians who did not agree with Paul’s ‘freedom from law’ mantra – will they be saved?

    I expect a “it is not my place to say who is saved or not” response – so you can save that. I agree. My point is that it is not as simple as your “two choices.”

    In addition, “God does not send people to hell” statements are absurd. Whether you believe God is into cowboy justice or not, he created hell specifically, according to you, for people who do not chose the right [arbitrary] path. Even in our limited and chaotic world we can see how God’s sense of justice is maybe just, but it is a stretch to call it merciful. First he creates a world and gives us free will for kicks, but warns us not to use it. When we use it and screw up, he condemns us forever and then calls sacrificing his son/himself merciful. But then continues to condemn people 2000 years later who call into question the validity of this entire story – not to mention people with different beliefs in the same “god.”

  • 10. astudent  |  September 5, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Thinking Ape,
    You say, “I would say Judaism and Islam are just as viable choices given by God as Christianity.”
    Well, we are talking about Christianity and the Bible says, (Acts 4:12 NIV) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
    Though both religions claim the same God, neither Judaism nor Islam recognize Jesus as the Christ (Savior). So I would say you are wrong about that.

    You say, “My point is that it is not as simple as your “two choices.”
    The choices were not two choices about religion, or denominations, but to choose God or not to choose God. It is simple.
    I did not say God’s justice was merciful, though it is, to those who turn to Him and at great cost to Him.

    You say, “First he creates a world and gives us free will for kicks, but warns us not to use it.”
    He didn’t give us free will for kicks and He didn’t warn us not to use it. We are supposed to use it. Choose right and live, choose wrong and lose.

    “When we use it and screw up, he condemns us forever and then calls sacrificing his son/himself merciful.”
    I would call making the wrong choice screwing up, so I will agree with that, but His sacrifice is for those who do not screw up, not those who do.

    “But then continues to condemn people 2000 years later who call into question the validity of this entire story – not to mention people with different beliefs in the same “god.”
    Yep, same story didn’t change a bit, different people, same two choices, and still the only name one can be saved by. That is Jesus Christ.

  • 11. writerdd  |  September 6, 2007 at 9:34 am

    It seems to me that Christians are afraid of death but won’t or can’t admit it. Otherwise, why are they so into this “culture of life” stuff? I mean, if a baby is aborted, they go straight to heaven, right? So they’re being saved from a potentially crappy life as an unwanted child. If a person gets a disease and dies or if a teenager gets killed in a car crash, they go to heaven, right? So there should be a party to celebrate that they went on to brighter pastures, rather than tears. But I never see Christians having parties when people die. Why on earth did they want to keep Terry Shiavo trapped in a vegetable of a body when she could have been released into freedom of a new heavenly body? It’s hypocritical to the extreme, if you ask me.

    When I was a Christian, I was afraid of everything but I went around quoting “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” as if that made the fear less real. I was amazed when I realized that I no longer believed in God, that the fears disappeared.

    I have heard a lot of ex-Chritsians admit to previously being afraid, but it seems like there’s a taboo amongst Christians from actually admitting this, so you don’t hear it much except from those who have left the faith.

  • 12. Jon F  |  September 6, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”

  • 13. papasteve  |  September 6, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Writerdd,
    Sounds like you experienced a cheap counterfit of Christianity. I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience the real deal. When you experience the real deal it’s not about following a code, or a set of rules that you’re afraid you might break. It’s more the like the movie, “The Matrix”. You’re pulled out of the Matrix and “welcomed to the real world”. It’s only there that fear disappears because you realize that it’s not about doing but rather about being. You just “are” a new person. It’s a done deal.
    You also start learning that you now have two natures and struggle with being a hypocrite everyday.
    As to the culture of life. It has nothing to do with a confusion about what we say we believe and how we act in relation to death and the afterlife. It has to do about finally understanding human dignity . .that we are image bearers . . .and that are value has nothing to do with the human definition of the quality of life but that our value is intrinsic because of Who our Creator is. Kind of like a rusty quarter being worth as much as a new shiney one.
    Finally, I guess as long as you have the freedom to generalize about all Christians based on your personal experience I’ll take a minute and do the same with athiests.
    In my experience, a few I’ve met where kind of born into their belief system, much like many religious people. But most at one time believed in God, denounced Him because of their personal pain, and then went running to the “enlightened ones” of naturalism so they could fill the void from their lost world view.
    Life is hard. I have faced those very fears you mentioned. I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve been betrayed and abandoned by friends, I’ve seen the evil in the world and have seen the capabilities of evil in my own heart. I took that journey into the wilderness and made it back. But I took that journey with the God Who is There. Not the god of my own imagination and wishful thinking. The athiests I’ve met took that journey but they took it alone . . .and were consumed along the way.
    Oh, about Christians having parties when people die . . .I just got back from hospice where I spent the day with my big sister. She has days to live. We spent most of the day laughing and telling stories. When she leaves us we will cry because we are human and we will miss her and the love she gave each of us. But rest assured we will also party. We will celebrate her homecoming and celebrate her life and her faithfulness. For she too went into the wilderness of this life and came back a jewel for us all to love and treasure. She did not let her fear consume her. She fulfilled her destiny.

  • 14. lovesthewind  |  September 6, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    writerdd – I’m a Christian, but not a fundamentalist. It isn’t that I wouldn’t admit fear of death, I truly am not afraid. In fact, it seems like something to look forward to as an ending: peace. After living in this world, full of people who have free will and don’t always take the higher road, I will live my life the best I can and welcome the peace that exists afterward. Even if nothing exists afterward, it will still be better, I believe, than seeing so much suffering here.

  • 15. Thinking Ape  |  September 6, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    astudent,

    Well, we are talking about Christianity and the Bible says…Though both religions claim the same God, neither Judaism nor Islam recognize Jesus as the Christ (Savior). So I would say you are wrong about that.

    The Bible is not God. What evidence do you have that the Bible speaks God’s truth? The Torah and Koran do not have a second god because this would be blasphemy under both religious systems. Regardless, why takes the word of the Christian New Testament over the Tanakh and Koran?

    I did not say God’s justice was merciful, though it is, to those who turn to Him and at great cost to Him.

    I know of a similar historical figure who sacrificed himself for a cause (was wounded in battle, went to prison, and ‘martyred’ himself). He also treated the people who believed in him with great mercy, but was “just” and “wrathful” towards those that did not meet his standards. See Fuhrer of the Third Reich for more info.

    He didn’t give us free will for kicks and He didn’t warn us not to use it. We are supposed to use it. Choose right and live, choose wrong and lose.

    God gave us free will and then warned us not to eat the forbidden fruit. Why?

    I won’t bother quoting anything more since you didn’t really care to actually reply to what I said. Repeating “Jesus” over and over is not a legitimate answer.

  • 16. astudent  |  September 7, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Thinking Ape,

    You say, “The Bible is not God.”
    That is true. It is the Word of God.

    You say, “What evidence do you have that the Bible speaks God’s truth?”
    What evidence do you have that it is not?
    I would mention the return of Israel as a nation, even speaking the original language, but you choose to reject anything that I say. It is something like looking at the glass that is either half empty, or half full. You refuse to look at it the way I do. Don’t accuse me of doing the same. I was just like you. I didn’t believe in the Bible, or God, or anything except science and my own understanding. But I decided to give the other view equal weight.

    “The Torah and Koran do not have a second god because this would be blasphemy under both religious systems.”
    You seem to imply that Christianity has two Gods. It doesn’t and if you would study both the Old Testament and New you would see it doesn’t.

    “See Fuhrer of the Third Reich for more info.”
    That was ridicules. You are grasping for straws. Hitler didn’t treat anybody with great mercy and he didn’t sacrifice himself, he committed suicide to escape earthly punishment.

    “God gave us free will and then warned us not to eat the forbidden fruit. Why?
    God didn’t warn either you or me not to eat the forbidden fruit. It was Adam not us. Where is that fruit, what does it look like, who told you not to eat, not to eat what?

    “I won’t bother quoting anything more since you didn’t really care to actually reply to what I said. Repeating “Jesus” over and over is not a legitimate answer.”
    Ape, you are not thinking. If you would you might see that I am replying though it is a task when you even compare Jesus to Hitler! You are not only refusing to consider my answers, you aren’t even thinking about what you say.
    I don’t think you want anything except an audience, but I could be wrong and that is why I continue to try to answer you.

  • 17. Heather  |  September 7, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Astudent,

    I was just like you. I didn’t believe in the Bible, or God, or anything except science and my own understanding. But I decided to give the other view equal weight.

    This is not meant to be an attack, but geniune curiousity: you’ve made several comments like this before, saying you used to be an atheist and thus understand those who currently are. However, you also tell those who used to be Christians that they were never Christians in the first place, since they no longer believe. The problem is that same logic can in turn be applied here, with some saying that you were never an atheist in the first place, since you now believe. As it is, TA could probably say the same thing, that he was just like you, and you refuse to give his viewpoints equal weight, and that you aren’t thinking about what you say. I presume that you’d find such comments ridiculous, as it’s presuming to know you better than you know yourself.

    In a way, I think you two are in the same situation, just on opposite sides. Both of you seem to feel you used to be where the other currently is.

    TA, if I’d said this in error, I apologize — based on previous comments, it does sound like you used to be a conservative Christian. If you weren’t in that situation, the analogy would still stand, though, as other posters here used to be conservative Christians.

  • 18. astudent  |  September 7, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Heather,
    That is funny and also somewhat true. Before I became a Christian I sounded like TH and I would have argued until I was blue in the face against any God. That was very astute on your part. There are always at least two ways of viewing anything. In this case before and after.
    When I tell de-converted Christians that they never were Christians it is not my idea. It comes from the very religion they claim to be de-converted from. So I don’t believe you could apply the same logic, because the Bible doesn’t say I never was atheist in the first place. Actually I had to be something other than Christian in order to be converted to Christianity.
    Having said that, if you understand the God of the Bible, you know that He always knew I would turn to Him. So there is some merit in your comment. (There is that different view again. In this case God’s and man’s)
    Seriously though, does it seem that I am not giving TA’s viewpoints equal weight? I admit I have a hard time doing so, but most of the time I do try.

  • 19. Heather  |  September 7, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Astudent,

    It comes from the very religion they claim to be de-converted from. So I don’t believe you could apply the same logic, because the Bible doesn’t say I never was atheist in the first place.

    But I’m still assuming that you’d be justifiably upset if a random person told you that you were obviously never an atheist, correct? In your shoes, I would be, because it would say to me that the person is not listening to what I say, but rather telling me that, again, they knew me better than I know myself, and completely dismissing any of my experiences. You can say that it’s not your idea, it’s in the Bible, but an atheist can come back and say that it’s not their idea, that’s simply how atheism is structured. The words do come from you and how you view the Bible.

    does it seem that I am not giving TA’s viewpoints equal weight? I

    Well, isn’t this a mine field. :) This is difficult to answer because I don’t think it’s a matter of giving equal weight, but perception. From how I’ve been reading the dialogue you two have, your answers don’t seem to address what he’s actually saying, but what you think he’s saying, if that makes any sense. Take the matter of Judaism and Islam being viable alternatives for religion. Your response was that according to the New Testament, they aren’t, and that’s why that aren’t viable alternatives. But to me, that was missing the point TA was trying to make.

    That’s not really a method, because a Muslim could come back and say, “According to the Qur’an, only this comes from God.” But the problem is that those answers basically use the Bible to prove the very claims the Bible makes about God. Or, in the Muslim’s case, use the Koran to prove the very statements it makes about God, and I think that’s called circular reasoning, essentially boiling down to, “We know it’s this way because [this book] says so.” (I also don’t feel that the prophecy examples can be used to prove the NT, given that it’s still using the Bible to prove itself, there are prophecies Judaism said are unfifilled, and I feel that some of the prophecies get taken out of context, like the virgin birth, or are very vague to begin with, like some of the Psalms).

    The problem there is that what I think TA was getting at is if we take each religous text, how to we evaluate which one is from God, and the path each provides? We can’t use one to evaluate the other two, because then the standards are no longer objective in determining the answer. It’s judging a book each based on its own, by some set standard. If we choose one of those books to be the standard, then that book can no longer be fairly evaluated next to the other two.

    Or the point TA made about free will — to me, his purpose with that is that one is given free will, and then punished for exercising it. Adam/Eve were given free will, used it, and then kicked out of the Garden. God may not want puppets, but the entire system is set up so that only “puppets” are rewarded (I don’t mean this to mock your viewpoint, but the whole concept seems to be surrender everything to God, so that one’s will aligns with God’s will and let God completely guide and so forth).

    Perhaps you feel that TA does the same to you, or that even my comments demonstrate what I’m attempting to describe, I don’t know. But this is why I don’t think it’s a matter of giving viewpoints equal weight.

  • 20. astudent  |  September 7, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Heather,

    “But I’m still assuming that you’d be justifiably upset if a random person told you that you were obviously never an atheist, correct?”
    No, I wouldn’t. I like criticism. The longer I live the more I like it. I don’t mean mean-spirited criticism as it is of no value. If you read my post on criticism you will understand.
    Because someone says I was never an atheist doesn’t make it so and what someone else thinks about me shouldn’t change me (Unless they are right and I usually consider the possibility).

    “I would be, because it would say to me that the person is not listening to what I say, but rather telling me that, again, they knew me better than I know myself, and completely dismissing any of my experiences.”
    I don’t see how that would be telling someone that they know someone else better than they know themselves. If the random person is correct the other person should learn from it and if wrong how does that change anything. It becomes a case of hurt feelings and feelings get hurt because of pride. When one allows feelings to dictate what can be said he or she might as well shut up.

    “your answers don’t seem to address what he’s actually saying, but what you think he’s saying,”
    Well, sorry but you are right, it doesn’t make much sense. Of course I answer from what I think he is saying. Perhaps you mean I don’t answer from what you think he is saying.

    “Take the matter of Judaism and Islam being viable alternatives for religion. Your response was that according to the New Testament, they aren’t, and that’s why that aren’t viable alternatives. But to me, that was missing the point TA was trying to make.”
    My original comment was, “Everyone seems to think God makes them do something when really He only supplied the two choices and the power to choose.”
    It should have been clear, because I said only two choices that I was referring to choosing Jesus or not choosing Him. HIS was asking what Christians think, not about other religions. The point that TA was trying to make really had nothing to do with what was said.

    The bible is the only Book God has given us about Himself. I realize there are hundreds of books about thousands of gods and I don’t have time nor reason to refute them all.
    Of course the Bible is vague about prophecy. If God spelled everything out there would be no end of the attempts to stop any or all to be fulfilled.

    “Or the point TA made about free will — to me, his purpose with that is that one is given free will, and then punished for exercising it.”
    That is not what he said. If that is what he meant then he should have said it that way. I can only give an answer to what someone says. The truth is I was pretty sure that is what he meant, but it is confusing to everyone when you answer a question that was not asked and that is why I answered as I did. Perhaps the next time TA will be clearer.
    “O” by the way they were not punished for exercising free will, but for making the wrong choice. I might add that they were told very clearly what would happen if they choose to disobey, but at the same time it should be clear that they had free will to choose.

    “God may not want puppets, but the entire system is set up so that only “puppets” are rewarded”
    A puppet must do what the puppeteer makes it do. God doesn’t make anyone turn to Him or even stop sinning and He even tells us not to stop anyone. What do rewards have to do with the *ability* to choose? Perhaps the desire, but not the ability.
    Of course those who do what God wants are rewarded by Him. There wouldn’t be much point in obeying God if you were rewarded for not obeying.

    “(I don’t mean this to mock your viewpoint, but the whole concept seems to be surrender everything to God, so that one’s will aligns with God’s will and let God completely guide and so forth).”
    Well, God doesn’t really guide per se. He has written guide lines and we are responsible to try to live by them, but God doesn’t guide me, if He did I would not make mistakes and I do. As far as surrendering everything to God it is just a test of truth. If God is everything the Bible says about Him then He already owns everything. To surrender everything is to just admit the truth.
    I doubt if you think I have given weight to your comments, but I have. I write slowly and I try to think about what I say, so I have spent some time weighing your comments. I know you spent time weighing what you said also and I thank you for it.
    I hope I have not offended you. I grew up in a poolroom and was aged in a motorcycle shop so I can and do usually step on toes.

  • 21. Heather  |  September 7, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Astudent,

    Because someone says I was never an atheist doesn’t make it so and what someone else thinks about me shouldn’t change me

    True. But I’d find it almost impossible to even listen to that person or feel that person could contribute anything, if they told me I was never what I used to be.

    doesn’t make much sense. Of course I answer from what I think he is saying. Perhaps you mean I don’t answer from what you think he is saying.

    Perhaps I should explain it this way, as a generic example. HIS had a post earlier explaining a prior viewpoint, in that his viewpoint was absolutely clear, and everyone knew this, only many decided to willfully rebel against God and follow one’s pride/sin/fill in the blank. Now, I know many people who don’t follow the fundamentalist viewpoint, and they would say that they aren’t willfully rebelling against anything. Rather, the fundamentalist viewpoint is, to me, like saying 2+2=14. To the fundamentalist, the non-fundamentalist knows that it’s really 2+2=4 and the non-fundamentlist is simply ignoring that. What TA is saying is simply much of his old viewpoint now says 2+2=14, and he’s tried to see it as 2+2=4, and it doesn’t work that way. That’s what he’s actually saying. When I said that it comes across as you’re approaching in that he really knows that 2+2=4. Without that understanding that the perception is that 2+2=14, the discussion isn’t going to get anywhere.

    I just see this in Christian apologetics a lot, such as saying why should anyone who hates God go anywhere other than hell, and equate hating God with denying certain beliefs. But many non-apologetics don’t see it that way, and if it’s not addressed to their perception, then it is going to look as though one is not giving anything equal weight. If I’m going to get told that I hate God by someone who doesn’t even know me, and by someone who I know is way off in terms of my feelings towards God, then I’ll have a hard time taking them seriously.

    the random person is correct the other person should learn from it and if wrong how does that change anything. It becomes a case of hurt feelings and feelings get hurt because of pride. When one allows feelings to dictate what can be said he or she might as well shut up.

    First, I hope you don’t mean this across the board, because feelings often cause people to speak out against injustice. and fight against injustice. Compassion, mercy, love — all those motivate people to speak a certain way, and possibly act in a better way than if just motivated by logic alone. Second, feelings don’t just get hurt out of pride. If a husband belittles a wife, and hurts her feelings, it has nothing to do with pride or an inflated opinion of oneself. Third, it’s like Person A saying that they just went through a horrible divorce, and took a vacation to climb a mountain. Person B then says, “Oh, then your divorce wasn’t horrible at all, if you climbed a mountain. The divorce was effortless.” Person B has just said, “Even though I didn’t go through your experience, I know it more than you ever will.”

    Of course the Bible is vague about prophecy. If God spelled everything out there would be no end of the attempts to stop any or all to be fulfilled.

    Well, my point here was that the specific prophecies that outlined the Messiah were considered unfufilled, whereas the ones that Jesus is said to fufill weren’t recognized as prophecies beforehand — it was only after the crucifixion and resurrection that they were considered to be prophecies. They weren’t really foretelling a future event, but more like people looking backwards after the event and saying it was a prophecy. That’s not how prophecies function.

    by the way they were not punished for exercising free will, but for making the wrong choice. I might add that they were told very clearly what would happen if they choose to disobey, but at the same time it should be clear that they had free will to choose.

    That wrong choice only came about through free will. It didn’t arise in a vacuum, and so it is like saying that one is given free will, and then punished for using that free will to choose something other than what God wants.

  • 22. astudent  |  September 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Heather,

    “True. But I’d find it almost impossible to even listen to that person or feel that person could contribute anything, if they told me I was never what I used to be.”
    Even if they were right? Don’t you see that that attitude would limit your ability to learn? I am a fan of the character of Spock (Star Trek). The character never lets anyone’s personal feelings affect him in any way. That is not to say I don’t consider others feelings, but if it means not being clear with what I say I will opt for clarity.

    “What TA is saying is simply much of his old viewpoint now says 2+2=14, and he’s tried to see it as 2+2=4, and it doesn’t work that way.”
    I can see how it doesn’t work for him. He does what he accuses me of doing. Look at the previous example. His “Question” was really a statement disguised as a question.
    I said, “It should have been clear, because I said only two choices that I was referring to choosing Jesus or not choosing Him. HIS was asking what Christians think, not about other religions. The point that TA was trying to make really had nothing to do with what was said.”
    I know you understood what he was saying and so did I, but it was not about the comment that I was making. It was only his view of another subject. How can anyone learn the sum of 2+2 unless they stick to the subject?

    “If I’m going to get told that I hate God by someone who doesn’t even know me, and by someone who I know is way off in terms of my feelings towards God, then I’ll have a hard time taking them seriously.”
    I don’t think I accused anyone of hating God. I certainly wouldn’t accuse an atheist of hating God. You can not hate that which doesn’t exist. (I sense your feelings again (someone who doesn’t even know me)).

    Compassion, mercy, love though feelings are the opposite of pride. Feelings without logic are a disaster waiting to happen.

    “all those motivate people to speak a certain way, and possibly act in a better way than if just motivated by logic alone.” Feelings add to the power of logic: just as they add to illogic.
    Though I would agree that pride is not the only way feelings are hurt it is more than you realize. “If a husband belittles a wife, and hurts her feelings, it has nothing to do with pride or an inflated opinion of oneself.” In that case the husband is proud of himself and his opinion of himself (He is better than she is).

    “They weren’t really foretelling a future event, but more like people looking backwards after the event and saying it was a prophecy. That’s not how prophecies function.”
    Looking back and realizing they were prophecies. They didn’t understand at the time the prophecies were stated and that is how they functioned. I can see your point though as they would not be prophetic to those who did not understand, but they are realized as prophecies now. (Events told before they happened)

    “That wrong choice only came about through free will.”
    Of course it did. You indicate that you do not want to be controlled by God (perhaps that is an error on my part), but then you don’t want free will. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    “then punished for using that free will to choose something other than what God wants.”
    And rewarded for choosing what God wants. If God is who the Bible says He is then He has every right to demand anything, but He doesn’t demand a thing. Everyone is free to do what He asks, or not. If God didn’t allow free will He would be guilty of sin Himself, because there is sin and without free will He would have to make one sin.
    It seems like we are looking at the glass, half full, or half empty, also. When you consider free will you only see the results of sin. There is also an equal, but opposite result of salvation. It is not unfair at all.

  • 23. Heather  |  September 8, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Astudent,

    Even if they were right? Don’t you see that that attitude would limit your ability to learn?

    The problem here is that in situations like these, it’s not evaluating an objective claim. This isn’t like Person A saying, “My experiences have lead me to believe that the sky is always pink with orange polka-dots,” and person B can show all the reasons as to why that claim should be re-evaluated. That’s something that can be evaluated in a much more objective fashion, because both people can see the sky, see the science behind why the sky is blue.

    When we get into areas like evaluating whether someone used to be a Christian, or the type of divorce one had, it becomes much trickier. In the divorce example, say the woman explained that her husband beat her, burned her, and tried to run her over with a car, as well as spread vicious rumors about her due to her getting a divorce. Person B, upon hearing about the mountain climbing, still says that Person A clearly didn’t have a difficult divorce. That one simple event caused Person B to dismiss anything else Person A said, to dismiss Person A’s experiences, knowledge and so forth. Yes, Person A is going to ignore this, because if Person B can’t see the basic understanding of what a horrible divorce consists of, then what else is Person B going to evaluate wrong? It’s essentially Person B saying that nothing Person A experienced, felt, shared, said mattered.

    It was only his view of another subject. How can anyone learn the sum of 2+2 unless they stick to the subject?

    Well, we would disagree here, because I do think he was staying on subject, because he’s right: it’s not as simple as two choices. Catholics and Protestants would each feel that they have chosen Jesus, yet there are members of each who feel the other has flat-out rejected Jesus. Mormons would feel that they have chosen Jesus. Way back in the second century, the Gnostics would feel that they have chosen Jesus, and no doubt most would feel that they are selecting the biblically based Jesus. Same with the Jewish Christians in Paul’s time. Even to say to choose God or not to choose God – that is not simple because it depends a great deal on how one defines God, and the paradigm one is using.

    I don’t think I accused anyone of hating God. I certainly wouldn’t accuse an atheist of hating God.

    You didn’t — my point with this was a generic example, because I’ve seen well-known apologists use this argument: those who don’t follow their belief system hate God. Even if I told them that I don’t hate God and tried to share why, I’d never be able to connect with the apologist because he is approaching this from the viewpoint that I hate God – even though I’ve said, point-blank, that I don’t. Hence, the apologist is reacting based on what he thinks I’m saying, rather than what I’m actually saying.

    In that case the husband is proud of himself and his opinion of himself (He is better than she is).

    But the point of this example was to show that it’s not one’s pride that is cause of one’s own hurt feelings — in the case of the wife, her pride had nothing to do with why her feelings were hurt. And in most cases where I’ve witnessed someone’s feelings be hurt, it’s because another person was cruel, petty or spiteful. Not because it was an insult to the person’s pride.

    point though as they would not be prophetic to those who did not understand, but they are realized as prophecies now. (Events told before they happened)

    I think there are many who would argue that this re-defines how a prophecy is supposed to function, in that it should be understood to be a prophecy before the event actually occurs.

    You indicate that you do not want to be controlled by God (perhaps that is an error on my part), but then you don’t want free will. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    No, it has nothing to do with not wanting to be controlled, or wanting/not wanting free will. It has to do with how the argument is presented, because it’s that God gives free will, but then punishes those who don’t use that free will to do what God wants. I know I’ve used this example before, but it’s like the Mafia telling a store owner that the owner is free to accept or reject the Mafia’s offer, but if the owner chooses to reject, then the owner’s store will be burned. The owner is then “punished” for choosing to go against the Mafia’s wants, and thus the owner is not “free” to say no. I don’t have an issue with free will, I have an issue with it being presented as God gives the freedom to choose, but the wrong choice leads to punishment. Then there’s no “freedom” in choosing if there’s a threat at the end of one of those choices.

  • 24. astudent  |  September 9, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Heather,

    Well, I am kind of thick, but I do work at understanding. I finally see how we aren’t on the same page, or how I am not on your page. (Well, I think I do)
    I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t have a difficult time leaving the Church. If you took it that way I am sorry.
    Let me use your analogy of the divorce to explain what I mean.
    The woman that just got the divorce is at home, still hurting from the abuse. She hears a knock on the door. Going to the door she unlocks it, but she doesn’t unchain it as the abuse has taught her to be careful. She opens the door just far enough to ask what is wanted. She can see there is a woman on the other side of the door and the woman asks, “Are you Miss So & So? Where upon she says yes and asks what the woman wants. The woman explains that she is from the court system and that they have examined the records and found no marriage certificate in her name. Then after examining the marriage certificate that was presented to the court, it was found that it was counterfeit. Because of this the divorce has been nullified as there was no marriage.
    You see that though the woman had indeed suffered for what she considered a marriage and had performed the duties of a wife, she had not been legally married. I am only the person that said there was no legal document.

    “Well, we would disagree here, because I do think he was staying on subject, because he’s right: it’s not as simple as two choices.”

    Again, no he was not staying on the subject. I was referring to salvation as the Bible presents it. TA and you are referring to the differences that men have with each other.
    Those differences do not change what the Bible says. All men are flawed and there are different levels of understanding and that causes many problems. Any denomination that believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior is basically Christian. I can not answer for others and it is grossly unfair to ask me too.

    “Even to say to choose God or not to choose God – that is not simple because it depends a great deal on how one defines God, and the paradigm one is using.”

    That is why we should only use the Bible as the paradigm. If only Catholics or any denomination have the true understanding of God it would change the paradigm to their understanding.

    “the apologist is reacting based on what he thinks I’m saying, rather than what I’m actually saying.”

    Heather, every word in the dictionary has more than one meaning. If you string five words together you know what definition you are applying to each word, but the one who hears what you say may not apply the same definition to each word. Sometimes all you have to do to change the meaning of a whole sentence is to change the meaning of one word. So the hearer is always reacting to what he thinks you said.

    “But the point of this example was to show that it’s not one’s pride that is cause of one’s own hurt feelings”
    This was the quote, “if a husband belittles a wife, and hurts her feelings, it has nothing to do with pride or an inflated opinion of oneself.”

    You didn’t specify the pride of the woman, you only said it has nothing to do with pride.
    It has everything to do with pride. Not the pride of the victim but the pride of the instigator.

    “And in most cases where I’ve witnessed someone’s feelings be hurt, it’s because another person was cruel, petty or spiteful. Not because it was an insult to the person’s pride.”

    Again, the pride of the instigator was the cause of the person being cruel, petty, or spiteful. It was not an insult to the victim’s pride.

    “it’s like the Mafia telling a store owner that the owner is free to accept or reject the Mafia’s offer, but if the owner chooses to reject, then the owner’s store will be burned. The owner is then “punished” for choosing to go against the Mafia’s wants, and thus the owner is not “free” to say no. I don’t have an issue with free will, I have an issue with it being presented as God gives the freedom to choose, but the wrong choice leads to punishment.”

    This analogy has a basic flaw. The store didn’t belong to the Mafia and the Mafia had no right to demand anything. Everything in the universe belongs to God, so He has the right to demand anything or everything. Just as if you owned the store and demanded some form of payment and if that payment was not given you would be right in demanding that the tenant leave. That is all that God is doing. If someone does not want to pay the price to stay with God then they must leave His presence. You can take it as a threat, but the truth is it is only fair. It wouldn’t even be unfair to kick the tenant out if you just wanted to. God being merciful gives even those who are His enemies the opportunity to stay.

  • 25. StaCeY  |  September 9, 2007 at 9:53 am

    “I am only the person that said there was no legal document”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    aStudent… RU a student of law perhaps?

    Is God about “legalisms”?… legal documents?….
    or matters of the heart.

    It rather depends on who your god is.

    Jesus told the religious leaders of His day…
    the teachers of the “law”….
    that they did not know His Father.

    That theirs was the father of lies.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    We were clearly told not to judge others…
    but to love them.

    Don’t TRUE followers of Christ have anything more wonderful to do than going around sticking people in legal boxes…
    as if their lives are worth little more than some lame catagorization?

    Christianity has this insidious way of making it’s “members” unable to realte to others in joyous love. It sucks. I remember… I was there.

    EVERY life is a wondrous story.
    I’m glad I am free once again to enjoy others….
    without judgement.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If I were to marry again…
    I would not do it “legally”.
    For those “legalisms” belong to man…
    and I belong to God…

    even if you say I don’t.

    Love is the only law I live by.

  • 26. Heather  |  September 9, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Astudent,

    I’m not clear as to how your analogy was supposed to relate to my divorce example, in terms of Person A using Person B as a voice of experience. Unless it wasn’t supposed to?

    And even if the marriage no longer existed, what then? The person believed in her whole heart that she was married, she acted as though she were married. If we apply this to the Christian scenario, if the de-converts (of which I am not one. Nor have I left a church, as I never belonged to a church), if they believed in their whole heart that Jesus was resurrected – believed 100%, if they said that Jesus was Lord, if they believed that Jesus died for their sins and everything they were supposed to, then they were Christian. The difficulty I would have here is that the de-converts did whole-heartedly believe the right stuff, which are the requirements alone. The legal documentation included this analogy adds something “extra.” If a person showed up and said that there’s no legal documentation that attaches one to God, and thus the person was never Christian, the person can say, “But according to the Bible, I believed everything I was supposed to, with my whole heart, which were the requirements.” If this is the case, then no one can actually know whether or not they are saved. Not even you can know that. You’d say you are now, because you believe and have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. But what if someone comes to your door in two weeks, and says it never existed? If the “legal document” doesn’t exist, no matter what you believe? Or if after you die and are standing before God, God could say that your beliefs weren’t valid — after all, if any of the de-converts had died while still fully-fledged Christians, they would’ve been “known” they’d go to heaven, because of what the Bible said.

    I was referring to salvation as the Bible presents it. TA and you are referring to the differences that men have with each other.

    I realize that you are referring to how the Bible presents it. Again, though, Protestants, Catholics, Mormons — they would all say that they are dealing with salvation as how the Bible presents it. The Mormons might say their book clarifies it, but they would still say it’s biblically-based. The differences that men have with each other comes from their interpretation of salvation as presented in the Bible. Every group listed above would say that they are dealing with salvation as how the Bible presents it. If you say that all one needs to do is basically accept Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior to be considered Christian, okay. But there are others who would say that one must also believe in a literal resurrection, as salvation is dependent upon that. Or that Jesus died for one’s sins, as salvation is dependent upon that. Or that there is a Trinity, or an actual Adam/Eve. You may feel that all of that, or portions of that, are covered under the “Lord and Savior” aspect. But others will feel that different portions are covered, and all would say that they are Biblically-based. We may want to end the conversation here, as I think we’ll just be going in circles. You say TA wasn’t on topic, I say he was.

    Sometimes all you have to do to change the meaning of a whole sentence is to change the meaning of one word. So the hearer is always reacting to what he thinks you said.

    We may be talking at cross-purposes here, but my point with this was that if I specifically say that I don’t hate God, describe that my definition of hate is the same as the apologists and the apologist still insists that I hate God and thus uses that insistence to interpret everything I say, has the apologist listened to me? I would say no, because no matter what I say, no matter of my words hold the same meaning, the apologist isn’t attempting to step into my shoes. There is a difference between interpreting words and still trying to understand the other person, and then being absolutely determined that you already know what the person means, even before speaking to the person – such as everyone outside of a certain belief structure hates God. It doesn’t matter what I say or don’t say. The apologist is not trying to interpret my meaning, he already knows my meaning.

    You didn’t specify the pride of the woman, you only said it has nothing to do with pride.
    It has everything to do with pride. Not the pride of the victim but the pride of the instigator.

    This may be a result of misinterpretation (ironic, given the preceding paragraph), but my impression when this began is that you were saying someone’s feelings get hurt because of that person’s pride.

    The store didn’t belong to the Mafia and the Mafia had no right to demand anything. Everything in the universe belongs to God, so He has the right to demand anything or everything.

    But how does this resolve my point that it can’t be considered free will if there’s a threat/punishment at the end of one of the choices? Free will is like picking between an apple or an orange. If you pick the apple, you get lots of money. If you pick the orange, the bank takes your home. You are no longer “free” to really choose between the two, because you can’t just evaluate based on the choices alone, but on factors affecting the choices.

    If it would help, say the Mafia did own the store. They create the designs for it, they’re the ones that produced the wood, and they were able to aquire the title of ownership to the store. They go see the person in the store, and say, “This store is mine. Everything in it is mine. You can either do what I want, which is make sure I still see portions of profit, which makes sense, as it’s all mine. If you fail in any one of these areas, even for a second, you will be burned alive. But you’re free to choose.”

    Is that man really free to choose? (What we’ve also got here is the Mafia saying that “might makes right.” As in, the Mafia is behaving correctly because they’re more powerful. And simply because someone makes another person doesn’t mean the first person has the right to demand anything. I could create a fully conscious robot that has desires of its own, or a mind of its own. It could feel pain. It’s like us in every sense of the word, and has a “soul.” If I demand that the robot serve me, simply because I created it, wouldn’t I behaving immorally? If I gave the robot the choice to be with me or want to be elsewhere, and then sent the robot to a place of eternal torment because the robot choose to be elsewhere, I don’t think anyone would consider me moral. Now, it could be said that the analogy falls apart because I don’t have the other characteristics of God. Okay. But then we’ve got two standards of morality going here, rather than one set standard that applies to everything. And even if we say that God is the maker of those standards, shouldn’t God follow the very standards God says are good?)

  • 27. astudent  |  September 9, 2007 at 11:29 am

    StaCeY,

    It was an analogy. The legal document that I referred to is the Bible. No I am not a student of the law, but I am a student of the Bible. Are you?

    “It rather depends on who your god is.”
    Yes, that is true, God or god.

    “Jesus told the religious leaders of His day…the teachers of the “law”….that they did not know His Father. That theirs was the father of lies.”

    Yes, that is also true, but they were not condemned for teaching the law. Matthew 23:2-33 explains what the teachers of the law were doing.

    “We were clearly told not to judge others…but to love them.”

    If you mean me, I am not judging anyone. The judge is the one in a court of law that passes sentence. I am on the jury. I don’t condemn anyone, but I do discern right from wrong.

    “Christianity has this insidious way of making it’s “members” unable to realte to others in joyous love. It sucks. I remember… I was there.”

    Could the problem have been you?

    “I’m glad I am free once again to enjoy others….without judgment.”

    Did you judge me?

    “Love is the only law I live by.”

    Unless you are talking to a “TRUE follower of Christ”. Then you don’t sound very loving.

  • 28. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 2:37 am

    astudent…

    I’m sorry if my post came across so harsh.

    Really I don’t want jury members in my life.
    I just want friends.

    When I left “church” …
    only ONE person of hundreds even spoke openly with me about it… and his only goal was to get me to come back. He did not really hear a single word I said… as he was listening through his “salvation filter”.

    People… I was once friends? with…
    and my daughter… we lost all of our relationships.
    To this day … the awkward silences are deafening…
    I am friendly and outgoing… and yet we are as unapproachable as lepers it would seem (at least to some).

    There are some who don’t judge us from the jury box…
    but even they have NO desire to know WHAT HAPPENED to us. If we leave the whole topic on the side lines… then a bit of light sociability is fine. These people though are the ones who were “less religious”… with less “vested” in it all.

    In MY EXPERIENCE… devoutly religious people cannot be friends to non-religious people. Not really. The divide is too great. Aparently the heaven-hell divide … the “saved”–“unsaved” divide… makes us unchurchers… us apostate… little more than a “prayer cause”. And those of us who have LEFT! Well we are hard to deal with… and need ALL THE MORE to be “compartmentalized”.

    It is ridiculous… and insulting.

    Much of what I said in my post above…
    was in fact meant to be a jab at this religious inability
    to simply love other people without filing them in the mental rolodex as “saved” “unsaved” “once saved” “never saved””righteous” “validated” or “headed for hell”.

    Really I was not judging YOU.
    I do not know you at all.
    Just a few comments you typed…
    that I read when I was probably too tired.

    judges, juries, lawyers…
    mock trials…

    We live in WONDER land you know….

    the card castles are falling….
    and I am getting sleepy….

    All I meant was that those following in the Spirit of Christ’s call to love others…
    don’t go around invalidating the REAL life experiences of others….
    over mere technicalities of some law or another.
    (which is always subject to juror interpretation anyway)

    This was what I THOUGHT I saw.
    If I was wrong… I apologize.

    If my response was unloving…
    I apologize as well.

    Stacey.

  • 29. astudent  |  September 10, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Stacy,

    You don’t have to apologies to me. I’m a crusty old so and so. (Christians aren’t supposed to use those words, you know) But thanks for thinking you had to. It shows the true feelings in your heart.

    “People… I was once friends? with…and my daughter… we lost all of our relationships.
    To this day … the awkward silences are deafening…”
    OK, while I try to understand your trials after leaving the Church, try to understand how a Christian is thinking about you. I don’t think any Christian hates you for leaving. Just the opposite is true. We view you as making a terrible mistake. The worst mistake you could possibly make. As we understand the Bible you are condemning yourself, and committing your soul to eternal torment.
    Of course there are awkward silences. The more the other person loves you the more awkward it is to speak to you or even be around you. It is not hate that creates the difficulties, but love that is responsible. Because you no longer believe in God, you no longer believe in Hell so it’s no big deal to you. But believe me when I say it is a big deal to any true Christian.
    I don’t know you the same as you don’t know me, but even I find it difficult to contemplate your decision. If I were your son I would be absolutely devastated.

    “In MY EXPERIENCE… devoutly religious people cannot be friends to non-religious people. Not really. The divide is too great.”
    Well, I have many friends that are non-religious and I would like to see them all Christian, but it is different when the person is very close and has studied God’s Word. If you think it is hard on you, how hard do you think it is on your daughter?

    “It is ridiculous… and insulting.”
    I am sorry you feel that way. From my point of view it is not ridiculous; it’s the only way your friends and family have to protect their own feelings. Sometimes when given the choice of protecting their own feelings and expressing them, people opt to protect.
    I think it seems insulting to you because you have not realized why we act as we do. Or perhaps you just have not thought to deeply about it.

  • 30. karen  |  September 10, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    The more the other person loves you the more awkward it is to speak to you or even be around you. It is not hate that creates the difficulties, but love that is responsible. Because you no longer believe in God, you no longer believe in Hell so it’s no big deal to you. But believe me when I say it is a big deal to any true Christian.

    Any “true” Christian? That sounds like a rather narrow category …

    Seriously, do you believe god is sovereign and has a plan for every life? If so, why have you and so many other Christians not learned to “let go and let god”?

    If someone journeys away from god, is that path not between them and the lord? It’s no one else’s concern, really, if the holy spirit is true and god is real.

    So why all the angst and awkwardness and judgment about “the worst mistake” and the devastation? All I can conclude is that evangelicalism has completely destroyed any sense of “the peace of Christ” that is supposed to exist. Either that, or “true Christians” don’t really believe all that stuff about peace and letting god be god. They think they have to do his job for him!

    I don’t know you the same as you don’t know me, but even I find it difficult to contemplate your decision.

    I’m sure it is difficult, so why not just say so and leave it at that? “I don’t understand your decision, but I respect your right to make it and I know god’s in charge so he’ll figure all this out in the long run.” If I heard JUST ONE evangelical say something like that, my respect level would go way up.

    The angst we were all put through over this b.s. is unbelievable. Grrrrr ….

  • 31. astudent  |  September 10, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Karen,
    “Any “true” Christian? That sounds like a rather narrow category …”
    It is a rather narrow category. Christians are a small percentage of the world.

    “Seriously, do you believe god is sovereign and has a plan for every life? If so, why have you and so many other Christians not learned to “let go and let god”?”
    Yes, I do believe God (That is Who you meant: Isn’t it?) is sovereign and has a plan for every life. It might surprise you that I don’t think anyone, but Jesus has ever fulfilled that plan.
    God requires Christians to warn others. We are as the watch man in Ezekiel and I believe we will be held accountable also. “Let go and let God” is not in the Bible.

    “If someone journeys away from god, is that path not between them and the lord? It’s no one else’s concern, really, if the holy spirit is true and god is real.”
    I have no one by the collar. You’re free to accept God or reject Him, but just to say it is no concern of mine doesn’t relieve me of my concern.

    “They think they have to do his job for him!”
    I try very hard to let the Bible lead me and it says (Jude 1:22-23 NIV) Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear
    I always try to be truthful and the truth is it would be much easer just to shut up, but the Bible said to do this. I am also learning from it and I like to hear others ideas; even if I don’t agree with them.

    “I don’t understand your decision, but I respect your right to make it and I know god’s in charge so he’ll figure all this out in the long run”
    I don’t understand your decision, but I respect your right to make it and I know God is in charge and that He has already figured it out.

    “The angst we were all put through over this b.s. is unbelievable.”
    Karen, if you really believed there is no God, or that He is different than the God of the Bible, how could what I say cause any anxiety, apprehension, or depression?

  • 32. StaCeY  |  September 10, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    aStudent…

    It is a dangerous thing to live so assured of one’s own current interpretations of what is and isn’t so.
    (there are plenty of “true” christians who give compelling “prooftexts” regarding the erronious “translations” of “hell”… as in unending torture in hell fire.)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    you said….
    “Because you no longer believe in God, you no longer believe in Hell so it’s no big deal to you. But believe me when I say it is a big deal to any true Christian”.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    But you see, I not only “believe” in God….
    I KNOW Him… I LOVE Him…. He IS my very LIFE EXPERIENCE.

    I breathe Him in… I breathe Him out…
    I live IN HIM… and He in me.

    Funny how I am not a “true” christian…
    just because I don’t attend “church”.
    Just because I SEE for myself that LOVE
    has nothing to do with “fear of eternal damnation”.
    Just because I do not follow any “man’s” interpretations of who God is… just because I live in a “state” of faith… instead of a “belief” in doctrines? Just because I live in spontanious freedom… as the “wind” blows….instead of weekly rituals?!

    do “real” christian’s have so little faith that (they)/we can ACTUALLY KNOW GOD for ourselves?

    Do you DARE to say I am any less a follower of Christ Jesus than you… because I don’t recite the same (man written) creed? That is quite a “judgement” to levy….

    You are right anyway that it really is not insulting…
    the way we are shuffled around uncomfortably.
    It is nothing personal. It is just a symptom of a “religious system” that destroys people’s ability to live relaxed lives… in relaxed friendship with one another.

    and it is rather a shame.

    Still I say it IS utterly ridiculous…
    that people cannot even engague in an open conversation with me… because they are AFRAID for me…. that I will not “make it to heaven ” one day….
    when IN FACT I live in the Kingdom of God ON EARTH …
    RIGHT NOW. The Kingdom of God NOW… within… in the Midst of Me.

    I can’t help but wonder?
    What on heaven and earth are “true” christians waiting for?

    In the Love of Y’shua,
    your sister in eternity,
    Stacey

  • 33. karen  |  September 11, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    astudent:
    I don’t understand your decision, but I respect your right to make it and I know God is in charge and that He has already figured it out.

    So, I repeat: If he’s figured it out already, why are your panties in such a bunch over it? Seriously!? It seems like you feel the need to take it upon yourself to judge everyone else (even Stacey, who believes in god but apparently is not a “true” Christian) and feel uncomfortable about them and proselytize them, and dread their fate, and etc. etc. Ever considered that maybe – just maybe – god’s bigger than that? That maybe he really, really doesn’t need you to fight all his battles for him?

    I would think a realization like that might make a major improvement in your happiness and outlook on life. It would allow you to just chill out a little bit and get along with other folks a whole lot better.

    “The angst we were all put through over this b.s. is unbelievable.”
    Karen, if you really believed there is no God, or that He is different than the God of the Bible, how could what I say cause any anxiety, apprehension, or depression?

    I was speaking of the angst I felt, myself, as a conservative evangelical for 30 years, astudent. Perhaps this is why I react so strongly to your position – I shared it for most of my life, and I realize now what a miserable burden it was, and how much it impeded my having free, happy, friendly relationships with others. My whole social life had to be organized into “saved” and “unsaved” categories, and I found it very difficult to have friendships with those in the “unsaved” pile because I constantly felt guilty about my not witnessing enough to them, and I felt pity for their eternal damnation.

    Getting over that b.s. has been the most freeing, joyful realization of my life. You ought to try that on, for just a second, and see how it feels. Truly wonderful.

  • 34. astudent  |  September 12, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    All You,
    OK, I’m leaving. I wouldn’t have said a thing but HeIsSailing asked how a Christian felt about death.
    Stacey has a god that she has made up in her own mind. I can’t converse with her about the God of the Bible if she is thinking about some other god. It is just too confusing.
    Karen, I have not judged anyone, and I couldn’t be happier. If what I write bothers you don’t read it. I don’t categorize my friends as saved and unsaved; friends are friends. But if they will listen I try to tell them about the God of the Bible and if they will not then they will not. My obligation is complete and I can not make anyone believe, so it doesn’t affect my happiness at all. If you were miserable for 30 years you should have left the Church a long time before you did. God doesn’t want anybody in the Church that doesn’t believe and if you don’t care enough to tell someone about Hell and how to avoid it then you don’t really believe. The same could be said if it is too much trouble to tell someone.
    The Bible is true and if it bothers you to hear it you might want to ask yourself why. If I said Star Trek was real would it bother you? “O” don’t brother to answer. I’m not even here.

  • 35. cadawg  |  October 22, 2007 at 2:24 am

    I am an evangelical Christian, Baptist to be more exact. I do not fear death nor do I give much thought to the process of death. I trust God to bring me through whatever the death process will be for me or for my loved ones. The Bible does actually say much about death, suffering and about the afterlife. Pain and tragedy are not glossed over. I have faced the possibility of death for one of my children who was once diagnosed as having a terminal illness. That diagnosis turned out to be wrong. Still, facing that possibility only increased my faith in God.

    For those who say that they lived in fear while “being Christian”, I can only say that they should examine a wider segment of Christianity than what they left. I would suggest that anyone interested in a fairly comprehensive view of the afterlife read the book entitled Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It is one person’s view and understanding, and I agree with much of it.

    I appreciate your openness to hearing views different from your own. It seems that some of your co-contributors and some who have left comments took the opportunity to argue and attack points which was clearly not your intention.

  • 36. Jose Mari Paz  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Death for me is scary but the secondary death is

  • 37. jose  |  June 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

    i just want to that every christian do not fear death. god did not gave us the spirit of fear but power and peace. we don’t have to fear because Jesus have conquered death. and no one aan take away us from God. sin can’t, devils can’t, angels can’t. we do’t have to argue about anything. it’s just us christians, we don’t have to fear anything but only to the Lord.

  • 38. jose  |  June 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

    i mean must not fear death.

  • 39. jose  |  June 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

    we don’t have to argue.

  • 40. cag  |  June 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    jose, the Vikings had nothing to fear except Odin and friends. The Romans had nothing to fear except Jupiter and friends. The Greeks had their gods, the Egyptians, the Americas, the Pacific Islanders, the Australian natives, India, the Middle East, Africa, China. Japan all with their gods. These people were just as sure of the existence of their gods as you are about yours. Thousands of gods, all discredited, including yours. The gods of the Romans inspired their believers to kill non believers. The god of christians inspired their believers to kill non believers.

    Your god is no different from all the others, just another imaginary deity invented to scare the masses into obeying and paying a bunch of scam artists who claim having a direct channel to their gods.

    we don’t have to argue.

    As long as you spread the lie that there is a god, we will have issues. As long as you promote fiction as truth we will have issues.

    Your god does not exist, heaven, hell, angels, devils and ghosts do not exist. Stop believing in fairy tales, demand evidence for all religious claims. You will find that there is no evidence, only empty words.

  • 41. jose  |  June 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    maybe you are right. bu the thgng is you know whatwe do to the non believers? we don’t kill them… we make them believe that christ died for us.. it is true christ died for us
    and yes there will be a problem id i tell this… you know in our body,there are two kings. first is god, the other one is yourself. if you just let god control your life, im sure that you will believe that god is real.
    i know that there is reason that you could not believe that there is a god. an event in your experience that persuaded you not to believe.
    i am sure that god is real. because i felt his presence, i just want to say wow! because he change me… and you know what, everytime i talk to him, i call him father. it’s not lie… it’s up to you if you’ll believe… i will pray for you

  • 42. jose  |  June 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

    there will be a problem if i tell this… sorry for the wrong writtings

  • 43. cag  |  June 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Jose, every religion believes it has the truth. The Hindus believe in an elephant headed god. Christians consider this as mistaken belief. The Hindu god Ganesh is as real as your imaginary jesus, that is, not at all. Belief in god has no basis in reality, no evidence has ever been found. The bible is a committee designed work of fiction, making claims that the earth was formed before the sun and all of the universe, utterly unbelievable. Christians claim that god exists because it says so in the bible, then they claim that the bible is true because it is the word of god. Can you see the error in such a claim? Look up “begging the question” and “circular reasoning” for further understanding.

    The reason I cannot believe in your god is because there are no gods. Humans have created thousands of gods, none of which are real.

    The most useless activity a human can partake of is praying. It has no effect other than to make the person praying more deluded, believing that they are doing something positive. Don’t pray, think.

    Any writings that make positive claims about any god are wrong “writtings”.

  • 44. jose  |  June 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

    i think the reason why you didn’t believe Him is that because you never experience Him in your life.

  • 45. ubi dubium  |  June 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Jose,
    You haven’t either. You have feelings happening inside your brain that you are confusing with some kind of “divine presence”. Feeling like you are talking to a god is not the same thing as there actually being a god. Human brains are fallible, so that’s why we want more convincing evidence than “I experience a god in my head”.

  • 46. cag  |  June 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Jose, you would think that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being would know what it would take to convince me, and care enough to convince me. Your invisible friend obviously either doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. By the definition of being a loving being, the only conclusion has to be that your god does not exist. Any other conclusion would conflict with its attributes. Loving /= ebola. Loving /= tsunamis. Loving /= malaria. Loving /= god.

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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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