d-C Blog: Heartbreaking, sad, frustrating, but thought-provoking

November 19, 2007 at 12:22 am 48 comments

Quotation Mark 10Since March, we’ve had almost 6,000 comments directly on this blog. However, I do also enjoy reading comments in blogsphere about our humble blog. Here are a few for your reading pleasure.

Dean at Ridin’ With The King wrote:

one of the blogs i keep up with in my bloglines is called de-conversion and is authored by a number of people who have left the Christian faith, or are in the process of doing so. almost every one of them at one time or another has made a comment that goes something like this… “it was such a relief when i finally stopped believing, because then i could let go of the concept that there is a hell and there is a God that sends unbelievers there. i stopped believing that, and it therefore does not exist.” i have great compassion for many of these folks because when you read what they have gone through during this de-conversion process, it’s really rather heart-breaking in a lot of ways, and i pray that they would turn back to the faith. but i’m absolutely dumbfounded at this attitude they have (some of these folks have seminary degrees or were otherwise pillars of their church) that just because they no longer believe in these things, they no do not exist. i hate to break the news, but God exists, he always has and He always will. He is eternal. He is Alpha and Omega. beginning and end. (i thought that was worth repeating -) )

katiehobbie wrote:

i just found a blog called “de-conversion“. it made me really sad. reading it really made me think about the power of hypocrisy and about the state of His Church. it hurt my heart to think about how saddened the Lord must be over these people’s hearts.

missfossy wrote:

This post about ‘de-cons’ of course frustrated me to no end. I myself left comments which received rebuttle. I encourage other’s to read this, if not to add your own thoughts to the growing comment thread, but so we can see how fragile faith can be, reminding us that we are mere humans, and that God alone can give us strength. As a once-bible-college-student, I still have to face the fact that no doctrine, no book, and no church service will ever ensure my stability in my faith. Only I can do that, through God.

On a more positive note, SilverTiger wrote:

The first [blog] is called De-conversion and describes itself as “resources for skeptical, de-converting or former christians”. Before you say “Boring!” and rush off to read “Fashion Tips for Trendy Teens” let me explain that this is a multi-authored blog whose contributors cover a fairly wide spectrum of belief, lack of belief and bewilderment, and who post thought-provoking articles that attract a large number of thoughtful and argumentative comments. If you are religious, a-religious or anti-religious, you might just find something here that will stimulate, interest or provoke you into thinking about what you believe and why.

- The de-Convert

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

Worthy of Damnation – A Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth Affirmation of faith and thanks giving

48 Comments Add your own

  • 1. wayne  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:18 am

    well then, there ya go!

    This blog should be read by Christians as well as anyone.

    Many posts are well thought out and are thought provoking.

    But you can’t get away from the Bible and how it acurately describes Gods invitation for a personal relationship with Him and our own agenendas that ultimately drive us away from God.

    I’m not sure De-Con is a religion though.

    wayne

  • 2. Mangimosbi  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Having stumbled upon this blog has really sharpened my interest in Christian apologetics. I’m reading Chesterton’s Orthodoxy at the moment.

    Thanks guys.

  • 3. Grace  |  November 19, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Hum…it is the mindset behind just these sorts of comments that make ME feel sad.

    I have found that the only argument Christians have for ANYTHING is “The Bible Says…”

    As an ex-Christian who taught the Bible for many years, and was in ministry, I have only one thing to say to this: The Bible is NOT inerrant! That is the WHOLE point. The errancy of the Bible is the last sacred cow of our “Christianized” generation. I wonder how many of these people have actually gone out there to look for additional information about how the Bible came to be…

    Or how about studying where “Jesus” came from? Have they even ventured to look to see that long before 2000 years ago, there were numerous myths that contained the same sort of Savior/Shepherd/Son of God/Born of a Virgin God?

    I have yet to read one convincing commentary on THAT subject…it always reverts to “The Bible Says”.

    It is also interesting to note that not one of the can come up with any other ‘argument’ for de-conversion. They think we’re all a bunch of weak, sad, people that got our spiritual feelings hurt – so we took our toys and went home.

    Give me one (Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist, Deist…fill in the blank) who exemplifies real love over the blinded hypocrisy of so many “Christians” any day. I should say this: G.W. Bush claims to be a Christian. Need I say more?

    Losing my religion was and still is one of the most painful and yet liberating experiences of my life, and I am 50 years old. I was raised in church. My family are Christians. Most of my friends are Christians.

    I wish these people would have the courage to walk in my shoes, just for a day.

  • 4. Rebecca  |  November 19, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Amen Grace!

  • 5. amy  |  November 19, 2007 at 10:15 am

    dean wrote:

    “but i’m absolutely dumbfounded at this attitude they have (some of these folks have seminary degrees or were otherwise pillars of their church) that just because they no longer believe in these things, they no do not exist. i hate to break the news, but God exists, he always has and He always will. He is eternal. He is Alpha and Omega. beginning and end.”

    to which i say, i’m absolutely dumbfounded at dean’s attitude that because he himself believes that god exists, that it means god exists in some factual, demonstrable way.

    minotaurs exist. they exist in my mind and in the minds of many others. otherwise we couldn’t write stories about them or paint pictures of them or have deep intellectual conversations about them.

    when humanity disappears, the idea “minotaurs” will disappear, and so will the idea of “god.” unless cockroaches believe in them…they seem able to outlive every disaster.

  • 6. dean  |  November 19, 2007 at 10:52 am

    grace, i’m just as sad about the fact that in a lot of cases it is the actions (or inactions) of some Christians and churches that have led to many de-conversions. so for you to say: “They think we’re all a bunch of weak, sad, people that got our spiritual feelings hurt – so we took our toys and went home” is a gross generalization of why i believe people de-convert. there are no doubt almost as many reasons for deconverting as there are de-converts. btw, what prompted the “sad” comment on my blog was reading some of the posts here where the authors talked about the pain and anguish they experienced in leaving the faith.

    i have no problems with standing on “the Bible says so” and have no problems with your problem with it. i take the things of God on faith and that seems to trouble you and that’s ok. even on the off-chance that i’m wrong, i’ll have lost nothing at the end of my life on earth. i’m more that ecstatic about the choice i’ve made to follow Jesus.

    amy, i guess we can be dumbfounded together then :-) i cannot convince anyone here or anywhere else of the voracity of the claims of the Bible. that is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. it’s your choice to accept or reject that.

  • 7. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Mangimosbi says:

    I’m reading Chesterton’s Orthodoxy at the moment.

    I tried reading that years ago, but I could not finish it. But I think now I understand more of the European cultural background that Chesterton was writing in, and I may give that book another try. What do you think of it so far?

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    dean says:

    i’m just as sad about the fact that in a lot of cases it is the actions (or inactions) of some Christians and churches that have led to many de-conversions

    dean, I have said this before on this blogsite, but now that you brought it up I want to ask your opinion on something.

    In my experience, it is not the actions or inactions of the church that made me de-convert. On the other hand, when I was having serious doubts about Christianity, the church was ill equipped to handle my concerns. Now that I have left Christianity all together, my wife continues in her faith. We have worked out a solution to keep our marraige strong despite our different beliefs, but we are lucky ones. I have read many stories where one leaves Christianity, and drags a very confused spouse and family with them for the ride. It can lead to divorce, but when it does not, it often leads to a very strained marraige at the very least.

    This is the area that I think Christian churches are sorely lacking in. They have counceling programs of all shapes and sizes, but nothing that will face the reality that people do leave the faith leaving the believing spouse with zero resources to help them cope. I think Christian churches have to face this reality, and offer support or counceling programs or something. Right now, all they can do is either try to re-convert or ostracize the unbeliver, or remotely pray for the unbeliever (which they call a ‘backslider’), none of which does anything for the believing and confused spouse and family.

    The did nothing to make me leave Christianity, but their weakness is that they can’t deal with the fact that I have left. What is your opinion?

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Dean says:

    “it was such a relief when i finally stopped believing, because then i could let go of the concept that there is a hell and there is a God that sends unbelievers there. i stopped believing that, and it therefore does not exist.”

    Dean, I have been the one writing the recent series on Hell, which I view as a poisonous belief. I am assuming what you wrote here is a synopsis of those articles. This is absolutely mischaracterizing them. Let me set you straight on what I am trying to say.

    it was such a relief when i finally stopped believing, because then i could let go of the concept that there is a hell and there is a God that sends unbelievers there.

    You got it backwards. I stopped believing in hell long before I stopped believing in Christianity. There are many, many Christians who do not beleive in Hell, because they cannot reconcile it with their picture of a gracious God. There are Christians who are univeralists and other who are annihilists. My wife is also a Christian, and I thankfully convinced her that the belief in Hell is not necessary to be a Christian.

    The concept of Hell is prevelant mostly in the books of Matthew and Revelation, both early Jewish/Christian works written during a time of war. The gentile nations represented the Roman oppressors, who from roughly 65-135 AD were roughly analogous to Nazis during the holocaust of WWII. I am sure they wanted revenge on their oppressors, who killed and tortured the Jewish state. The concept of Hell is, I think, an expression of that potential for revenge that exists in each of us if we are abused enough.

    The bottom line is, I think the belief in Hell is wholly unnecessary to be a good Christian. It is the result of a rude age that we just don’t need anymore. Unlike what you may think, I have nothing against my old Christian faith, I am not bitter and hold no grudges against it. I don’t want to eradicate the Christian religion, nor do I hate it. It is the belief in Hell in all our mono-theistic traditions/relgions that I find vile, and has caused more damage to our phyches than anything else I can think of. It is a poison that has got to go.

    “i stopped believing that, and it therefore does not exist.”

    I never once said that. You are making a characature of me that I really don’t appreciate.

  • 10. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Grace says:

    Losing my religion was and still is one of the most painful and yet liberating experiences of my life

    Painful, yet liberating. Boy! That about sums it up, doesn’t it? I left Christianity at 42 years of age, and also grew up in it. Leaving that many years of belief is very difficult and painful – but I feel like the whole world has opened up to me in the process!

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Dean:

    i’m absolutely dumbfounded at this attitude they have (some of these folks have seminary degrees or were otherwise pillars of their church) that just because they no longer believe in these things, they no do not exist.

    Did you read so little as to actually think that was the position of anyone here? Or were you simply trying to oversimplify?

    In either case, that’s a severe misrepresentation of what has been said. I don’t suppose you’d consider taking the time to read up a bit more, gain a better understanding, and then write an addendum on your blog?

    i hate to break the news, but God exists,

    You’ve seen Him?; or an angel?; or had some definitive manifestation of His power along the lines of a person born blind suddenly regaining his sight?

    If not, then your assertion is merely a subjective one. Not a fact, but an opinion.

    BTW, use capitalization when you write. Not doing so makes it harder to read your posts, and conveys the impression that you are lazy and sloppy.

  • 12. amy  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    dean wrote: amy, i guess we can be dumbfounded together then

    good, let’s! it’s much more fun to be dumbfounded together than dumbfounded separately…

    you also wrote: it’s your choice to accept or reject that.

    hmmm. i don’t agree with that. i can’t “choose” to believe in god (although i do, i’m actually not an atheist), it is something i just believe. i always have. could i be wrong? absolutely. but that’s okay.

    i (and from what i have read here, many others) at some point wanted to, and desperately tried to, believe in the christian religion. i read apologetics books. i went to bible study and asked questions. i went to church. i read the bible. i prayed. in spite of years of trying, i finally realized that i cannot “choose” to believe. it is simply too far fetched for me. it is like trying to make myself believe that there are real minotaurs roaming the earth (yes, again with the minotaurs — i could substitute the more popular invisible pink unicorn, but i like to use more “realistic” mythical creatures, and everyone knows minotaurs are way more realistic than unicorns, especially invisible, pink ones, since everyone knows unicorns are white). ain’t gonna happen.

    i don’t like it when christians play “blame the victim” (not the best phrase, as i don’t see myself as a victim, but hopefully you get what i mean in this context), and say that unbelievers “choose” not to believe, usually out of pride or something. i’m tired of reading that my lack of faith is some sort of fault, some sort of failure on my part.

    i don’t choose not to believe in christianity. i’ve tried to believe. i wanted to believe. i’ve begged the christian god for faith. so either the christian god doesn’t see fit to answer my prayers, or the christian god doesn’t answer prayers, or the christian god is not an accurate representation of god. or god answers prayers, just not mine, or god seems to think it would be better that i not believe in christianity, or (insert your theory here). at the end of the day, the result is the same. the god of christianity for me has become the faith nazi — “no faith for you!”

    fine…just give me the lobster bisque.

  • 13. amy  |  November 19, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    LeoPardus,

    I saw your post to dean re: capitalization. I do that, too, and it is due to laziness (at least on my part, can’t speak for dean). I can type much faster without hitting the shift key. I always figured punctuation would make it clear when a new sentence began. Now that I know it’s difficult to read that way, I will mend my ways. Thanks for the heads-up!

    I always enjoy reading your posts. Very thoughtful stuff.

  • 14. karen  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    fine…just give me the lobster bisque.

    LOL, Amy! :-)

    i don’t like it when christians play “blame the victim” (not the best phrase, as i don’t see myself as a victim, but hopefully you get what i mean in this context), and say that unbelievers “choose” not to believe, usually out of pride or something. i’m tired of reading that my lack of faith is some sort of fault, some sort of failure on my part.

    My ex-fundy support group recently listed some “reasons” Christians offer to explain why we no longer believe. Here are a few:

    You are rebelling against God
    You have rejected God
    You are turning your back on God
    You are godless and `angry at life’
    You are not `open’
    You don’t want to believe in God
    You have another God, i.e. Science
    You want to be God and be in charge (Rick Warren)
    There is a battle going on for your soul and you are losing
    You have `decided’ there is no God
    You are running from God
    You’re mad at god
    You were in the wrong denomination/sect/religion
    You’re running away because you were hurt
    You need to get your eyes off of humans and back onto Jesus
    You were a “false convert”
    You’re looking for reasons to reject god so you can be sexually promiscuous (Dinesh D’Souza recently said this, honest!)

    My feeling is that all these reasons come up because they are easier for the still-Christian to understand and allows them to sweep the deconversion “problem” under the rug. The idea that a real, dedicated, lifelong Christian can actually deconvert – for reasonable, logical, sound reasons – is deeply threatening. After all, if we can do it, then theoretically so can THEY, at some point. That’s scary for a believer and hits too close to home.

    If they can come up with some reason why the deconvert, or his particular church or teachers or pastor, is at fault, then it’s easier to think, “Oh, that could never happen to me!”

    I’m glad that this blog is getting noticed in the larger blogosphere, even if the comments are mostly of the “oh, poor lost sinners” variety. Just getting the news out that there are people who leave the faith is a positive thing!

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Thus saith Karen:

    The idea that a real, dedicated, lifelong Christian can actually deconvert – for reasonable, logical, sound reasons – is deeply threatening.

    Your support groups missed a common one that I hear often – we had a misunderstanding of Scripture, or believed unsound doctine.

    Whatever the case is though, for all the reasons that Christians think we have de-converted, for all the claims that we were never Christians, for all the books being written, and all the debates being argued, do you know that not one, and I mean not *one* Christian has just simply asked me this one simple question: “why do you no longer believe?”

    My old Christian buddies have lots of theories on why I left, and I have heard a few, but not one of them has simply asked me in person for my reasons. Not one Christian online has asked me, which I really don’t expect them to, yet I have been accused by these same people that have never met me that I was never a Christian in the first place. Not even my own *wife* has asked me why I no longer believe, but in her defense I probably vented so much of my reasoning to her that she probably never had the chance to ask :-)

    To all the Christians out there who think they know why we left the faith, if you really want to know for sure, the solution is simple. Get your nose out of the Bible, just ask us. If you can’t take us at face value, is it because you feel that your own faith is may be threatened with the fact that we may have left for truly valid and sound reasoning?

  • 16. thechaplain  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Karen – that’s quite an impressive list. I think your analysis is right-on: Christians are uncomfortable with the thought that de-converts usually de-convert for rational, unselfish and even ethical reasons. If you, HIS, The de-Convert and many others here could do it for sound reasons, then the Christian is placed in the awkward position of either examining his or her own beliefs, or just denying the truth of our de-conversion accounts and putting our waywardness down to sin, selfishness, rebellion, etc.

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Karen:

    Want a few more?

    You didn’t pray enough/regularly.
    You didn’t read/study your Bible enough/properly.
    You harbored sin in your heart. (And didn’t repent of it.)
    You don’t understand love.
    You didn’t do what Scripture said. (Boy, this one is practically a blank check.)
    You entertained evil/godless/doubting/etc thoughts instead of “taking them captive”.

    And if you were Catholic or Orthodox, you can add:
    You didn’t go to confession.
    You didn’t partake the Eucharist.
    You didn’t listen to your priest.
    You didn’t accept the Church’s authority.

  • 18. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    LeoPardus:

    You harbored sin in your heart. (And didn’t repent of it.)

    Ah yes, that one is known as secret sin in the trade. That is the position the assistant pastor of my old church holds toward me. His wife occassionally calls my wife and asks if I am ok. My wife is ammused by this. She told me that they must think I am down at the brothel every night since I left Jesus.

  • 19. LeoPardus  |  November 19, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    HIS:

    they must think I am down at the brothel every night since I left Jesus.

    I know that’s not true. I’ve been there every night and haven’t seen you for 2-3 days. :D

  • 20. Grace  |  November 19, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    How about being called part of the “Apostasy” – the Great “Falling Away” of 2 Thessalonians?

  • 21. HeIsSailing  |  November 19, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Grace:

    How about being called part of the “Apostasy” – the Great “Falling Away” of 2 Thessalonians?

    Oh Yes!! I *have* been called a fulfillment of Scripture! What an honor!

  • 22. karen  |  November 19, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    not *one* Christian has just simply asked me this one simple question: “why do you no longer believe?”

    I have been asked, but my answer has very rarely been taken at face value. Usually, my answer is dismissed pretty quickly and the questioner comes to a different conclusion, such as one of those already mentioned on our growing list.

    A couple of times, fundamentalists online have put me through something akin to a “grilling” about my faith, i.e. when I accepted Christ, what kinds of churches I attended, whether I was baptized, whether I received the holy spirit and on and on. There seems to be an attempt to pinpoint the precise instant where I “went astray.”

    I’ve gone along with a few of these things, as calmly and politely as possible, but it’s not much fun. ;-) After one particularly long session, a fundy concluded that I was actually saved and since “once saved, always saved” I still have my room reservation in heaven. Phew! ;-)

    they must think I am down at the brothel every night since I left Jesus.

    I know that’s not true. I’ve been there every night and haven’t seen you for 2-3 days. :D

    A-ha – so D’Souza was right all along! He’ll be very happy to hear it. ;-)

  • 23. Mike  |  November 20, 2007 at 1:13 am

    I have only been commenting here for a few months, but I have always enjoyed the conversations. You all know your stuff, and it always keeps me on my toes. I hope I do the same.

    I admit that I have watched the not-so-occasional fundie wander on this site, say something extraordinarily stupid, and then get their butt handed to them (at which point I usually laugh heartily). Thinking Ape destroyed someone once, and I forget which thread it was on, but I was over here cheering him on.

    I’m no sadist mind you, but when someone claims to speak for me as a Christian and then say some of the things I have seen written and heard youall describe, I think to myself, “Go get ‘em.”

    All that to say I enjoy this site:)

  • 24. Stephen P  |  November 20, 2007 at 3:53 am

    i cannot convince anyone here or anywhere else of the voracity of the claims of the Bible

    On the contrary, I don’t think you’ll have much difificulty convincing us of that! (Sorry folks, but that’s probably the best typo I’ve seen this year – I couldn’t let it pass.)

  • 25. marie  |  November 20, 2007 at 4:07 am

    i am proud to be a de-convert!

  • 26. Lulu  |  November 20, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Also proud to have de-converted. I have not gotten much flak, actually. I just left one Sunday and didn’t come back. I didn’t keep many ties – everyone recognized me, though, cause I sang with the guitar group that played at our Mass. It was awkward explaining to the other members of the group that I wouldn’t be coming back. In truth, I joined that group to rekindle my faith, since singing is a passion of mine and I took to heart St. Augustine’s adage, “When you sing, you pray twice.”

    I am proud of everyone here exploring their faith or lack thereof. Love each other and we’ll be okay.

    (I usually lurk – first time commenter)

  • 27. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 12:24 am

    stephen, nice job picking up on the typo… i was amused that that was the best you could do, given the gravity of the subject matter at hand.

    i haven’t skipped out on the convo, but have quite literally taken leo up on his invitation to read more, although i have read quite a bit since subscribing to the blog. i do find it rather interesting that leo has made the statement that i’ve misrepresented some statements made here, and then turns right around and misrepresents me as being lazy and/or sloppy, simply based on the fact that i choose not to capitalize (yes, for the sake of speed).

    HIS… actually, the statement i was referencing was made before you did your series, so it isn’t you that i was referring to, unless you also wrote the piece that i’m thinking of… i’ll eventually get to it i’m sure. and yes, i’ll be more than happy to re-address it at my blog if necessary. happy thanksgiving everyone…

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  November 22, 2007 at 12:38 am

    dean:

    Take a look at post 13 by Amy. Then take a look at your post 27. Amy says she’ll make the effort to capitalize now since she understands that it makes communication better. dean says he’s misrepresented. Gracious and thoughtful vs. defensive.

    Now let’s look at what I said: “Not doing so [capitalizing] makes it harder to read your posts, and conveys the impression that you are lazy and sloppy.”

    So did I represent you as lazy and/or sloppy? Read it again. …. No. I said it conveys that impression.

    Now that you tell me you do it just for speed (apparently without concern for clarity), I am willing to say you are lazy and sloppy. Not just in your typing, but also in your thinking and in your representation of what others say.

  • 29. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 1:15 am

    RE: #8
    HIS… i didn’t want to not address this before resuming my readings per leo’s suggestion.

    i completely agree with you that some churches are dropping the ball when it comes to reaching out to the believing spouses of de-converts. in my time as a church staffer, and just as a church member, i’ve come in contact with many Christians (for whatever reason it’s almost always females) who married non-believers (unequally yoked as the bible describes it), and it caused great heartache. i would imagine that many of these Christians that married outside the faith thought they would be able to convince their unbelieving spouse to become a Christian after they married. i’ve seen churches deal with this, but as you point out, not many are equipped to handle a de-conversion experience, or at least handle it well.

    incidentally, in regards to what you mentioned about the strain on a marriage when a spouse de-converts, in 1 Cor 7 paul talks about believers with non-believing spouses, and as long as the un-believer is willing to stay in the marriage, the believer is not to divorce him or her. so it is always incumbent upon the Christian spouse to stick it out. i would think this leaves the church with a responsibility to give the Christian spouse all the support and counsel it can. although it would appear that paul is writing to new converts whose spouses had not become Christians, i truly believe this command has application to de-conversion situations as well.

    when you say “they (churches or church members i presume) can’t deal with the fact that i have left” i assume you mean in helping the spouse deal with it. after reading the comments here, i cannot see that there is much the church can do to deal with the de-convert, because nobody here is swayed by much of anything that any Christians have had to say. faith is scoffed at, and everything is boiled down to an intellectual exercise. nothing against intellect, but i do not believe you can approach everything in life that way. if you approached your love relationship with your family, particularly your wife, in a purely intellectual manner, i dare say that you would find your relationships rather stilted. surely a person should have faith and trust enough in their spouse’s fidelity and honesty in general, without running behind them all over town to make sure they’re doing what they said they’d be doing, or going where they said they’d be going.

  • 30. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 1:16 am

    finally (for now)… amy in comment #12 made reference to trying to believe in the Christian religion. believing in religion is where the problems arise for many… it isn’t belief in a religion or any “system” but rather belief in Jesus that matters.

  • 31. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Leo…

    Since you are the only one that has ever had a problem with it, I simply haven’t found the need to change anything, although for you I will do whatever I can to help you out. You not only mis-characterize me as lazy and sloppy, but now as defensive. I’d have to say you come across as about the most ungracious poster or commenter on this site, but that’s just my opinion and I would never dare to state that as an absolute fact since I don’t even know you.

    I guess if you and the others who contribute here want to get together and make a rule stating that comments with improper punctuation will be moderated and deleted, that would certainly be within your rights, and I would either comply or stop commenting. I wasn’t aware that Mavis Beacon was the patron saint of de-cons.

  • 32. LeoPardus  |  November 22, 2007 at 1:59 am

    Dean:

    Thank you for capitalizing. It really does make things easier to read.

    As to me being ungracious: Guilty. Sometimes I work at being more gracious, but I seem to be a very direct, even blunt, communicator. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard.

    In some of your communications you’ve been blunt and I want you to know, that’s fine with me. It’s really what I’m used to. Just wanted you to know that I may not sugar-coat things much if at all, so I’m entirely cool if you want to leave the sugar off posts to me.

    BTW, it occurs to me that since I don’t believe in God, and don’t love the baby Jesus anymore, aren’t I supposed to be ungracious? I mean, isn’t a lack of love and grace just what you should be getting from a godless atheist? (Along with communism, profanity, and jaywalking too of course.)

  • 33. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 2:30 am

    Leo (I think I may be getting rather partial to this whole capitalization thing!)…
    Would it be fair to say that all communists are atheists, but not all atheists are communists?

    I’ve been around my share of so-called “cussin Christians” (sad to say), so I don’t think Godless atheists have a corner on profanity.

    I also don’t believe that Godless atheists lack the capacity for love… you just don’t love Jesus.

    And I suppose Christians have been known to jaywalk, but I guess if you want to risk getting mowed down in the middle of the block like that, it’s best to know you’re going to heaven :-)

  • 34. Thinking Ape  |  November 22, 2007 at 3:32 am

    dean,

    Would it be fair to say that all communists are atheists, but not all atheists are communists?

    Did I read this right? I’m not wanting to get into this argument, but I would just like to know whether you believe the above statement to be true or whether you were making a point that I didn’t catch.

  • 35. Thinking Ape  |  November 22, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Mike compliments,

    Thinking Ape destroyed someone once, and I forget which thread it was on, but I was over here cheering him on.

    Thanks… I think. In all honesty, I usually feel bad if I feel I have done something like that. When I write here I don’t have to spare the academic political correctness that I usually have to deal with and so I my passion tends to get the better of me at times. With some comments I don’t have the luxury of deleting so I try to apologize as quickly as I can without discrediting myself. The problem is that whenever I apologize, some fundie takes it as some sort of admittance of defeat on my part (as if we are trying to win some prize here).

    Anyway, glad you enjoy the site, I have appreciated checking yours out every once in a while as well.

  • 36. Yueheng  |  November 22, 2007 at 4:20 am

    dean wrote:

    it isn’t belief in a religion or any “system” but rather belief in Jesus that matters.

    But isn’t belief in Jesus inevitably a religious system too? We are talking about someone who supposedly lived 2,000 years ago and to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus, one necessarily has to accept some doctrines about him. One has to accept a body of writings that purportedly contain the truth about this person. And one has to be aligned to the spiritual tradition of thinkers associated with these doctrines and writings. Even if a person wants to be a solitary Christian who meditates on the scriptures in solitude, those scriptures are the theological products of some church. To put simply, to believe in Jesus, one must depend on a network that can only be defined as a religious system.

  • 37. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 6:04 am

    Thinking Ape…
    Umm, it wasn’t a statement, it was a question… for Leo. Perhaps your question should be directed to Leo as well, since he was the one who said I should expect communism, among other things, from Godless atheists. His statement was tongue-in-cheek, as was my question. You don’t have to worry about getting into that argument, because I’m not.

  • 38. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 6:29 am

    Yuehang…
    Beliefs in Jesus have been made into “systems” for sure. There are systems, if you will, that have sprung up and been embraced, such as Calvinism, Arminianism among others. There are parts of these doctrines that I agree with, but I am not a Calvinist nor am I an Arminian. Just because someone set forth a system of theology made up of points A, B, C, D, and E and then this system was named after them, and someone else decided that F, G, H, I, J and K were the doctrines that they believe and had that system named after them (that is, of course, an oversimplification), doesn’t mean that I have to buy into either one (or any of the others) lock, stock and barrel. I’m not saying that I cherry-picked what I wanted from these systems… my beliefs were in place long before I was even aware of what some of these entailed. So, I don’t buy into, or believe in any system, but rather my belief is in Jesus and Him crucified, dead, buried and resurrected.

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  November 22, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Dean:

    Would it be fair to say that all communists are atheists, but not all atheists are communists?

    Hey TA: We are joking here. :)

    Lessee. I’m pretty conservative so there’s support for the latter. And Acts 2:44 sounds suspiciously like communism.

    so I don’t think Godless atheists have a corner on profanity.

    Oh *(&%$@%^)!

    And I suppose Christians have been known to jaywalk, but I guess if you want to risk getting mowed down in the middle of the block like that, it’s best to know you’re going to heaven

    Touché ! :D

  • 40. Thinking Ape  |  November 22, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Umm, it wasn’t a statement, it was a question… for Leo

    Hey TA: We are joking here.

    Okay, I wasn’t following – but thanks for the clarification.

    dean answers Yuehang,

    So, I don’t buy into, or believe in any system, but rather my belief is in Jesus and Him crucified, dead, buried and resurrected.

    You don’t believe that Jesus’ crucifixian, death, burial, and resurrection is a religious system. So why do you believe that Jesus was crucified and resurrected? Many Christians contemporary with the writing of the New Testament and even at least one so-called “church father” (another system), Origen, did not believe in a bodily resurrection. So other than “faith” – is there any reason that someone should believe these events historically happened or have any of the spiritual significance you attribute to them?

  • 41. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    OK, Leo… I’ve been capitalizing for going on 5 posts now, and still nobody understands me! :-)

    TA…
    Nope…pretty much just faith for me. Well, I could cite people like Strobel and McDowell, but I’m certain they’d be scoffed at here. But by and large, faith is more than enough for me. I understand that doesn’t work for you, but if it wasn’t for those differences, there wouldn’t be the discussion and interaction you have here at d-C.

    Christians are not going to convince de-cons of anything, and while I still have not worked my way through all that is here, thus far I haven’t seen where any Christians have been talked out of their beliefs, either. So as the discussions continue, the best thing going for either side is to interact civilly with one another. I admit that I haven’t always been on top of my “nice” game, and for that I apologize, and strive to do better.

  • 42. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Oops! i hit “submit” before i was finished…
    TA…
    When i was referring to a “system” I was talking more about the likes of the different variants of Calvinism, Arianism, Methodism, etc… sets of beliefs constructed by and often named for those men or groups of men who developed them, by which one would have to buy into the entire system of belief and thus be labeled accordingly (Calvinist, Methodist, Arian).

    While I’m a Southern Baptist by church affiliation, and we have the Baptist Faith and Message, it is by no means a creed (although unfortunately there seems to be a move afoot within the convention to make it such). Southern Baptists affiliate more via cooperative giving to missions than by a certain set of spiritual beliefs, other than what I had mentioned in my earlier comment… but here is a more concise list… the virgin birth, sinless life, death by crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ. These are what I believe to be the essential tenets of the faith that all who would call themselves Christian would hold. I’ll no doubt catch a lot of flack for being arrogant or something along those lines, but I mention that only to draw a distinction between formal belief “systems” and what are generally regarded as the essentials of Christian belief.

    If I may, on this Turkey Day, make a football analogy… there are basics of football that everyone who calls himself a football player or coach must adhere to at all times… 10 yards to make a first down, reaching the opposing team’s end zone to score a touchdown, 6 points per touchdown, 3 points per field goal, standard dimensions of a football field, 11 men on each side of the ball, etc. Then you have your systems… West coast offense and it’s different variations, 4-3 and 3-4 defenses along with variations of defensive packages on certain down-and-yardage situations. Bill Walsh ran the West Coast offense one way… Holmgren and Shanahan have their own versions of it. Some identify with football through the essential basics of the game, others live or die by one offensive or defensive system or another.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  November 22, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    OK, Leo… I’ve been capitalizing for going on 5 posts now, and still nobody understands me!

    THAT was funny. :D

    Alas clarity of communication and understanding don’t always lock arms. :(

    Still and all, thanks. I do appreciate it.

  • 44. dean  |  November 22, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    TA… Re: #42
    YIKES! Make that Arminianism!!

  • 45. Thinking Ape  |  November 23, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Dean,

    TA…
    When i was referring to a “system” I was talking more about the likes of the different variants of Calvinism, Arianism, Methodism, etc… sets of beliefs constructed by and often named for those men or groups of men who developed them, by which one would have to buy into the entire system of belief and thus be labeled accordingly (Calvinist, Methodist, Arian).

    Yes, I am aware of what you meant by a “system,” but that seems to ignore the fact that even the most “original” of Christianities would have been a system constructed by men or groups of men of which required someone to “buy into” the entire system. Even the earliest Christian writings by Paul of Tarsus integrate various creeds that were “required” of his stream of Christianity.

    If I may, on this Turkey Day, make a football analogy…

    Ah, yes, the American Thanksgiving – great shopping I hear. I think the analogy is great… but football is still a game, and is hence a system. If anything it is Christianity that is the system and merely the individuals or schools of thoughts that are merely modes of participating in the system (although I still favour the idea that they are systems within systems).

  • 46. dean  |  November 23, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    TA… I know I’ve read your bio in the past, but obviously didn’t remember that you aren’t American. Sorry for throwing a possibly irrelevant illustration your way. Actually, it’s the day after Thanksgiving that’s the big shopping day (and one I do my dead level best to avoid).

    You wrote:
    Even the earliest Christian writings by Paul of Tarsus integrate various creeds that were “required” of his stream of Christianity.

    Did you mean that the creeds integrated Paul’s writings, instead of the other way around? In any event, there has to be a point where a person can say their faith is in the person Jesus and not in some system of belief developed about Him by others.

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Dean:

    there has to be a point where a person can say their faith is in the person Jesus and not in some system of belief developed about Him by others.

    Where would that point be though?

    You can’t talk to Jesus personally as he’s not on earth anymore. So the info you have on him is only what was written after he was dead. That was written by either some guys who knew him for about 3 years, or by folks who didn’t know him at all.

    And of course you will read those ancient records through a screen of “systems of belief developed about him by others” (e.g. whatever church you happen to be in or have grown up in).

    So when you say your faith is “in the person of Jesus”, you mean that your faith is in what you think you know about some guy named Jesus (or Jeshua as the case may be) who died a long time ago, left no personal record, and is represented to you only by some writings by other people and by your church tradition.

  • 48. Thinking Ape  |  November 24, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Dean, no worries, we have our thanksgiving a little earlier in the year and our insane shopping day is boxing day (dec.26).

    Did you mean that the creeds integrated Paul’s writings, instead of the other way around?

    It depends on what creeds we are speaking about. Paul would have had access to some form of Jesus myth, probably via mini-creeds in the form of easy to remember verses that could be passed from one individual or group to another. I don’t have my sources on my at this time (since I am in bed), but there are readily apparent examples of these in Paul’s letters. Later creeds, such as the “apostolic” and “nicene,” were of course created based on a Christianity that was much more substantial than what Paul originally had.

    In any event, there has to be a point where a person can say their faith is in the person Jesus and not in some system of belief developed about Him by others

    No, this is a very American-centered post-Great Awakening idea. Even the very idea that somehow it is a person’s faith in the Jesus figure that is significant is relativity new and biblically erroneous. Most theological scholars, even in conservative theology schools such as the one I attended, will point out that it is Jesus’ faith that is of any real theological importance, not ours (according to the Pauline system).The only sort of salvation message ever given by Jesus himself was for us to go the way of the kingdom of God and do his will (quite different from contemporary evangelical-style faith).

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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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