How to discover counterfeit Christianity?

January 5, 2008 at 5:50 pm 95 comments

dollar billMy former pastor had a favorite anecdote to share on why his flock should not look beyond the teachings of his faith camp in their studies. He relayed that the individuals who are responsible for discovering counterfeit money do not study the different counterfeits in order to learn about counterfeits. They ONLY focused on the real thing so when the counterfeit came along, they would immediately know it was not real. If they also studied counterfeits, they would be too confused as to what is real to be effective in their job. This admonishment was aimed at keeping the flock in subjection to his teachings and to discourage them from listening to those who were critical of the message of faith.

In response to the chaplain’s post Christian Education or Indoctrination?, Karen made this comment:

Education teaches people how to think; indoctrination teaches people what to think. All the religious instruction I went through as a child was distinctly of the latter variety. Even as an adult, I was warned not to educate myself about other religious beliefs. As I was questioning Christianity, I looked into Buddhism and Judaism and bought a couple of books on those topics. My husband objected that I was bringing evil spirits into our household and he did not want them physically “tainting” our home! The only way to learn about other religious beliefs “safely” was to take a course on world religions that a missionary group offered at our church. Of course, you can imagine how “objective” that course was – all other religions were presented as deceptions of Satan! There was absolutely no objective presentation of religious beliefs outside of Christianity.

HeIsSailing gave this example:

Back in high school, oh… nearly 30 years ago now, I brought Hermann Hesse’s novel about the Buddha, ‘Siddhartha’, into my Baptist High School to read during lunch break. Holy smokes, that got me into a lot of trouble!!

I just discovered this recent example and cannot resist sharing it with you all. Apparently, Jeremy Myers recently discovered our blog a made a comment which included the following statement:

I just found your blog yesterday and am enthralled. I am a pastor’s kid that went to a Christian grade school, a Bible College, pastored a church for five years, and am now finishing up a Seminary degree.

This prompted the blogger at In Defense of the Gospel to write the post Is There Genuine Concern for “The Heretic in Me”? In the post, the author states:

This is, in my opinion, a more serious concern. Jeremy has discovered, linked to from his blog, and begun participating at a blog that has an unfortunate reason for its existence. The blog Jeremy has linked to and commented at is titled, de-Conversion The blog’s subtitle is: “Resources for Skeptical, De-Converting, or Former Christians.”

The Heretic in Me article and note at the de-Conversion blog should raise genuine concern among those who are close to Jeremy. IMO, any pastor/teacher who might have some influence in Jeremy’s life, has a genuine concern for him and senses the danger of where he may head doctrinally, should sit down with Jeremy and find out exactly what direction he is headed.

Well Jeremy, please feel free to continue to participate in our discussions. Our goal is not to de-convert anyone but simply to share our questions, stories, and experiences in a hope to help others who are on a similar journey to ours.

- The de-Convert

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SuperChristians: More Pious than Jesus You might be a Fundy if…

95 Comments Add your own

  • 1. curtismchale  |  January 5, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Many Christians do seem overly threatened when they look at other religion’s. I always wonder if it is because they are afraid of testing their own comfortable faith.

  • 2. exevangel  |  January 5, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I’m not sure which is more scary, the young-earth creation comments on the original Jeremy Myers post with their intent to “stage an intervention” to convince Jeremy of a 6000 year old earth (thanks to resources from the ever amusing Institute for Creation Research) or the clear intent for arm-twisting and direct personal remarks by In Defense of the Gospel. I’m leaning towards the latter. His publicly stated intent to forward the remarks to someone who works with Jeremy is malicious not to mention reeking of the sort of attempts at mind control by ‘religious’ folk that are frequently discussed here.

  • 3. TheNorEaster  |  January 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Curtis:

    Generally speaking, you are right about certain Christians who seem overly threatened when they look at other religions, but that is not the case with me.

    I have read a few things about other religions–most recently The Dalai Lama’s “Little Book of Wisdom”–but mostly I discuss other religions–including Wicca–with those who follow them. It’s a great way to learn.

  • 4. loumartuneac  |  January 5, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    The de-Convert & Exevangel:

    I assume we will not see eye-to-eye on a great many things in that I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. The Bible is the final and sole authority for my faith and practice. I flop, and fail like any born again Christian will, but my goal is nothing less than Christ-likeness.

    If you read my article the tone is largely an attempt to awaken senses and persons to recover Jeremy from heading in a direction many in Bible-believing evangelical circles would feel is dangerous.

    Jeremy works for Dr. Bob Wilkin at the Grace Evangelical Society. It is to Bob Wilkin I directed some closing personal, heart-felt remarks to about Jeremy’s new direction. Bob Wilkin is very much aware of Jeremy’s current theological position and where Jeremy may be headed doctrinally.

    Exevangel, I am trying to say that if you are under the impression I am ratting Jeremy out to get him in trouble, that is a misunderstanding. I am hopeful his employer (Bob Wilkin) will try to counsel Jeremy from the Bible to help him sort out the seven doctrinal areas Jeremy said he is struggling with.

    My goal is not getting someone into a lot of trouble. My goal is to rally folks around Jeremy to help him from sinking himself into what I consider potentially deep doctrinal trouble. He is, IMO, on the fence and I am hopeful he will be lovingly, patiently, guided to a balanced biblical position on the issues he is presently struggling with.

    One closing side-note, if I may. I have read a number of articles and comments at this blog. I noted that folks here do have a number of complaints about the actions and behavior of some, who I assume are genuinely born again, Christians, including pastors. Christians will let you down, but may I ask you this: Can you find anything wrong with Jesus?

    I trust I have not ruffled your feathers with my remarks here. I was trying to be transparent, with out needlessly offending you folks.

    Kind regards,

    LM

  • 5. Slapdash  |  January 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Lou, however benign your intentions may be, if you are not using pseudonyms here, I find it extremely disturbing that you would “out” this person in such a manner.

    While I cannot be sure of this, my guess is that the poor guy who came here in the first place will not get an honest, open hearing or discussion of his questions in the church/faith community he comes from. My guess is that he will be herded back to answers he has probably already heard before, and any serious questioning of those answers will be quickly squashed.

    If I may encourage the original guy, you might consider creating an anonymous blog or username if you really want to have the unfettered freedom to explore your questions, and find your way down whatever path most compels you.

    I find it highly ironic that so many Christians so actively discourage questions and discourage thinking anything apart from the prescribed theology. If God is as big as I was always told, and always believed, he should be able to handle some hard, honest questions. If he’s real, he’ll answer, right?

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    LM:

    Since you asked Can you find anything wrong with Jesus?

    I’ll leave others to address the historical doubts and problems with the accounts of Jesus. Meanwhile I’ll give just one problem.
    You are familiar with the actions of Jesus upon encountering a figless fig tree. Even though it was not the season for figs, and hence the tree could not possibly have any figs on it, Jesus cursed it so that it withered. Lovely. The fig tree does just what it’s supposed to do (and was presumably created by Jesus to do) do Jesus blasts it.

    There are plenty more problems with God. If you desire to hang here and ask, we will answer. Most of us will not follow you to other sites. So it’s up to you if you want to pursue inquiry.

  • 7. the chaplain  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    LM asked, Can you find anything wrong with Jesus?

    That question does not have a simple answer. You believe “the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.” Some of us here do not share that belief. I, for one, am not sure that the Bible tells us very many facts about Jesus’ ministry. Nevertheless, I’ll try to work from your starting point.

    Assuming that all of the words that the Bible purports were spoken by Jesus’ actually were spoken by him, I will answer in the affirmative. Yes, I find some things wrong with Jesus.

    For one thing, his teachings about hell and eternal damnation are reprehensible. According to the gospel authors, it was Jesus who introduced the doctrine of eternal torment to the world; it does not appear anywhere in the Old Testament. It is a vile idea and, according the the Bible, we can thank Jesus for it.

    For another thing, Jesus’ teachings that he alone was, “the way, the truth and the life,” and that no one could come to the Father except through him, were arrogant and elitist, particularly in light of his own statements that he was sent to minister to the Jews only, not to Samaritans or other non-Jews. His message and ministry, from start to finish, were exclusive, not universal. It was the apostle Paul, not Jesus, who offered the promises of Christianity to the world at large.

    Moving on, Jesus’ temper tantrum in the Temple was a terrible model of political, social or economic discourse. He may have had good reasons to be angry, but it’s difficult to argue that he managed his anger in a constructive way. Wrong actions, even when undertaken for good reasons, are still wrong.

    I will close by suggesting that people stop reading the Bible through their theologically conditioned lenses. If they strip away their presuppositions about what the text is supposed to mean, examine it from other perspectives and ask hard questions, they may uncover some alarming details about Jesus. It’s not at all a given that he was gentle, meek and mild.

  • 8. bry0000000  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Lou, as tragic as your entire post on “‘s There Genuine Concern for “The Heretic in Me”?’ was, I found this most disheartening:

    “(pastor/faculty member’s name), God help you if you are either encouraging Jeremy’s new direction, or doing nothing while this young man is floundering and may be sliding toward gross heresy.”

    As much as I hate using cliches, it feels as if the thought police have struck again.

    Best of luck, Jeremy.

  • 9. loumartuneac  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Slap:

    I’m not sure what, in particular, you mean by, “…out this person in such a manner.”

    Jeremy “outted” himself. He referenced and linked to this blog from his own blog, and said he was interacting here. Prior to that he posted an article, at his own blog, in which he said he was leaning away from his long held biblical beliefs, and possibly toward what would be considered heretical positions.

    As far as getting “an honest, open hearing” goes: Jeremy refused to interact with the non-threatening questions and concerns well-meaning people raised with him in the thread under his “Heretic” article.

    Now, that is all I am going to say about the concern you raised. I think we should steer clear of any further speculation.

    LM

  • 10. Jeremy Myers  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Hi all…

    I was not even aware that Lou had made another post about me or had sent an e-mail to my employer about my doubts. Oh well…I probably would have done the same thing if the “me” of ten years ago ran into the “me” of today.

    My wife and I were talking just two nights ago about this de-conversion blog, and how gracious and loving all of you are toward Christians. I doubt many of you have received the same back from us. I am sorry for that, and I apologize for how you have been treated. It is not what Jesus intended. Thank you for being people of grace, kindness, mercy, openness, and honesty — all traits that are very rare in Christians.

  • 11. bry0000000  |  January 5, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    ‘Jeremy “outted” himself. He referenced and linked to this blog from his own blog, and said he was interacting here.”

    1) So what about your “outting” of Jeremy’s co-worker at the GES office?

    2) Honestly, do you really want to be condescending in your ‘concern’ for Jeremy? The man is obviously struggling with beliefs he holds very dear, and is probably already overwhelmed with the accusations of heresy.

    3) If having an open mind to consider positions in which there is supporting evidence is heresy, then there is none more righteous than the heretic. But this is just my personal opinion.

  • 12. Slapdash  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    I’m not sure what, in particular, you mean by, “…out this person in such a manner.”

    Lou, my apologies for not clarifying. You are right that he used his own name.

    Here is what appalls me: you seem to know him personally, or if not you certainly are on chummy terms with his boss, if your blog is any indication. To the degree that you know Jeremy or know his boss, and if you believe this is a matter of grave concern and/or possibly a matter of sin, the right thing to do would have been to approach him privately, possibly with 1 or 2 others, to discuss the issue. Do you not recall the church discipline verses in the Bible? (Matthew 18:15-20)

    That is what upsets me.

    Beyond that you are right that I am speculating in my other guesses as to how he will be treated. Would you care to refute those speculations?

  • 13. loumartuneac  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Jeremy:

    You wrote, “I was not even aware that Lou had made another post about me or had sent an e-mail to my employer about my doubts. ”

    You are mistaken to assume that an e-mail was sent to Bob. Go to my blog, and you’ll read what I posted in the public forum.

    LM

  • 14. loumartuneac  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Slap:

    No offense taken.

    As noted above, Jeremy has been approached by several well-meaning folks privately via e-mail and publicly in the blogs. He refused to interact on the non-threatening concerns and questions put to him on the current and previous theological issues. Many did what they could to take the Matthew 18 approach with Jeremy (such as you can electronically), but he is not open to this approach.

    Furthermore, Jeremy initiated the discussion and concern when he publicly aired his possible leaning toward positions that many in our circles would have grave concerns over.

    As far as how Jeremy will be treated: I don’t know because no one (that I am aware of) knows where he is headed and he will not discuss it. For now I am hopeful some one will take him aside and as Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos and, “…expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly,” (Acts 18:24-28).

    Kind regards,

    LM

  • 15. exevangel  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    LM,

    the problem here is the simple fact that it is okay to question, even desirable. Jeremy will gain from thinking about things. The immediate reaction in your posts, that you must expel this thought by going to him and adjusting his attitude is the problem. All of us here, whether Christian, Atheist or Agnostic, welcome questions. That is the basis of this community as far as I can tell, and the thing that drives many of us to it. Jeremy should be applauded for his intelligent and honest view of things, not be considred a problem that needs handling. Hoping that someone will “take him aside” detracts from his ability for free thought and contemplation, something that should be welcomed in all, believers or nonbelievers.

  • 16. pornie  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Very well put. And as a banker, I can vouch for the fact that whenever we get a counterfeit bill, we study the hell out of it to see what the counterfeiters are up to.

  • 17. JustCant  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    LM wrote:
    “Jeremy works for Dr. Bob Wilkin at the Grace Evangelical Society. It is to Bob Wilkin I directed some closing personal, heart-felt remarks to about Jeremy’s new direction.”

    If you say that you directed it to Bob, how can you say you didn’t mean to send it to Bob? Kind of contradictory, isn’t it? Reminds me of something I’ve read a few hundred times — the bible. And if you were truly worried about him, you should have spoken to him directly, rather than making an issue with his boss. Now you are playing fast and loose with Jeremy’s occupation and livelihood. A forceful controlling technique, granted, but certainly nothing to be proud of or to be respected.

    I also liked the responses to your question as to if we see a problem with Jesus. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of them, if not more. The idea you haven’t seen even a single solitary problem with Jesus speaks volumes about your perspective when reading/interpreting the New Testament.

    The point is, sadly, that if you look at another religion, you may make comparisons to your own. Especially how equally far-fetched they all seem when spread out on the same table together. And this “a-ha!” moment may lead you to look at your own beliefs and as just as ludicrous. And that, my friends, usually leads to someone leaving the church — maybe a whole family. And that is why it can be so scary for Christians to watch one of their own do this. Once they actually start thinking, it seems insulting to be asked not to.

  • 18. The de-Convert  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Jeremy,

    Thanks for your kind words. We are a varied group of contributors all along the spectrum of Christian to Apostate to Atheist.

    It’s interesting but many people who de-convert become, IMO, better “Christians” because the religion itself is full of contradictory required actions.

    Christianity requires you to hate, to be intolerant, to be judgmental, to conduct oneself using Dobson’s “tough love” crap (which is just a license to be mean and nasty), etc. Once you rid yourself of all that, you can truly focus on compassion & kindness and the positive aspects of life (in essence what free-thinkers begin to view as real “Christianity”).

    I struggled for years to be a “real” Christian (in action) and to stay within the boundaries of Christianity (in beliefs). I found it an impossible feat. However, I wish others who go down this path, the best of luck because de-conversion is not an easy path.

    Paul

  • 19. the deacon  |  January 5, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    LM’s blog post makes for a most interesting read, and so do his comments here justify his actions. I cannot question if his intent is upright. I will not judge his heart as it is unknown to me but I will question his judgment. I would not take an issue with LM sending a quiet email to Dr. Wilkins to alert him of his concern. Whether Dr. Wilkins knows already or not is not a significant issue, by keeping it to just Dr. Wilkins LM would have respected the individual humanity and dignity of Jeremy.

    Instead, LM has disregarded Jeremy’s dignity and free will. What LM has done in his blog is the equivalent of a preacher standing in the pulpit on Sunday, moving down the stairs while preaching and standing before an individual congregant and preaching directly at the person to openly expose the person’s alleged sin to all who are gathered. As stated, I will not question his motives of Christian love, but his judgment communicates a contrary message. The post is not an example of a form of persuasion; it is a plain and simple example of spiritual abuse.

  • 20. hughvic  |  January 5, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    If you think that you need to be taught how to think, then you already are indoctrinated; specifically, you are schooled up.

    Here’s a good way to detect counterfeit Christianity. If someone manufacturers the opportunity to define the Christian creed so that he can answer that the creed consists precisely in helping the poor, rather than, say, in Christ and Him crucified, then that person is a counterfeit Christian. Mike Huckabee answered to this description in the Florida GOP presidential debate.

    Here’s another way. If a person says that his sect is a Christian one, and then in defining his beliefs says that he worships God and then later says that he worships Christ as savior, but not as God, then that person is a counterfeit Christian. Mitt Romney answered to this description in his Boston speech on his religious convictions.

    If when you ask someone whether she is a Christian she should happen to say, simply, yes, then it is likely that she is a counterfeit Christian, as no one who understands authentic Christianity, the imitation of Him who demonstrated that to the extent we follow Him we will be tortured unto death, would say other than that she hopes or aspires to be a Christian. God only knows whether the answer is “yes”.

    Anyone who says that someone cannot be an authentic Christian who is neither an altruist nor a pacifist, as we now understand these words, is not himself or herself an authentic Christian, as Christians know that our Lord Jesus of Nazareth was neither of these.

  • 21. hughvic  |  January 5, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Also, the chaplain’s notion that the Nazarene’s attack upon the Temple sacrificial system—the same system that would destroy Him, until He ultimately destroys it—was a mistaken “temper tantrum” does not understand that Jesus came not only to defeat all death including the sin-death within us, but also to defeat sacrificial religion, the ultimate idolatry. Jesus did not die for a “mistake”, and to say so while calling oneself a chaplain is simply blasphemy in hip Internet form. You may go to Hell, chaplain.

  • 22. JustCant  |  January 5, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    One of the clearer “rules” in the bible is the whole “Judge not…” thing, but that concept seems strangely absent in hughvic’s posts, what with accusing someone of blasphemy and telling them they can go to hell (I spent a week there once but later found out it was actually South Bend, Indiana) :-)

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • 23. PB and J  |  January 5, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    The de-Convert,

    i think you make a great critique. there is no question that many if not most of “christian” teachers are scared to allow their followers to think for themselves. this is quite sad. i think there must be healthy debate and disagreement within the church. it is only then that there will be a balanced approach. instead the debate has become an “us versus them” approach where most “christians” feel that they need to stolidly fight off the “atheist horde”.

    in reality, i love the critique and the questioning and the doubting and the skepticism.

    maybe that is why i loved reading plato so much in college.

    may i truly learn to judge not another man until i have walked a mile in his shoes (rabbi hillel).

    peter

  • 24. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:00 am

    JustCant,

    (Great tag, BTW). I wrote that the chaplain “may” go to Hell, as indeed I may also. But then you’ve already pointed that out! My point was to play on the vernacular epithet to evoke something like the millstone hazard. Also, I see nothing wrong in calling someone blasphemous who presupposes that the Naz just made a mistake when He attacked the compound and compounding hypocrisies of Second Temple blood sacrifice. Rabbi Yeshua reserved His ripest street language for self-righteous, judgmental hypocrites, the implication being that we will have such hypocrites close to us, and will need to be able to identify them and name them for what they are. Perhaps you would prefer the milquetoast “statistical” Christianity of a Mike Huckabee, as distinguished from Christianity. Admittedly, it’s easier on a blogger’s tired eyes than the accusation that someone is a blasphemer, or for that matter a jackal or a pit viper. But then, if indeed one can’t be holier than the Pope, then one certainly can’t be holier than Him whom the first pontiff thrice betrayed.

  • 25. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:06 am

    PB and J,

    When you read The Republic of Plato, did your teachers ever point out the dialogue’s preface, in which Plato explains that the Republic is an extended allegory of the individual human soul? I ask, because a great deal of effort has gone into concealing the inconvenient fact that that dialogue is a mortally courageous apologia for Hellenic monotheism. It is more than that; it is theology.

  • 26. JustCant  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:15 am

    hughvic:

    No, I certainly would not prefer Huckabee, he scares the willies out of me, to be sure.

    But I fail to see the wonderful lesson in using ripe street language to tear into someone who does not agree with a belief based on neither proof or provable facts. Sounds rather conceited to me, and to most others who’ve experienced it first hand. It is an ugly “virtue” to think this way, so convinced and sure you are right about everything that you feel compelled to name call and label dissenting points of view.

    Don’t look for morality in that thing, for crying out loud. You’ll be a much more moral person without all the black and white judgement, etc. etc. etc.

  • 27. PB and J  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:28 am

    hughvic

    i think that is a great point. there is no question that dialogue occurs within our own soul. we are all unsure of nearly everything, if we are honest. that is why i love the “apology” where socrates is recorded as saying that he isnt the wisest man in the world. but if he is, it is only because he knows that he knows nothing.

    peter

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:46 am

    The de-Convert:

    Christianity requires you to hate

    You mean the “hate your father and mother” passage? Anyway, my experience in the Christian faith certainly didn’t teach me to hate. Not sure just what you’re meaning here.

    to be intolerant

    Well, yes. But I know of very few people or belief systems that aren’t intolerant. There’s always a list of people, actions, beliefs, etc, that just can’t be tolerated.

    to be judgmental

    Same sort of comment as for ‘intolerant’.

    to conduct oneself using Dobson’s “tough love” crap (which is just a license to be mean and nasty)

    Can’t agree at all. That is a complete misrepresentation of everything Dobson ever said or stood for.

  • 29. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Peter, it’s very beautiful, isn’t it, Socrates’ final conversation with Crito and the others? Our Greek contemporaries love it, and they seem to place it and the other metaphysical dialogues unflinchingly into period context, whereas we denature them as though we could not construe them except through the twin lenses of 1930s and and 1960s America. One suspects that Socrates was indeed the wisest man, for knowing what he did not and could not know. (The Subjective?)

    JustCant,

    I regret having come off as some sort of pompous scold, rather than as a bracing blogger. For your part, do you not regret your presuming to guage the level of my “morality”, relative to your gray one? You speak of proofs in the context of moral philosophy. If you are such the materialist that you require proofs, rather than citation of some of the great foundational texts of Western civilization, then I submit that you are not a moralist but an American Pragmatist—in itself, not a bad thing. Presumably you are aware that in the religious philosophy drawn from the Abrahamic traditions, ethics—or applied morality—is precisely the edenic curse, the burden of decision between good and evil. It is therefore earthbound, and certainly not of the eternal. The extent to which you privilege it, then, qualifies as idolatry in the Abrahamic worldview. But then there I go again, failing to circumambulate other people’s metaphysical toes in this decorous and delicate medium.

    Incidentally, the people for whom the Nazarene reserved His ripest street langage were precisely those who would murder Him by publicly torturing Him to death for no particularly good reason other than their hypocrisy. That would be hypocrisy, from the Greek prefix hypo, meaning to lessen, and krise, or crisis.

    As it happens, I believe that Christianity lasted approximately 30 seconds, after which sacrificial religion crept back in, and that it is the latter which we have with us, once again, today. Though a believer, then, nonetheless I feel quite at home with the wariness and weariness of you here, and I sympathize with anyone who has suffered the vipers’ bite, as Golgotha showed that it can be deadly.

    the captain,

    I’m afraid you’d be hard pressed to show where the “vile” and “reprehensible” Jesus is said, in Greek, Coptic, Aramaic or Syriac, to have introduced the concept of eternal torment in Hell. The metaphor of fire meant many things to Second Temple Jews, but everlasting torment was not one of them; that concept, as you know, dates from the late Medieval period. Also, when He says that He is the Way to the Father, it is in the context of an understanding that Jews covenantally already are with the Father, such that they do not require a way to Him. As you know, the Greek Scriptures have Jesus emphasizing this point repeatedly. The story of the Naz’s tarrying en route to raise his friend Lazarus illustrates in part that the Shepherd does not necessarily gather his flock—which might include the millions living today who have never heard of Him—within their ostensible lifetimes. Far from seeing anything “reprehensible” in this, I and countless others have found it ineffably loving and encouraging.

  • 30. JustCant  |  January 6, 2008 at 1:34 am

    hughvic said: “If you are such the materialist that you require proofs, rather than citation of some of the great foundational texts of Western civilization, then I submit that you are not a moralist but an American Pragmatist”

    For the record, I am not American. I also would not be described as a materialist by anyone who knows me well. And anyone who knows me well knows that I oppose someone’s morality if it says it is OK to constantly try to pigeonhole someone with labels to fit their argument. So no, I don’t regret the morality comment.

    I also disagree that your scriptures are “some of the great foundational texts of Western civilization”. I think they are great works of fiction. It is worth reading. And surely something described as a great foundational text would include things that are not flat out wrong, yet not to be questioned. Also, if it is only a foundational text — does that mean we need to add to it, keep learning beyond it? Is it something that needs building upon? If not, it seems wrong to read it and then shut off your reason and learning to everything else. If yes, well, what parts are wrong and need to be updated? It would not remain the unerring word of god, because it needed to be fixed.

    Socrates was foundational (under threat of murder by the pious). Darwin was foundational. Never once did they say that their reasonings were never to be questioned. Quite the opposite in fact. The bible was our first great shot at explaining it all, and unfortunately, it just hasn’t stood up, IMHO.

  • 31. LeoPardus  |  January 6, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Jeremy:

    Read your blog just a little. You’re having some issues similar to what I had many years ago. I don’t mean the struggles that lead me out of the faith though. I mean the ones that lead me out of fundamental, evangelical, Protestantism. They eventually landed me in the Orthodox Church.

    You may want to invest some time studying Orthodoxy. If you have any interest, I can suggest some good “entry level” reading.

    Note that I’m NOT an “evangelical atheist”. I don’t care at all to lead people out of their faith. I’m just offering some info that may be of help to you where you’re at now.

  • 32. rebecca shannon  |  January 6, 2008 at 9:47 am

    the deacon: “The post is not an example of a form of persuasion; it is a plain and simple example of spiritual abuse.”

    My thoughts exactly concerning LM’s blog post re: Jeremy.

  • 33. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 10:39 am

    JustCant, you are quite right, especially about the pigeonholing, which however I did not do to suit my argument, as I really had no argument. I had not given a thought to your nationality, nor was I labeling you an American, but rather was saying that since you hold certain beliefs, e.g. that moral reasoning requires a proof, then you rightly belong to a particular school; namely, the school of American Pragmatism, as that is what the foundational Pragmatists said. When you speak of “a belief based on neither proof nor provable facts”, you are espousing the very most quintessential of materialisms. Please be assured that in pointing that out I meant no rebuke nor insult, nor did I intend to stick you with a summative label. On the contrary, in general I abhor ad hominem attack, so please accept my apology for such loose and seemingly hostile language.

    “Proof” means one thing to a lawyer and another to a scientist, and still another to a layperson. The morality-filled faith of which you say there is no proof, on the one hand is meant to have no proof, as it is a faith, a conviction of unseen things, and a kind of test in that regard. If you mean that there is no historical evidence of Jesus of Nazareth and of his strange deeds and his following, then yes, there is such evidence, though an historian (and I am one) would not regard it as “proof”, were historians to deal in proofs. If what you want is the best evidence of the validity of the faith, I’d be happy to provide it, as it is most convincing.

    Yes, that is what I meant by great foundational texts. I meant that we ought to feel as much at ease in citing Biblical texts as the Victorians, of all stations, did, only we ought to be able to do so as un-self-consciously as we postmods continue to cite Shakespeare or Goethe or the Buddha.

    You cite Socrates, by whom I reckon you mean Plato, and Darwin. Socrates was a martyr of monotheism; Darwin a most God-fearing Christian. Darwin shook like a leaf for years at the prospect of his publication of Origin. Should we not consult the texts which shook the leaf?

    P.S. Couldn’t agree with you more about Huckabee. If that man gives you the willies, he gives me the creeps, and the heebeegeebees too.

  • 34. the deacon  |  January 6, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Hughvic…. you state I wrote that the chaplain “may” go to Hell, as indeed I may also.

    If I was to use the common hermeneutic processes that pastors and bible scholars use to interpret the bible, they state that context and the tone of the context are essential. The statement in the context of what precedes it makes your “may” statement a condemnation and a wish that you want to happen. At least to me, such a statement is contrary to the message of love and understanding. It is a statement that all too typically reinforces the skepticism of those who are not of the Christian faith, and adds to a mountain of examples of how evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are driven to be judgmental and your later equivocation is similar to President Clinton arguing over the “is”. Further it is a statement that demonstrates how so many Christians conveniently overlook the significance of I Corinthians 5:12-13 regarding judging those who are not part of the Church.

    I see your statements about counterfeit Christians tosses out most of those who are gathering in places of worship. You have tossed out pacifists like the Quakers. Tossed out are groups like The Salvation Army, the vast majority of Roman Catholics, Lutherans and others who work with the poor. I suspect if I spent more time extending your definitions that only a small minority of those faith traditions who claim to be “Christians” would pass your muster. Once again, such summary statements again add mountain of judgmental evidence.

  • 35. JustCant  |  January 6, 2008 at 11:14 am

    hughvic:

    By Socrates, I mean Socrates, not Plato. He was a foundational thinker in many matters.

    And although you could provide “the best evidence of the validity of the faith”, I’ve seen and heard it but the reality is it still requires that faith again, devoid of facts or proof (or in spite of them). You could provide these again, however, your bar is set much lower than mine so it wouldn’t matter.

  • 36. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    JustCant,

    No, I wasn’t being gamey. The “proof” to which I referred is simply the historical fate of the chosen Apostles and of Paul and his disciples. They were all hunted animals, of course, and they all died—all but one of them quite horribly—insisting to the end that it was all true. Any jury today would be convinced, I believe, in the veracity of these men, not one of whom broke or told a contradictory story. In the evidentiary rules of contemporary jurisprudence, that’s proof.

    Unless you are referring to the parody of him by Aristophanes and the brief mention by Xenophon, how do you come to know of Socrates except as the protagonist of Plato’s dialogues?

    the deacon,

    First, I am on intimate personal terms with the Salvation Army ministry, my only charity (other than my own church) and my former employer (Emergency Disaster Services). I also feel great love for Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, each of which I regard as Alma Mater. So I don’t construe your reference to my exclusivity.

    Second, your use of exegetical contextualization is clever. As I quite forthrightly admitted, I’d intended the double meaning, the cruel one to draw attention to the other one. It hadn’t occurred to me that, on a site devoted to matters religious, a blogger by the name of the chaplain would not be a person of faith. I have always been most comfortable with secular persons, especially when they are comfortable with my non-secular status, provided they do not misrepresent themselves.

    I stand by every word of my cautions regarding counterfeit Christianity. Since JustCant (not to be confused with JustKant) prefers secular literary authority, I shall call as my witness the great Dane Soren Kierkegaard, circa 1855. I have posted nothing here not said by him then.

  • 37. bipolar2  |  January 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    **christo-myth is poison, always has been **

    No need to worry about which parts of xianity are frauds — the whole of this disgusting near eastern monstrosity is counterfeit.

    It is a jewish heresy — whose central documents offer not one shred of evidence that a “Jesus” ever existed. And, of course, they do not establish that a jewish messiah had arrived; the jews have always denied it. Nor do they establish the equally obnoxious view that a messiah would be a god of any sort. (Try getting some facts in your noodles — xians and atheists alike — say like reading The xians as the romans saw them. Wilken. Yale Pr.)

    From its inception the christo-myth absorbed ever more gross pagan cultic symbolism and ritual. But root and stock it is jewish heresy — a hellenistic jewish heresy.

    Paul, an apostate hellenized jew, tried to usurp both judaism and hellenism which helped put xianity on its road to eventual political power and the destruction of human intellectual growth and high culture for more than one thousand years. (Try reading your NT, 1st Corinthians, chapter 1 for starters.)

    We, especially in the U.S., are still paying an onerous price for this so-called “sacred” legacy of vituperation, revenge, social control, and political nihilism.

    Fundies and RCs — along with their codependents and enablers among wishy-washy protestants — pervert the teaching of science, obstruct biological research, undermine the guarantees of the first amendment, and seek to overthrow the republic, turning it into an xian dystopia, like that skewered in The Handmaid’s Tale by Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.

    ‘Xian truth’ — for 2,000 years a contradiction in terms.

    bipolar2
    © 2008

  • 38. bipolar2  |  January 6, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    ** Woof, woof! SiK’em Soren **

    ** Becoming-who-you-are requires skepticism and self-assertion **

    The word ‘islam’ means submission. Obviously submission to the will of Allah, as prescribed in the five pillars of faith. The big-4 monotheisms are alike in dismissing an individual’s will, “not my will but thy will done” as we’re shown in the poignant scene at Gethsemane in the NT.

    For such empire building religions, self-assertion takes on the character not of honest questioning and personal growth, but of insubordination and rebellion. (Can’t be godly cannon fodder unless you obey orders, mister.)

    >> One sick danish strudel to go, please

    With characteristic, combative verve, Kierkegaard condemns the doubter as insubordinate, a rebel against fideism:

    “They would have us believe that objections against Christianity come from doubt. This is always a misunderstanding. Objections against Christianity come from insubordination, unwillingness to obey, rebellion against all authority. Therefore, they have been beating the air against the objectors, because they have fought intellectually [against] doubt, instead of fighting ethically [against] rebellion. . . .So it is not properly doubt but insubordination.” (Lowrie 122)

    Thus, SK. Almost needless to say, but SK’s “argument” works equally “well” in the mouth of any doctrinaire muslim, jew, or zoroastrian. Just as it does for any cultist. . . and the 4-faced near eastern godhead presides over three well-known, well-financed, and power hungry cults.

    >> Got guilt? Well, why not, sinner?

    It’s not surprising that even attempting to leave a religious culture which demands ’subordination’ or ’submission’ to someone else’s interpretation of an alleged “will of god” adversely affects the psychological well-being of the “apostate.” Guilt feelings get induced. Needless guilt is the elder brother of nonexistent “sin.”

    Becoming-who-you-are or “individuation” (to use Jung’s terminology) is the goal of personal growth. It cannot occur without self-doubt or without doubting authority and authority figures. When you’ve made a “leap of faith” into hyper-religious space there is no return except by self-assertion, and doubt is just a form of it. You want to emulate Prometheus and cease wanting to mirror Jesus. (The hero is not a god.)

    >> Religious “commitment” is not a choice; it’s a moral cop-out

    Irrational self-assertion characterizes the popular culture, the “secular” culture. Irrational fideism characterizes fundamentalism, jewish, xian, or islamic.

    Tolerance, that wide band of humane behavior, lies between inhuman anarchy and inhuman puritanism. Trying to navigate in that band requires years of training and making a lot of mistakes. And, there is no end to learning until life itself ends.

    bipolar2
    © 2008

  • 39. hughvic  |  January 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Yes, it’s true that as one who professes the Lord Jesus of Nazareth, I am an apostate Jew. Through the centuries many Jews, beginning with the first members of the Jesus cult, have shared my profession of faith. So what?

    With your overweaningly catholic assertion that no evidence of the existence of Jesus is to be found, you are accepting the burden of proving a negative. If you stay faithful to the historical record, you will find that you are unable so to prove. In Biblical exegesis, the Judaists, of Yale (E.P. Sanders) and elsewhere, long ago trumped the Hellenists you cite. The present standards of scholarship require that Second Temple Jews, including Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth, are to be understood in Jewish terms, not in the terms of their triumphalist captors.

    Look, cutting to the chase, the crux of your complex argument is contained in your (stylistically rather original) thesis statement that “cristo-myth is poison, always has been.” This assertion doesn’t really work, as Jesus dispelled all myth, which is ever and always the “poison” of blood sacrifice—which is to say, human violence. His creed is anti-religion, and most assuredly not the sacrificial religions that continue to infect the human bloodstream worldwide.

    As that rabbi attacked the Holy of Holies and all it stood for, it is not surprising that those he assailed were not open to construing his intentions, his meaning or his significance. Many scholars professing Christ have, through the ages, maintained that Israel did not get the Messiah it bargained for. Your conflation of his teachings, and the creed that derives from them, with the historical organizations that have borne his name, is simply unhelpful and, if intentional, quite dishonestly self-serving. (If I may dare to post something unpleasant in this place of wound-licking.)

  • 40. The de-Convert  |  January 7, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Just found this and thought I’d post it here. It’s a parody my good friend Mike wrote a few years back:

    Don’t Think, We’ll Do That For Ya (A parody of Hotel California by Felder and Walsh)

    On a stark summer Sunday,
    Cool gel in my hair,
    Tear-filled “Hallelujahs”
    Rising up in the air.

    On the stage in the distance,
    A figure stepped to the mic.
    He started preaching, as the lights went dim,
    And kept talking all night.

    Ushers stood in the doorways,
    I heard a woman yell.
    And I was thinkin’ to myself,
    “If this is Heaven I’d hate to see Hell.

    He said, “If you want revival,”
    “Then I’ll show you the way.”
    But there were voices there I’d heard before,
    Thought I heard them say,

    (Chorus)
    Welcome, but don’t think, we’ll do that for ya
    Feel the lovely grace,
    Feel the lovely grace (echo)
    But thinking’s out of place
    Plenty of room, but don’t think, we’ll do that for ya
    That stuff between your ears
    That stuff between your ears (echo)
    Isn’t needed here

    He said, “Your love will be tested,”
    “And I know who attends!”
    “And we have some traitors, traitors, boys,”
    “We called ‘friends.’”

    “Prayer outreach at four sharp,”
    “Please, don’t forget.”
    “Mandatory for members,”
    “Recommended for guests”

    I said, “My toe-nail’s impacted,”
    “Please excuse me this time.”
    And he said, “We haven’t allowed that excuse in here,”
    “Since 1999.”

    And still those voices were calling,
    From far away.
    They slap me up when I say I’ll skip a night,
    Thought I heard them say . . .

    (Chorus)
    Welcome, but don’t think, we’ll do that for ya
    Feel the lovely grace
    Feel the lovely grace (echo)
    But thinking’s out of place
    Revivin’ it up, but don’t think, we’ll do that for ya
    What a nice surprise
    What a nice surprise (echo)
    Bring your gifts and tithes

    Banners on the ceiling,
    Meetings go all night,
    And I said, “We are all just prisoners here,”
    “Of a load of hype.”

    And in the massive chamber,
    They gather here to see.
    The numbers grow, so the ego thrives,
    But it still can’t sate the beast.

    First thing I remember,
    I started thinking, like before.
    First time I’d turned my brain back on,
    Since I’d checked it at the door.

    “Get out!” said the watchman,
    “You are bitter and deceived.”
    “You’re checking facts out and rejecting hype,”
    “So you’d better leave!”

  • 41. confusedchristian  |  January 7, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I’m currently attending a post-modern church and they pretty much are quite the opposite of every negative notion mentioned regarding the “church” here. They are very tolerant, liberal Christians and it is where I think I belong right now. I am not downplaying the abuse of the Church (in all forms) – but am saying that I am growing very tired of analyzing things to death.

    Seriously, atheism itself can be considered a belief, and it can be done so logically. The easiest way is to point out that we cannot know what cause the universe to come into existence. None of us can know, and science can’t answer that question. Yes, we can go to a fraction of a second after the big bang started, but before it we can’t go.

    So what caused the Big Bang, what caused the existence of the universe, and so on, is something we cannot answer. So whether you like it or not, we are forced to believe in something..

    I have come to this conclusion just recently (probably 2 days ago) and so you are welcome to critique my statement.

    The premise of the atheist is what exactly? It’s the non-belief in any God. That certainly makes sense to me, not believing in God. But if you are faced with the hard-question:What was the initial cause of the universe, you have to believe in something. Yes, even if you choose not to believe in anything, you’re making a conscience choice because as a human being you have the faculties to do so.

    If you choose to believe a God did it, I can refute that and say we really Can’t know. I’ts not that we don’t know but we can’t know. And if you choose to believe that “nothing” did it, you are still making the decision to believe in something. In fact, as a human being you cannot escape this reality, the reality that we believe in things. It is that we are engineered and biologically set to do this.

    I am not saying Christianity is the answer to these questions. But I am saying you can’t logically say that you are 100% certain about anything. Therefore it is required you have a belief system, in something. You must believe in something.

    I choose to believe in Christianity for now, even though I am convinced that it is impossible to prove. It is not out of fear of hell, but it is out of the love of God. The love of God not described in Christian texts, but out of the lives of all the living human beings who love their neighbors and sacrifice.

  • 42. MY LIFE » Blog Archive » With blinders on  |  January 7, 2008 at 11:00 am

    [...] was reading a post over at de-conversion.com on “How to discover Counterfeit Christianity” which has links to a post from Jeremy (”The Heretic in Me“), and links to Lou’s [...]

  • 43. the chaplain  |  January 7, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    The de-Convert, thanks for the great song. :)

  • 44. confusedchristian  |  January 7, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    What is Religion?

    Pronunciation:
    \ri-ˈli-jən\
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely
    Date:
    13th century

    1 a: the state of a religious b (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    Not sure how Jesus wasn’t devoted to a sort of faith or observance.

  • 45. Thinking Ape  |  January 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    confusedchristian, the problem with defining religion is that every definition of it, like a definition of “culture” is problematic. I agree with your observation that Jesus was religious, but at the same time “religion” was not distinguished at that time from “secular” or “non-religion.” Back to the three definitions given in your dictionary – (1a) and (2) both have term of definition in the definition (which isn’t helpful), while (1b) is problematic because not all religions “serve” or “worship” something that is supernatural.

    Sorry, I know that is completely off topic, but just something to keep in mind when we are talking about “Religion” as an entity or encompassing some sort of essential feature.

  • 46. Jeremy Myers  |  January 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    LeoPardus,

    I am always looking for good books, articles, and blogs that will challenge my thinking. I read a book recently by Bishop Kallistos Ware called “The Orthodox Way.” Please recommend a few others.

    I shudder to think where I would be today without the desire to “search out a matter” (Prov 25:2) and hear all sides of an issue (Prov 18:17). That’s one reason I appreciate this de-coversion blog so much.

  • 47. confusedchristian  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    TA, thanks.

    if googling “define religion” you can run into a ton of definitions. I tihnk the best one is from the wikipedia:

    “A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally held by a human community, involving adherence to codified beliefs and rituals and study of ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. …”

  • 48. karen  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I am not saying Christianity is the answer to these questions. But I am saying you can’t logically say that you are 100% certain about anything. Therefore it is required you have a belief system, in something. You must believe in something.

    Why? I have reached the point where I am content to say I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows for sure and I’m fine with that. Is “I don’t know” a “belief system”? I can’t fathom that.

    I choose to believe in Christianity for now, even though I am convinced that it is impossible to prove. It is not out of fear of hell, but it is out of the love of God. The love of God not described in Christian texts, but out of the lives of all the living human beings who love their neighbors and sacrifice.

    That’s fine. I have no problem with anyone who chooses to do that. I simply do not have any need to believe in something that offers no evidence and I would feel dishonest trying to force myself to believe again.

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Jeremy:

    Ah! Ware is good. But I’d recommend “The Orthodox Church” before “The Orthodox Way”. The former is more introductory and plenary.

    “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gilquist is a very good and rather quick-and-easy read that I think would help any Protestant to begin to see into Orthodoxy.

    “For the Life of the World” by Alexander Schmemann is one of the best theological works in existence (IMHO and that of many others). The first third to half of the book is such an eye opener for most people when they read it. The rest of the book is good, but you can’t really understand it until you understand the EOC liturgy. And you *cannot* understand that without participating in it.

    For all that you may read though, you must know that Orthodoxy cannot be understood without experiencing it. When my wife and I first heard this, we poo-poo’d it. We figured that if you understood something, you could put it into words. Now we know better.

    So, if you *really* want to understand Orthodoxy, you should:
    -Contact an EOC priest. Preferably one who converted to Orthodoxy from something else.
    -Go to EOC services and ask questions afterward. Preferably do this at an EOC parish with a high percentage of converts.
    -Sit in on catechumen classes.

  • 50. confusedchristian  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Hey Karen,
    You say you don’t know. Don’t know what? If there is or isn’t a God? I don’t know either. But I think its more honest to say that we both can’t know. Honestly I consider myself an agnostic, so saying liberal Christian was actually incorrect because I can’t believe in a resurrection either.

    You are right there is no need to believe in anything without evidence but honestly there is no such thing as 100% full-proof evidence. Lacking evidence cannot disprove anything, but only show lack of evidence.

  • 51. confusedchristian  |  January 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I consider taking a stance of “I don’t know” a belief system because you are given the option to believe or not believe, therefore choosing not to believe becomes a belief system. This is under the premise that you are choosing not to believe in something that could possibly exist.

    One could be faced with 3 options regarding bunny rabbits, 1. Believe they are real, believe they aren’t, or believe that they may or may not exist. all are belief systems.

    One could be faced to believe in God or not, 1 could believe despite a lack of evidence, 1 could NOT believe because a lack of evidence, or one could assert that they do not know because of a lack of evidence. But if one were asked why they dont know they would be explaining why they believe their assertion is true, to them. Again, it’s a belief.

    In fact, as a human being, you have to believe, even believe you’re not believing, or believing you don’t know. It’s always a belief. As a little human creature, you cannot escape this concept. Your memories, your skills, training, in all that you do, are based on what you believe to be true or not true, and yes, even what you are not sure of.

  • 52. hughvic  |  January 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    confusedchristian,

    I really admire your clear, concise, considered and candid statements herein, and would add another c-word for good measure if I could think of one. Let me throw out some observations, mindful that you’ve already said that you wish not to over-analyze (and I intend to respect that wish).

    Atheism isn’t really non-belief; agnosticism is. Atheism is the affirmative conviction of the non-existence of any deity. It’s a dicey proposition, like its opposite, but I for one am a believer who respects those willing to go out on that limb, as it can be lonely out there, I expect, if only because most people are not willing to be so honest about belief and unbelief. In this sense, Atheists are an elite.

    Two of your other word choices raise flags in my mind. You say that your church is both “postmodern” and “liberal”. Modernism and liberalism name the same thing. The words differ, not in content or denotation, but only in that they are intended for different applications. (The term “Modernism”, for example, has far more meanings than does “liberalism”, but in your sense they are the same.) So your use of “postmodern”, especially when paired with “liberal”, is rather problematic unless you explain or define or at least somehow qualify it. At least, that’s why this reader scratches his head.

    You privilege the concept of “belief” as though it were an end. You might bear in mind, especially as you advise Karen, that the demons believed, and they trembled. Consider fideism anew, please. A great many clear-headed people of demonstrated conviction were tortured to death commending to the succeeding generations the sufficiency of faith over against the insufficiency of mere belief.

    Please take these observations in a spirit of earnest converse, as I seem to have put the wrong foot forward with other thoughtful bloggers here.

    Hugo

  • 53. Thinking Ape  |  January 7, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    hughvic proclaims,

    Atheism isn’t really non-belief; agnosticism is. Atheism is the affirmative conviction of the non-existence of any deity

    As an agnostic I resent that remark. Philosophical agnosticism is not a non-belief, it is specifically the belief that neither the theistic nor atheistic positions can be confirmed by any empirical or philosophical means. A philosophical agnostic must qualify this belief in all conversations dealing with any sort of theism. Agnosticism, however, should always be limited to philosophical agnosticism if we are speaking about the ideas of the term coined by Huxley. I reject any person calling themself an agnostic if they have not come to the position by careful deliberation – these people are not agnostics, they are simply ignorant.

    Atheism is, however, not a belief. Atheism may be philosophical in that an individual has concluded by looking at various means of evidence that a lack of a god is a more plausible hypothesis. Saying atheism is a not a non-belief is no more meaningful than saying aunicornism is a belief system surrounded around the idea that unicorns may be true. There is not one atheist I know that would ever say that there is no god with 100% certainty – but to always have to say “I say that I believe there is probably no god or gods” is less concise than saying “I am an atheist.” Atheists know they are limited by the knowledge of a finite material being. Atheism, of course, could be considered a default condition with little philosophical inquiry. People are not born theists.

  • 54. hughvic  |  January 7, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Thinking Ape (Another nice tag, BTW; paradoxically elegant),

    Evidently I’ve insulted you, and for that I apologize. Atheism, both philologically and etymologically, is not non-theism; it is a-theism, the conviction of a negative and a positive aversion to theism. Those who cannot read are illiterate; those averse to literacy are aliterate. You say that you don’t know Atheists convinced of the non-existence of a deity and hostile toward the opposite belief, but I do know of many such Atheists. I meet them every week on even an infrequently visited Internet, often in unlikely byways of this big highway system. Most are positively hostile to theism, and the Internet is, to my eye, indisputably the playground of such people. They act as though they own the Internet.

    I also have known such professed Atheists personally, though most of them (around one dozen acquaintances and relatives over 25 years) have been polite and conscientious persons. To a person, they distinguish themselves from Agnostics. The sense in which you use the word “belief”, in your definition of Agnosticism, is not the sense of “gnosis” from which the word “agnostic” is derived. Agnostic means, simply, metaphysical unbelief. The unbelief may be as considered as a Thomist’s Catholicism, or it may be as intuitive as a Pentacostal’s enthusiasm; either way, it’s metaphysical unbelief. If you would deny us this hoary word for metaphysical unbelief, what word would you have us use instead, and why?

    I have no idea how long you’ve been alive, Thinking Ape, but lots of people, from among all peoples, seem — sometimes even to atheist parents (as e.g. in the former USSR) to have been born theists. As a historical anthropologist, I’m strapped for ideas as to how you’d prove that “people are not born theists”, and even as a rhetorical opinion it sounds tinny, frankly.

    Let’s please leave pass your remarks about perfect certitude among Atheists, as that’s a red herring. I do not know of a theist whose certitude is perfect, and can’t think of any reason why I should care about imperfect certitude.

    I don’t know why you say that I am “proclaiming” things found in any English dictionary. Do I really strike you as the cockrel author of the sunrise? By contrast, you proclaim that only your brand of Agnosticism is worthy of the word, and that Agnostics of other stripes are forbidden to name themselves Agnostics.

    What the hell?

  • 55. karen  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:31 am

    I consider taking a stance of “I don’t know” a belief system because you are given the option to believe or not believe, therefore choosing not to believe becomes a belief system. This is under the premise that you are choosing not to believe in something that could possibly exist.

    CC, how in the world can non-belief be a “belief system”? That’s a non sequitur.

    What a weak atheist (see definitions of atheism) does is recognize that there’s no good evidence for god, then live as if there were no god until and unless more evidence comes in. If you want to call that a “belief system” I certainly can’t stop you.

  • 56. Thinking Ape  |  January 8, 2008 at 1:02 am

    hughvic,
    No worries, I wasn’t insulted, I use the word “resent” fairly liberally. When you say,

    You say that you don’t know Atheists convinced of the non-existence of a deity and hostile toward the opposite belief, but I do know of many such Atheists.

    you are speaking on philological grounds, as you say. However, in common everyday speech, I do not believe this to be the case. Most atheists are not “anti-theists.” How often do we, however, hear of either “anti-theists” or “non-theists”? We don’t, because we classify both as “atheists.” Would you agree? If you do, do you think this is relevant to our discussion?

    As for agnosticism, there is very little essential features other than what you alluded to. I can be “agnostic” about this, or I can simply declare the knowledge of my lack of knowledge, yet continue to “believe.” In my struggle to keep my faith, I use to consider myself an “Agnostic Christian” and hoped to at least keep a Kierkegaardian faith. I take agnosticism as a philosophical stance on life, and hence a “belief” system – but you are correct, this is not the definition of the concept.

    As a historical anthropologist, I’m strapped for ideas as to how you’d prove that “people are not born theists”, and even as a rhetorical opinion it sounds tinny, frankly.

    If you are a historical anthropologist, this is out of your discipline, as well as out of mine. However, being a student of philosophy and the sociology of religion, I have come across a number of theories on how people learn and how we think. Whether you are an old-school “blank slate” theorist or into the more contemporary model of biological presumptions (i.e. morally, linguistics, genetics, etc.), there is no way that anyone is “born a theist.” We may be born with the potential to become theists, but if you are wanting to arguing that humans are actually born with some sort of knowledge of a god or gods, the onus is on you to prove it. What, then, do you mean that people born to “atheist” parents are “born theists” – they came out professing a Christian or Muslim faith with no attained knowledge whatsoever?

    Let’s please leave pass your remarks about perfect certitude among Atheists, as that’s a red herring. I do not know of a theist whose certitude is perfect, and can’t think of any reason why I should care about imperfect certitude.

    I would love to put this to a vote. Anyone saying they know anything with 100% certainty about the supernatural is a fool. As for the latter bit, at least three quarters of the evangelicals in my family hold no doubt whatsoever that there is a theistic God and that God is characterized via means of the Holy Bible. There is no doubt, no uncertainty, and such doubt and uncertainty is scorned upon. Perhaps you are most sophisticated.

    don’t know why you say that I am “proclaiming” things found in any English dictionary. Do I really strike you as the cockrel author of the sunrise?

    I just realized now that you have taken me far too seriously and you feel very defensive, I apologize if my response to you had appeared to belittle you in anyway. If you want to get literal, however, what does it meant to “proclaim”?
    Proclaim: “announce officially or publicly” To proclaim something is not to make it up on the spot or to speak with authority. Don’t presume.

    By contrast, you proclaim that only your brand of Agnosticism is worthy of the word, and that Agnostics of other stripes are forbidden to name themselves Agnostics.

    Wow. Okay. Please re-read my comments. I referred several time to “I”. “I” was speaking for “I.” I also was giving different forms of atheism and agnosticism, the only proclamation I gave that should be remotely offensive was towards those people who care not for any dialogue of the beyond and then say, when asked, “I don’t know – I suppose I am an agnostic.” Sure, thats agnosticism too – but I prefer to refer to it as ignorance.

    What the hell?

    Lighten up.

  • 57. Intervening in Love « An Apostate’s Chapel  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:38 am

    [...] in Love Yesterday at De-Conversion.com, in a wonderful post entitled, How To Discover Counterfeit Christianity? some comments were cited from a blog called In Defense of the Gospel. The comments pertained to a [...]

  • 58. hughvic  |  January 8, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Yes, I agree with you, Thinking Ape, about everyday parlance. I’d trotted out the linguistics because I thought we were disagreeing about nomenclature. Now I see that we were not disagreeing.

    I’m very intrigued, and a little touched, by your erstwhile self-description, “an Agnostic Christian” of at least “Kierkegaardian faith”. While I realize that Kierkegaard did not dare call himself a Christian — but instead said, in a supremely Christian manner, that he prayed that he were Christian — nonetheless I think that he not only was far ahead of his time but far behind it also, in that he would have been greeted with the embrace and conspiratorial kiss of the hunted Christians of the Second Century. If you’re familiar with his spiritual biography then you’ll understand moreover that he was in the end a kind of martyr to two very touching things, unrequited romantic love and love of the Creator. His unwillingness to compromise these two steely whims of his finally found him, dying, in a snowy gutter.

    This site is in part a place in which to shelter, and sometimes fan, dampened metaphysical embers, and I think you’d agree that in this context Kierkegaard’s unflinching distinction between fideism and modern sacrificial/institutional religion can help keep some of the bloggers here from throwing out the baby along with the religious bathwater in which that baby has been all but drowned. I sincerely hope that your own babe has not yet drowned, and I reckon it’s a beautiful babe at that.

    And yes, you’re quite right that this is outside my discipline. The historiography is really my discipline, and I’ve never gone in much for German historical Christology, as I’m a stone cold, unapologetic fideist. As for the anthropology, it helps only insofar as it second-guesses claims of universality in matters of belief, while providing a clear-cut axis of distinction between belief and social institutions — between belief and ritual. But lots of people make these distinctions just fine without their having wasted years embalmed in esoterica.

    That’s fascinating that you too are engaged in the scientific study of religion. You must have two brains. Do you by any chance count yourself among the phenomenologists? I really admire that school of Sociology, and think it must have a great deal to offer the western societies in their efforts to understand the great faith traditions. So much of Sociology, like so much of Psychology, is utter BS, but I’ve never seen a phenomenological study with a significant BS quotient.

    As to born Theists, I appreciate that you’d intended an absurdist construction, so rather than compounding the absurd (Born Agnostics? Born Atheists? Born To Be Wild?), let me cut to the chase. The most efficient way I can think of to explain this is by way of a slightly embarrassing autobiographical reference. My family and lifelong friends, the people whose respective three surnames I bear, have said that as an infant I evinced a sense of belonging elsewhere, to another realm; also that I seemed to find, from pre-orality onward, this existence rather absurd. From the time that I was old enough to speak, I addressed God the Father, and though I never considered myself a Tulsan interlocutor of His, He seemed to me every bit as real as — if not more real than — Oral Roberts. (The epilogue is that I’ve never doubted Him, and for His part He’s never let me down, so my own faith is very simple.) Now, I don’t make the mistake of overgeneralizing from my own experience; that would be a cardinal sin in anthropology and, I’m sure, also in your highly statistical field. And of course I’m aware of the likelihood that the concept of “God the Father” was instilled in me more or less along the lines described by Dr. Freud in his “Moses and Monotheism”. But nonetheless there was something there, inborn, and my own life (I am now middle aged) has on the whole testified to its originary existence. This is where Anthropology comes in handy, because the ethnographic record shows cultures on every continent that have special words for born “old souls”, infants who harken to a spiritual tunesmith. Perhaps it sounds woo-woo, but it’s an identifiable, and identified, phenomenon. It wasn’t even lost on Margaret Mead, whose remarkable brilliance did not especially extend to matters spiritual, as she, like many of the greatest social scientists, was averse to religious faith by dint of her upbringing.

    And OK, I’ll lighten up now. If you say so.

  • 59. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Karen,

    Atheism alone (unbelief) when isolated by itself is not a belief system. The problem as I’ve seen it is that Human beings are sums of belief systems. If you are an atheist I can ask you why, and your reason for being an atheist is based on belief. It is based on the belief that there is not enough evidence (and I agree that there isn’t, but you still have to believe that)

  • 60. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    hughvic I was using loose labels, my church seems liberal to me because they do not have a stance on the Bible’s inerrancy. They only believe in 2 creeds (Apostilic and Niceene) I consider them post modern because they aren’t like any church I’ve ever been. They allow people of all faiths to enter, they dont preach fire and brimstone,a nd they let the congregates participate every sunday You dont sit in pews you sit at round tables, people share poetry and art there, and fundies hate them..

    Really I dont think any label fits.

  • 61. hughvic  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    well I guess my efforts to define Atheism didn’t go over so well.

    confusedchristian, sounds like a cool church. Can’t think on what firm grounds the anti-fun damn mentals (apologies to TimeDave) would quibble, unless it’s the errancy part. Methodism (which is not my denomination) proscribes inerrancy and literalism, and when the Wesleys introduced it in North America, in the Georgia Colony, it was run then and for the succeeding couple generations along the lines you describe. (Depending on what you mean by congregate participation, which reference is broad enough to encompass Pentacostal enthusiasm, Congregationalist and Presbyterian plebiscite, Quaker consensus-seeking, etc.) Needless to say, the labels are unimportant except to people of ill intent and otherwise to those trying to convey remotely what the thing is.

    Maybe another way to think about it is to consider what that church is not, or what it’s against, or what it avoids or prohibits. Thay may be too negative, but presumably there’s at least some subtle ideology at work that would cause members to shun certain attitudes or lines of belief.

  • 62. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    well, it’s anti-fundamentalist but fundamentalists are welcome. It reminds me a lot of Rob Bell’s ministry. I have seen my church be labeled as “emergent” or “post modern” more than anything else.

    By participation I mean the pastor will ask questions about what we think of scriptures or how they affect us and they pass a microphone around. Last week he asked about what we thought of scripture that we all read after a few minutes of silence. We were encouraged to write down anything that entered our minds. Each table has pens and paper. it’s neat.

  • 63. mec  |  January 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    confused christian…… please tell me you’re located in Tidewater VA because I would like to go to your church…..

  • 64. karen  |  January 8, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    It is based on the belief that there is not enough evidence (and I agree that there isn’t, but you still have to believe that)

    Maybe the best way to characterize the difference is not in terms of “beliefs” but in terms of how different people think about “evidence.” For instance, I know people who consider their brother’s cousin’s friend’s sister’s vision from god, or supernatural healing, excellent “evidence” that there’s a god. The fact that they prayed and then got a good parking spot is evidence that there’s a god. The fact that they were thinking about someone and then that person called them is evidence of a god, or a supernatural vortex, or a divine energy or whatever they want to call it.

    Then there are people who hold a higher standard for what they will accept as evidence. For instance, I don’t consider hearsay or anecdote or emotional experience to be good empirical evidence for a supernatural claim. I can weigh the chances of what may be coincidence and separate that from “proof of a god” and say that I need better evidence (i.e., a direct personal experience with god that can’t be laid down to my own wishful thinking, or good stats and studies that withstand falsification, or something spectacular, like a message encrypted into our DNA).

    Rather than talking about a “belief system,” which is easily confused with a religion, maybe we could put it in terms of standards of proof. Does that make any sense?

  • 65. hughvic  |  January 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    karen,

    it does make sense, sure, to submit spiritual claims to some standard of proof. In Christianity we have the case of St. Thomas the Doubter, as well as that of a later St. Thomas, who sought proofs in the internal logic of scripturally based doctrines, using the Socratics as his standard. Some have come at Judaism and Christianity, for example, from the standpoint of legal evidentiary rules and standards of proof (which standards however, as they are expressed in variously applicable legal tests, vary depending upon the facts of the case). I myself am a believer in the utter sufficiency of faith, and am content to leave proof and evidence to the materialists, who are the rightful stewards of proof.

    confusedchristian,

    If your church is indeed in Virginia, unfortunately it’s still to far from my Atlanta. Do y’all do any worshipping, or do you run it mainly as an interactive study? Are there also separate, organized Bible study groups?

  • 66. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Karen, people put a higher standard on evidence do so because they BELIEVE it is a better method of doing so. It is extremely illogical to say that they are doing so simply because it is an instinctual function.

    I BELIEVE it is a better method as well, because one could easily be swindled if not. But to say it’s not a belief is both illogical and absurd.

  • 67. Lou Martuneac  |  January 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Deacon:

    Well up this thread I noted this comment by you.

    Instead, LM has disregarded Jeremy’s dignity and free will. What LM has done in his blog is the equivalent of a preacher standing in the pulpit on Sunday, moving down the stairs while preaching and standing before an individual congregant and preaching directly at the person to openly expose the person’s alleged sin to all who are gathered.

    I am hopeful that this reply will provide some useful clarification, so here goes:

    The chronology is that Jeremy was the first to publicly post at his blog a full account of his own questioning and misgivings on seven key doctrinal issues. The article is titled, The Heretic in Me.

    Afterward I commented on his own public disclosure of his leanings away from his previously held beliefs in those seven doctrines. It is my hope and prayer that he will not be drawn toward or fall into views that are antithetical to the Word of God.

    Kind regards,

    LM

  • 68. hughvic  |  January 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Peace be with you, Lou.

  • 69. bry0000000  |  January 9, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Lou,

    If you had merely “publicly commented,” there probably would have been no qualm on this blog. However, I think it is the view of many on this blog that you have publicly condemned Jeremy’s critical questioning of his faith, and that’s what is spurring much of the negative feed back.

    I have a lot of respect for Jeremy. He isn’t afraid to critically question the values that he holds dear. I don’t care if this questioning leads to agnosticism, atheism, a more liberal Christian perspective, or even a more fundamentalist perspective so long as he finds the belief system that puts him at peace. I’ll still have the same amount of respect for him regardless.

    What I think drives many of the militant comments on this blog is the public condemnation of an individuals right to seriously and/or scientifically analyze his or her beliefs. What Jeremy doesn’t need is a religious authority scrutinizing him for questioning his beliefs. What he does need is the support from his family and friends, regardless of what the outcome of his questioning is, because it sounds like he has hit a difficult stage in his belief. I think many of us are disappointed that you as an associate of his are not providing that sort of environment for him.

  • 70. karen  |  January 9, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Karen, people put a higher standard on evidence do so because they BELIEVE it is a better method of doing so. It is extremely illogical to say that they are doing so simply because it is an instinctual function.

    I BELIEVE it is a better method as well, because one could easily be swindled if not. But to say it’s not a belief is both illogical and absurd.

    CC, I honestly don’t know why we’re going round and round on this one. It seems to be a question of semantics more than anything else.

    I’m not interested in getting into word definitions and such with you, because I find that unspeakably tedious. If you want to hold onto the idea that skepticism and atheism are belief systems, so be it.

  • 71. hughvic  |  January 9, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    And with you also, BryOOOOOOO.

    Please tread gently, friends. I ask this as a regretful bigfoot.

    “It is such a secret place, the land of tears.”

    — Saint-Exupery

  • 72. Khristian  |  January 24, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Hi all,

    I have it on good authority that Jeremy Myers got fired from his job for his questions. Maybe Lou had something to do with it, I don’t know.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  January 24, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Khristian:

    Looked at his blog. He mentions a big crisis in his life, but no details. Can you supply any verification about this?

    Of course it occurs to me that even if we knew this to be true, we couldn’t do much more than be angry. Unless someone hereabouts knows of a job opening.

  • 74. the chaplain  |  January 24, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Khristian:
    I’m sorry to hear about Jeremy’s firing. I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed that, in this day, someone can be fired from a church position simply for asking tough questions. We don’t know what conclusions he would have reached if he’d been allowed to carry on without incurring such a penalty. I hope the termination was not the result of a knee-jerk response in the form of a negative hasty conclusion.

    As for Lou’s involvement, I don’t have enough information to evaluate it one way or another. It’s clear that, whatever means they used, a fair number of people knew about Jeremy’s doubts. Once the word got out pretty publicly, the firing was probably a foregone conclusion.

  • 75. karen  |  January 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    That’s really sad. I’m so sorry, Jeremy. {{{{HUGS}}}}

  • 76. Quester  |  January 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Jeremy, if you’re still around (perhaps under another name?), I sympathize. I am in the process of removing myself from my job with my church because of my doubts (met with the Archdeacon this week, will see the Bishop next week, then will meet with the parish- along with the Archdeacon and the Bishop- the week after to share my struggles and decide when my last Sunday will be).

    I can’t imagine how it would feel to have the decision taken out of my hands. How does anyone else know how much I struggle with doubts and how I can best live them out?

    I’ve posted a few times in your blog, but haven’t been reading it for a while. If it would help to speak to another Christian in a life-change because of a faith crisis, let me know.

  • 77. hughvic  |  January 24, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    In the churches where I’ve worked, I truly think we would’ve considered it a kind of advantage to have someone on staff who grappled with doubt. First, and aside from any instrumental embrace of the person, we’d have wanted to keep him close and to be patient and, when asked, helpful if possible. But it just would’ve been a good thing to have a Thomas among the Twelve, someone fellow doubters could speak with and share with and walk with.

    Sometimes I hear bromides from old church mice to the effect that doubt deepens (or can deepen) faith. I’m sure I have the wording wrong, and there’s no point in reaching for a book of Pulpit Standards. But does this notion make sense to any of you? Couldn’t your friend Jeremy (I’m new here) be appreciated in that light?

    How does this way of seeing official doubters (doubters vested with office) fit with the solemn duty of a church body or a synagogue to remain dedicated to the purposes to which the place of worship was consecrated? Should it be counterposed against, or is it consonant with, that solemn duty?

    I don’t mean to objectify your friend or make of him a pawn in an argument; am simply wondering about these things, as I have done for many years.

  • 78. Jeremy Myers  |  January 26, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Hi all…

    I’m not sure who Khristian is, or how he/she found out I got fired… but word was bound to get out eventually.

    Thanks for the concern and the hug. =) I’m still reeling a bit from it (who likes to lose their job?), but overall, I am doing OK.

    I’m just trying to figure out where to go and what to do from here. I’ve lived my whole life in the “religious” bubble. I grew up in a pastor’s famliy, attended a Christian school, a Christian college, I pastored a church, and now I’m finishing work at a Christian seminary. I almost see my termination as an opportunity to start something brand new.

    I am still convinced of the truth of Christianity, I just don’t think most of us Christians do a very good job living it out. I am extremely guilty of this myself over the years. So I’m watching my life with interest right now to see what happens. Thanks for letting me join you on the journey.

  • 79. The de-Convert  |  January 26, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Jeremy,

    Thanks for sharing. My advise would be to focus on what you believe true Christianity to be. Hopefully, you can widdle it down to “honor God/ live with compassion towards others” That’s what I did for many years of clinging to my faith. Eventually, I started focusing on the latter but if you can maintain the full package, that would be great too – as long as the former somehow doesn’t cause you to compromise the latter (which is typical in fundamentalism).

    Please let us know if there’s anything we can do as many of us have walked through your journey.

    Paul

  • 80. hughvic  |  January 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Jeremy, if I may presume, it occurs to me that God must love your sincerity and your honesty. May I ask, to what kernel of Christianity do you hold fast, now that you’ve shed some husk?

    This is really very intrusive of me, if not actually rude, so I’ll understand utterly if you wish not to answer.

  • 81. LeoPardus  |  January 26, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Jeremy:

    Sound like you’re dealing well with an ugly situation. Glad to hear it. And it’s great that you’re taking the faith seriously. I wonder if even a quarter of those who call themselves “Christian” would take a serious tack on it, what an effect it would have.

    BTW, just as a thought, you might consider putting a simple precis of your resume up here and/or at other blogs/fora that you’ve been part of. You never know when someone out of the blue may just happen to know a place you could apply to. I got my last job because someone at church happened to know someone in the company.

    Just a thought.

    Best wishes man.

  • 82. Lou Martuneac  |  January 28, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    To All:

    The de-Convert (whoever that is) posted a link at my blog to this thread. He/she apparently did this to disseminate news about Jeremy’s termination from the Grace Evangelical Society.

    This was posted while I was away on a vacation.

    I have addressed this issue.

    See-

    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2008/01/grace-evangelical-society-dismisses.html

    LM

  • 83. hughvic  |  January 29, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Hello, Lou:

    I complied with your request and linked to your memorandum concerning Jeremy. There I saw that you invite comments on the matter. I made a sincere plea that you all cleave to Jeremy rather than dismiss him. I was appalled that you would deny him the Cross as though you owned it and his disagreement with your unlettered, abjectly cruel and Scripturally unwarranted doctrine of Hell effectively consigned him to the place you have conjured. I used no obscene language; did not libel anyone or commit any tort whatever. The plea posted and stayed up for awhile. Then it was taken down.

    Boy, when you Pharisees get censorious, you really get, like, censorious. Nevertheless, to the extent that one imitates Christ, one will be cast out, denounced, betrayed by those who pretend to the Purple, and even to the livery of the House of David. And what’s more: one will rest beside one’s loving Creator in Heaven, not Hell, for all eternity.

    Which one of these is Jeremy? Which one you?

  • 84. Lou Martuneac  |  January 29, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Hughvic:

    I have no idea what request you are talking about.

    If you posted at my site, you did it anonymously, which I ordinarily don’t mind.

    And I still can’t understand most of what you are talking about.

    If you are so concerned about cleaving to Jeremy maybe you should direct that appeal to the Grace Evangelical Society and its sympathizers. Bob Wilkin fired him.

    Here are the GES sites:

    http://www.faithalone.org/index.html

    http://www.faithalone.org/wordpress

    Here is Jeremy’s blog:

    http://www.tillhecomes.org/blog/

    LM

    LM

  • 85. Jeremy Myers  |  January 30, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Hughvic,

    I don’t mind your question at all.

    Ironically, I still believe in the seven things I am investigating further. That’s what baffles me so much about my termination. The ministry I worked for has a clear and detailed doctrinal statement. To this day, I still hold to it 100%. I simply wanted to investigate some other approaches to certain doctrines. But as I found out (a little too late), asking questions was off limits.

    So they didn’t fire me because I stopped believing some of their core doctrines, but becuase I wanted to study views that were contrary to those doctrines. I was told that studying such views brings major discredit to the ministry. Personally, I thought it was a way to help the ministry…

    I will admit that there was a possibility that I might stop believing some of those seven doctrines that I listed in the way that the ministry believed them. If that had happened, I would have resigned.

    I figure that genuine truth can handle every and any question or objection thrown at it. But how can we really know that what we believe is true if we don’t even allow the questions to get asked or the objections to be raised?

  • 86. Jeremy Myers  |  January 30, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    LeoPardus,

    I wonder the same thing you wonder. Too many of us Christians have our head stuck in 1000 year-old sand. Some serious questions need to be raised about our tradition and our understanding of Scriptures.

    Regarding a precis of my resume…I suppose I could do that on my own blog. I would hate to impose here.

    My problem is that I’m not sure how I want to proceed as far as “making a living” is concerned. I’m pretty “burned out” by ministry right now…as least, the traditional, tow-the-party-line type of ministry. But, with my background and training, I don’t have a skillset for anything else. I mean, I can flip burgers and wait tables…but that’s about it.

    Anybody know a way that somone with no education or training in anything but Bible and theology can provide for a wife and three kids outside of a “church” setting?

    I’ve applied for fifteen different jobs so far…and been turned down for about eleven already. The reason? “Not enough experience.” I got offered a job today though…at $8 an hour. Try raising three kids on that!

    Maybe now that I have a Master’s Degree in Bible and Theology, and I’m up to my ears in debt, I should go back to school and learn something useful.

    Who knows? Maybe Lou will hire me. He’s some sort of car salesman or something in Illinois. Then he can bring me under his wing and guide me back into the truth…

  • 87. Lou Martuneac  |  January 31, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Jeremy:

    Why do you air details of your dismissal at this blog, which largely stands for the very things that you or any man in a Bible-believing Christian ministry would be fired over?

    LM

  • 88. Michelle  |  January 31, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Jeremy, we went through a similar circumstance when we were deciding on what denomination to attend. My husband has a BA in Religion, an MA in Speech, a partial MDIV (that’s when the change occurred and so he never finished seminary), and work toward his PhD in Communications. (Not meaning to brag, but I am really proud of him) He began working as a baker and a painter to make ends meet. I stayed at home with the babies. In time, it felt like forever, we moved to Texas and now he’s in computers. He was just a hacker, but with great troubleshooting abilities. In the desert He made a way – I’ll be praying for your needs.

    Blessings, Michelle.

  • 89. karen  |  January 31, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Anybody know a way that somone with no education or training in anything but Bible and theology can provide for a wife and three kids outside of a “church” setting?

    Jeremy, you’re very literate and write wonderfully. That’s a skill that’s very much in need at all kinds of companies these days, from service businesses to manufacturers, because so much of business is accomplished online now and being online means communicating (to customers, suppliers, competitors) in writing.

    An office job won’t pay you a lot, but it should probably pay more than minimum wage and it might be enough to tide you guys over until you get another career going. How about your wife? Many of the moms in my neighborhood get part-time jobs at their kids schools doing things like teacher’s aid, office receptionist, playground aid, etc. It doesn’t pay a lot but it helps and it offers hours that are compatible with children’s schedules.

    Why do you air details of your dismissal at this blog, which largely stands for the very things that you or any man in a Bible-believing Christian ministry would be fired over?

    Um, maybe it’s because we offer a sympathetic ear and have been kind enough to reach out to him and support him, unlike his Christian peers like yourself who were kind enough to get him FIRED!? You are really giving Christians a bad name, Lou. If I were still a believer I’d be ashamed to be associated with you.

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Jeremy:

    You are right about not being able to question things. It should always be allowed and even encouraged. Sadly a lot of folks, like Wilkins, are very insecure in spite of the bold face that put on. Threaten their fragile world and they just cannot deal with it.

    Karen rightly pointed out that you have good writing skills. If you also have good general communication skills, people skills, and the ability to think and learn “on the fly”, then you have a very useful combination of abilities.

    I make my living writing biomedical stuff. At my company there are two people with no science background to speak of. Between the two of them they edit, help with trip and meeting planning, find and work with contract help, intercede with programmers (’cause the rest of us can’t speak their language), and help with structuring much of what we science geeks write. I suspect that you could fit into some of that.

    Take a look at places that might need writers, editors, or the like. Basically, if you’re good at communications, you’re marketable.

    Here’s one more for you. Go get a book. It is titled “Knock ‘Em Dead” by Martin Yate. It is by far the best job hunting book out there. (It literally outsells the number 2 through 5 books combined.) Yate will help you to assess your skills, put together better resumes and cover letters, look for places where jobs might be, get interviews, and do well in those interviews. I’ve recommended the book to several people. Every one of them who went and got it, thanked me. Oh, and they all got jobs too. Minor detail.

    Best to you man.

  • 91. Jeremy Myers  |  January 31, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the support everyone!

    Michelle, thanks for the story of you and your husband have gotten through life. It helps me see others who have been through the same thing, and what they are doing now.

    Karen and LeoPardus, thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely go get that book today. When I get a job, I’ll be thanking you!

  • 92. LeoPardus  |  January 31, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    You are welcome Jeremy.

    BTW, I looked at Lou’s site. He said he’s willing to help if you’re at all interested in his area of work. Others there expressed concern and interest in what line of work you might look for. Sounds like you just might be able to get quite a network going. A good thing to be sure. You just never know where a great opportunity might come from.

  • 93. Lou Martuneac  |  February 1, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Karen wrote, “unlike his Christian peers like yourself who were kind enough to get him FIRED!?

    Jeremy got himself fired and if he were to do the honest thing he would personally put a stop to the on-going rumor/lie that I got him fired.

    LM

  • 94. Lou Martuneac  |  February 1, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Leo:

    You mentioned visiting my site.

    For those who want to read how I handed the report of Jeremy’s dismissal and the notes in the thread that I, in part, directed to him, here is the link.

    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2008/01/grace-evangelical-society-dismisses.html

    LM

  • 95. Conversion from Senior Pastor to Church Dropout  |  March 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    [...] but about how I left the pastorate and ended up where I am now at. It’s kind of more of a deConversion story. I haven’t ever shared too much of this story on this blog, since much of it is still painful [...]

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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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