I might have become an atheist

March 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm 133 comments

EC Pic‘Emerging’ Christian Commentary

Beginning toward the end of college and continuing through grad school into my years as a youth pastor, I went through a radical rethinking of all my conservative evangelical beliefs. I had grown up thoroughly immersed in the evangelical subculture, and as a teenager was an on-fire, committed Christian eager to serve God and share my faith with others. I attended Wheaton College, a conservative evangelical liberal arts school, where ironically, I was introduced to ideas that led me to start questioning key aspects of my conservative faith – from the nature and reality of God, to the inerrancy of scripture, to the existence of “absolute truth” or even “universal morality” free from cultural influence, to the inherent rightness of the Republican party, to the nature of salvation as merely a “get into heaven free” card.

Thanks to postmodern philosophy, as well as friends and professors who led me to look at scripture itself in a different light, by the time I finished undergrad and graduate school at Wheaton I as thoroughly cynical and disillusioned with the faith with which I had been raised. I had learned that doubt and uncertainty were an unavoidable part of the human condition, and that questioning my faith was actually a good thing.

At this point you might expect me to say that I continued on in a path away from Christianity and became an atheist or an agnostic. And the truth is that could have very well have happened. What I knew when I left grad school was that if being a Christian meant I had to be a conservative evangelical, then I didn’t want to be one at all.

However, it was right around this time that someone recommended to me the book “A New Kind of Christian” by Brian McLaren. That book launched me on a journey into what is now known as the “emerging church”, which is best described as a conversation among people who are asking similar kinds of questions about their faith and who are discovering a way to follow Jesus that avoids much of the crap that has turned us (and many others) off about Christianity in the past.

Since it is primarily a conversation, not an institution or denomination, emerging church folk tend to be wildly diverse in their beliefs and opinions. But that diversity, that freedom to question and disagree and explore, is really what it is all about in the first place. Emerging Christians view their faith not as a set of once-and-for all right answers about every question under the sun, but rather as a journey of mystery and discovery, where we admit that we don’t have all the answers and commit to seek the truth together in community – welcoming insights from a wide diversity of sources, regardless of whether those sources wear the label “Christian” or some other label entirely (e.g. humanism, Buddhism, psychology, science, pop culture, etc.).

Emerging church folks also tend to care at least as much about “orthopraxy” (right practice) as they do about “orthodoxy” (right beliefs). That is, we don’t just want to believe the right stuff, we want to actually live differently – more justly, more lovingly, more compassionately, etc. This typically translates into a concern for social justice and making the world a better place in the here and now, not just waiting to be taken away to heaven when we die. We tend to think that Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is just as central to the gospel as the belief that he died on the cross for our sins.

Anyway, to make a long story short (and leaving out all kinds of other relevant details about the emerging church), what I discovered is that there was another way to be a Christian than what I had previously known. In a sense I guess you could say that I did de-convert. I de-converted from the faith of my youth, from the kind of faith that was locked into one narrow set of answers – that didn’t allow room for questions and doubts – and from the kind of faith that said the most important thing was believing exactly the right set of doctrines rather than how we actually lived in the world. But what I discovered in my process of de-conversion was that “no faith” was not the only alternative to “bad faith”; that there was the possibility of “good faith” instead.

And the interesting thing is that this new kind of faith has me just as “on fire” for serving God and others as I ever was in my conservative evangelical days. Even though I hold my beliefs more loosely and with less dogmatic certainty these days, I am still just as passionate for following what I call “the way of Christ”, the way of justice, compassion, generosity, reconciliation, and self-sacrificial love that I believe Jesus taught and modeled for us. I guess in the end I didn’t just de-convert away from something. I converted to something as well – to a new way of looking at and living in the world. And that, for me, has made all the difference.

- Mike Clawson, Guest Contributor
http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/

Entry filed under: ~Guest. Tags: , , , , .

Fundamentalism, Psychotherapy and De-Conversion Blind faith or blinding faith?

133 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  March 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Hey Mike,

    I’m having a hard time seeing the difference between what you describe here and agnosticism. It seems that in both, we don’t know who (or if) God is, so we simply try to be the best we can be.

  • 2. TheDeeZone  |  March 5, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Mike,

    Enjoyed your post. I have been troubled by those who are very concerned about orthodoxy but overlook the importance of orthopraxy.

    DH

  • 3. Larro  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    …mm…

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Welcome Mike and thanks for your contribution. As someone who briefly found like peers among the Emerging church, I must somewhat second Quester’s concern. I am sure I will write my own post on the emerging church in the near future, as I have had this discussion quite a bit recently.

    My personal experience with the movement is that they speak to many psychological and historical truths, yet they preach very little about Christianity. They talk about Jesus in a round-about way, but one that does not do the Biblical Jesus very much justice. Vague notions about God’s love and a preference for authenticity over morality appear to be key – neither of which has much place in the actual scriptures.

    I’m not here to knock the liberal emergent church – I would take them over the evangelicals/fundamentalists any day, but thats the whole concern, isn’t it? Is the emergent church merely an entire movement of deconverting Christians? I think that is the only subject I will ever agree with Falwell on – the emergent church, for better or worse, could dismantle Christianity so much that it becomes irrelevant.

  • 5. Michelle  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Good post – thanks for contributing.

    I’ve heard there is a difference between the emerging church and the emergent church, is this so?

  • 6. Thinking Ape  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Michelle,

    I’ve heard there is a difference between the emerging church and the emergent church, is this so?

    Only thanks to Mark Driscoll.
    Roughly speaking, the “Emergent” is almost an institution now, usually liberal. The “Emerging” is anything that wants to call itself a church among postmodern culture (whether they know what that means or not).

  • 7. Michelle  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    TA: Is one more conservative than the other? I ask because it seems Driscoll has reservations about some of the teaching in the emerging church.

  • 8. Jay  |  March 5, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    From what I understand the ‘emergent’ church is generally disillusioned evangelicals who are willing to question a little more and generally share some more politically liberal views.

    There is also liberal (or progressive) Christianity which is very theologically liberal and even has members that would say “theism is dead” (John Spong) and generally views God in a very very different manner.

  • 9. Michelle  |  March 5, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Jay:
    “theism is dead” (John Spong) and generally views God in a very very different manner

    How can he call himself Christian and say this? Why use the word Christian to define yourself if you don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God? Seems incongruent.

  • 10. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:08 am

    Good questions y’all!

    Quester: there’s not much difference. In fact I would call myself an “agnostic” Christian, insofar as the term “agnostic” means “without knowledge”. I don’t think we human beings know much of anything about anything, religious matters included. At some point I simply say “I don’t know for certain, I don’t even think I can know, but I’m going to choose to live this way anyway because I have to get on with my life and this way seems best to me.” And to me, that’s not such a bad thing. Being agnostic is simply another way of saying that I’m trying to epistemically humble – recognizing the limits of my own ability to know reality.

    Thinking Ape: Your experience of the emerging church may be different than mine. I have known a few ECers who seem to be stuck in a deconstructive mode where all they ever do is question and may end up throwing everything out in the end. However, there are quite a few of us who have started to reconstruct a new way of understanding and following Jesus after our initial deconstruction. This is what I meant when I said that I hadn’t just de-converted, I had converted to something new as well.
    (P.S. Biblical scholar & Bishop NT Wright is one of those who has been invaluable to me in the process of this reconstruction.)

    Michelle: “emerging church” is a broader term to describe this whole movement with all it’s diversity. Within the emerging church there are those who are still fairly conservative and are merely rethinking issues of worship style or church structure, and those who are more “liberal” and are questioning all kinds of theological issues. “Emergent” usually refers to a particular group of friends who have been the core catalysts and trailblazers of the broader emerging movement, and usually skew towards the more theologically adventurous as well – people like Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Danielle Shroyer, etc. I would consider myself both “Emergent” and “emerging”.

    And yes, even Emergent folks are rather different than the typical theological liberalism of the past century (represented by folks like Bishop Spong, the Jesus Seminar, etc.) In many ways this kind of liberalism is just the flip side of the same late Modernist worldview that drives fundamentalist Christianity as well, and the emerging church, as a child of postmodernism, simply has different sensibilities and different questions.

  • 11. Quester  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Mike Clawson,

    Glad I wasn’t just fooling myself. I agree that when we realize what we don’t know, we still have to choose how to live.

    Michelle,

    I agree. I once attended a presentation by John Spong and wondered how he could continue to call himself a Christian, let alone a bishop. In my mind, a Christian can not deny the divinity or resurrection of Christ and still call themselves Christian.

    With my recent opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, I find I still believe the same; if I can not affirm Christ’s divinity or resurrection, I have no place in the pulpit.

  • 12. Michelle  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Mike,

    Thanks for your response. I found this article that breaks the movement down into five streams, thought I’d pass it along. If you choose to read it, would you give your analysis, but please don’t feel obligated.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/february/11.35.html

    Quester,

    I think that was a very honest move on your part – it had to be extremely difficult. From the layperson’s perspective, I want to know my pastor believes in both Christ’s deity and resurrection. To me it’s foundational. (or did I mean fundamental? ;) )

  • 13. orDover  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:07 am

    What does the emerging church think about the literal reading of the Bible?

    It seems from reading this post that the diversity mentioned, as well as “discovering a way to follow Jesus that avoids much of the crap that has turned us (and many others) off about Christianity in the past” means that the Bible is not read literally, and that is something that I just do not understand.

    I don’t understand how someone could read one part of the Bible, declare it allegory, and read the other part about Jesus being the son of God and resurrecting from the dead and declare it truth. First of all it’s cherry-picking, second of all it’s intellectually dishonest.

    From how it sounds here this entire “emerging church” sounds like feel-good cherry-picking. Pick the version of Jesus that makes you feel happiest.

    I can admire evangelicals for being consistent in their faith, if nothing else. They are willing to accept the good (salvation through the resurrection of Christ) along with the bad (homosexuals are sinners and going to hell).

  • 14. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Michelle: that article is by my personal friend Scot McKnight, and I think he does a great job of laying out a few of the different streams of the emerging church. (And I think “streams” is a good metaphor for understanding it as well.) I’ve actually written a similar article myself on the three streams that I see in the emerging movement, which you can find here:
    “What is the Emerging Church?”

    And a follow up article that develops that idea of “streams” a little more:
    “The Converging Church”

  • 15. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:23 am

    orDover:

    It’s impossible to state “The emerging church thinks X about the Bible”, since, as I said, the whole movement is characterized by diversity and a freedom to question and reach differing conclusions.

    However, if you want to know my personal views about the Bible, I’ve written several posts on the matter over at my blog, most in response to exactly the kind of questions that you’ve raised here:

    How to Read the Bible
    What Good is the Bible?
    Three Approaches to Scripture

    The very short answer to your question is that personally I feel it is more intellectually honest and accurate to read the Bible – which of course is not simply one text, but a collection of many different kinds of texts written over a span of at least a thousand years – in light of it’s literary, historical, and cultural contexts. If I were a literary critic I wouldn’t dream of interpreting every different type of literary genre as if it were all the same – as if Shakespeare should be read in the same way as Stephen King, or Jack Kerouac should be read in the same way as Aristotle – so why in the world would I do that with the Bible?

  • 16. orDover  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Kerouac doesn’t purport to be able to save your soul from eternal damnation, so that’s a false analogy.

    I fail to see how approaching parts of the Bible as different literary genres addresses whether it is read literally or not. Besides, isn’t that just more cherry-picking? Say you decide to read the book of Job as a mythological moral tale based on the fact that the Jews were a story-telling society with a rich oral history, what stops you from applying that same love of lore to the story of Christ? You’re dealing with the same group of people.

    I’ll expound on your false analogy a little bit. Psalms can be read for it’s beauty and appreciate as poetry, but isn’t it important to still believe that God really will be with you when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that the implications of the poems reflect deep truths? When I read Plath’s “All the Dead Dears” I don’t think that a skeleton really comes to life and kills her. There are no implications, no truths, just pretty words. Is Psalms nothing but pretty words?

  • 17. Richard  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:23 am

    For my part, I think any movement that allows for an acceptance of uncertainty and nondogmatic questioning is almost unqualifiedly a good thing. I think it is precisely that uncertainty in which room is opened up for compromise and cooperation. It is what allows you to *work* with someone.

    And that is the great sin of evangelical Christiantiy (the traditional modernist type): they know the Truth and you dont. And of course you dont compromise or negotiation with error, you correct it. What they see is, essentially, war. They dont call it a cultural war for nothing. There can be no meeting of the minds or finding of middle ground when one side is on the side of God and the other is, well, not.

    Thanks, Mike, for the article; it helped clear up what this movement is about for me.

  • 18. Richard  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:24 am

    And as an aside, orDover, I have to disagree with you. We cherry pick every book we ever read. We are perfectly free – in fact, we tend to see it as responsible — to use our own judgement and critical thinking to decide that we agree with *this* passage in this book but not *this* one. Hopefully, we have a good argument for our conclusion, but the point is that it is the fundamentalist assumption that a book like the Bible must be accepted or rejected whole cloth. Or read literally, or figuratively, whole cloth. Historians do, in fact, conclude that some parts of the Bible were likely accurate (as far as we can tell) and some were invented later. Whats wrong with saying so?

    An example: the story of the adulterous woman brought before Jesus — I think in John. Everyone loves this story. Jesus says his famous “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” From what I understand, this story does not appear in early manuscipts for several hundred years after the writing of the Gospels, leading most scholars to conclude it was a legend about Jesus that some scribe inserted into the text. It almost certainly did not happen.

    My question is, does it really make any difference? Is the story not moving and powerful and memorable regardless of whether it happend? “Pretty words” indeed! Few things on this earth are more powerful to humans than “pretty words.” They dont have to be literally factual to be effective; thats what the fundamentalists think.

    Keep in mind, Im not a Christian, nor am I especially defending the emerging church or anyone else. I just think that cherry picking is the only way to read the Bible — and every other book.

  • 19. Bryan  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Mike,

    Thanks for posting the article — I enjoyed reading it.

    I’m trying to get a handle on your perspective, and would like to ask something that I hope you’ll feel free to sidestep if you’re uncomfortable answering it. I’m asking this of you specifically, rather than asking you to speak for ECers generally.

    Would it be accurate to say that you revere the person of Jesus as described in the gospels, and find inspiration in following his example, but are unsure about his ultimate nature and about the necessity of believing in him for salvation (and possibly even uncertain about the existence of an afterlife)? Or, do you hold a more traditional view — that Jesus was/is divine, and/or that faith in him is necessary for salvation?

    In my own experience, one of the most liberating aspects of losing my fundamentalist faith was that it enabled me to become more accepting of people as they are. I no longer believed that the just reward for each person is eternal torment — that view definitely gives one a skewed view of humanity. I’m curious if its possible to say whether this same liberation of viewpoint generally applies to ECers as a rule, because it seems to me that this engenders a more compassionate attitude (which according to your description is a hallmark of the EC perspective).

  • 20. orDover  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:45 am

    I see your point Richard, and I do agree that we cherry-pick what we read, but I just think that when it comes to reading the Bible, if it’s claims are taken into consideration, that it is a different situation.

    There is a thin line between reading the account of Jesus and the adulterous women as a fiction and reading the entire story of Jesus is a fiction, or that the story of his resurrection is a fiction. It seems that if the first is plausible that the latter are equally plausible.

    I don’t see anything wrong with reading the Bible as a moral guide, not unlike Aesop’s fables, but I do have a problem with someone saying that if I don’t believe what the Bible says, if I don’t use it as my moral guide, that I will go to hell when I die.

    I believe that the truth of Christ’s resurrection is the crux of the entire religion. When I was going to a Christian high school we were often told that Christ was either a madman and a liar, or the son of God. There was no in between.

    Again, I believe that if one part of the Bible is not taken literally, that the entire thing might as well be considered nothing but fictitious mythology. There is no in between. The Bible is either the divinely inspired word of God filled with eternal truths and the way to salvation, or it is a bunch of fables.

  • 21. witness  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:17 am

    @Mike,

    Regarding your statement above, “We tend to think that Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is just as central to the gospel as the belief that he died on the cross for our sins.”

    Mike, I don’t understand “just as central to the gospel” – I don’t see it like that. The law is the law – do this! The gospel on the other hand is done – it is finished! The law can’t save anyone, it only condemns. The gospel has the power to save. I think the distinction is important. I don’t think commands/law are the gospel nor the gospel is a command.

  • 22. Friendly Atheist » De-conversion post  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:40 am

    [...] anyone is interested, I just contributed a post to De-conversion. It starts off “I might have become an atheist.” Share This Popularity: unranked [...]

  • 23. witness  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:43 am

    Your fruits should reflect adherence to the law, but even if perfection was possible that would still not represent the gospel. You would be entering heaven on your merit “works” — We need the gospel, and only Jesus Christ can make us clean. Imputed righteousness is possible (through Jesus), but self righteousness?
    The self-righteous will not enter the Kingdom.
    ________________________________________________
    16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

    17″Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

    18″Which ones?” the man inquired.

    Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’[d] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[e]”

    20″All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

    21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

    26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

  • 24. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:48 am

    witness, since you say you’re speaking “@” me and not “with” me, I’ll assume you just wanted to put your view out there about how wrong I am and you’re not really looking for a response from me. In that case I’m happy to just agree to disagree.

    Peace

  • 25. Jason  |  March 6, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Mike,
    I’m so happy to see you ditch the oppression of such a strict and narrow view of the world.
    I myself and am Atheist, but definitely respect your faith in finding answers to life’s questions through scripture and conversation with your peers.
    Keep up the good work in finding your own way.

  • 26. BZ  |  March 6, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Well, I think it is possible for Mike to hold a deep belief in loving one’s neighbor as one’s self without believing that that is the thing that gets him into heaven.

  • 27. epiphanist  |  March 6, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Good post and good discussion, thanks to all. When you find some of the truth it is a good idea to hold on to it.

  • 28. TheDeeZone  |  March 6, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Mike,

    Good post.

    Would Tony Compolo be considered part of the EC movement? I listen to his podcasts and the Emering Village Podcast and they seem to say similar or the same things.

    How would you classify someone who has moved from fundamentalism but has chosen to stay in a traditional church?

  • 29. ED  |  March 6, 2008 at 10:25 am

    I am relatively new in my de-conversion process, but one of the idiosyncrasies of the christian faith that I found especially troubling my was the “Burger King” “Have it your way,” approach to the biblical and historically immutable concept of God and worship.
    If God is going to be whatever I construct, I fail to see the point. Why not just call myself agnostic and move on? At this point I have a great deal invested in my theism, but holding on to an untenable position doesn’t seem to be the answer, no matter how good it seems to make me feel.

  • 30. ED  |  March 6, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Thomas Paine wrote in, “The Age of Reason:”

    “Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consist in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far prostituted and corrupted the chastity of the mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every crime.”

    Mike: How would you classify someone who has moved from fundamentalism but has chosen to stay in a traditional church?

    Schizophrenic? No just kidding. Are you going because of family? Friends? Why? I go with my wife to church just because she wishes for me to go with her. I do not participate in communion, simply out of respect. If asked what I believe I would be tactfully and respectfully be truthful. I was a former fundamentalist. I however cannot go to a fundamentalist church when I witness some of the abuses I have observed in the past. It would be unethical for me to remain silent.

  • 31. LeoPardus  |  March 6, 2008 at 11:24 am

    ED:

    If God is going to be whatever I construct, I fail to see the point. Why not just call myself agnostic and move on?

    I see no reason not to do just that. In fact, I did.

    How would you classify someone who has moved from fundamentalism but has chosen to stay in a traditional church?

    Me again. My family believes. I go with them. I really don’t mind. The EOC liturgy is quite beautiful and the people there are great. The homily/sermon is the only thing that mars it all. But I can ignore that pretty well. And like you, I don’t take communion.

  • 32. Don’t Blink … « a regular expression  |  March 6, 2008 at 11:25 am

    [...] In the meantime, a post over at de-conversion reflects very strongly my transition from a fundamentalist style of Christian to what I am now (whatever that is). Check it out here: http://de-conversion.com/2008/03/05/i-might-have-become-an-atheist/. [...]

  • 33. paulmct  |  March 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I like that Thomas Paine quote. Truth to oneself. Loyalty to oneself and what one knows, rather than what one is expected to believe. By submitting to those expectations, we corrupt ourselves and society.

  • 34. TheDeeZone  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Ed & Leo,

    I was the one who asked how you classify someone who is no-longer a fundamentalist but is still in a traditional church. I am a Christian but I do have problems with most fundamentalist, except my mom. She is a differant kind of fundamentalist. Also, I do not believe that the way we currently do church is the best way. It has been a come and see approach. When I read the Bible, I see that Jesus was involved in the community and that he commanded his followers to go and minister. Also, I believe that unless my faith directly effects the way I live then it really isn’t much good for me.

    DH

  • 35. witness  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Dear Mike,

    sorry, wasn’t tryin to be a SA, just lazy i guess. here i go discussing law vs gospel on a dc blog- brown shoes w/ a black suit- me thinks :)

  • 36. ED  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    DH

    Your respect that you demonstrate for your mom is admirable, and says volumes about you and your mother.
    My journey from fundamentalism was long and painful, not only for me but also my family. I spent 22 years in a fundamentalist church system and what we experienced was not only unethical but also in a couple of instances criminal.

    Though my wife is still a theist, she still bares the scares of those past experiences. You said: Also, I believe that unless my faith directly effects the way I live then it really isn’t much good for me.

    If you are speaking of ethics, I believe you may discover that you are just as ethical with or without “faith.” It appears to me that christianity picks and chooses it’s ethical beliefs from the bible based upon the “zeitgeist”, or the cultural and intellectual climate of the era that you happen to be in. It is the reason Augustine advocated torture for heresy and apostasy, Aquinas advocated the death penalty. What has changed? I

    f you continue to attend a fundamentalist church and you don’t feel as though you are prostituting yourself; enjoy! I attend church today and can appreciate the cultural and artistic beauty of the service. I can even listen to a sermon that I don’t agree with as long as it well crafted.

  • 37. Jay  |  March 6, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    “How can he call himself Christian and say this? Why use the word Christian to define yourself if you don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God? Seems incongruent.”

    I agree but on the other hand who gets to decide what qualifies as a christian? Something that I think we should all take into consideration is that we can’t volitionally chose our beliefs. Go ahead theist, try not to believe for a day. Go ahead atheist, believe for a day. Not sure what this has to do with the post.

  • 38. Michelle  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Mike,

    Thanks for the links. I read your and your wife’s blog, along with the article from McKnight. I am interested in knowing, considering McKnight teaches at North Park, is this a church growth movement that has come from the Evang’l Cov’t denomination. I ask because that was where we camped for some time. When we left our “holiness” tradition we looked for a denomination that was more open and were very pleased with the tenets of Evang’l Cov’t.

    Your wife’s post on “Safe Places” hit a chord with me – it’s very hard to find a place where open communication can happen.

    Again, thanks for the post and the links.

  • 39. TheDeeZone  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Ed,

    My masters is in Christian Ethcis. I am a virtue ethists and believe that the Beatitudes, Fruit of the Spirt, Proverbs among other passages are Bibical examples of virtues.

    My mom has some of the same views that many fundamentalist hold ie women shouldn’t dress like me ie wear pants however she doesn’t have a problem with makeup or jewlery. Her reasons for not cutting my hair when I was younger was because she couldn’t bear to cut my curly locks. She takes the Bible literally and my mom has a deep faith in God that seems to be easy for her. There is no duplicity that I see in others of the fundamental persuasion. She believes in taking the moral high ground and that the Bible is a guidebook for life not a rule book. She has been accepting of my wearing shorts, pants etc. She aslo accepted the Christian punk, alternative and metal music I listen to because the lyrics for the most part are Bibically solid.

    My church is not fundamentalist but rather traditional, however some churches in our demonation are fundamentalist. While I believe my church must find new ways to reach anyone under the age of 50 I still believe that the teachings of my church are solid.

  • 40. writerdd  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Mke! Interesting post. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d stumbled onto more liberal forms of Christianity. I don’t think it would have made a difference, because I did not stop believing in God because I was disillusioned with the church. I stopped believing in God because as I learned more about the universe and human nature, I found that reality didn’t jive with my beliefs from the Bible, and I had to be honest with myself about what I thought was real, not what I wanted to believe. I never, ever would have chosen to stop believing in God, but in the end, it was a huge relief to find that my faith had dissolved.

  • 41. Lady through the Looking Glass  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Mike, a very enlightening post. I’ve been seeing that word “emergent” bouncing around recently, but until now, didn’t know what it meant. Thanks for sharing. You’ve given me something else to think about and explore on my new journey, which I’ve mentioned in part in my comment on the post “The point of Christian faith in a secular world”.

  • 42. pauljub  |  March 6, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you for this post. I do suppose that every person who has been “raised a Christian” needs to go through a re-birth process!!! I also had to shed all of my former concepts of Christianity, and embrace the REAL thing, which left me *on fire* about something that is truly alive and truly worth living for!

    God leads all of His elect through a furnace where they must shed all of their pride in former institutions and attitudes. We have all kinds of thinking that just sounds good but misses the point.

  • 43. mewho  |  March 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I had a very difficult time reading your post, Mike, and will be intentionally writing in a very provacative tone. I suggest that you are lying to yourself. You have taken a prudent position because of family? Friends? Your spouse? Your children? I’m stepping out on a limb here, but I think you KNOW the truth but are too afraid to admit it, even on this website.

    I hate your position, only because I share it and it is HELL. You have taken a compromise because you can’t turn onto the road you want to take – the road you KNOW is true – because your past will appear empty and your life will take a turn for the worst. I read your post and see myself. I know why you’re on a de-conversion website.

    Every fundamentalist knows this: if you can’t accept ALL of the Bible then you can EVENTUALLY accept NONE of it. The erosion has been occurring for a long time now, and every Christian that begins to doubt one WORD knows that the castle MIGHT be one made of sand, ready to fall. The fundamentalist BELIEVES EVERY WORD, no matter how ABSURD. After all, to them it’s God’s Word, and He can’t make a mistake. Your position reveals what you know, but can’t confess. For fear you leave the closet door closed.

    I have six brothers in the ministry and three sisters who married preachers. My 75 year old father still gets up behind the pulpit and preachers to his congregation. Do you think I’m gonna tell THEM that I think their WHOLE LIFE is a pack of ruined truths and their god is an imaginary friend that makes them feel good for neurological reasons? No, I’m not. So I sit by silently, and I do what you’re doing. I’m faking it. Trying on the outside to look the part, so I can fit in, but all the while churning on the inside, wishing for a way out without LOSING IT ALL! De-converting is DANGEROUS for some of us. We may not lose our pulse, but we may still lose our life.

    I think you’re one of the many faces I see in church every Sunday and I want to secretly ask them, probe their heart, find out if they are one, too. And I wonder if when they smile at me if they aren’t thinking the same thing, too. I sometimes wish that I could draw part of an “A”, and they could finish it and we would both silently know we’re friends in this matter…

    It is a sad game us late de-converts play. Some risk it all and pick up what’s left of the pieces. Some bury it and find a way to masquerade, and it’s a miserable way to live. Scripture becomes so twisted that it’s no more Truth than any other book. You don’t witness. You’re not certain of Heaven. What you’re left with is a bag packed with doubt, but one you can’t abandon because “they” will notice it missing.

    Mike, you reveal it all when you say “I’m going to choose to live this way anyway because I have to get on with my life and this way seems best to me.” I read it with a withering sigh towards the end and can imagine your shoulders slightly shrugging. I wonder how long it will still appear “best” to us…to live like this. And let’s be honest, to “get on with my life” means we shouldn’t be reading any more of your posts…

    I don’t even know you, Mike, but I wish we could sit down, with others like us, face-to-face, and try to figure out where do we go from here. Because, Mike, we’re neither “hot” nor “cold”. We have become the “luke-warm”.

    Sincerely,

    James

  • 44. The de-Convert  |  March 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    mewho,

    I know why you’re on a de-conversion website.

    Just for the record, Mike contributed this post to “a de-conversion website” at my request.

    Of course, this is probably better than the website he’s really a contributor on: Friendly Atheist :)

    Paul

  • 45. ED  |  March 6, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    James,

    Very good stuff. One of the rules of logic is, “that a thing is what it is.” We who have been raised by, surrounded by, infused with, married to, friends with , everything christian, find ourselves with some very tough choices. Even though I do not consider myself a theist any longer, I still believe honor you father and mother to be wonderful truths that should be observed, even by the most calloused and crusty children.
    “This above all else to thine own self be true,” even tough not scripture; is a wonderful motto to live by, but not at the expense of my 81 year old parents. It’s tough! I sometimes feel schizophrenic.
    It seems that you are where I am.
    My best wishes.

  • 46. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Dee:

    “Would Tony Compolo be considered part of the EC movement?”

    Tony is a friend and mentor to many of us. He even co-authored a book with Brian McLaren, Adventures in Missing the Point. I don’t know if he’d personally self-identify as “emergent”, but he’s definitely supportive of the conversation.

    “How would you classify someone who has moved from fundamentalism but has chosen to stay in a traditional church?”

    I was in that same position myself not too long ago, as a youth pastor in a conservative baptist church, before eventually getting resigned for being too “emergent”. I chose to stay because 1) I valued the relationships and the community more than doctrinal agreement; and 2) I hoped that I could work for change from within. I would have stayed there long too, but eventually those in power at that church decided they didn’t really want to change, and didn’t want to agree to disagree with me either.

    But if you are finding yourself still within a more conservative, traditional church, I would likewise encourage you to start working for change from within as well, even if this happens only one conversation at a time. And if you’re not on paid staff it will be that much easier for you. :)

    Michelle:

    “I am interested in knowing, considering McKnight teaches at North Park, is this a church growth movement that has come from the Evang’l Cov’t denomination. I ask because that was where we camped for some time. When we left our “holiness” tradition we looked for a denomination that was more open and were very pleased with the tenets of Evang’l Cov’t.

    The emerging church hasn’t “come from” the Evangelical Covenant Church, but I know many Covenant folk that are supportive of it. Overall I’d say that the Evang. Covenant church is definitely more progressive than most evangelical denominations on these kinds of issues and very friendly to the emerging conversation. Depending on the particular church and what exactly you’re looking for I’d say they could be a “safe place” for you.

  • 47. Mike Clawson  |  March 6, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    James, I sincerely appreciate your concern for me, and I certainly feel for you in your situation. However, I have to honestly say that I do not resonate with your words. I am not a closet atheist, and I am not merely pretending to have faith. I don’t see my options as a stark black and white choice between fundamentalism or atheism – I don’t even think the fundamentalists have gotten Christianity right at all in the first place, so why would I think they are my only option for being a Christian?! At any rate, as a postmodern person, I suppose I may be a little more comfortable simply living with uncertainties and shades of gray then you seem to be. That to me is what “taking a leap of faith” is all about – not being certain, but choosing to believe anyway.

    Anyhow, I guess I’ll have to just ask you to trust me when I say that I really am more passionate about my faith now than I ever have been. Again, I am grateful for your concern, but truthfully, I’m just not where you’re at. Best of luck tho’ as you try to figure out where to go from there.

    Peace,
    -Mike

  • 48. TheDeeZone  |  March 6, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Mike,

    We are currently working with College/Young Adults. Our church is in a period of transistion. I’m not sure of my opions of the emerging/emergint church issues. I do however know that if the established church doesn’t drasticaly change our methods, not the message of the Gospel, it will soon be culturally irelvant.

    DH

  • 49. C R Stamey  |  March 6, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    It all seems to confirm that modern inquiry is continuing to undermine Christian faith, which is a good thing. How many traditions need to be removed as false from the foundations before people will accept the house of cards of religion is finally going to fall. Pick and choose your dogma, reorder the priorities to replace that which is proven false. What can possibly be left after reason has stripped religious belief to its bones ? I wish the human race could outgrow its infantile psychological delusions.

  • 50. Mike Clawson  |  March 7, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Just speaking personally, but it wasn’t so much “modern inquiry” that led me to rethink my faith, as it was a radical postmodern questioning that led me to doubt my certainty about everything, including Modernistic rationalist certainties (especially the kind that think it’s possible to just write off any dissenting opinions as “infantile psychological delusions”).

  • 51. Why I am Not a Liberal Christian « de-conversion  |  March 7, 2008 at 1:52 am

    [...] This post is somewhat of an indirect response, or possibly a reaction, to Mike’s “I might have become an atheist” post, in which he narrates how his doubts at Bible college almost led him to disbelief, but [...]

  • 52. Mike Clawson  |  March 7, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Hey Bryan, sorry it’s taken me a while to reply to you. You asked:

    Would it be accurate to say that you revere the person of Jesus as described in the gospels, and find inspiration in following his example, but are unsure about his ultimate nature and about the necessity of believing in him for salvation (and possibly even uncertain about the existence of an afterlife)? Or, do you hold a more traditional view — that Jesus was/is divine, and/or that faith in him is necessary for salvation?

    First off, I’m not “sure” about anything. However, I do still believe in the divinity of Christ. I’ve not yet found any compelling reason personally to disregard that – besides which, I’d have to say that the doctrine of “Incarnation” is probably even more central to my theology than ever before. The idea of God becoming one of us in order to communicate his love and redemption to us is something that just resonates with me on a deep level.

    I also still believe in the afterlife. However, what has changed is that I don’t think the afterlife is really the main point of the gospel or even what it means to be “saved”. When Jesus offers salvation, I don’t think this primarily means “salvation from Hell when we die”. I think salvation is a far more wholistic thing that is first and foremost about God’s work in redeeming the whole world on a cosmic, global, societal, communal and yes, individual level. (However, I think the idea of individual salvation needs to find it’s meaning within these larger categories, not vice versa.) To put it more simply, salvation is God putting right all that has gone wrong in this world, and “being saved” means choosing to participate with God in that work of putting things right, both in our personal lives, our communities, and globally.

    However, I am an inclusivist in that while I think this salvation begins and ends with Jesus, I don’t necessarily think that it is necessary to always personally claim the name of Jesus in order to participate in God’s redemption. I know plenty of people whom I would say are following the way of Jesus (the way of love, justice, compassion and generosity) with their lives, even though they wouldn’t call themselves Christians. And really, I don’t think the point is mere “belief” anyway. I don’t think we’re saved by holding the right philosophy or the right set of doctrines or even by choosing the right religion. That just seems like a petty game to me, and I don’t think God would bother with such games. I think she’s more interested in our “hearts” and with the direction of our lives, whether we’re pointed towards or away from her way of love and justice.

    And ultimately I don’t think it’s any of my business who is “saved” or not. It’s not for me to set the terms and conditions by which some are “in” or “out”. I do think it is possible for some people to live their lives in a way that rejects God’s redemption, but it is not for me to judge who that might be in the end.

    I hope that explanation wasn’t more than you bargained for and that I actually answered your questions. :)

  • 53. Quester  |  March 7, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Mike, that sounds remarkably like where I was four or five years ago. It can be an energizing, if uncertain, place to be. I’m glad you’ve found a community of support to walk with you there. If you’re an avid reader, you might get something out of Dorothy L. Sayers’ books on Creative theology. Her main premise, as I understand it, is that to be created in God’s image is to be a creator (or co-creator), and thus we live in that image to the extent that we create and participate in God’s act of creation.

  • 54. Mike Clawson  |  March 7, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Hey Quester, thanks for the recommendation. I am familiar with Sayers’ ideas about being co-creators, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever read her (maybe a few essays in college). I know my wife has. I’ll ask her. :)

  • 55. Thinking Ape  |  March 7, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Mike,

    However, I do still believe in the divinity of Christ. I’ve not yet found any compelling reason personally to disregard that

    Shouldn’t you need compelling reasons to show it, not the other way around? I mean, if we are going to actually critique the Bible as a “dynamic” text, why suddenly stop at Christ’s divinity? Or even if I do want to try out your method, why would I find compelling reasons to disregard the immorality of homosexuality?

    I also still believe in the afterlife. However, what has changed is that I don’t think the afterlife is really the main point of the gospel or even what it means to be “saved”.

    And really, I don’t think the point is mere “belief” anyway.

    Certainly you are not saying this has been the case throughout most of Christianity or even American fundamentalism. This phenomena of grace through mere belief is almost completely restricted to 19th and 20th century evangelicalism.

  • 56. Mike Clawson  |  March 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Shouldn’t you need compelling reasons to show it, not the other way around?

    Yes, but I wasn’t going to go into all of those here. That would have been rather off-topic.

    “I also still believe in the afterlife. However, what has changed is that I don’t think the afterlife is really the main point of the gospel or even what it means to be “saved”.

    And really, I don’t think the point is mere “belief” anyway.”

    Certainly you are not saying this has been the case throughout most of Christianity or even American fundamentalism. This phenomena of grace through mere belief is almost completely restricted to 19th and 20th century evangelicalism.

    Our destiny in the afterlife has been a major focus of Western Christianity since at least the Middle Ages, and belief in “grace through faith” has been emphasized among Protestants since Martin Luther. While one could argue that Luther and the other early Reformers had a much more wholistic of “faith” than mere “believism”, nonetheless this idea that we are saved by holding right doctrine has crept into the church at least since then, and certainly, as you say, most especially in the past 200 years of American evangelicalism.

    However, in the midst of that there has always been an alternative tradition of those who remind us that the gospel of Jesus is something to be lived, not merely believed. One thinks of monastic orders like the Franciscans, or the Radical Anabaptist Reformers, or the early days of the Wesleyan movement and the holiness/social justice churches that sprang out of that (e.g. the Salvation Army, the Clapham Sect, etc.), or the social gospel of the mainline Protestants in this past century.

  • 57. Quester  |  March 7, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Mike Clawson,

    If compelling reasons to believe in the divinity of Christ are not on topic in a thread about why you didn’t become an atheist, where would they be on topic?

  • 58. Mike Clawson  |  March 8, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Well, because it doesn’t have much to do with why I didn’t become an atheist. I was just trying to answer Bryan’s question without having to write a whole dissertation on every aspect of my theology and why I believe them.

  • 59. Quester  |  March 8, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Well, because it doesn’t have much to do with why I didn’t become an atheist. I was just trying to answer Bryan’s question without having to write a whole dissertation on every aspect of my theology and why I believe them.

    All right then. I suppose I was simply assuming that a compelling reason to believe in Christ, or any god, would be the only reason not to be an atheist. Looks like I was wrong. Sorry.

  • 60. Mike Clawson  |  March 8, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I understand your assumption Quester. It’s just that in my particular journey, they question of Christ’s divinity was not one that was most pressing to me. My questions had more to do with epistemology, soteriology, morality, and biblical interpretation than with Christology per se.

    At any rate, I’m not saying that I don’t have reasons for why I believe in the divinity of Christ. But it’s a complex subject and I didn’t think it was necessary to get all the way into it to answer Bryan’s question. I don’t mean to be evasive. If you really want to know, I can try to lay out my basic reasons. The problem is that my theology doesn’t tend to come in discrete packages anymore, so it’s hard to talk about Christology without talking about everything else too (e.g. my view of the Bible and early Christian history, personal experiences with Jesus, the existence and nature of God, etc.), and frankly, who has the time for that?

  • 61. Quester  |  March 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    The problem is that my theology doesn’t tend to come in discrete packages anymore, so it’s hard to talk about Christology without talking about everything else too (e.g. my view of the Bible and early Christian history, personal experiences with Jesus, the existence and nature of God, etc.), and frankly, who has the time for that?

    Fair enough.

  • 62. Yurka  |  March 12, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Re #50: “it wasn’t so much “modern inquiry” that led me to rethink my faith, as it was a radical postmodern questioning that led me to doubt my certainty about everything, including Modernistic rationalist certainties (especially the kind that think it’s possible to just write off any dissenting opinions as “infantile psychological delusions”).”

    Has it really led you to question your certainty about everything? I believe it was Albert Mohler who once said, “Postmoderns don’t follow their own interpretive methods when interpreting the label on a bottle of poison.”

    There are some things the bible isn’t clear on, there are lots of things it is very clear on, and there are some things that are not stated explicitly, but logically follow from what is clear (the doctrine of the Trinity, for example). Why does it always seem that postmoderns use the unclarity of certain issues as a prelude to disregarding this or that doctrine?

    It seems they overstate the matter. To give an analogy: there are bad cops and corrupt judges. There are ambiguous court cases without precedent that are difficult to rule on. But all these are relatively rare. No one’s saying that because these problems exist, therefore we should do away the the entire justice system.

    Also, if you’ve read McLaren, have you ever read the other side – ie. John MacArthur’s “the Truth War” and Francis Schaeffer’s “the God Who Was There”?

    You seem to pose a false dichotomy (and even McKnight himself acknowledges the emergent tendency for false dichotomy) between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I’d say the other possibility is that they are inextricably woven together (Jas 2) and that if you do not witness to people and tell them that they must repent and have faith in Jesus, you are not “loving” them in the biblical way, and hence your praxis is just as off as the misanthropic Calvinist who sits around stuffing his head with theology and does nothing for his fellow man.

  • 63. jos  |  March 13, 2008 at 6:32 am

    This is one of the few christian posts that I actually have no problem about. I was almost convinced. But ultimtely, it still boils down to the question of why must you worship god/jesus.
    There is a question(s) that no christians ever answer for me: That is, you mentioned that you want to follow ‘“the way of Christ”, the way of justice, compassion, generosity, reconciliation, and self-sacrificial love that I believe Jesus taught and modeled for us.’

    Why do you want to follow it? How do you know they are ‘good’ values to follow and if you already know they are ‘good’, why do you still need to ‘follow’ jesus? Why can’t you just admit it is your natural, pure human instinct that is teaching you these values?

  • 64. Yurka  |  March 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    But ultimtely, it still boils down to the question of why must you worship god/jesus.

    Indeed, the liberal Christian is a “Rob Bell without a cause” :) , which is why when denominations go liberal, they tend to die off.

    The Episcopalians (liberal Christians with elaborate vestments instead of goatees) were the fastest shrinking denomination last year at about 4%. The Unitarian Universalists no longer even claim to be Christian.

  • 65. karen  |  March 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The Episcopalians (liberal Christians with elaborate vestments instead of goatees) were the fastest shrinking denomination last year at about 4%. The Unitarian Universalists no longer even claim to be Christian.

    I think this relates directly with the idea that most people want certainty and black-and-white rules for living and some “high and mighty” sense that they are superior because they’ve got the right message from god.

    The more liberal and wishy-washy and all-inclusive religion gets, the less appealing it seems to be.

  • 66. Gary Meade  |  March 13, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Yurka, it is precisely with black-and-white thinking such as yours that I have abandoned fundamentalism and sought the middle road.

    if you do not witness to people and tell them that they must repent and have faith in Jesus, you are not “loving” them in the biblical way, and hence your praxis is just as off as the misanthropic Calvinist who sits around stuffing his head with theology and does nothing for his fellow man.

    Must repent and have faith in Jesus? You assume a hell of a lot here. The doctrines of original sin and eternal torment are amongst the most deplorable elements of religion. I applaud any efforts to challenge and uproot them, either from within or without the church.

  • 67. TheDeeZone  |  March 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Yurka,

    I must have a different concept of evangelism than Yurka. I believe evangelism but my emaphsis is not on telling people to repent. I would prefer to show God’s love. Yes, there will come a time for that but it isn’t where I start. So does that mean I’m not loving people in the Biblical way? I think not. Christ met people where they were not where He wanted them to be.

    Gary,

    What do see as the middle road?

    Dh

  • 68. Gary  |  March 13, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    The middle way for me is one of moderation and an inclusive approach. I can’t believe in a God who condemns the world to hell, that to me is tyrannical (in fact, some have said that the ultimate outcome of this would make God worse than the combined impact of all the horrific figures in history). As such, I have sought to find the path of agape – one that is not conditional on dogma. I must say, I am far from having arrived, which is why I find this blog to be refreshing and stimulating.

  • 69. Yurka  |  March 13, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    TheDeeZone – please listen to http://www.wayofthemasterradio.com

    This show always has a witnessing segment on it. They have put their finger on a major problem with where American evangelicalism has gone astray. If Christianity is merely a way to Live Your Best Life Now, they can get that from the secular culture and have no need of Christianity. Evangelicals tend to be too “polite” to share the need for Christ with the unsaved, which is like not telling someone their house is burning down because you don’t want to upset them! If you merely take the “preach by the example of your life” approach, the moment will never arise to discuss the Law with them. They might reject it, and since we are all sinners, you should expect this. But sharing their need of Christ (and hence guilt before the Law) is the only proper way to witness!

    And please listen to Ray Comfort’s sermon “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” in which he explains the philosophy behind this approach.

  • 70. Yurka  |  March 13, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Gary, I can’t believe in a God who condemns the world to hell, that to me is tyrannical (in fact, some have said that the ultimate outcome of this would make God worse than the combined impact of all the horrific figures in history).

    You cannot put God on a plane with other people. In relation to each other, we are fellow condemned prisoners who have all sinned. We are thus obligated to more or less treat each other as equals. But with God, we stand before him not as prisoner to prisoner, but as prisoner to Judge. He is under no obligation to pardon us, any more than a governor is obligated to let all death row inmates off scott free.

    I would beg you to reconsider – that perhaps your dislike of Hell (and we all dislike it) stems from your love of your sins, and your dislike of admitting you are sinful before God.

  • 71. TheDeeZone  |  March 13, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Gary,

    I don’t believe God sends people to hell but rather we have a free will and the right to choose.

    Yurka,

    I am familiar with the Way of the Master School of Evangelism.I can be quite blunt about the state of humans apart from God. However, I prefer to relational evangelism.\\
    DH

  • 72. Gary  |  March 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I would say that this is not the forum to debate the issue of sin and hell. Suffice it to say, the story that implicates we are born into a condition of being condemned prisoners is an implication of Augustine more than a scriptural edifice.

    Additionally, there would not be a single person alive who would rationally choose hell. There is no comparative to any form of punitive judgment that humans can dish out. Likewise, not one person is implicated as being able to fulfill the requirements of Law. Only a simplistic reading then brings judgment as eternal torment.

    Ah, there is so much to this topic, that takes much thought and time……

  • 73. The fall of literalism in my life « de-conversion  |  April 2, 2008 at 6:09 am

    [...] many years into the future, and I am listening to an interview with Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren discussing the metaphorical nature of hell. It was my first exposure to the [...]

  • 74. George  |  April 8, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Whew… This was by far one of the most interesting reads I’ve ever had. At times I wanted to laugh, at others I wanted to cry, and for the most part I wish I could be face to face with almost every one of you.

    Mewho (aka James) your post touched me the most. I understand you much better now. You may not believe but I do, and I KNOW God hears my prayers. I have no confidence in anyone’s ability to hear His voice, but I have ALL confidence that He can speak in such a way that any of us can hear. And that’s where and how he meets us. You are obviously hurting, and my heart goes out to you. But I will pray, and I believe you will be healed.

    Mike G… you are completely and utterly useless to the kingdom of God and to the people around you. Your theories are empty bloviating and that’s why all you have to offer someone is “Best of luck… as you try to figure out where to go from here…” Wow… that’s some high quality support and advice you have for someone who is obviously hurting.

    The DeeZone… Jesus didn’t come to preach salvation… he preached the kingdom of God. I believe that you love the Lord, and you are truly looking for your life to be fully effective in the kingdom of God. And instead of asking fools like Mike G for advice (that would be a serious case of the blind leading the blind) why don’t you pick up the word and ask God how to reach those around you. God can and wants to speak to you directly. What kind of advice do you think you will get on a decon site??? and you wonder why you can’t hear from God… (I know you can’t, that’s why you are asking the questions you are asking). Look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith. God’s focus has never been to be relevant… the word is ALWAYS relevant, as it speaks to the condition of man’s heart… it is Truth that will set people free… and Jesus is the way the truth and the light… I do love you enough to tell you the truth…

    Yurka… right on the money…

    Gary… your actually verbalized that there is not a single person that would rationally choose hell… LOL I mean REALLY LOL.
    Truer words have rarely been spoken. the truth actually comes out of your mouth and you do not recognize it. Well, Gary I agree with you. Only irrational people choose hell… eternal separation from God. A couple of thousands of years ago, someone penned down the following phrase “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man”
    You should read the entire first chapter of Romans… NKJV prefferably. Fits you to a “T”.

    Jos… you said : “Why can’t you just admit it is your natural, pure human instinct that is teaching you these values?”
    Good question… the answer is : Because that’s not true. I have three children… I’ve never had to teach the to be selfish or disobedient. THAT is the human instinct at work…

  • 75. Gary  |  April 8, 2008 at 8:52 am

    George, either you have infinite wisdom, or a connection to Infinite Wisdom. So I suppose you are able to answer my question of how a being of infinite love could torture finite beings in such a heinous fashion as suggested?

    Given there is no reference to hell in Romans, is it possible that the gospel might not actually require the concept? The concept does exist in other parts of the Bible; but has it, and the nature of God, been understood correctly?

  • 76. George  |  April 8, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Gary

    LOL at me having infinite wisdom… my wife would beg to differ…

    Who are the finite beings being tortured and where was it suggested? I don’t want to answer blindly.

    The second paragraph, I have to answer in reverse…
    The Bible is intended to reveal to us the nature of God and the nature of man. Right off the bat, I have to say neither have been understood correctly, but more importantly (and sadly) both have been severely misrepresented.
    Since Hell is not a concept, your inference that the gospel might not require it is in my opinion a moot point.
    The gospel has never been about Hell, although I’m sure it was (and probably for some preachers nowadays still is) a useful tool to add to the flock. But for anyone accepting the gospel simply as fire insurance, they are in for a surprise. The gospel has always been about the Kingdom of God, which is about righteousness, peace and joy.

    Please let me know if I completely missed your questions…

  • 77. TheDeeZone  |  April 9, 2008 at 1:26 am

    George,
    And instead of asking fools like Mike G for advice (that would be a serious case of the blind leading the blind) why don’t you pick up the word and ask God how to reach those around you.

    I was not asking advice but asking an opinion. Do you know anything about what I believe, my personal relationship with Christ, or ways I might be reaching those aroiund me? Did you ask? Did you even visit my blog to see what I might believe before slamming me.

    God can and wants to speak to you directly. What kind of advice do you think you will get on a decon site??? and you wonder why you can’t hear from God… (I know you can’t, that’s why you are asking the questions you are asking).
    Gee, you don’t even know me. Since you seem to know so much what has God been teaching me this week?

    I do love you enough to tell you the truth…

    You do not speak words of love but words of condemnation. You are quick to condemn people and call them fools? But what did Jesus say about calling people a fool. Before you decide what I believe please read this or this.

  • 78. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Dee… when did Jesus ever ask Satan for his opinion? The truth is not in Mike G, and the word is very clear on how to handle that. We were never called to play nice with the deceptions of this world, we are called to expose them…

    Yes, both me and my wife visited your blog, and we liked a lot of the things you have on there (especially the tribute to our soldiers).

    What has God been teaching you this week??? Well I can definitely speak to what he’s trying to teach you… I wear the armor God gave me. You are attempting to develop a relationship with some of the people on here. However, it is only the truth that will set people free. The word calls the ones who know the truth but suppress it, fools.

    I do not condemn anyone, people stand condemned by their choices… and remember, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” What else is left for those who walk according to the flesh? Jesus said that those who call their brother a fool are in danger of damnation. Mike G is NOT my brother, for his father is the father of lies. And you need to remember, for the most part we have this image of Jesus that he was meek and mild… Yet he is the one that sat down and made a whip of cords before going into the temple and cleaning it up… if you really want a picture of Jesus, read the book of revelations… Where in the word did jesus say to go make friends with the world? I’m actually very careful whom I call a fool, and why… So is the word. Jesus is the word… and if Jesus calls someone a fool, then well, I’m in good company. Mike G is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, like many others that preach a different gospel than the one we received. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy… I’ll never play nice with him…

  • 79. TheDeeZone  |  April 9, 2008 at 4:05 am

    George,

    As for what God is teaching me this week. You have no clue. If you read my blog you would be aware that I do not suppress the truth.

    I ask questions because I am interested in a reasonable discussion. Not to make friends or make anyone else feel better.

    Yes, you condeem people based not upon God’s Word or any form of truth but rather your self-rightouss attitude. If I were not a Christian is people like you that would turn me off Christianity. Maybe you are welling meaning but seriously miss-guided, but whatever the reason you need to learn some manners.

    DH

  • 80. Gary  |  April 9, 2008 at 5:34 am

    George, I must apoligize, my questions were relatively loaded and based on assumptions. So you did answer well with what you were given, and I would agree with your definition of the gospel.

    One thing though, please lay off of the bigoted responses I am seeing. Believe me, I know where you are coming from, and a little grace would go a long way.

  • 81. Slapdash  |  April 9, 2008 at 9:31 am

    “Yet he is the one that sat down and made a whip of cords before going into the temple and cleaning it up…”

    I wondered when George was going to bring this up. Nice decontextualization of what happened there. Moneymakers were changing a place of worship into a place of commerce. That’s what pissed Jesus off. They were defiling a holy place. Which is hardly what is happening on this site, George. No one here is going onto Christian blogs slamming everyone or trying to de-convert anyone. No one claims this place as a holy place. So you coming on here to condemn and judge everyone is hardly Christ-like. Any close study of Jesus’ ministry would make it obvious that he used a relationship-based, personal approach to teach and correct his followers.

    I have been thinking a lot about you, George, as I’ve read all of your comments on de-con. You know NOTHING of the struggles most of us have gone through. You know nothing of my 20-year relationship with Jesus and my desperate attempts to cling to the faith of my childhood. You know nothing of the hours, days, months of prayer I have spent begging God for answers, for peace, for reassurance. The fasting I have done. The consulting I have done with all manner of faithful men and women to help me hold on. The service projects I have done, believing that the “feelings will follow” if I continue in obedience. The books I have read. And the utter fear of finally letting myself wonder if God is really who I have believed him to be my entire life.

    Label me a daughter of Satan if you wish, but know that you will have done nothing to help me regain any semblance of the faith that was my bedrock, my hope, and my assurance, for most of my life. What is the phrase? Oh yes, something about catching more bees with honey than vinegar. Also known as: grace. Try extending it sometime.

  • 82. Ubi Dubium  |  April 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    George,

    I have been reading many of your posts here, and I am curious. What is it that brought you to this website, and what are you hoping to accomplish here?

    The point of this website is “resources for skeptical, deconverting or former christians”. Many people who come here are working through a spiritual crisis, or have been through such a crisis in the past, and are now glad to provide help and comfort to others in the same situation.

    If you are trying to win converts by preaching and quoting the bible, you are in the wrong place. The posters here do not suffer from a lack of being preached at, or a lack of biblical knowledge. Many of them are former preachers themselves. They are certainly not “under-churched”, if anything they are “over-churched”. If the kind of preaching you have been posting here were sufficient to remove their doubts, there would be no need for this website. They’ve heard it all before. That kind of preaching is what brought many people here in the first place. I think you are only solidifying their reisistance to christianity, which I’m sure is not your goal.

    If you are totally secure in your faith, and have never had to work through any doubts, then bravo for you, but I don’t think you will be able to really convert anybody here.

    On the other hand, if there is anything that ever bothered you about your religion, anything that never quite made sense, any little nagging doubts about how a loving god could permit evil, about how a perfect god could expect to spread his message through such an imperfect and contradictory book, or how an all-powerful god could allow horrors to be perpetrated in his name, and you would like to talk it over with a non-judgmental audience, then you are in the right place.

    And if you have ever been through a really serious crisis in your belief, that led you to where you are now, tell us your story. I’ll be listening.

  • 83. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Ubi Dubium…

    Clever handle by the way. Although you could probably figure pretty much all your questions out if you went through all my posts and read some other’s responses, I’ll humor you, simply because I appreciate your civility, and I admire your debating skills (i.e. how you attempted to take control of the entire conversation, set the tone, give direction, etc.)

    1.) My wife found a story featured on WordPress that was linked to this site. She clicked it and upon reading some of the comments, she posted her thoughts on some of the content, then she told me about it. Debating some of the topics of concern here is something I’ve done for quite a while, so naturally I was interested in finding out more. What I found was a motley collection of sound science, well fleshed out arguments, asinine assumptions, blatant foolishness, rudeness, ignorance, kindness, civility and a few posters that, simply based on their posts, I could probably respect and even be friends with in real life (after all, this is the blogosphere).

    2.) This website is far from being the resource it claims to be. Just the “About” section uses the very same poor logic that quite a few posters on here accuse christians of using (rightfully so I might add, since I’ve encountered a lot of christians who were more interested in defending their dogmatic, denominational doctrine rather then in knowing the God who created them.

    3.) You said that if anything people that are on here have been over-churched: I COULDN’T AGREE MORE WITH YOU!!!!! But I’ll address that in a minute. To answer your third question, I’m not here to win converts. For those who are weak-minded enough for me to win over, someone smarter than me will come along and take them right back. Having said that, there are plenty of weak minded posters on here, who are here for that very same reason I just mentioned. Not everyone on here, but enough to raise the question of this website being a “resource”.

    4.) You are correct, I am totally secure in my faith, but you are wrong in the assumption that I never had any doubts. I’ve worked through my doubts with a pure heart and I’ve allowed the presence of God in my life.

    You said that people have been overchurched… Yes they have. For lack of the presence of God, there has been plenty of fabrication to compensate for it, which is why so much of christendom is so weak in so many ways. That would be the reason some of the people on here claim God never answers prayers. That’s why someone on here asked for proof through miracles, and when I testified to what I know, I was accused of lying… Here in America, if you were to take 10 people who claim to be christians, and if you were to take the Word and compare their lives, their walk and their experiences, you would find that 9 of them are sorely lacking and sadly enough be willing to cover up for it. Upon realizing this, a lot of them quit, then turn around and blame everyone else or even go to the extent to say that God doesn’t exist. The very same people that at one time preached on God… HA!!! how ridiculous is THAT!!! It could never be that they were at fault… it’s everyone else (IMO, that’s the mark of this society… everything is everyone else’s fault, no one takes responsibility for anything).

    My doubts are not about who God is, and what his will is… my doubts have to do more with the lack of the Kingdom of God in the lives of those that claim (like some that post here have) christianity, and I always strive to make sure that I do not become a hypocrite, like so many others. Understand, outside of God, I see myself as rather flawed, which is why I need his mercy, grace and Holy Spirit daily. I don’t see myself as better than anyone else, because I know better than that.

    5.) Nothing bothers me about my religion. What bothers me is what other’s have made of it. There has been, is and unfortunately (unless Jesus returns tonight) will be a lot of foolishness in christendom that have given rise to some of the (flawed) questions you have asked. Two idiots have used the movie “The Matrix” as inspiration to walk into a public school and murder innocent people. That does not make me think the movie is evil (although some have claimed so).

    Oh, this is far from a non-judgmental audience. I’ve been called a liar here simply because someone here has not had the same experience, and many other ad-hominem attacks because there was nothing else to respond with to my logic.

    As far as my really serious crisis, I hinted at it briefly, but it was ignored. It would take a very long time to flesh out the details.

    I hope I’ve answered your questions to your satisfaction, and hopefully you understand a little better where you come from.

    I’d like to know your side of the story, Ubi Dubium

  • 84. George  |  April 10, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Ubi Dubium,

    My next to the last sentence should read”.. hopefully you understand a little better where I’m coming from…” Again, sorry, I’m tired and I’m a foreigner (I wonder how many more times I can use that excuse…)

    Best regards,
    George.

  • 85. George  |  April 10, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Dee…

    If I offended you then I must ask your forgiveness. Please tell me exactly how I offended you so that I can make it right.

  • 86. George  |  April 10, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Slapdash,

    You are correct, I know nothing of your struggle… And I in turn can say with all sincerity that you know nothing of the Jesus I know (except that you may know a lot about him), otherwise you wouldn’t have “had” a 20 year relationship with him. That simple. You ask for grace, I will extend it, however not at the expense of truth.
    Why would I call you a daughter of Satan? Unlike Jeff Phelps, I don’t just call anyone fool who doesn’t believe like me. I make sure I know first why they deserve that label, then I answer a fool according to his folly lest they think of themselves as wise in their own eyes. Look carefully at all my posts, and you will see that.

    Why would I attempt to help you regain any semblance of the faith that was your (bedrock you called it). Why would I want to give you more of what apparently didn’t work? Please understand something: I’ve been told over and over by christians that I need to be nice, to be more like them… ineffective and irrelevant. Sometimes the word comes like a hammer, and some of us have been given that Ezekiel annointing to break through the stony walls that some have placed around their heart. When Jesus is coming back, do you think he will return on a donkey, meek and mild to go to the cross again? I’d rather people don’t like me, and I get them to think.

    Yet you are correct, Jesus did use a relationship based ministry, but not under all circumstances. At the same time, it is rather hard to develop and maintain a relationship in the blogosphere. The human interaction factor is missing and all we have is words. As it is, the english language is not that rich, so in order to get a point across certain words are better suited to communicate an inflection of emotion. If you’ve read every post, and if you choose to continue to read them, in time you will get a better picture of me, as I’m getting a better picture of a lot of posters here.

  • 87. George  |  April 10, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Gary,

    Thank you for your kind words, and I’ll make sure I extend grace where grace is due. If I’ve appeared bigoted, please understand this… I’m not intolerant of someone’s choices, belief system or lifestyles. At the same time I have a rather low tolerance for childish foolishness, name-calling for the sake of name calling and pompous pseudo-intellectualism. If I can put it in perspective, I deal with those things in the church in the same way… just to be fair.

    I’m looking forward to getting to know some of you better on this blog as time passes, and to hear what some of the grown-ups have to say…

  • 88. The Apostate  |  April 10, 2008 at 11:15 am

    George says,

    I’m looking forward to getting to know some of you better on this blog as time passes, and to hear what some of the grown-ups have to say…

    After (or before?) stating in another comment:

    Tsk, tsk… it would have been better if you had not said anything. Sometimes it’s better to keep quiet and let others think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Obviously there are some serious gaps in your education.

    Yes, you are a shining light of maturity.

  • 89. TheDeeZone  |  April 10, 2008 at 11:42 am

    George,
    At the same time I have a rather low tolerance for childish foolishness, name-calling for the sake of name calling and pompous pseudo-intellectualism.

    That is an excellent self-portrait.

    … to hear what some of the grown-ups have to say…
    This word is from Paul.
    “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV)

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  April 10, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Ah come on DeeZone. You can’t quote scripture ’cause you’re a liberal, not a real Christian, friend of sinners, ….. If you were REAL christian, you be ….. well I guess you’d be……. intolerant, childish, foolish, name-calling, pompous, pseudo-intellectual, etc.

  • 91. Brad  |  April 10, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Leo,

    Oh hold the phone… Must we resort to groin-shots? I forgot my blog-cup at home today… We theologically conservative Christians are not automatically “intolerant, childish, foolish, name-calling, etc.”

    It is not a matter of liberalism or conservativism that causes those things, but ignorance and misunderstanding of scripture. I know people on both ends of the spectrum who are verbally abusive, and others who communicate respectfully.

    Let’s be fair, shall we?

    For the record, George, you’ve shot yourself in the foot on this one (repeatedly). You apparently have a lot of free time on your hands, might I recommend the following book: http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Love-Apologetics-Francis-Schaeffer/dp/158134774X

    For a brief summary, and our blog’s philosophy of ministry, go here:
    http://seminarianblog.com/about-this-site/philisophy-of-ministry/

    As a Christian brother, I urge you to communicate truth with love. For the love of God, start treating people with some respect and common decency, they bear the image of God as much as you do. Your words have only alienated the readers here.

  • 92. TheDeeZone  |  April 10, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Brad,

    Amen

    Leo,

    You forgot the other reasons I’ve been labeled a liberal:

    1. I’m a female who got an MDiv and not a MACE (Masters of Christian Education). The guy that told me this said that MDiv was preachers and either I was liberal, uppity or not straight.

    2. I was studying Christian ethics. Real Christians don’t need to study how to behave they know how to act.

    3. I am a female with a brain.

    Don’t really think I am a liberal. Of course being a Baptist I have heard the term used to refer to those the user doesn’t like or disagrees with. Most Baptist’s wouldn’t know a true liberal if they met one. I’m sure someone thinks I’m a liberal. Of course, liberals might think I’m ultra-conservative and maybe even a little fundamentalist. Actually, I find the thought of being labeled a liberal rather amusing.

  • 93. LeoPardus  |  April 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Brad:

    I wasn’t saying conservative Christians are all “intolerant, childish, foolish, name-calling, etc”. I was only talking about Saint George the Apostroll.

  • 94. Brad  |  April 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Leo,

    Ehhhhh…. alright. I’ll take our word for it. Thanks for the clarification. ;-)

  • 95. Garg the Unzola  |  April 11, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Another interesting post.
    Orthopraxy(right practice) and orthodoxy(right beliefs), with the definitions you apply here, bear an uncanny resemblance to Buddhist thought.

    You might enjoy this 5 minute introduction to Buddhism if you aren’t familiar with their beliefs already.

    This is their 8 fold path:
    1. Right View
    2. Right Intention
    3. Right Speech
    4. Right Action
    5. Right Livelihood
    6. Right Effort
    7. Right Mindfulness
    8. Right Concentration

  • 96. TheDeeZone  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:04 am

    George,

    How have you offended me? Based on questions I asked you decided judged me as being a fool. You do not know that I have been involved in some form of ministry in my local church since the age of 16. Or that I currently work with college students and share my faith at least 10-15 times a week. You do not know what God is teaching me this week and I will not share it because this is not the time or place for that. Read my questions I was asking opion. Further, as a Christian I find your approach offensive. It is that behavior that gives Christians a bad name. Christ ministered to prostitutes, tax-collectors and other sinners. Christ was meek not weak or mild. He was also authoritative.

  • 97. HeIsSailing  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:24 am

    DeeZone:
    “You forgot the other reasons I’ve been labeled a liberal:”

    You forgot one reason you and Brad are both liberal Christians – you both like rock music. Where I grew up, rock – even Christian rock would have branded you as heathen. In 1979 or so I went to see Petra in concert (a great show that I still remember), and did not dare tell anybody at school about it for fear of word getting around to the principal.

  • 98. HeIsSailing  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:25 am

    I was not branding you as liberal – that was tongue in cheek.

  • 99. George  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:32 am

    LOL Ok… obviously I need to clarify a couple of things… To all the christians on this site who like to thread lightly for fear of offending someone who’s eternity is in danger… Thank you… We all see in part, but apparently not you…

    Brad,
    Don’t be so sure of yourself on this one… I choose to respond to foolishness a certain way for a good reason… (see Leo).

    To Leo,
    I’ve noticed you never really answer any of my challenges other than with insults… interesting.

    Dee…
    In spite of your MDiv, (which means absolutely NOTHING in the Kingdom of God), you really don’t know the word as well as you think. I got saved in a baptist church, and all I got there was a head knowledge of Jesus, and shown how to “act like a christian” however there was none of the power of the holy spirit… have you ever wondered why most of christendom does not walk in the power of the Apostles??? Oh, I already know what you will answer, but you are wrong, like my Baptist pastor was wrong when I asked him the same question… now I know better!… and Again I repeat, you presume too much, and I’m afraid I’ll have to stop posting here just to avoid getting really confrontational with you using the Word… After all, I’M SURE YOU’VE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL IN LEADING MANY PEOPLE TO THE LORD, SEEN THEM FILLED WITH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, HAVE HAD MANY MIRACLES VALIDATE THE POWER OF GOD THAT IS IN YOU… (btw, if the above in caps in not happening in your life, then what exactly are you doing with what has been given to you??? If it is happening, please tell me, and I will stand corrected.

    Brad and Dee,
    I didn’t come to the Lord to be a really nice non-offensive guy. The Word of God is offensive, and it’s like a sword, cutting both ways, going in and coming out. People like Leo don’t need us to be nice… He used to be one of the “nice christians” with no power… He needs the truth, he needs to be shown what a fool he is. Go read Ezekiel, and some of the other prophets, and you will understand better. And another thing… you’d do well to not criticize what you do not understand, especially if you know what happens when you call what is of God as something else…

  • 100. George  |  April 11, 2008 at 10:48 am

    And Brad,

    People were created in the image of God, and as such deserve to be valued… Their foolish views, not so much… again, read the word on learning how to deal with foolishness.

  • 101. HeIsSailing  |  April 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Wow George!! I am certainly awed by your Godliness, and how you set carnal Christians like Dee and Brad straight! A mighty man of God you are – no reliance on human wisdom and education for you – nope, just reliance on The Spirit of God – the way God meant it to be, Halelujah!! You remind me alot of my old Calvary Chapel pastor Skip Heitzig, and his insistance that church officials be as ignorant as possible with Biblical understanding via human education. Seminary = Cemetary with the mighty man of God! Christian and Apostate alike, we are all mighy impressed with your super spirituality, and your On Fire fervor for the Lord. Yessir, on fire for Jesus, offensive or not – that is what the Lord loves in his followers, praise be to Sweet Jesus!

  • 102. Brad  |  April 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    HIS,

    “You forgot one reason you and Brad are both liberal Christians – you both like rock music.”

    If that makes me a liberal, then tie die my shirt, hand me a joint, and crank the Grateful Dead! Hehe, I caught the tongue-in-cheek, and no worries. :-)

    Dee #96:

    You tell him, sista!

    George,

    If it weren’t for people like you, I would have become a Christian several years earlier than I did. Your views are… wow… I’m really left speechless. Most despicable is how you are treating Dee. An MDiv counts for nothing in the kingdom of God? Neither does the pride and arrogance you so abundantly communicate. If you had any idea what kind of heart she and others (even Leo) displayed on this blog, you would be ashamed (at least I hope).

    HIS #101,

    AMEN. (never thought I’d say that… ;-) ) That was freaking hilarious. I’m still laughing….

    To all,
    As a Christian, I apologize for such mangling, misuse, and abuse of Godly Truth.

    Shall we stop feeding the pigeon now? All he does is swoop in and crap on everything. There’s no need to encourage him to continue, is there?

  • 103. HeIsSailing  |  April 11, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Brad:
    “Shall we stop feeding the pigeon now?”

    Sorry, I usually don’t feed, but I just could not resist – just this one time I swear. By the way, no need to apologize. I think we can all discern between good and bad fruit.

  • 104. Brad  |  April 11, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    HIS,

    Oh, I’m glad you didn’t resist too… that was seriously too good…

    “By the way, no need to apologize. I think we can all discern between good and bad fruit.”

    Much appreciated. That’s why I love interacting with you all so much.

    Now… what to do with all this bird seed… ?
    ;-)

  • 105. karen  |  April 11, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    As a Christian, I apologize for such mangling, misuse, and abuse of Godly Truth.

    Thank you, but I don’t think any of us here believe you or Dee or other civil Christians who’ve been interacting with us need to apologize for George.

    There are egotistic bullies in every group (even us perfect atheists! ;-) ) who can’t muster the self-control or don’t have the self-awareness to interact appropriately, and who even revel and boast in their mean-spiritedness. (I’m reminded of the Kindergarten adage about the child who “does not play well with others.”) ;-)

    We recognize the type, and I doubt anyone here would point to Christian fundies as the only ones who have to suffer with these types “representing” them.

    Shall we stop feeding the pigeon now? All he does is swoop in and crap on everything. There’s no need to encourage him to continue, is there?

    Not in my mind, certainly.

  • 106. LeoPardus  |  April 11, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    We recognize the type, and I doubt anyone here would point to Christian fundies as the only ones who have to suffer with these types “representing” them.

    Righto. I know for sure that you can find them out in the EOC, the RCC, and anywhere else.

    Brad:

    I’m with the others. You, Dee, and other Christians have nothing to apologize for. I can recall you in particular taking some flak from me months ago, and responding completely graciously. You’re about as far from the likes of George as one can get.

  • 107. TheDeeZone  |  April 12, 2008 at 1:13 am

    George,

    Since you know what I am going to say I will on longer respond to your slamms. Unlike your wife I do not need my husband to defend. Besides your arguments would too easy for him to dismantle.God knows what I believe and what you think doesn’t even count. I am tried of casting my pearls before swine. To quote the great philosphers DCTalk “The greatest condemnation against Christiantiy is Christians. There is no reason for you to respond as I will ignore you.

    HelSailing,

    We have gone with our college students to Passion 08 this weekend. On our way back to the hotel we were listening to Grits. I find being called a liberal amusing.

    Brad,

    Thanks for defending me. I think the Hyprocrit is attacking me because he isn’t used to dealing with women who have a brain.

  • 108. George  |  April 15, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Dee…

    LOL… not used to dealing with women who have a brain… oh well, how about this… I’m pretty sure my wife would love to chat with you. I’d love to meet your husband as well. I maintain that I did not slam you, but I understand why you might have gotten offended. I do have considerably more to say on the subject, and if you are at all open, who knows… maybe (just maybe) you might have jumped the gun a little… After all we might already know each other. We live in G-ville as well.

  • 109. The Apostate  |  April 15, 2008 at 10:13 am

    George,

    not used to dealing with women who have a brain…

    I think it is time that you shut up.

  • 110. George  |  April 16, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    TA,

    So far we seem to have had a number of rather civil exchanges, and therefore I won’t take that statement personally, as I believe you totally misunderstood my comment… My wife graduated with honors from a very reputable college, has hosted her own radio show, been featured in the media, has owned (and still does) a number of business ventures, etc… She is definitely an accomplished woman, who by any and all standards is considered rather intelligent and who (unlike Dee) does not need to use use insinuations of male chauvinism to justify her inability to respond when confronted on her beliefs…

  • 111. George  |  April 16, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Dee,

    If my wife is the coward you claim, here is a challenge to you:

    You quoted to me the fruits of the spirit, yet for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that I was 100% in the wrong… did you respond according to what you profess???

    Here is my challenge: Print out your responses (both to me and to my wife), take them to your husband and to your pastor and ask them what they think…)

    How comes you label me as the hypocrite (with a capital H at that)… I can back up what I claimed with the Word, yet you have resorted to ad hominem attacks without any grounding in the Word other than your personal emotions. I will venture a guess and say that you’ve struggled with unforgiveness in the past and that is definitely something you might want to look into. In my experience, the spirit of God and unforgiveness cannot reside in the same vessel.

    If I’m in the wrong, then shouldn’t you, who claim to be taking the higher road, and who claims to be a teacher of others, should know how to handle things according to the Word? Otherwise, there is no difference between you and LeoPardus, as he was once as you are now, according to his claims, but it is obvious he needs some healing as well. Please feel free to take what I just said to the Lord, to your husband as well as to your pastor… they are after all the spiritual authority in your life, and you and your husband are called to submit one to another (after all, isn’t the word confirmed by the mouth of two or more witnesses?)

    And one last thing… Jesus is Lord, and we all see in part… do you think even in the least that you might have missed my entire point, and instead got offended before you had a chance to confirm in the word whether I’m wrong or not???

  • 112. Michelle  |  April 16, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I haven’t actively been involved in this thread, and may regret coming in late; however, this tidbit was too good to pass up. I’ve been reading from “my comments” thread and can’t believe the turn this conversation (if you can call it that) has taken.

    “I didn’t come to the Lord to be a really nice non-offensive guy. The Word of God is offensive, and it’s like a sword, cutting both ways, going in and coming out.”

    When, George, did your insults, slams, and overall billigerent behavior equate with the Word of God. What Word have you given for anyone to hear, aside from your own pompous voice? To equate God’s Word with your rants is completely offensive to the Lord you claim to serve. Our Lord never called us to speak abusively – speak the Truth in Love or keep your mouth shut.

    Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

    Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

    Just a bit of God’s Word to help cut through the rubbish you keep slinging around…

  • 113. George  |  April 17, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Dear Michelle,

    Thank you for your “kind” words… Please tell me exactly how I wronged you, so that I might make it right with you? You are calling me names, throwing scriptures at me that you assume I am not familiar with? I believe you might be in error, since you do not have all the facts. I’d also be very careful about calling this “rubbish”… just in case you might be wrong. Do you know what the Word says about calling something that is of God, evil?

    I am curious, what was the purpose of this post? Because if it was just to express what was in your heart, I wonder, do you know what the word calls that???

  • 114. George  |  April 17, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Dear Michelle,

    Never mind the above post… I just read your comments to Mike’s post… LOL

    You are truly deceived, just as Dee is… that is why both of you can start quoting scriptures about how I should be, and then both of you behave in the same hypocritical manner, name calling, ad hominem attacks, and no addressing the point… no wonder, neither of you have the Holy Spirit, that brings discernment…

    Oh well, it’s no surprise both of you are on a De-con site, getting “ministered” to…

    You might want to go back and read your post out of Romans… thinking they were wise, they became fools… LOL at the irony… that verse describes both you and Dee on this site.

    Anyways, I tire of this nonsense. One cannot teach an unteachable person, and both of you apparently like to heap teachers unto yourselves that tickle your ears.

    2nd Timothy 3:7

    Actually, the entire first 9 verses apply to you both, and to Mike as well.

    Both of you, have a nice life, and enjoy your deception…

  • 115. bitter old maid  |  April 17, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Thank you George…please shake the dust off your feet and go…..

  • 116. The Apostate  |  April 17, 2008 at 10:58 am

    George,

    Anyways, I tire of this nonsense. One cannot teach an unteachable person, and both of you apparently like to heap teachers unto yourselves that tickle your ears.

    What differs you from us?

  • 117. LeoPardus  |  April 17, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Please folks. One of the most basic “laws” of the internet is “Do not feed the trolls”. Does anyone really want this rectal annoyance around?

  • 118. TheDeeZone  |  April 17, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    How do you contact an admin for De-Con?

  • 119. LeoPardus  |  April 18, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Dee:

    I believe that The de-Convert is the admin here. Maybe TA is one too.

  • 120. The de-Convert  |  April 18, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Dee, you can email us at deconversion[at]gmail.com (use @) or join the forum and use the Private Message function.

  • 121. Gregg  |  April 19, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Many entries on this site are interesting, some provocative. This one is hilarious. And piteous.

    And while I understand the “stop feeding the [insert your favourite term]” comments, ceasing this conversation does not stop anyone from continuing a certain form of interaction (especially one who writes, “If you’ve read every post, and if you choose to continue to read them, in time you will get a better picture of me [post #86]”). So your (understandable) counsels to the contrary—and before Admin steps in—I would like to interact with George.

    It seems, George, that you most fully laid out your position in post #83. Here you write (amongst other things) that, “You are correct, I am totally secure in my faith [point 4],” and “Nothing bothers me about my religion [point 5].”

    This makes me think of two points. First, the problem of evil. Second, the problem of self-deception. Allow me to tell a sad story by way of explanation.

    My wife and I participated in a Christian community and had many meal-time conversations with other participants. One Christian man there makes me think, in certain ways, of you George. Following weeks of interaction with this man, my wife, thoroughly “over” his imperious attitude and self-claimed dominion of the epistemic high-ground, asked him a question at table. “What would you do if, following this meal, you walked out and found your wife [who was sitting beside him] in the woods near hear, raped and killed?” The man answered: “It would have no effect on my faith—I would still believe in and praise God.”

    When my wife later (and out of his presence) expressed her abhorrence of his answer, a much older man (a facilitator and a Christian), replied “I hope to God nothing like that ever happens to him. He will utterly snap.”

    The problem of evil is something that has touched (and I will say for myself, touched deeply) many of us here. And I think, George, that either you are intensely incomprehending of the reality of this issue, or you, as I wager was the case with my acquaintance above, may be hiding pain behind a wall of bravado and maso-sadism.

    And lest you think I cast stones, I make the final comment from (and about) experience: mine.

    Coming from an abusive family I believed that it was my job (with divine call and imprimatur) to do battle with the forces of Satan—to speak truth and see its sword-like effect. And I even was part of a group where we would tell people what there problems were, what harm their parents (or whomever) had done to them in their past. The result? It left trusting, vulnerable people in pieces. But more than that, it left them completely dependent on us.

    The sword of truth struck them down indeed. But it left them with a stark choice: either limp away, bleeding, to seek help (though this was unlikely—most of the people we interacted with were friends [and so trusted us] or resourceless [and so had no one else to turn to]) or follow our “teaching.” So most grabbed hold of us like a life preserver.

    Aside from the unconscionable manipulation and coercion, I later realized that behind my ardent desire that truth “strike” into the lives of others was my profound need for truth to free me: to become aware of (and to work towards liberation from) the deep abuse that had lain hidden in my past. In other words, my fervor for “truth” was (amongst other things) a response to my own trauma, a transference of my own profound need to have (and be freed by) truth in my own life.

    So, I’m sure that you can blow off these comments, George, and if I’m wrong perhaps you should. But then again, there might just be something worthwhile in this post (or just maybe, in some of the others). And, on the other hand, if I’m right . . . well, that’s another story . . .

  • 122. Cthulhu  |  April 19, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Gregg,

    I sincerely admire the courage I see in your post (#121). Thank you – you demonstrate the very qualities that troll George denies us – and the he is incapable of espousing himself.

  • 123. LeoPardus  |  April 19, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Gregg:

    Well written. I have my suspicions of how George may react.

    As with you, he reminded me of a fellow I used to know. This fellow, coincidentally also named George, was an inmate in a state prison. His biggest issue was that he was a pathological liar. The current troll displays much of the same behavior as that George from bygone days.

  • 124. Gregg  |  April 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Cthulhu,

    I really what you wrote: people with my background often feel (wrongly, I think) like they perpetually lack courage. Your compliment is all the more touching because of that.

    Leo,

    Thanks. And so far, no word from George. Maybe he’s grown tired of the discussion. Time will tell, I suppose.

  • 125. Gregg  |  April 21, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Cthulhu,

    Missing a word there: “I really appreciate what you wrote.”

  • 126. Cthulhu  |  April 21, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Gregg,

    It takes real courage to take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and deal openly with issues – present and past.

  • 127. james jocobsen  |  June 30, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    There is always an attempt to pervert the gospel to your own gospel. Jay was right about Spong. Spong is an insult to the doctrine Paul warned about. You either believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, or you don’t. That separates Christians from infidels of the faith. That simple. In your article you said you deverted…….No you didn’t..you conceded to the self righteous Professors and unbelievers and had allowed your faith to be ”liberalized” to satisfy THEM! Jesus paid a ransom. Accept it or not. But to justify your lack of faith by deconverting is nonsense. and maintain Jesus as good. When, in fact, you’re going Jesus and His apostles liars. How can liars be good? My Brothers and sisters in Christ accept the Truth beyond man’s understanding and his vain attempts to discredit the incarnate God Man. My point is this…….I can talk some fancy words and give you all kinds of reasons not to believe, but in the end, I can’t save you from my lies. Nor can the self righteous. There is a Truth,Way and Light. I’ll stick with the Man who raised the dead, walked on water and NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON DURING HIS LIFE EVER DENIED THOSES TRUTHS>Not one Jew wrote any article during His time in the fllesh, to say He was a liar. Spong and his cohorts are perverted wolves in sheep clothing. Nothing more. Don’t concede your simple faith of Christ to satisfy a fool professor. My daughter almost did. Now, she’s a missionary, despite their attempts to pervert her understanding as simple Gospel. Jeus is Lord and those who believe shall ahve eternal life. What did you teachers offer you? Absolutely NOTHING!

  • 128. Obi  |  July 1, 2008 at 1:56 am

    james jacobson -

    Denying the reality of Allah will land you in hell as well, mate. Convert or die…!

  • 129. Ubi Dubium  |  July 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    james jocobsen

    …you conceded to the self righteous Professors and unbelievers and had allowed your faith to be ”liberalized” to satisfy THEM!

    OK – I call pigeonholing here! Please refer to the post from March of ’08 titled “Convenient Categories…” I think you just hit #31 right on the nose.

    If you are actually going to be hanging around here (and not just being a troll), please go read that post, and the one on “Inconvenient Categories”, before you try to preach at us.

  • [...] if I was trusting Christ. At the time I was somewhat of an agnostic Christian loosely clinging to emerging church theology but I really hadn’t used any form of faith in dealing with that particular [...]

  • 131. Norm K  |  September 3, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Mike,

    Why not just get rid of all faith and focus on the good values?

    “…what I call “the way of Christ”, the way of justice, compassion, generosity, reconciliation, and self-sacrificial love that I believe Jesus taught and modeled for us.”

    Stay focused on the message and not the messenger. Jesus is dead, there is no God. Jesus was a great profit in his time. He taught a new way of living. But really, the time wasted worshiping the messenger, the buildings that are used once a week could all be saved by focusing on the humanity of the message and the good work that the values espouse.

    For you this may be difficult since you vocation is to lead your new Christian congregation – that pays your bills.

  • 132. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 3, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Stay focused on the message and not the messenger.

    That’s rather difficult when the message is all about the messenger.

  • 133. Anjella  |  March 30, 2013 at 6:06 am

    機會係個天俾嘅 yes. BUT it is only those who are prepared that can see and caizpaltie the chance given. The people who always blames god/命/天 that there is no chance is absolutely wrong! If they haven’t prepared, work hard or think hard, how can they see the chance themselves, even if they see the opportunity is right in front of them, they wont have the skills, connection, knowledge or experience to take advantage of it.How sad!!!Bomb

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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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