Hold onto your pants, boys and girls, the following sick and humorous story is true…
A couple months ago, an elder at my family church was reprimanded and kicked out for having an “improper hermeneutic”. Apparently he was beginning to question the doctrine of Lordship salvation as he saw that it was being used by the church as an element of control. Basically Lordship salvation holds that a person is not actually saved unless they make Jesus their Lord. This means that a church can, at their discretion, determine whether a member is “making Christ their Lord” based upon the members assessed behavior. Ultimately, this elder was concerned the church was becoming extremely legalistic and un-Christlike in their love towards those attending. Basically, they were using doctrine to be assholes.
Now, step back a few months before. This elder was sitting in an elders meeting in which nearly every elder, except for the pastor, admitted they did not know what “hermeneutics” was. My father is the elder who explicitly said this. They immediately all agreed that they needed to study hermeneutics.
So imagine this elder’s surprise when he is told that he is in a form of rebellion against the church and was being kicked out for having an improper hermeneutic. Obviously, the pastor had a strongarm in this decision. To make a long story short, he was basically told to write his resignation letter or else he would be dismissed that Sunday. He was not allowed to defend himself, his position, or get a clear answer as to what he had done wrong. The most obvious conclusion given the circumstances was that he was the most educated elder besides the pastor and the pastor was beginning to be jealous of the amount of influence he had. The kicked out elder was becoming interested in allowing my brother’s fiance to lead a Bible study and the pastor was basically like “we don’t know who this girl is or what she will teach…”
So, I know I’ve said recently I wanted to get away from all of this, but I just couldn’t help but post this because I find it amusing…
It occurred to me today that probably the core loophole in all of theism is found in the inherent impossibility for God /gods to be described without assuming the universe already exists. Try it! (Friendly reminder, you can’t use any words that assume space and time exist. You know, core words like “in”, “outside of”, “before”, “beginning”, “pre-existing”, “incarnate”, “only”, etc.)
Consider one example: the phrase “God is three in one” or even “God is one”.
Apologist Dr. James White said in a recent debate: “numbers are a part of Creation itself”.
However, if God created numbers then it is idolatrous and irrational to use any numbers to describe God. If God did not create numbers yet has properties defined numerically, then a believer admits there is something more fundamental to reality than God.
Now, to help see how silly all this is, imagine how many people have been killed for not accepting the correct numerical description of God…
“Despite our very best efforts, despite our tears and prayers, children can still rebel against God. As always our primary need is to turn to the Bible, which has the power to change lives.” – link
How can you know the Bible is powerful if it can’t even keep your kids from going to hell after having it crammed into their heads year after year for their entire childhood? That isn’t very powerful at all. Maybe the very fact that they can listen to the Bible for so long and never truly experience any power is good evidence to them that what you are teaching about the Bible’s power is bullshit.
In fact, if you cram Mein Kampf into a childs head for year after year it can make him or her turn into a Nazi! Wow, that is true power.
- Cram Mein Kampf: child will probably turn into a Nazi or socialist of some sort. Maybe he will be a liberal Nazi or maybe – horror! – he will reject Nazism altogether.
- Cram Bible: child will probably turn into a Christian of some sort. Maybe he will turn into a liberal Christian or maybe – horror! – he will reject Christianity altogether.
Wow, God’s power looks a lot like psychology, statistics, and brainwashing in action.
Conclusion: the Bible is no different in power than Mein Kampf.
Why not just say that people who believe things act on those beliefs? And if they do not believe they won’t act on it…
I put the phone back on the receiver with a hesitant click. Did I really almost end the message with “In Jesus’ name, amen?” Could I seriously be praying too much?
Glancing to the other side of the room I once again fell back into my mind. The thoughts haunted like an itch on the brain that you are desperately trying to scratch, but cannot. Flooding in were the doubts, the questions, the wondering at my every action and thought. Was it a lie if you had honest intentions at the time? Did you need to confess it?
An erection during church service. The horror. Every small slit of cleavage told a story of a young man’s temptation. Except for Mrs. W… I hope God doesn’t put me with a woman like her. How does her husband do it… do her. But God probably will. God knows best and often what we think is best for us is not what is best. Doubtless I would end up with an ugly woman, just so God can teach me how to be thankful for what I have. I wonder if it is all the same in the dark. I wonder what a vagina looks like. What do you call a vagina anyway? I know on men it is called a penis, but dad only explained to me what an erection was and didn’t tell me what sex actually was. I’ll bet I could find a picture of a vagina in the dictionary if I knew what it was called.
Flipping the pages one by one, each one falling with a thump that was only matched by a beat of my heart. Thump. Thump. Thump. B. r. e… a… Jesus wouldn’t want this. Jesus is watching me. Oh, how I love you Jesus, but I am dying of curiosity. A footstep upstairs. What if I was caught with my erection up and my hand on a picture of a naked woman? Lust is sin. Slide the dictionary back onto the shelf, Josh. There, Josh. Thank you Lord for helping me resist temptation…
To my Christian readers:
By far, the most common argument I see made against atheists is that while they have moral standards, they do not have a defense of morality and therefore are “borrowing” from a Theistic (e.g. Christian) worldview every time they make a moral statement. This is presented as evidence that atheists have an internal contradiction in their worldview whereby they are not allowed to make any moral statements because they cannot account for the origin – or source – of morality.
Before I begin a discussion on what I hold morality to be, I want to carefully outline a series of important concepts that have lead me to my current position. Before that, I want to outline my interpretation of the Christian argument for absolute morality that for many is a compelling reason to believe in an Absolute Moral Law Giver. The latter is just to demonstrate that I do understand the Christian position and am not trying intentionally to set up a straw man argument.
The Christian perspective is generally a top-down approach to morality, wherein God is the source of all morals. While there are many nuanced perspectives on this, most Christians argue that morality extends from God’s nature. God is good, therefore He cannot do anything wrong or He defines what is right and wrong. Common moral laws (or concepts) found among men are evidence that we share a common nature and this common nature is what separates us from other animals and is evidence that we were made in the image of God. In this way, morality is absolute because it “comes from” an Absolute Moral Lawgiver – so to speak. Hence, all we have to do is “look around us” and see that men follow common morals and this is evidence of God and the fact that we are made in His image…
Today I was thinking a little bit about the reasoning process I see quite a few Christians use. Quite frankly, every Christian I have ever known – including myself – used this reasoning. It goes like this:
So far, all my experience shows me that Christianity is true. Therefore, I should believe Christianity until it is proven false. But because it is wrong and / or uncomfortable for me to doubt, I should do everything in my power to first eliminate my doubts. Leaving the faith requires a serious increase in my doubt, therefore I will work to defend the faith and leave only if I cannot: I will start with the assumption I am correct and only leave if proven wrong.
The inevitable result of this thinking is this: the person works intentionally to invent an explanation of their faith that is unfalsifiable. Why? Because an unfalsifiable faith is the only faith that can never be doubted because no evidence can ever contradict it. Unfalsifiable propositions are the holy grail of any faith system, because it makes the object of their faith omnipotent.
I see this regularly. A believer, when pressed to provide a reasonable and demonstrable test for their faith will inevitably shy away from a… well… reasonable and demonstrable test. Instead, any test and all surrounding definitions of God must be calculated and invented so that their faith will not collapse even if the test fails. Ultimately, the believer is only seeking their own selfish comfort when – ironically – selfishness and personal comfort is the one thing Christianity so lavishly preaches against…
As I have left the faith this last year and half, I have watched old ideas shed themselves from my mind systematically. One of these ideas was the mentality that said I should always be paying attention to / worrying about what other people “think”.
The Protestant churches and schools I remember spent an inordinate amount of time with their finger to the wind of culture, constantly on high alert. Every slight change in culture or thinking outside the church should be brought to the attention of those in the church and critiqued for everyone’s “edification”. In particular, I remember spending a considerable amount of time discussing “post-modernism”, why it is bad, how it is bad, how we can counter it, and how we could witness to those confused post-modernists.
In many ways, I feel like some of the Christian commenters on this blog are doing this. They are here to “feel out” why people are leaving the faith, to get a sense of the changes in culture that are causing the church to lose members. I do not blame them for doing this. If one has the Absolute Truth of the Universe in their possession, it is only natural that they guard it – and themselves – from every “empty philosophy” the world offers.
But this post is not for them, it is for those who are leaving the faith and feel an overwhelming – and perhaps debilitating – responsibility to convert or immunize everyone around them from Christianity. In the time I have spent perusing blogs of ex-Christians, I have seen that there tends to be a period of militant anti-Christianity as people who are severely hurt by those beliefs try to protect everyone else from a similar fate. I went through this period myself…