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Moving Beyond De-Conversion?

Are de-converts able to move beyond Christendom? An honest question. Many of us invested our entire life into evangelical endeavours. Others are swayed by the subtle power of the various denominations Christianity have to offer. One thing is for certain, it has had an unbalanced effect on our growth as human beings (for better or worse).

While I believe my Dobsonesque childhood damaged me in certain ways, I am thankful for my evangelical upbringing if only for, ironically, my skepticism. My parents taught me to be skeptical of everything, other than my own religious views. I was to be on the look out for big government moves to a New World Order, raise a cautious eye to new religious movements (or “cults”), and question everything that society and science through my way. They just didn’t expect that they gave me the same tools to critique my own religious upbringing.

But what now? I continue to keep a skeptical view, including of the sociological reports I must read for my academic life as well as the science I read in pop culture. But what about the rest of my life? Can I move past that Christian worldview? Is it healthy to continue to brew on past beliefs? As a religious studies major, it is inevitable, and I probably have made it harder on myself by choosing such a discipline. But what about this site? Is it a help, or a hindrance to mature growth?

Continue Reading November 6, 2008 at 11:28 am 62 comments

Ethiopia and the Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant, like many artifacts sought after because of Biblical speculation, is shrouded in mystery. According to the Book of Exodus, God commanded Moses to have the Hebrews build the ark as a communication device between God and Moses (Ex. 25:9-10). Contemporary references such as in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) have focused on such powers as the source of fanatical treasure searching.

There are many theories about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant, of which the majority revolve around its transportation to Egypt and beyond or a secret location in Israel in which the Ark was hidden away prior to the Babylonian conquest. One such theory that is particularly intriguing is the Ethiopian legend. The Ark is only a small part of Ethiopia’s long and peculiar legend and history associated with both Judaism and Christianity.

The Ark of the Covenant is said to contain the “testimony” of God’s covenant with the Hebrews (Dt.31:26), a golden jar with manna and the rod of Aaron (Ex. 16:32-34, Heb. 9:4). However, 1 Kings 8:9 states that the only contents of the Ark were the two tablets of stone. The Ark, even from its Biblical record, is concealed in smoke and mirrors as High Priests themselves, notably the first one, Aaron, were only allowed to see the Ark on specific days. The Ark was covered when carried among the Hebrews and hidden in the Holy of Holies…

Continue Reading August 2, 2008 at 11:59 pm 9 comments

The Secretive Messiah

The gospel attributed to Mark (hereafter referred to as “Mark”) purposely perpetuates a distinctly secret nature to Jesus’ life. This concept of the Messianic secret is beyond dispute, yet the explanations of the secrecy drastically differ on several grounds. Although William Wrede coined the term “the Messianic secret” in his 1901 publication of the same name, the notion of the secrecy was probably realized as early as the writers of the gospels attributed to Matthew and Luke. The Messianic secret, as defined by Wrede, is an idiom meant to describe the commandments by Jesus to followers and demons not to reveal the secret of his Messiahship.1

Elements of Jesus’ secrecy are still prevalent in the other synoptic gospels but are given internal explanations based on the author’s purpose. Matthew, for example, whose audience was probably Jewish, explains Mark’s prevailing propensity to Messianic secrecy by using Jewish scriptures, such as in Mt. 12:16 and 13:11: the gospel writer recalls passages from Isaiah, not only reduce the significant of the secrecy, but also to highlight the prophetic fulfillments of Jesus. Yet looking at the earlier Markan source, we do not have such explanations of fulfillment of scripture. Contrarily, Mark does not give many explanations to any of the references to Jesus’ secret nature apart from the obvious references to basic privacy…

Continue Reading July 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm 23 comments

The Double Standard of Christian Skepticism

doubtingthomas.jpgI applaud many Christians on something that self-proclaimed “freethinkers” often overlook about certain religionists: the quality of their skepticism. I laud the way that a Christian can systematically dismantle their religious rivals, yet at the same time I praise those same rivals in their endeavours to knock down the Christian religion. Christians, as well as other religious adherents, definitely have a healthy dose of skepticism, defined as someone “inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions” (OED).

Many Christians doubt not only evolutionary theory, but also the actual physical evidences for it (certainly a radical skepticism indeed!). Christians, by necessity, doubt not only Hinduism, but also its philosophically astute and more universal descendant, Buddhism. If they can doubt such a sophisticated and ancient religion such as Buddhism, then certainly New Religious Movements, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Latter Day Saints, that call themselves “Christian” are certainly no match for those of “sound theology”. Furthermore, scores of Christians doubt that morality apart from God is not only improbable, but completely impossible. And almost every Christian doubts that the universe can be explained without a divine presence. I celebrate such skepticism!…

Continue Reading March 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm 33 comments

Why I am Not a Liberal Christian

crosslight.jpgThis post is somewhat of an indirect response, or possibly a reaction, to Mike Clawson’s “I might have become an atheist” post, in which he narrates how his doubts at Bible college almost led him to disbelief, but found a theological home with the emerging Christian movement. I briefly responded (#4) to his post with some concerns, albeit I admit my questions were unfairly rhetorical. I would like to take this opportunity to share my own experience with the movement, since I do have a similar theological background as Mike appears to have had and to state why I could not, with being honest to myself, stay within the liberal emergent village. I do not publish this as a rebuke or even a debate, although I would be more than willing to have an open and frank conversation on the topic.

Like Mike, I too grew up as an evangelical conservative Christian, although not an in-your-face preaching type, I held fundamentalist views (Young earth, Biblical inerrancy, etc.), and was politically conservative. I had reservations about the hawks among my party (Reform/Canadian Alliance at that time), but I was both economically and socially conservative. However, in my second year of Bible college, I thoroughly studied the Sermon on the Mount which led to a political paradigm shift – away from conservatism and into a radical liberalism. Although I was still theologically conservative, my political shift forced me to take a look at my overall intellectual composition. It was at this time I came across an instructor at my conservative Bible college that I thought was completely heretical…

Continue Reading March 7, 2008 at 9:00 am 112 comments

Theocratic Evangelicals: Forgetting History

christianflag.jpgAround a year and a half ago I wrote an article, published elsewhere, on the theocratic inclinations of contemporary evangelical Christians. I continue to recognize that these imposing proclivities are usually theoretical and manifest themselves only on special circumstances, such as in conservative pulpits, political surveys, and in the ballot box. However, as I re-watch that notorious video clip of Mike Huckabee scaring the hell out of every religious (and areligious) minority in America, I can only sit in amazement of the frightening hold the icon (or idol) of the Bible has on these people. For your reading pleasure, I have re-published that original article, with a few edits, below:

I had so many great headlines for this story. If it was not so long, ambiguous or condescending I would have stuck with: “Evangelicals Chose God over Democracy in American Politics”. I admit, the title I selected is still a little harsh and maybe a little misleading but it is getting my opinion across about a poll released by the Pew Research Center back in August 2006. Polls on religion and politics in the United States are always interesting. Specifically, my “favourite” question is the one concerning the influence the Bible should have on United States laws versus the will of the American people. The exact question reads, “Which should be the more important influence on the laws of the United States – Should it be the Bible or should it be the will of the American people, even when it conflicts with the Bible?”…

Continue Reading February 13, 2008 at 4:19 pm 44 comments

A Short Blurb on Theism vs Atheism

Balanced ScaleI have come to the conclusion that there is little difference, for better or for worst, between a theist and an atheist – specifically in the way we act, talk, and generally live our lives.

Morality: It doesn’t matter whether conservative theists cannot understand where a non-believer receives their morals, the fact is we share a common thread of ethical decency. Even in cases that their are tangible radical differences, such as sexual license, et al., an unbeliever is no more likely to engage in orgies, sexual crimes, divorce, and/or promiscuity than theists. Non-theists are simply more likely to admit it (it takes less than a semester at a conservative Bible college to figure this out).

Intellectualism: Atheists are not smarter than theists. Theists, likewise, are not smarter than atheists. While I do believe that fundamentalists suffer in the realm of academic integrity, the majority of sophisticated mainstream Christian scholars are exceptional scholars. The belief or non-belief in God is an issue of whether one can accept the value of faith or not.

Happiness/Joy/Peace: There was little joy when Jesus died on the cross, or even when he, according to the Bible, resurrected – unless you want to read into something that isn’t there…

Continue Reading February 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm 142 comments

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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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