Posts filed under ‘Josh’
When I was at Bible school beginning my study to be an apologist, I spent countless hours studying and rethinking my perspective on the Bible as God’s Word. What follows are some of the problems I ran into that I could not reconcile to a level of satisfaction in my mind:
1) Saying God’s Word is inerrant or infallible seems pointless because interpretation is subject to error. What is the point of a god who makes an inerrant or infallible book and then gives the Holy Spirit to help interpret it if believers themselves still do not know what most of it actually means or if people are always updating or changing their interpretation? The very fact that in two thousand years no one can still figure out how to inerrantly or infallibly interpret any portion of the Bible is excellent evidence that it would be pointless for God to make the work itself inerrant or infallible in any way. Although I can think of very good reasons men would invent the idea of infallibility or inerrancy…
2) God’s Word is insufficient because other tools must be used or invented to interpret it. Think commentaries, archaeology, Greek and Hebrew language studies, etc. If one cannot properly understand what God said unless they study these things, then God’s Word is insufficient. Enough said…
As a believer in Christianity, I reached a point where I ran into this dilemma:
Christians are supposed to follow the golden rule.
Christians ask those outside the faith to seriously question their own beliefs.
Therefore, if I was to be an honest Christian following the golden rule, I should analyze my own beliefs to the same degree which I require those outside the faith to do.
At this point, I began to study the atheist / skeptic perspective in depth and discovered I could no longer hold onto my faith because under scrutiny it was no better than any other religious worldview.
Now then, what I find so hard to understand is how Jesus advocated following the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) yet I have met very few – if any – Christians who seriously follow this principle in their attempts to proselytize.
I guess my question is this: why is this so hard for Christians to seriously do? Most believers I have met tend to isolate their study to that material which either confirms what they believe and / or debunks every other worldview. Why do you guys think this is?
In Act 1, we discussed the events that lead to the fall of our world (which brought about death and destruction and nasty things that we do not like). In Act 2, we discussed the love of God in sending Jesus to save us from a problem which we had no part in creating. Finally, in this act we will be discussing the wonderful news that death has been conquered and Jesus is coming back again and how you can make the most advantage of the vagueness associated with this notion and help the church make money and thereby fulfill the great commission and help God!
Where did we leave off? Oh, yes, right about where Mel Gibson left Jesus: in the grave. Well, you know that tiny clip of Jesus walking naked out of the tomb? That, my new believer friends, is only the beginning.
You see, Jesus not only died, but he rose again according to the Scriptures on the third day (I would highly recommend never looking for the passage in the Old Testament that predicts this because you wouldn’t want to damage your new found faith!) He did this to conquer one of mankind’s greatest personified enemies: death. And this was also done so that Jesus would become the first fruits (that is a fancy sacrifice) among all mankind. Just as Adam died and brought death into the world, so Jesus rose and brought life and light to all mankind. This is joy and wonder of your faith, my brothers and sisters!
Now that you know what happened, the next important thing is to think about the future because the future can even be scarier when God is involved (remember the flood?). God has promised to some day not only return but to destroy the entire earth with fire. While this may sound simple, this is extremely complicated theology because God needed to give theologians something super hard to study while he was being patient for every elect person to be saved…
In Act 1 we discovered the events that lead to the chaotic and tumultuous world we now find ourselves in. We left off with our hero – Noah – who was the only righteous man alive.
Now God told Noah to build this big boat and it took him a really, really long time to build it. In fact, it took a couple hundred years. But Noah had some help because God decided to save Noah and his family – even though Noah was the only righteous one God found. Obviously Noah would not be able to reproduce by himself so God saved them all because He is merciful and for some reason likes full households and happy families more than individuals (for more information, ask James Dobson). And God saved a lot of animals. Well, he only saved two (or seven) of each kind. But you have to remember that this was before micro-evolution had really gone into full swing and so there were not a lot of species on the planet. Somehow they all fit into the boat (probably because they were babies). Then God sent the flood and killed everything except for some seeds which obviously survived, and miraculously salt-water and fresh-water fish survived in the tumult and obviously everything in Noah’s boat (affectionately called the “ark”) was safe too.
After the flood, God invented the rainbow (because refraction of light through tiny water droplets in the air to produce a prism effect did not exist before the giant canopy of water fell to the earth even though a mist used to rise from the ground to water all the plants). The rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood. In fact, as we will soon discover God has better plans when he gets upset in the future: He is going to use fire (isn’t it nice to know it won’t be water though?!)
Now you may ask why God gave the rainbow and made the promise. Well, you see…
In an effort to produce more creative writing on the de-conversion website (and stir the able minds of our readers to seriously consider their faith (or lack thereof (wow, I’m not sure a triple parenthetical is good grammar))), I hereby present to you: the gospel story in its entirety. Being complete with historically accurate facts, a fundamentalist friendly framework, tongue-in-cheek humor, and many twists of irony, this small set of condensed Biblically faith-based narratives is sure to warm your heart and give you the eternal security for which you have always longed but did not know it yet because you are blinded by Satan. For best results, enjoy with a warm cup of holy water or a wheat wafer and non-alcoholic wine (unless you suffer from frequent stomach ailments).
In the beginning God exists for an eternity. At some point he begets a son and chooses him to be the sacrifice for a world he is going to create. Then he looks ahead and sees all the people in the world who will eventually choose his human sacrifice as their salvation and elects them to that very salvation. [Or something like that. It depends on your denomination and interpretation of complicated theological topics like predestination and free will. But these probably don't affect your salvation. Well, they might, depending on whether they are true or not. Don't see a pastor about them unless they scare the hell out of you. But I diverge.]
Then God creates angels, who – though being spiritual in nature – are quite indistinguishable in features from the physical creation he is about to create. In fact, according to Paul they are often confused as gods and worshiped via little stone and wooden creations. Some of them can walk, talk, have wings (though there is no air in the spiritual realm), and they come and go from God’s throne. That is right, God (though spiritual and having not yet created the physical realm) has a throne in heaven and these angels come and go from it…
This post is somewhat of an addendum to my previous post in which I discussed how I was beginning to realize just what being an “elite” Christian had done to my thinking. In this post I wanted to focus more closely on one area of my thinking that has truly been tainted or hurt by being a fundamentalist conservative Christian: how to be a friend.
Recently I was asking advice of a friend and was basically told to either submit to Biblical advice or get nothing. This hurt. Quite a bit. I thought that by even asking for advice I was trying to be a friend. But I realized that the advice from this person – and the associated love – was conditional: I needed to be or do something first in order to warrant a love that I felt I should receive either way. And this was from a friend who has taken almost no time at all to try and connect with the pain and suffering leaving the faith has brought me this last year. So while I am to listen to this person: they feel no need to listen to me at all.
Although I am obviously upset, this has got me to thinking: this is how everyone I knew acted. It is how I acted.
My friends and I were basically trained to feel uncomfortable around people whom we considered to be a potentially bad influence on us. I can’t express how frustrating this is now. Even until recently I found it hard to feel comfortable around certain non-Christians I knew because I consistently had my guard up, looking for areas of disagreement like a dog trying to pick a fight or looking for reasons to distrust them because they might unwittingly be a bad influence on me.
A good Christian can never be too careful about being a friend…
I have a confession to make. Despite the way I may sound confident after leaving the faith, I admit that being myself has been so difficult. It has taken about a year for me to see this, but this last year has been a massive realization that so much of how I thought about life was driven not by who I actually was but by who I felt expected to be as a ‘mature’ Christian.
Within the faith I feel there is a sub-class of the elite faithful. These are the individuals who are looked up to for advice and who in many ways drive the faith forward. In many ways I saw myself as one of these individuals within Christianity just a year ago. Was it arrogance? Probably. Was it accurate? I don’t know.
But I am just now discovering how it truly affected my thinking. This last summer as I was leaving the faith I can remember this sense of hurling over a cliff… as if my entire thought process about the world and life was being reinvented. Oddly I was the same person, but the way in which I thought about things was changing.
One area I have struggled with is the area of friendships. On the one hand, I love my old friends within the faith. On the other hand, I am finding that so many of my previous friendships just are not working the same way anymore. So many of those friendships were based on the faith itself – on discussions about Bible passages or prayer or accountability – that now I find I do not have much in common with those people. Furthermore I am finding that some of the friendship decisions I made within the faith were actually really poor, but I made them for ‘spiritual’ reasons. For example, there were friendships I started or kept going because I thought that the Lord wanted me to be a ministry to someone but if I had not been a Christian I probably would have stayed away…