Posts tagged ‘suffering’

William P. Young’s “The Shack”

While I was still working as a pastor, I brought my doubts to my bishop and he started the process of finding me a spiritual mentor. The process of my leaving licenced ministry for an indefinite period of time went faster than the process of finding a spiritual mentor, and by the time I first met the pastor who would be my mentor, I was already unemployed. We agreed to meet anyway, and see how things worked out. I was very unsecure in my deconversion and was hoping there was something obvious I had overlooked.

One of the first things my mentor asked me to do was read a book called The Shack, written by William P. Young. The tagline on the front cover reads, “Where tragedy confronts eternity” and on the back cover is the claim that in Young’s story, he wrestles with the question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” Young wrestles with this question through the fictional character Mackenzie Allen Phillips (or Mack, for short), who suffers some horrible tragedies in his life, then one day receives an invitation in his mailbox which may or may not be from God.

Please be aware that this article contains SPOILERS and that if you want to be surprised by anything in the book, you should read the book before finishing this article. You may still find nothing in the book to be surprising, but at least that won’t be my fault…

Continue Reading September 8, 2008 at 3:06 am 186 comments

Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem

I bought Bart Ehrman’s God’s Problem on the strength of reading his Misquoting Jesus, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There are three things about Ehrman’s writing that help me sit up and listen to what he is saying.

First, he is world renowned scholar in his field. He has been teaching the bible at university level for years and knows the book and its documents and the scholarship associated with it inside out.

Secondly, he is a very able communicator. The substance of the Misquoting Jesus is the scholarship surrounding the New Testament documents – a very technical subject. Despite this, he wrote a very readable book for the non-expert. In God’s Problem he looks at the subject of suffering and examines how, for him, the answers as to why we suffer provided in the bible seriously fail to convince him that an omnipotent and loving god exists.He moves with ease and grace through the theology and philosophy of the Old and New Testaments, all the time reminding us that despite the words, suffering is a very human problem. The modern day examples of suffering he discusses are personal and real, and cry out for answers. We may be able to detach ourselves from the suffering of Old Testament nations, but, as Ehrman reminds us, the obscenity of the Holocaust is closer to home, as is the suffering of our family members and neighbours…

Continue Reading September 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm 69 comments

The question of suffering and my de-conversion

“Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever serve you…”

I grew up singing all the lame-ass church songs that you know are lame at the time, but you are too afraid of eternal condemnation to even whisper a critical comment about them. I grew up with church leaders who were bitchy and judgmental and used the only place they can criticize others without it being a sin to pick on kids in youth group. I have been to summer camps, winter camps, mission trips, water-ski trips, watermelon seed spitting contests, paint-balling, pizza parties, pool bashes, and bible jeopardy extravaganzas galore. When I was in 4th grade, I made sure to memorize as many Bible verses as possible so I could get the prize of a giant strawberry lip-smacker or fun-size Butterfinger. I wore dresses, which I hated, to church. I tried to fake sick to get out of church at least once a month. I had done all that a young evangelical can do between the ages of 1 and 21…everything that is, except think for myself.

I was pretty brainwashed until I was 18. My best friend and I secretly hated church and would goof off all we could and make fun of everyone because we thought we were cooler…but essentially I was under the spell. I was terrified of sin and anyone who sinned. I was freaked out by homosexuals or homeless people. I thought that divorced women were bad, that non-Christians who rode their bikes on Sunday instead of going to church, deserved an eternal pit of fire. I do not believe I was inherently judgmental, I was just overexposed to the church and God…

Continue Reading July 27, 2008 at 12:40 pm 55 comments

Bart Ehrman, Questioning Religion on Why We Suffer (NPR)

God’s Problem - Bart Ehrman It’s one of the oldest faith questions: If there’s an all-powerful and loving God, why do human beings suffer?

In his latest book, religious studies professor Bart D. Ehrman wrestles with that question — and with the implications of the often-contradictory answers he finds. In God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer, Ehrman meditates upon how the Bible explains human suffering, why he finds the explanations unconvincing, and why he gave up on being a Christian.

Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus and more than a dozen other books, chairs the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…

[Listen to Erhman's interview on 'Fresh Air' with Terry Gross and read Book Excerpt]

February 20, 2008 at 8:55 am 121 comments

To sin or not to sin: Is it even possible?

Eve AppleI’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately. No, I don’t have a guilty conscience. Quite the opposite. My conscience has never been clearer, although I think my fundy friends would say that it’s been “seared with a hot iron.” I consider it liberated from guilt theology. The big question of the day: is it even possible to sin? My short answer: no.

At a recent Interfaith Dialogue I was struck by how Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are so dominated by sin consciousness. The primary thrust of each religion appeared to be an attempt to find atonement for sin and be reconciled to God. My favorite college professor delivered the guest sermon at church yesterday. His teaching, along with Brennan Manning’s books, helped me to overcome the narcissistic guilt I inherited in the church growing up. True to form he preached about God’s forgiveness and willful forgetfulness of our sins. That is a very necessary message to help people come out of the trap that is fundamentalism. It’s like opening the prison doors and setting people free. I don’t want to play off the Matrix too much, but at this stage of the journey I’ve come to realize that there is no prison to begin with. We are imprisoned only by the smallness of our minds…

Continue Reading November 5, 2007 at 10:59 am 40 comments


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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