Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Why I Am Not A Liberal Christian

Last time around I discussed some of my reasons for believing that liberal Christians are closer to the truth than conservative ones are.  In this post I'd like to extend that theme, by honing in on my reasons for additionally rejecting liberal versions of the Christian faith.

In reading de-conversion stories, I've noticed that many formerly evangelical believers make something of a pit stop, if you will, in liberal Christianity.  Some of them (such as Bart Ehrman) even stay there for a number of years, before moving on to their ultimate destination; often agnosticism or atheism.  I suspect this pit stop happens in part because letting go of god is incredibly hard, especially when you've had a treasured "personal relationship with Jesus".  Also, conservative Christianity is relatively easy to disprove, most notably the variety that holds strongly to the inerrancy of the Bible, and the literal historicity of the Bible's various tall tales. Liberal Christianity, on the other hand, is much more difficult (if not downright impossible) to falsify.

Many of the things that atheists and agnostics rightly reject about the Bible, are rejected by liberal Christians too.  On one hand, this is what makes the option so attractive for those who grow disillusioned with evangelicalism.  At a certain point in the de-conversion journey, you inevitably find yourself yourself thinking thoughts like, "Hey, maybe I could just flush all of this bullshit, but still remain a Christian.  Wouldn't that be awesome!?!".  It seems, on the surface, to be an appealing compromise when you're feeling caught in the middle of two (diametrically opposed) worlds.

Having said that, I guess I am one of those atheists who just passed right by liberal Christianity. No pit stop for me.  I did seriously consider it, for a while, but I can't honestly say that I was ever really convinced by the arguments or rationale.

Without further ado, here are three of the primary reasons I rejected liberal Christianity...

Reason #1, I found no convincing reason to believe in liberal Christian theology

Frankly, I'm not sure that many liberal Christians *have* much of a theology (or perhaps some just don't view theology as being very important).  I realize they endorse moral action, but so do most atheists.  In fact, as I've discussed previously, I still heartily embrace many so called "Christian values" myself.  The difference, of course, is that I now do so for unambiguously secular reasons.

One (rather well known) liberal Christian, who shall remain nameless, told me in private correspondence, "I do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but I do find a lot of meaning in the symbol of of his resurrection".  My first reaction was, "whoa, that sounds pretty deep".  It was followed rather quickly though by my second reaction, namely, "what the hell does that mean exactly?".  It reminds me a lot of what Julia Sweeney says, in her "Letting Go Of God" monologue, regarding the suggestion that Jesus' resurrection is "psychologically true"...

"But what about other stories on the same theme?  I mean, what about Persephone going down into the under world...that's psychologically true too then, I suppose.  Or what about stories from the Iliad, or Darth Vader, or The Little Engine That Could...those are 'psychologically true' stories; aren't they??"

And therein lies the heart of the problem, as I see it, with liberal Christian theology.  They seem to find "meaning", all through the Bible, but it's unclear to me: a) what this meaning is, and b) how (or if) it is unique to the Bible.

This leads me to my second point...

Reason #2, I found no convincing reason to believe that god, if he/she/it exists, had anything whatsoever to do with the Bible

When atheists pick apart the Bible, they are very often accused of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  *Of course* the Bible is not inerrant, the liberal Christians will say; what thinking person would believe such a thing anyway?

Laying aside the fact that a large number of Christians do believe such a thing, the deeper issue (with the Bible) still remains unaddressed.  Once we can agree that it contains errors, historical inaccuracies, outright fabrications, and so on, the next question then centers on what reasons someone would have for believing that a god inspired its writing at the outset.  Please pay careful attention to my wording here.  Notice that I am not asking if the Christian God dictated the words to the Biblical authors verbatim.  I realize that liberal Christians acknowledge different (and even conflicting) perspectives within the canon.  No, what I am asking instead is what positive reasons there are for believing that the Christian God had ANYTHING to do with Bible.

Does someone want to take a shot at that one?

Typically the silence from liberal Christians, to this more nuanced question, is downright eerie.  It leads me to conclude that they simply don't have a good answer.  And, if god indeed had nothing to do with the Bible, there are an awful lot of people who should probably re-think orienting their entire lives around its instructions.

On a side note, as I see it, this is also the root problem with the various pro-gay & anti-gay arguments between Christians.  *It doesn't really matter what the Bible says, or doesn't say, about homosexuality, if there is no convincing reason to believe that the book is divinely inspired.*

Reason #3, I found no convincing reason to believe that god exists in the first place

It's important for me to clarify that I do not claim to know for certain that a god does not exist. This is a strikingly common misperception about atheists.  Most of us infidels have at least some level of agnosticism on that question.  Contrary to popular belief, a "no gods exist" assertion is not required (or even implied) by the term atheist.  I won't belabor the point here but, if you find that last sentence confusing, please read my post called "Atheist Or Agnostic?" for further clarification.

Simply put, at the end of the day, I strongly suspect that no gods exist at all.  And certainly not the sort of omni-god (such as Yahweh) who supposedly intervenes in the physical world.

Let me also be quick to point out, in conclusion, that I fully realize and acknowledge how ambiguous the term "liberal Christian" is generally.  This is why, in discussion with believers of a more liberal persuasion, I usually begin by trying to get a better handle on what exactly it is that they personally believe (about god, the Bible, and so on).  It is only afterward that I can get much of a sense for where specifically our disagreements lie, if we even have any.  For example, I know at least one liberal Christian who rejects nearly every major point of Christian theology, in so far as I can tell.  He doesn't believe that Jesus died for our sins, he doesn't believe in hell, or that Jesus was born of a virgin and performed miracles.  He even admits, when pressed, to also being agnostic about god's existence.  For him, to be Christian simply means to live his life with hope, or something like that, and to stand alongside those raised in the Christian tradition through the centuries.  But if that's all it takes, to be "Christian", than you might as well say that I am one too. At this level it seems to boil down to essentially a game of terminology semantics, or perhaps just a personal label preference thing.  Personally, I no longer felt comfortable in using the word Christian, to describe myself, once I lost faith in what I viewed to be the major tenants of the Christian religion (like those represented in the Apostles' Creed).

To my fellow de-converts; did you make a pit stop, in liberal Christianity, on your road to atheism? Why or why not?  And to the liberal Christians who read this; am I misunderstanding (or misrepresenting) your views?  If so, how?

20 comments:

  1. Much like you, when I came to the conclusion that the Bible "contains errors, historical inaccuracies, outright fabrications, and so on" I was pretty much done. Not without a lot of serious consideration, study, thought, and emotional turmoil mind you. But without Biblical inerrancy and infallibility I just didn't see any evidence for a god of any kind. I know, I know, a lot of good Christian people would point out that "even the rocks cry out" to proclaim the existence of the Christian god, but what I see are a lot of innocents crying out to the the silence that comes screaming back. Funny thing, that. Nah, I didn't make a liberal pit stop because I pretty much came to the conclusion that Jesus wasn't a god. After that Christianity of any flavor doesn't make much sense anymore for me.

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  2. I tried to do liberal but couldn't. It was a very short-lived attempt and at the time I reasoned that liberal Christianity was a type of psychological Christianity. No concrete belief about any of it but it felt good.

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  3. I found a few if not a lot of mis guidence through this post. For one thing, when you were talking about the meanings of the Bible I have a few things about that. First of all, there are thousands of meanings and it's the only book that is the breath of life. Also, God is real and The stories in the Bible are not tall tales, they are true. There are a lot of other things that you got wrong in this but I won't talk about it all. The last thing I want to say is that I am called to be an Evanglist and I will do it with all my heart and soul. If you want to comment on my posts on Finding The Truth. Blogspot.com or CHristopher C. Rnadolph at wordpress. com. You can also email me at j-randolph@hotmail.com
    God bless Jeremiah Randolph

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  4. When I was moving from Creationist to Atheist I did seriously consider stopping at liberal on the way.

    It wasn't what the bible said that stopped me. One can always use theology to get what you want from the bible. It was the weight of science and the destruction of biblical foundations that proved too much for me. I could not be christian while not believing in a real Adam and Eve or a virgin birth or a Bethlehem star etc.

    Liberal Christianity sounded too much like luke-warm water, so I spat it out.

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  5. I started out as a liberal christian, but the more I learned about physics and the universe and mental illness (I personally believe many of the "miracles" and "visions" and even indeed the writing of the Bible, were the result of symptoms of mental illness (ie prolific, grandiose writing, hallucinations, delusions) This thing that really pushed me over to the atheist/agnostic side was the realization of how insignificant we as a human species are in the timeline of earth and how insignificant the planet earth is to our universe and other universes that we can detect. Who are we to think we have any answers?

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  6. … to the liberal Christians who read this; am I misunderstanding (or misrepresenting) your views? If so, how?
    I cannot speak for all Liberal Christians, however I can point out that Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan and any other liberal scholar one might name do not reflect the beliefs of all Liberal Christians. Indeed,
    “Liberal Christianity is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward. Liberal is a method of biblical hermeneutics (methods of bible interpretation). It is an undogmatic method of understanding God through the use of scripture by applying the same modern hermeneutics used to understand any ancient writings. Liberal Christianity does not claim to be a belief structure, and as such is not dependent upon any Church dogma or creedal statements. Unlike conservative varieties of Christianity, Liberal Christianity has no unified set of propositional beliefs.” (see Wikipedia)

    Reason #3, I found no convincing reason to believe that god exists in the first place
    This statement raises the question: “what do you mean when you speak of god?” To this you’ve offered that “at the end of the day, I strongly suspect that no gods exist at all; certainly not the sort of omni-god who supposedly intervenes in the physical world.” Hans Kung, in his book, “Does God Exist?” asserts that believing in God is not about rational arguments or persuasion, but about what one wants to believe. He asserts this based on the recognition that one’s personal experience has much more to do with one’s belief in God than does apologetics.

    The medieval scholastic, Anselm, offered a definition of god by saying “that of which the greater can be neither conceived nor imagined.” In more modern time, Joseph Campbell, the renowned mythologist, wrote that “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that." These types of definitions are considered non-falsifiable. Hence, one can neither prove nor disprove them. One can only exercise beliefs.

    Reason #1, I found no convincing reason to believe in liberal Christian theology
    If one believes in a god with an interest, it is only natural that they attend to questions of the attributes and character of that god; e.g., “Who is god and what is he/she/it like?” Such a study of god is what theology is about, be it Christian or not. The introduction or prolegomena of theology is the quest for something or someone (e.g., an authority) which can speak believably about god.

    Reason #2, I found no convincing reason to believe that god, if he/she/it exists, had anything whatsoever to do with the Bible.
    The desire to believe and access god has been a part of humanity since before we could write. The earliest efforts to engage god were accomplished through rituals. In the present day, the primary sources of information about god (although not the only source) are found in world scriptures. Since the days of the resurrection, a pursuit of knowledge about god must include knowledge of the person of Jesus. The primary source of knowledge about Jesus is in an impartial reading of the Bible. This is a non-dogmatic read of the Bible with an open mind, recognizing that the Bible describes what people witnessed, far more than it explains what happened. In the Old Testament one reads of the hope of Christ. In the New Testament one reads the fulfillment of that hope. Liberal Christianity asserts that good history and good hermeneutics (impartial, open minded reading) is a legitimate means of engaging and learning about God for those who have an interest.

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  7. I may be a little late to this party, seeing as how you haven't posted anything in almost three months. I would like to say that, for the most part, you are indeed what you say you are. You do present your views without undermining the intelligence of those of us who believe in God. However, my main criticism has to do with your professional life. I don't know if anything has changed in the last three months, but you appear to still be employed at the Christian organization where you worked when you began this blog. I can understand that you need food, shelter and clothing for your family, but once you realized you could no longer believe in God, you should have started looking for another job where you are not required to provide services that are in contrast to your convictions. I have to ask, why would anyone who refers to themself as a respectful atheist deny someone who believes in God an opportunity at a career in serving the Lord?

    On a separate issue, I have noticed a change in your style since you started this blog. You used to capitalize "God" when your wrote His name, but lately, you have used lower-case. This is not a criticism. It's just an observation that I found interesting.

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    1. Yes, I felt like it was only right that I capitalize "God", while I was describing the stage where I was still a Christian. I decided to switch to the small g after moving into the atheist part of my story though. You're the first person to have picked up on the change (good catch). No disrespect is intended or implied...it's only meant to reflect/represent the fact that I no longer personally believe that "God" is a real person.

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  8. I think you hit the nail on the head with your concluding paragraph "...But if that's all it takes, to be "Christian", than you might as well say that I am one too...". "Liberal Christianity" is an oxymoron. It's like claiming to be Nazi sympathizer while loving Jews and being in the peace corps.

    I personally made the decision to disbelieve in "God" because of the pressure to do "good" & "charitable" deeds & live right for "God" once pronounced "saved". I embraced atheism because it fit with what I wanted for my life; to be free from a transcendent authority (I mean it's already difficult enough to listen to the police or a judge or pay taxes to the IRS or what have you). Sure when I give real consideration to atheism, I see all the contradictions it poses intellectually, scientifically, ethically/morally, but on the other end when I give atheism real consideration, now I can sleep with as many women as I want, cheat, steal, mistreat my neighbor, or commit any "crimes" (so long as I can get away with it of course) because after all I ultimately say what's right and what's wrong and no transcendent God is going to tell me what to do or how I should live and treat others and anyone who tells me otherwise he's a hypocrite for trading one "Authority" for another "authority". I can contradict myself whenever I want because what "ultimate" authority is there to tell me I can't tell a lie or be illogical. When I pickup a "scientific" publication as long as it's in the name of science, I'll believe it over the Bible regardless of the ridiculous implications and hidden contradictions that lie within it. And though I hinted at the sexual freedoms inherent in true "atheism" I have to elaborate on it some more. I don't want to limit myself to woman, I mean men, barn animals...the skies the limit. Thank "God" for atheism.

    I know the sarcasm is blatantly apparent in the writing above, but seriously consider the implications of atheism. As a Christian, having my eyes illumined by the Holy Spirit, there is no answer to the contradictions and problems that lie with atheism. And the errors people claim to find in the Bible I have yet to hear a valid error. God has created all things and directed man's history in such a way so that everything that is opposed to Him (God) contradicts or destroys itself intellectually so that in the end there is no excuse for rejecting Him.

    It's sad to read about your falling away from Christianity but it's Biblically true to say if you left Christ, you never truly belonged to Christ. I have to question whether you truly believed or was there something more to your "belief" in God in the past?

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    1. What a dismissive and foolish response. You're a disturbed individual with your ideas about sex with animals. Sexual freedom is a challenging idea to people who are afraid of a god that they believe is intensely interested in what we do with our genitals - you should consider the vastness of the universe before allowing such a foolish idea to let you say such silly things on the internet, where such ridiculous childishness will live on forever.

      You're arguing against a strawman, and frankly, I'll put my ethics derived from human experience up against your ethics derived from biblical interpretation any day. You apparently fell for the theist idea of what an atheist is if this is what you think. You should be ashamed of yourself as a christian, much less as a human, for such uncharitable remarks directed at anyone, based on your mistaken assumptions about morals.

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  9. Being a believer in life after death and also that Christ is real, I'm called a Christian Spiritualist. This generally means that mainstream Christians are told by their pastors that what I believe is antichrist, and the neo-Darwinians tell their followers that what I believe is delusion.

    Ah well, I agree, it is easy to see why both camps would think a Spiritualist who follows Christ as his Leader must surely be deluded.

    So much of what is called Christianity by the vociferous Christians is really a manmade construct - it is the human mind making up truth from the records of the Bible and also certain experiences with the supernatural. And yet I believe Christ lived, the records of His life are pretty accurate, even if some of the stories in the Old Testament were passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation until they were written down, many bearing no resemblance any more to God's truth - any some were mearley myth in the first place and humans attributed the story to God when He really wasn't its Author.

    And evolution is as clearly true to me now as it was when I went to primary school nearly half a century ago. So it does not surprise me that the hard-headed scientific view of life is that it consists essentially only in the material world. But I do see where they have erred because they have not taken into account that to assess life, all states of being must be taken into account, and they have only accounted for the material universe, when my experience is that more life exists out of the material universe than in it.

    It's a strange world full of people who are attuned to different wavelengths or vibrations, if I may use a 60s term, and not everyone can believe what everyone else believes. And quite often people will only believe what they want to find true without wishing to find the truth itself.

    So, with a belief in angels and a Companion called Christ through whom all life was brought into being, I throw what I consider to be the Truth into the ring because nobody else seems to be there.

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  10. PS. But having said that I believe that there are mild to great discrepencies in the Old Testament, I should add that I believe the mediums of old had their spirit messages recorded correctly and that many of the records are accurate.

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  11. I have also understood some liberal and even Catholic people to believe that the bible is not true in many respects, but the resurrection of Jesus most certainly is and that is what it is all about. But it seems the only proof of the resurrection is FROM the bible.

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  12. THE LORD'S CHURCH

    What are the things that do not make you a member of the body of Christ?

    What are the requirements for membership in the Lord's church?

    THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE YOU A MEMBER OF THE LORD'S CHURCH.

    1. Simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God does not grant you membership in the Lord's church.

    Mark 5:1-12 .....7..."What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?....12 The demons implored Him....

    Demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God, however, that does not give them membership in the Lord's church. Legion was not part of the body of Christ.

    2. Sprinkling infants with water does not make them part of the body of Christ. Sprinkling unbelieving babies is not an act that adds them to the Lord's church.

    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved....

    Only believers who have been baptized are added to the Lord's church. Babies are not capable of believing.

    3. Joining denominations, such as the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, etc. does not grant you membership into the Lord's church. Joining a denomination cannot save anyone. You cannot join the Lord's church.

    Acts 2:47...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    The requirement for being added to the Lord's church is not joining a denomination. The Lord only adds the saved to the church. The church is the body of Christ.

    WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BEING ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH?

    The apostle Peter said, on the Day of Pentecost, " Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:40)

    Who was saved? Acts 2:41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day were added about three thousand souls.

    Three thousands souls were added to the Lord's church on the Day of Pentecost. Why were they added to the body of Christ?
    They received Peter's message and were immersed in water.(baptized).

    Peter's message: (Acts 2:22-38) They were taught that Jesus was the Christ. That Jesus was Lord. That God raised Jesus from the dead. They were told to repent and be baptized so their sins could be forgiven and that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Those who believed Peter's message, and repented and were baptized, were added to the body of Christ by the Lord Himself. (Acts 2:47 ...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    MEN BECOME SAVED THE SAME WAY TODAY AS THEY DID ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.

    HOW TO BECOME ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH.

    1. FAITH: John 3:16, Mark 16:16
    2. CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37
    3. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19
    4. BAPTISM: Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Galatians 3:27.


    ONLY THE LORD ADDS YOU TO HIS CHURCH!


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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  13. I do not believe the above is true or God's Truth. I believe it is man's truth, traditions of men suitable for a time when they were in spiritual darkness.

    The Supreme Being's Revelation is correlative with man’s spiritual development - He is revealed in proportion to man’s capacity.

    The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was not, in their minds, the One Only God as humanity can today understand Him, but rather much more a family deity. Read the history and focus on their main concerns.

    The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was a family deity, an anthropomorphic God, namely Jehovah Elohim (as they framed Him - "the God Jehovah"), and in their minds Jehovah Elohim was a superior God, yes, but only superior to the bizarre gods of Abraham's own father and other neighbours. They did not have the comprehension that humanity is now capable of since the Revelations of Christ concerning the Father - the universal and omnipresent, yet individually intimate Supreme Being.

    The God of Abraham was an inferior conception to the God of Job. The lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel show progressive comprehension and perception of a more and more elevated Being and culminate in Christ's portrayal of the Divine Heart of the All-seeing, All-powerful loving Divine Parent.

    The concept and perception of God became enlarged through Moses and Joshua and yet even the framer of laws showed the roots of his ancestors claiming that among the gods there is none like Jehovah.

    God becomes less man and more Divine as humanity progresses in its spirituality.

    Man is used by the Holy Spirit to relay what he can from the Divine inspiration given - given only in the measure required by man at that stage - any more would lead to more confusion than man is clearly in at present.

    Divine Revelation is progressive but Christianity keeps harking back to a lesser Revelation because it misunderstands the purpose of Christ Jesus and claims eternal life to be based on acceptance of a metaphysical belief suitable for a backward deity-worshipping clan steeped in traditions of blood sacrifice. Most disgusting and retarded if you will be honest. Yes, brave men have died for such a belief of the mind, it is true, but many more innocent people have died foul deaths at the hands of those claiming such a notion of salvation must be accepted - apparently in the Name of the Gentle Shepherd.

    In the meantime, the Christ Teachings and Example (which is His own Gospel of the Kingdom of Divine Love) are turned into a parody which plays second fiddle by Christians because they put a man-made idea of salvation based on a mere belief of the mind in place of the Way taught and demonstrated by the Master - the Way into a truly spiritual state of being once the physical body has been discarded. That is true spiritual Beauty.

    One should re-read the history, bearing in mind that many of the early records were compiled by Ezra and his scribes in an effort to bring together incomplete fragments of beliefs from more remote times and other legendary beliefs which had developed from a seed of truth many generations beforehand and which were passed on by word of mouth, but which in many cases resembled the truth very little, along with those which were purely mythical in nature developed by superstitious minds interpreting physical perceptions.

    Then Christ can be better understood and He may be given back the nobility which Christianity has taken from Him in the minds of those it preaches to.

    In Christ,
    God Bless.

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  14. "I have also understood some liberal and even Catholic people to believe that the bible is not true in many respects, but the resurrection of Jesus most certainly is and that is what it is all about. But it seems the only proof of the resurrection is FROM the bible. "

    Please may I say a little more? I apologise but this will take two posts and I do not want to seem unnecessarily verbose nor overbearing (sources concerning the resurrection is another subject and my own subjectivity would make it too vast an endeavour here).

    I believe that Christianity, particularly of the conservative type, has grossly misrepresented Jesus Christ and His Purpose and bears little resemblance to His intention through their short-sighted hijacking of His mission.

    As already alluded, the children of Israel were backward both spiritually and ethically - capable of submitting their own children to sacrificial fires - and they required strict laws to stop their evil downfall and the consequences that were irrevocably attached to it and which they amassed daily as they violated the laws of Divine Love which can never be circumvented.

    Thus it was impressed upon Moses who had mediumistic abilities that laws were required. But the message is only as pertinent as the instrument through whom it comes, and such a one was fairly well indoctrinated into the Egyptian notion of the offering of sacrifice for sin, as well as a prevailing attitude towards such.

    Hence, we see the further reliance on animal sacrifice to appease and angry, jealous, belligerent and, according to some stories, sadistic being who doled out disproportionate punishments - such as being put to death for collecting wood for a fire on the Sabbath...(Cont.)

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  15. (Cont.)
    In spite of certain messages getting through that God did "not require animal sacrifice", the idea was thoroughly instilled within the psyche of the children of Israel even from the beginnings as a small clan right up to the full-blown nation. This applied equally to those who watched, namely His disciples, who listened in awe, wonder and reverence to Christ who had come to spread a Gospel of Divine Love for humanity.

    For those disciples - who loved Christ greatly but who understood Him so little - it was always going to be a possibility that they would see His death as some type of propitiation for sin to abate an outpouring of hatred from an awfully angry being - the being of their ancestors and their records - the being who displayed the baser emotions of a man, the being who required revenge and obsequious offerings to assuage that violent outflow, the being who was framed by man as a superior man with all the worse attributes of the lesser man.

    Such an idea of propitiation came naturally to them, so very naturally indeed.

    Then there were the priests of that time, those who provided no comfort at all but who poured fear and anxiety into the people about the same Jehovah Elohim who was superior to all other gods. They reiterated and reiterated that without many coins, trinkets, livestock and jewels - submitted on their own altars and laid in their own coffers - then that fearsome being would bring upon the people fates worse than a thousand deaths.

    Jesus, the pure Christ of God, pointed out to all who would listen that the priests were vipers who prayed on the houses of widows once they had passed on. He warned of a malevolent teaching amongst the Jews by their priests – the warning was for those who, in their hearts, wanted to obey their God Jehovah according to their own understanding, for those who grew up in a culture indoctrinated with superstition infused by an evil ministry (Matt. 12:39, 16:4), for those who accepted unquestioningly the traditions of generations (Mark 7:13) - traditions which coursed through their veins, traditions expounded by priests upon whom the Master Teacher was now pouring condemnation: "Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." And yet they still could not throw away their past as far as offering blood and life to appease their Jehovah was concerned.

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  16. (Cont. apologies, it took three posts)...

    But everywhere there is always an inspired flower or two, and to such a one Christ said that he was not "far from the Kingdom of God" when He heard him say: "...to love God with all the strength and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices".

    And so we see Christ's own stance on the subject of His death on the Cross. Love for others is of primary importance before all burnt offerings and sacrifices put together.

    Yet the heavily indoctrinated followers of Christ could not grasp this fact, and they erroneously assumed His death to be some type of prize offering which would satisfy their Ruler once and for all. And His own Gospel trailed behind the gospel created out of the traditions of men - which were never sanctioned by the Supreme Being because, in spite of inspiration, man had created an admixture of good and evil due to his own spiritual state at the time.

    Hence, humanity has been offered - mistakenly - one reason for the coming of the pure Soul in the person of Jesus the Christ, and one reason alone, namely so that He could die to be the ultimate "blood sacrifice" because He was God's Son.

    Christ said that He must be about His Father's business: His Gospel which was that the Supreme Being had a truly Divine Love for humanity and that such a Love was the Kingdom. Christ went about healing the sick and broken-hearted; He spoke of repenting from violating the laws of Divine Love were in the heart already because the Kingdom of God was within; He demonstrated humility for all to follow; He taught the importance of not withholding forgiveness from others not least because it hinders spiritual progress; He impressed upon His hearers the requirement of the offering of charitable love as well as the practice of many other virtues; He related parables that expounded selflessness and kind deeds, and many other things that were all of a directly opposite character to how He described the character of the enforcers of religious law, the priests and scribes, who stipulated stringent adherence to the offering of blood to keep their overlord subdued.

    Throughout the ages Christianity has offered the blasphemous and sacrilegious teaching that a human must accept an article of faith - namely, that Christ died to appease the God Jehovah - in order that the human can be spiritually fit for the rarefied atmosphere of a heaven into which only they shall pass.

    Humanity should claim back Christ from the Christians and give Him the dignity that such a humble One deserves.

    Kindest Regards,
    Tony.

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  17. Dear Respectful Atheist:

    I was reared in the Radio Church of God from around 1959, was baptized in 1974, married, raised a family, and left in 1995. I was tired of the ethnocentricity, for lack of a better term, of my local WCG congregation, insisting it was God's one and only true church. Even after the changes, which I'd sort of figured out on my own, I just didn't want to stay anymore. After about six months of not going to church anywhere, I began checking out several churches in my area, and I was repeatedly drawn back to a warm Episcopal congregation, and was conditionally baptized ("if you are not already baptized, I baptize you now") in 1997. In learning why the Episcopalians are not fundamentalists, I had to learn what it had meant that I had been a fundamentalist. I didn't have a vocabulary to describe what I had been. My experience in the Episcopal congregation was so warm and positive. As I continued to ask questions, which were welcomed, the priests recommended that I enroll in Education for Ministry (EFM), a four year extension course out of a liberal Episcopal seminary. In the reading assignments for each week's class, we learned about the historicity of the Bible, that it is not god-breathed (this was the part they called de-mythologizing the Bible), and then we met once a week for nine months of the year to discuss those readings. It was devastating at first, then sort of liberating, but at the same time, I soon realized I couldn't keep reciting the creeds and taking communion. I continued to take the classes long after I'd ceased attending church. After three years of this class, my husband and I decided it was time for me to get a college education. I've remained friends with the people in my EFM class, most who continued as liberal Christians (not all the members of this class were Episcopalians). I found other students in college who'd had similar experiences in fundamentalism who were now atheists/agnostics, and many of my professors were interested in the story of my journey. I'm actually glad for the years as an Episcopalian, which changed almost everything I'd ever believed politically, and gave me a view of what a positive thing a good church congregation could be. After graduating from college, not having a church "family" has made my life a lot lonelier. I feel that I've paid quite a price for intellectual honesty in that regard, but it seemed necessary, even after I discovered that many of the members of the Episcopal congregation were no more believers than I was. They just found comfort and community in remaining in the church. I can't really fault anyone for that. I don't try to de-convert anyone else. It was such a painful thing to go through and as I've just noted, there's quite a price to pay if you can't find a way to hook up with others of a similar mindset.

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  18. Kathleen, I came across this blog while researching the movie "Heave Is For Real." I found this post and had to reply to your comment, "It was such a painful thing to go through and as I've just noted, there's quite a price to pay if you can't find a way to hook up with others of a similar mindset." There is a strong truth in this comment. While I did not stop over into liberal Christianity on my path, I have experienced the feelings of loss and grief. Whatever the reasons may be, I do find myself sometimes missing the "hook ups" with friends and others at church or church functions. But once I stopped believing that the bible was "inspired by god" I just could not be part of the group think anymore. I could not participate in something I obviously felt was not what it was presented to be. After reading the post defining the type of belief systems I believe I am an agnostic theist. I certainly do not believe one can say one way or the other that god, or a god, exists. However, I still have a belief that there is some sort of supreme being, if you will. Granted, I do not believe in the god of the bible or the Christian god that we are all familiar with. In fact, my belief is not in any particular god at all. It is just a belief that there is some sort of higher being. That leaves me few people with the same mindset to actually interact with. It has alienated me from my in laws who have said I am leading my family to hell. But do not worry too much, they have their church praying for me daily in their prayer room.

    I have pondered attending a church for the sake of being part of a community. However, every single time I think about this I then come to the conclusion that my children would be taught ideas that I believe to be myths told as if they are truth. I cannot justify this just to be part of a social group. While I believe there are many positive ideas in the bible. I also believe there are many negative ideas. And I certainly do not believe it was "god breathed." And if I believe the premise to be false or based on a lie, I cannot allow my children to be taught that it is truth.

    I do not talk to others about my spiritual beliefs often. I want to be clear I make no claims to know whether there is not a god or there is a god. I simply have a personal belief, based on personal experiences, that there is some sort of supreme being of sorts. I do believe in an afterlife. But I do not adhere to the tenants of Christianity, or any other religion that I know of.

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