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Tysyacha
05-14-2010, 07:13 PM
As the title implies, I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately.

My question is this: Do I make ANY sense at all when I say, "I believe in Christ, but not in Christianity?" I know--I've got a lot of "splaining" to do:

For about the first six years of my life, I didn't go to church or anything because my parents didn't go. I can't actually remember if I believed in God back then, because I was too little and didn't understand the concept. (Not that I do now, but back then, I was more concerned with playing & having fun). Church was something I didn't consider essential to my existence.

Then our next-door neighbor convinced my mom to start taking us to church. When I asked Mom why we wouldn't get to sleep in and have a big brunch on Sundays anymore, I didn't really think "because I think we ought to start going" was much of an answer. Nevertheless, we went, and I learned all about God, the Bible and Jesus. I learned that I was full of sin, and doomed to hell if I died without accepting Jesus into my heart. At the age of nine, I became "saved", because I asked Christ to be my Savior and wash away my sin. Following this, I became even more serious in my commitment, and was baptized at thirteen. Life was good because God was good, and all the rest would follow. I had no qualms making a vow to abstain from sex until marriage when I was in 8th grade, and I looked down on all the OTHER kids who swore, partied, lied and cheated in school, and did all the sinful things that Christians should avoid. They were "lost". I was "found", and blessed because God had come into my heart and prompted me to change my ways.

However, I was worried because I STILL sinned, even though I was a young Christian. I loathed myself for STILL doing all the things I promised God I wouldn't do (like lie, for example, or yell at my sister and call her names). I felt like a fraud. If I were really a Christian, I wouldn't sin, right? Or, at least I wouldn't sin so much anymore because the Holy Spirit (which I also didn't understand) would stop me. Right? The more I went to church and the more strongly I believed in the Bible and what the Bible said the rules for our life were, the more stupid and worthless I felt because I kept sinning and "messing up". I wasn't supposed to do that, because I had the love of Jesus in my heart. Right? Maybe I wasn't saved after all, and I kept praying the "Sinner's Prayer" over and over again. Confession didn't help, because that didn't erase what I'd done. Forgiveness didn't REALLY help, because I knew I'd sin again no matter HOW I'd try to restrain myself or how much I prayed.

Even though the Bible said I was "found", I FELT completely lost.

As I entered high school, I disdained the "other kids" some more, even more intensely than I had in grade school and junior high. In my mind, pregnant girls were only slightly above prostitutes or those girls who "slept around". "Druggies" and "smokies" weren't people I wanted to hang around with, and nor were the people who drank and had (rumored) orgies at their friends' wild parties. I was a Christian, after all, and I didn't partake of such things. I was also a virgin, and proud of it. (I considered almost all boys idiots back then, too, but oh, well)! When I graduated, I knew (read: thought) that God had finally rewarded me for my obedience to His literal Word and my (relative) avoidance of sin. I went to a Christian college, even, for three long years...

There, I was taught that even if you had been "saved", if you died without repenting of the sins you had most recently committed, then you would be condemned because you were impenitent. You could, and would, lose your eternal salvation if you rejected Christ by sinning and then didn't turn away from it before you took your final breath. I almost committed suicide because of this. For the first time, I found myself seriously tormented by lust, rage, and tidal waves of doubt. Christians wouldn't think about sex until AFTER they were married. Heck--according to my school's teaching, they didn't even "make out" because that was a sin. So were dancing and drinking (even if you were 21). Dancing automatically led to sex, and drinking would cause other (weaker) Christians to "stumble" if they were not strong in their faith.

How to get out of this trap? There was a special gift of God's grace called "sanctification", which would make your heart "perfect in love" and cleanse you of the Original Sin that Adam and Eve committed against God. Meaning: you would no longer be tempted to disobey God and sin because you would no longer even THINK of doing such things. At long last, if you were truly sanctified, you were holy and your heart and mind would be fully pure.

I never received that gift, even though I tried SO HARD to "accept" it.

Then my closest old friend in the world died--Grandma--and all fell apart. I realized what an arrogant wench I'd been all those years, and now--now...

To make this long story longer, I sank into a deep, suicidal depression in 1999. I believed that God was speaking to me via an online Ouija board (no joke), and to prove to "God" how serious I was about following Him and denying myself, I barely slept and barely ate for nine days straight. I did not wash. I wore flimsy clothes in winter weather to suffer the cold more acutely. I ate the scraps of food that others threw away and left on plates in the hallway. Then I washed the dishes and returned them. I didn't shave. I babbled gibberish and "prophetic" phrases that absolutely no one understood.

My friends gawked at me in disgust, and the students that I didn't know stared. No matter. In retrospect, they SHOULD HAVE disdained me like that. I was acting crazy--literally--and it's no wonder they turned away from me.

In the end, the administration came for me, dressed in my filthy clothes and a pair of my roommate's borrowed satin pajamas that reeked with underarm and private-part sweat. My parents were contacted, and the looks of hatred, disappointment, and shock upon their faces haunt me to this day. The only words I remember my mom saying to me at that point were, "You STINK!", and "I just don't understand!" Why had I thrown away God, Jesus, the Bible, my friends, and my college career all in one fell stroke? It was incomprehensible. I did not dare to tell them until later that the reason I turned to the online Ouija board was that I thought my late grandmother was contacting me--and THEN "God" spoke up. None of the Biblical platitudes about heaven comforted me in 1999 after she died. I was just supposed to "move on" and "get over it". College--and life--seemed meaningless, and even though I had CHOSEN to suffer, I was GLAD, GLAD, GLAD. Why?

I had chosen to lose everything for the sake of (what I thought was) Christ.

Why was I then disdained, loathed, put down, and basically told that if I didn't withdraw from the college voluntarily, they would force me to leave?

Why wasn't I being rewarded? (In retrospect, I think DUH!, but back then...)

Fundamentalist Christianity still has an iron grip on my life, even though I have left that college. I want to get rid of it. I'm not really all that interested in the Bible anymore--in fact, the thought of reading it (and being summarily condemned for my sins) makes me shudder. I'm done with organized religion, empty ritual, the rules against sex and drinking and dancing--all but prayer.

I believe in Christ and His saving love, yes, but...am I "lost" or "found"?

I don't believe in ChristIANITY. To me, it's only a religion, not a relationship.

I believe in God (still), but more importantly, I believe in humanity.

If I had to do it all again, I WOULD--for that was what it took to break me.

Again...do I make any sense at all, or am I still a raving lunatic? ;)

True_Avery
05-14-2010, 08:34 PM
My parents are somewhat in the same boat. Both believe in god for their own reasons, but don't go to Church since they found they didn't need it to have faith. From what little I've discussed with them, both disdain organized religion because they feel it contradicts what the beliefs themselves are trying to say. For that reason I've been to church for a grand total of probably 5 times in my life, and didn't pay attention to any of it really.

So, on that note, forgive me for my ignorance on this, but:

Why would you try to cleanse yourself of the sin of Adam and Eve? Wasn't the point of christ dying so that original sin could be cleansed?

Secondly, wasn't christ's message that organized religion was a false prophet in of itself? From what little I understand of his word, he was all about the kingdom being in you and was heavily against the organized religions of the time. He didn't even organize the church; it was organized around him, and then after him. I can't even begin to imagine the gasket he'd blow if he saw the history of the religion formed after his death.

Thirdly, if your faith was driving you visibly crazy why didn't your family, friends, and so on help you instead of dropping you like bad luggage? I'm constantly lectured by the religious that they are infinitely more generous, charitable, and loving than the lazy non-religious naysayers, yet I constantly hear about situations like yours.

But, do you want my non-theist, anti-organized religion, sinners opinion? Read the hidden comment if you want to.

Yes, I think you were "found" because you believe you were. You found you were lost and being told bad directions, and their bad directions only led you down instead of up. Probably being harsh here, but what you put yourself through is almost textbook insanity; a willingness and a dedication to do something repeatedly that leads to nothing but a perceived subjective negative reaction.

From what you put down, the sanest thing you've done so far is drop the religion aspect of your faith. In my opinion, the next to coming to terms with the fact that sex, lust, lies, gossip, and so on are all part of life. Short of physically removing that part of your brain, it isn't going to go away if it is active. Its a fight of futility, and directly contradicts instinct which is why repression often leads to rebellion and/or depression/anxiety issues.

It it programmed into you and you're not going to get rid of it or change it short of massive trauma of some sort. As someone who has never drunken alcohol, taken elicit drugs, and is still a virgin, I can assure you that I've gotten no messages from god, golden stickers, or anything of that nature for my "purity" and I avoid all three not because choice, but because they simply hold no interest to me beyond idle fantasy.

The other grass isn't greener. I'm still lectured, told I'm a sinner, and so on. Ironically, I am questioned by many religious people, especially my parents, why I'm disinterested and why it isn't a challenge for me to function on an every day basis. Trust me, you really aren't missing anything. If anything, by not taking part in drinking, sex, drugs, and so on you're essentially making it that much harder to function among humans since society has been built upon all 3 for tens of thousands of years.

Since you seem to have found peace in giving things up and gained from loss, my suggestion is dropping christianity and picking up Buddhism or a more eastern philosophy. But, I'd like to point out that there is a difference between giving up things and willingly making yourself suffer, which I personally think is absolutely insane.

As is probably clear, I dislike the concept of Jesus, Christianity and all its branches and relatives so take my opinion with a truck of salt.

Working Class Hero
05-14-2010, 08:35 PM
Fundamentalist Christianity still has an iron grip on my life, even though I have left that college. I want to get rid of it. I'm not really all that interested in the Bible anymore--in fact, the thought of reading it (and being summarily condemned for my sins) makes me shudder.
"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"
`This verse about somes it up. The Bible isn't intended to 'condemn' us, but to make us recognize that we need God's mercy.

I'm done with organized religion, empty ritual, the rules against sex and drinking and dancing--all but prayer.
Some of the things you described were a bit restrictive. I'm pretty sure dancing doesn't always lead to sex.

On the other hand, you can't just pick and choose which parts of the Bible to follow:These rules about sex are pretty clear. It is Godís will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.


I believe in Christ and His saving love, yes, but...am I "lost" or "found"? No one can answer this question for you. If you love obey JESUS's commands, then you will be saved.

Tysyacha
05-14-2010, 08:44 PM
True_Avery:

I relate to the "textbook insanity" part. You're not being harsh at all. You're confirming what I've "known" in my gut for years: During those nine days of trying to prove my loyalty to "God", I literally did not know right from wrong at the time. I WAS insane.

You are also right when you say that a fight against my nature (the desire for sex and my lying, gossip, etc.) is ultimately futile. Sure, I'm not proud when I lie and gossip, but now I also know that I'm HUMAN and cannot completely avoid doing any of this stuff.

Working Class Hero:

For years, even BEFORE my nine days of hell, I believed that every single sexual thought I ever had was automatically a sin. I didn't want to go through puberty, especially in the later stages, because I found out, physically and literally, that I wanted to have sex. I honestly prayed to God to take my desire for sex away forever because it was unholy, but I guess I didn't have a strong enough faith because He didn't do that (ha ha!)

Not so funny, no, especially when I got to college, but I did pray that prayer back then.

Sabretooth
05-15-2010, 01:18 AM
I believe in Christ and His saving love, yes, but...am I "lost" or "found"?

I don't believe in ChristIANITY. To me, it's only a religion, not a relationship.

I believe in God (still), but more importantly, I believe in humanity.

Again...do I make any sense at all, or am I still a raving lunatic? ;)

Firstly, yes, you are still a raving lunatic, but that happens to be a prerequisite for joining this forum, so the point is moot.

Secondly, the Buddha makes a guest appearance.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Samuel Dravis
05-15-2010, 02:50 AM
Regarding your question, I'm not sure how much sense it makes to separate Jesus from the Gospel narrative, or from the various traditions which make up Christianity today. There really isn't much of a "Christianity" apart from those; after all, they did decide on the Bible's contents.

Even if you were to take a sola scriptura tack, it would still be building off of someone else's interpretation of who Jesus was and what he said. Add the apocrypha into the mix to avoid the heavy hand of the Church and you have a hopelessly incoherent melange which is unlikely to be useful for anything.

In that case you might as well use any other persons who exemplify the things you value-- or just discard exemplars entirely since you don't seem to acknowledge religious authority anyway.

VarsityPuppet
05-15-2010, 03:08 AM
If there's anything I've learned in life about such things, it's that you never discuss politics or religion with people.

And now I'm going to throw that out the window and discuss religion anyways, but politics is still out.

Fundamentalist Christianity still has an iron grip on my life, even though I have left that college. I want to get rid of it. I'm not really all that interested in the Bible anymore--in fact, the thought of reading it (and being summarily condemned for my sins) makes me shudder. I'm done with organized religion, empty ritual, the rules against sex and drinking and dancing--all but prayer.

My pastor was talking about these same exact things for the last few transpiring weeks.... at least for the parts I was listening to anyways. Reviewing parts of the bible, his point was that Legalism (for the sake of example, more or less religious rituals) was not even close to a substitute for a strong relationship with Christ.

To summarize in my own words what he said:

"When you go to heaven, you're not going to be judged by how many beers you had, how many girls you slept with out of wedlock, how many people you killed... those sins have been already paid for. What God will look at your devotion to spreading the glory of God." Again, my paraphrase. It's not like I listen intently in church :)

Now, don't take this to mean that Christians need/want to convert as many people as possible to Christianity. Some are like that, some aren't.


So, to offer my opinion, I think you have been taken up the trap of legalism: that we should refrain from or perform certain acts to please God. This doesn't mean we can just f*** the neighbor's wife, murder the mailman or steal an HD TV though... but God realizes that we are not perfect, and will probably make those mistakes anyways, despite his command(ment)s.


So as far as I'm concerned, the acts don't matter as much as the intentions. We will always fail, but as long as our hearts are set on God, then we're heading towards the right path.

I have no idea how close I am to the truth of the matter... I myself am not a strong believer (for reasons that I will not discuss here). However, I would take my opinion with as much salt as anyone else's opinions.

Otherwise, when in doubt, pray.

Bimmerman
05-15-2010, 05:55 AM
"I like your Christ. I do not like your christians, they are so unlike your christ." -- Mahatma Ghandi.

There is a big difference between believing in God and adhering to an organized religion. If you truly have faith in your God, and follow the teachings that truly matter to the best of your ability in the pursuit of self-betterment and improvement, I don't think that would be held against you. Organized religion has a lot of empty rituals and symbolism to create a sense of community among the followers. Very little has anything to do with personal faith.

I think it's completely reasonable to be a believer in God but not a follower of christianity. Look for God's beauty in the surrounding world, not the pages of a too-often translated book or in empty words and rituals in a musty building.

That's my take, such as it is.

JediAthos
05-15-2010, 08:37 AM
Webster's primary definition of christian is: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So, that said I very much agree with Bimmerman's Ghandi quote above. You can be a christian without going to church, following ridiculous rules, or committing acts of "self sacrifice" that are a detriment to your own health and well being.

I, personally was raised Roman Catholic and I followed the tenets of that faith well into my adult life. In the last five years or so I have begun to change my view of the Catholic Church and the things it teaches. I still believe in God, and Christ but I fundamentally disagree with the Vatican on many issues.

So while I would say that you may have been a raving lunatic, and I probably would have dismissed you as such had I met you during that time in your life, I don't perceive you as such now. It seems to me that you have come to the realization that what you had hammered into your brain was not the so called truth and have decided to live your own life rather than having others tell you how you should be living, and that Tysy could be considered being saved in its own right.

Tysyacha
05-15-2010, 09:12 AM
*smiles* Wow! I am humbled and grateful for your wise words and lack of the snottiness I often showed (and sometimes still show) back when I was stuck in the legalistic mindset.

Thank you, and I hope to continue this conversation to an even deeper extent! :)

VarsityPuppet
05-15-2010, 12:44 PM
Webster's primary definition of christian is: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

My mother used to tell me (still does sometimes) that a true Christian is a follower of Christ. They know and accept him as their personal savior and do what they can to spread the gospel, regardless of whether souls are converted or not.

Deeds will NOT get you into heaven (the basic point behind my last post, actually).

And actually, for what it's worth, being a christian today doesn't mean jack **** for most people. In fact, some of the most judgemental people I know, ARE, or claim to be Christians. Hell, even my 'Christian' girlfriend was one of the coldest people I knew, and dumped me without any pre-emptive warning, like her last boyfriend did to her. She had a nice bowl of hypocrite stew, I guess. You can't assume that just because someone says they are 'Christian' that they are a good person, if they are even telling the truth. I've met nicer satanists.

Christianity is becoming more and more about the culture than the message with each passing day. Leave it up to us to establish Christian colleges, Christian music, Christian businesses. It's becoming synonymous with words that are applied to food like "diet" and "fat-free" or "0 carbs".

Darth333
05-15-2010, 01:21 PM
My question is this: Do I make ANY sense at all when I say, "I believe in Christ, but not in Christianity?" Makes total sense to me though I tend to say it a bit differently: I believe in Christ but not in the interpretation of his teachings that has been made by some institutions and people throughout history and how it has been used to achieve political goals, to justify the worst atrocities, exclude people who think differently, etc.

I believe religion should be there to make life better, not worse. To me, Christ's message is about love, tolerance, forgiving, sharing and helping others to make a better world. It's simple and not fussy.

jrrtoken
05-15-2010, 05:46 PM
Accepting Christ as what he did/said rather than who he was is, personally, the most important facet of Christianity, as it should be. The largest problem with several Christians, past and present, is the inerrant, exclusive idealism (e.g. only Christians* are saved, all others damned, regardless of action), and invasive proselytizing. Other denominations, even those that recognize and glorify Christ like Islam, are still considered sinners, all over a single disagreement of a clause in doctrine.

Indeed, if God is of infinite compassion, understanding, and justice, then would God not admit those with fanatical-less piety; of those of outstanding moral character; of those of generosity and selflessness, and ultimately, those who love their neighbor as much as themselves? If the answer is ultimately "No", then, frankly, there is no God. Or, perhaps, we at least know that God is a sadist. :p



*Christian, e.g. not Catholicism, Orthodox, Mormonism, Lutheranism, nor Methodism. Go figure...

VarsityPuppet
05-15-2010, 06:21 PM
Accepting Christ as what he did/said rather than who he was is, personally, the most important facet of Christianity, as it should be.

Not as a personal attack, but I have to disagree with this statement. As I understand, accepting who Jesus was and is, is more important, though certainly not discounting his teachings in any shape or form. It just seems like a mistruth to say that following his teachings is the single most important aspect of Christianity.

The largest problem with several Christians, past and present, is the inerrant, exclusive idealism (e.g. only Christians* are saved, all others damned, regardless of action), and invasive proselytizing. Other denominations, even those that recognize and glorify Christ like Islam, are still considered sinners, all over a single disagreement of a clause in doctrine.

I certainly know what you mean by the exclusivism, but the whole "damned regardless of action" applies to everyone in the world, not just non-christians. And then of course, the blood of Jesus washes away our sins, makes us worthy of God's glory, righteousness, redemption, etc.

Indeed, if God is of infinite compassion, understanding, and justice, then would God not admit those with fanatical-less piety; of those of outstanding moral character; of those of generosity and selflessness, and ultimately, those who love their neighbor as much as themselves? If the answer is ultimately "No", then, frankly, there is no God. Or, perhaps, we at least know that God is a sadist. :p

You're probably right :xp:

*Christian, e.g. not Catholicism, Orthodox, Mormonism, Lutheranism, nor Methodism. Go figure...[/QUOTE]

Arcesious
05-15-2010, 09:41 PM
This is a very delicate subject... To a considerable degree I think I understand. Not to go my own history in relation to experiencing a similar chain of events, but I had a similar experience when I was 13-15 years old in eventually finding fault with my religion. Step 1: Indoctrination. Step 2: You get to a point in life when you really start believing these things and getting serious about it. It seems to me that most people get stuck here, accepting some flawed argument(s) to support their beliefs at one point before their doubt can ever seriously grow. Step 3: Your capacity for deductive reasoning grows to a 'critical mass' and everything comes crashing down. The path during this systematic self-analyzation and re-evaluation of one's beliefs is distraught with emotional stress as you try to break through all those illogical mental barriers created by your religion.

I'm not going to argue about why a specific religion is wrong at this point, as I could go on and on and it would be very impolite for me to ramble on when my posting history already has multiple examples fully expressing my opinion on such matters. This kind of discussion has been done over and over again everywhere, so creating a full-scale debate would not be preferable.

So I'll try to keep it short(not gonna happen. XD). What I can conclude is that all religions I have seen, and the typical contents of a religion's essence in itself, are critically flawed for many reasons. Chief of all being: Lack of evidence, wishful thinking, and reliance on teaching emotional self-manipulation and suppression of doubt for solidity of faith.

I don't mean to lecture you though. Just don't let your emotions take your change of beliefs from one extreme to the other. When I became irreligious, I for a time became very strongly opinionated as an atheist. I allowed my anger about being indoctrinated from childhood to negatively affect the manner of my discourse in debates.

About a god or gods existing or not existing - the subject is undecidable for me. Neutrality on whether or not a god exists or not seems the best position to me.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sabertooth's quote of Buddah. You can forget all my personal comments on the matter in the paragraphs above as ultimately they are irrelevant and only repeating what many people who share my philosophical position say. If there's one thing that matters above all others, it is doubt. Skepticism. Deductive reasoning. Try to disprove everything - find the truth without any special weighting for anything. Doubt everything, and then decide based on empirical evidence and sound logical procedure.

In conclusion I would say that doubt is far better than faith(not to confuse with loyalty), and far more useful.

JediAthos
05-15-2010, 09:51 PM
A couple of quotes that I thought were appropriate:

"You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view"
-Obi Wan Kenobi

"There's the church, where's the steeple, religion's in the hands of some crazy ass people"
-Jimmy Buffett from "Fruitcakes"

Pavlos
05-15-2010, 09:51 PM
It just seems like a mistruth to say that following his teachings is the single most important aspect of Christianity.
I'm not a Biblical scholar but I think that would go against a fairly important passage in the Bible:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Revelation, 20:12 AV.

Jerome's Vulgate has "et iudicati sunt mortui ex his quae scripta erant in libris secundum opera ipsorum": and the dead were judged from this that had been written in the second book [about] their deeds (opera).

Working Class Hero
05-15-2010, 10:50 PM
The largest problem with several Christians, past and present, is the inerrant, exclusive idealism (e.g. only Christians* are saved, all others damned, regardless of action), and invasive proselytizing.
This is the most basic principle of Christianity: No one can be saved without glorifying and worshiping Christ. Yes, it does promote one ideal, because Christians believe only Jesus lies salvation.
To ask a Christian to deny this would be stripping them of the base of their faith.

jrrtoken
05-15-2010, 11:09 PM
This is the most basic principle of Christianity: No one can be saved without glorifying and worshiping Christ. Yes, it does promote one ideal, because Christians believe only Jesus lies salvation.
To ask a Christian to deny this would be stripping them of the base of their faith.I wouldn't say that; the Catholic church has explicitly stated that those of other faiths, particularly Abrahamic religions, are also subject to salvation, with Judaism and Islam being mentioned first. Indeed, this sentiment is also shared by many other mainstream denominations, so to say that the ideal of exclusive salvation universal among Christian doctrine isn't entirely accurate.

Jae Onasi
05-15-2010, 11:33 PM
The beauty of Christ and the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is how it shows Christ redeems us even when we screw up. The Old Testament was designed to show where man was failing and how God could redeem His people even in spite of that failing through His love. Yeah, there are things that bother our "modern" sensibilities, but some of the rules are there for good reason. Some of the rules on conduct (thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, etc.) and such are there to allow us to exist as a group as best we can. Are we going to meet that ideal all the time? No. That's why Christ offers forgiveness--we're all fallen, none of us are perfect, all of us screw up. Some of us manage to screw up quite effectively and ruin our own lives in the process. Christ loves us anyway.

Some of those rules that make no sense to us now need to be seen within the context of the ancient Canaanite culture (for OT) and Roman culture (NT). Unless someone's studied those time periods, it makes it a lot harder to understand why the rules on slavery, for instance, even exist. Rules on sex? That's an easy one--unprotected sex with multiple partners spreads STDs not only to the adults but to the offspring as well. In a culture with no antibiotics, for instance, untreated gonorrhea in infants is deadly (it can kill even with modern antibiotics) and in adults can cause fertility problems. That's not even touching on the emotional issues. This is just one example of many--don't eat pork (risk of trichinosis in a time when no one knew what trichinids even were), bury your waste (aside from the smell, it reduces spread of disease), and so on.

Too many people focus on all the negatives, the 'Thou Shalt Not's, rather than on the positives--love your neighbor, show compassion for widows and orphans, help each other out in the hard times. I think that's where 'religiosity',as opposed to religion, fails.

As for attending church or not, God can use our skills and talents for ourselves and others no matter how we present those to Him--within the confines of Biblical rules or outside of them. He can help us and help others more effectively when we are in communication with Him (prayer/talking to Him/reading the Bible so we have some basic idea of where He's wanting us to go) and in communion with other believers (because then the community of believers can help each other and the surrounding community more effectively--many hands make light work). Our church provides a place to stay for the homeless one night a week during the summer. We also feed them dinner. Could I do that alone? No. The community of believers in our church, however, can get together and accomplish it. We've gotten together to have a safe building for these people to share with us. We can each bring one dish of food so no one person has to provide it all. We might not be able to afford to feed 40 people on our own. However, when 20 of us get together, we can all bring 1 or 2 dishes and feed that many with some leftovers, even.

As for being involved in church, I've had my fits and starts where I went to church and where I didn't go to church. I'm better off in a community than out of it. It's too easy to get lost in one's own problems and then get overwhelmed by them. The community helps with that. The challenge is to find one that's active. I don't want to just go to church on Sunday and sing a few hymns, chat with some fellow congregants, pray a bit, and listen to a sermon, and then forget about God the rest of the week. I want to be in a community that supports one another and those in our greater community every day of the week. When hubby and I have looked for a church community in each town we've moved to, we've looked for those with a lot of activity both in and out of the church, a place where the Bible teaching is more in depth than simple platitudes, and where people talk to one another. In fact, one of my criteria for a church besides sound theology and activity is if more people than just the pastor and the usher say hello to us on our first visit. Sometimes we've found that church right away. Sometimes it took us weeks of visits to find it.

There are places where people put their money where their mouths are. They can be harder to find sometimes, but they are out there. Are they going to be perfect churches? Absolutely, positively not. Anyone who expects a church, or any group of people for that matter, to be perfect is setting themselves up for immense disappointment. We all have our bad days. We're all going to say things we later regret. We all are going to have some misunderstandings sometimes. I've certainly had my share of all of those.

As long as we can focus on the over-riding goal of sharing love in the way Christ has so beautifully shown us, these imperfections can be overcome.

One of my favorite stories from the Talmud is about a Gentile who went to Rabbi Hillel and told the rabbi he'd convert if the rabbi would recite the entire Torah on one foot. Rabbi Hillel stood on one foot and said, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and learn."

Christ and the Bible teach us that we should love God and love our neighbor. The rest is commentary.

VarsityPuppet
05-16-2010, 12:08 AM
I'm not a Biblical scholar but I think that would go against a fairly important passage in the Bible:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Revelation, 20:12 AV.


Pavlos, meet Working Class Hero.

This is the most basic principle of Christianity: No one can be saved without glorifying and worshiping Christ. Yes, it does promote one ideal, because Christians believe only Jesus lies salvation.
To ask a Christian to deny this would be stripping them of the base of their faith.

Plus, if we jump a few verses ahead....

Revelations 20:15 - And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

So yes, we will all be judged, but those whose names are written in the lamb's book of life, shall be spared.. apparently.

And note that I say this not out of a "My religion is better" argument, I just want to help clarify some things about Christianity, at least to the extent that I understand it. The judgement of our acts and the saving by Jesus go hand in hand, I guess it would be more accurate to say.

Tysyacha
05-16-2010, 12:18 AM
(((((((((((((((everyone)))))))))))))))))))))))))

Did that hurt your eyes? *LOL* :) Even if God doesn't exist, the love, wisdom, and non-judgmental attitudes that all of you have displayed toward me here in this thread have bolstered my faith in humanity and its capacity for greatness a thousand times over.

I mean that.

By the way, Jae, what if you DON'T WANT to sleep around with multiple people but still want to make love to your partner and be faithful to him/her sans wedding ring? That's something I could never really understand--why did God prohibit this wonderful and invigorating expression of passion in every single case except for one? Naturally, your partner could cheat on you and get an STD, and you could cheat on him/her and do the same thing, but that goes for everybody, married or not. Could you please explain?

With all I've been through, "because the Bible says so" is not much of an answer for me anymore. It used to be, but I'm questioning all the (Christian) beliefs that I ever had.

mur'phon
05-16-2010, 04:12 AM
While not a christian, or religious for that matter, what I see as central to Jesus' teaching is love. If you truly love your partner, assuming God is all knowing, he allready knows. Make the vows to each other, it's not as if God requires a priest to bless you. Jesus wasn't exactly keen on rituals either, so I really can't see God letting a ritual prevent two people from expressing their love to each other.

Of course this commes from an atheist so my understanding of christianity is far from perfect.

Q
05-16-2010, 07:50 AM
No dancing? Where'd you go to college? Wheaton (:eyepop), or that town in Footloose (10 geezer points for whomever gets the reference)? :p
My question is this: Do I make ANY sense at all when I say, "I believe in Christ, but not in Christianity?"
Yes, you make perfect sense. :)


I am of the opinion that what passes for Christianity today requires people to either stop thinking or to become adept at lying to themselves and everyone else, and believing those lies. Anyone who really thinks about it is either going to be driven insane by the inconsistencies, or is going come to the same conclusion that I have (or both).

While growing up I found out the hard way that at least 9 out of 10 people who claim to be "Christian" are anything but. This is made evident by the fact that, while this 9 talk the talk (and talk and talk and talk ad nauseum :words: ), not once do they walk the walk. Not once. Instead, they lie. A lot. All of the time, as a matter of fact. It's as if they believe that someone can be a good Christian and a lying sack of fecal matter at the same time; a notion that is beyond ridiculous. The worst of them may even go so far as to make a sick game out of lying in a pathetically self-aggrandizing ploy to prove that they're smarter than everyone else; essentially making them no different than any other pathological liar. :roleyess:

I've noticed that the people who fit this description are usually the ones who go out of their way to rub everyone else's nose in what great "Christians" they are; all for the purpose of garnering respect that they have not earned and, therefore, do not deserve. Since talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words, this kind of thing should be obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge Christian doctrine, and I'm fairly certain that every person here knows someone like this. :¨:

I have this to say to those who fit the above profile:
1) They need to either grow a pair and actually walk the walk or do their supposed religion a favor and kindly STFU. By claiming to serve God and then not doing so, they are misrepresenting Him and guilty of breaking the Third Commandment by taking the LORD's name in vain.

2) They are also misrepresenting themselves, and, since they are usually in the habit of maliciously blackballing anyone who dares to call them out for their spiritually deviant behavior, they are in both cases guilty of breaking the Eighth Commandment by bearing false witness against their neighbor.

3) That they perform these deeds both repeatedly and without remorse indicates that they are evil.

4) They do not serve Christ. They are, in fact, servants of the devil and, if they are not aware of this, there are three possibilities:
a) They are completely ignorant of Christ's teachings and their meaning;
b) They are incapable of understanding Christ's teachings and their meaning because they're idiots;
c) They are delusional, if not completely bat****.

5) By continuing to do the above, not only are they unrepentant, unforgiven and will be damned (which I don't have a problem with; let 'em fry), but they will also damn anyone who is ignorant or foolish enough to follow their corrupt example (which I do have a problem with).

6) They deserve a hearty congratulations for not only being the main reason why so many former members, myself included, have turned away from the church, but also why people have such a low opinion of Christianity in general. WITNESSING FAIL. :golfclap:

So, my conclusion is this:
After encountering the above over and over throughout my lifetime, even in my own family, it is my firm belief that the Christian Church is a monumental failure, and that Satan reigns victorious over it. Why? Because Christ is no longer at its head, if ever He was. Guess who is? :dev8: This is why I rejected organized Christianity over 20 years ago, and I still reject it; mainly because I still find myself confronted daily with more and more evidence that supports my conclusions.

For now, I'm content to look for and find my own answers, thank you. I couldn't be doing any worse than the folks that I've described above are. If I'm going to go to Hell, at least I'll get there by my own free will and not by mindlessly following a group of moronic, demonic charlatans whose actions never match their words; people who are either so clueless that they don't even notice it, or so rotten to the core that they deliberately conceal it while using their claimed religious beliefs to further their own worldly ambitions.

I believe in God (still),
Same here.
but more importantly, I believe in humanity.
I don't. http://www.lucasforums.com/picture.php?albumid=330&pictureid=5681

Arcesious
05-16-2010, 10:57 AM
Honestly, Evil Q, I don't find that to be a good reason to not believe in Christianity. How some or a majority of a religion's followers behave does not effect whether or not the religion is true. A religious organization can band together to do great things for the community too, as Jae explained.

I ultimately find the biggest problem to be lack of evidence for religion, and also some of the rather ridiculous moral codes that the religion's holy book requires.

Given historical evidence does suggest a person named Jesus existed, I do not dispute his existence or what he set out to teach - which at its core is 'love your neighbor as yourself'.

But I do dispute the supernatural claims made throughout the Bible.

Every religion's holy book(s), writings, or teachings have the same basic goal - aside from persuading a person to believe, the religion teaches various moral lessons embedded in fables, half of which are useful to heed and consider. The other half of the moral lessons aim to suggest that belief in a religion without evidence is something noble(when it is not), that faith is a great thing(but doubt is better), and then there are the lessons/stories that are based on ancient prejudices. (Leviticus and its views on homosexuality, anyone?) You can't forget about the old testament, and the ending of the new testament is just as, no offense intended - crazy. Couldn't it be argued that doubt is also a noble thing? That skepticism is a great tool? A religion tries to create a euphoric feeling in being 'bold enough to believe', making it into seeming like something special and amazing - though it isn't.

One thing that bothers me though, is that as I was once a Christian, I can understand how infuriating it is when someone non-religious cites out-of context verses meant to show severe irrationality in the Bible. (Though there may be a few that still count.) A good deal of verses in the Bible shouldn't be taken literally, only metaphorically. Verses like Mark 9:43 for example, should be taken metaphorically. Which should be obvious to any person with common sense. Even so, how does one determine what verses to take literally and which ones to take metaphorically? I guess you're kind of forced to end up cherry-picking what parts of the religion to believe and not believe. (And take literally and metaphorically.)

Anyways what I'm saying is that a lot of traditions in religions are simply irrational. For example, the sacredness of cows in Hinduism. Things like this just simply don't make sense.

A religion can have a great deal of good things to teach, learn and grow from - and Christianity does. But that doesn't make it or any other religion anything special. All religions really seem to want to teach the same thing, but of course there are strings attached to those philosophies (believe or go to hell, devote your entire life to worshipping god, etc, etc) - and they are unnecessary.

You can find as much wisdom in a secular book as you could in a religious holy book. For example, Aesop's Fables. It has mythical tales with great moral lessons just like a religious book, but they are purely metaphorical, not to be taken literally.

(Edit: I meant to say metaphorically in the sentence about 'cherry picking', not 'rhetorically'. Fixed. Also some other stuff edited a bit.)

Q
05-16-2010, 11:34 AM
Honestly, Evil Q, I don't find that to be a good reason to not believe in Christianity.
Well, that's good, given that I never said that I don't believe in it. I left the religion because I can't stand to be around the people that I described above, not because I didn't believe in the doctrine itself. I'd simply rather not be counted among them in the end.
How some or a majority of a religion's followers behave does not effect whether or not the religion is true.
You're right; it doesn't. I never said that it did. A religion can be 100% true and still be a complete failure due to the actions of its followers, which I believe is the case with Christianity.

Sabretooth
05-16-2010, 11:47 AM
Anyways what I'm saying is that a lot of traditions in religions are simply irrational. For example, the sacredness of cows in Hinduism. Things like this just simply don't make sense.

They might sound bizarre and ridiculous to us, but irrational is not a word I would use. There is always a reason behind everything, and anthropologists are out to find out what that is.

The sacredness of cows stems from the pastoral Aryans who are seen praising the merits of cows in the Vedas - notably their selflessness, nourishment and utility (they are useful for a variety of activities, from tilling to milking to producing manure). Eventually, to keep cow numbers up on the rise, they were made sacred and with their milk-giving nature, equated with mothers, and ultimately made sacred.

Why is the cow sacred? Because she's helluva lot more useful alive than dead.

Arcesious
05-16-2010, 01:26 PM
They might sound bizarre and ridiculous to us, but irrational is not a word I would use. There is always a reason behind everything, and anthropologists are out to find out what that is.

The sacredness of cows stems from the pastoral Aryans who are seen praising the merits of cows in the Vedas - notably their selflessness, nourishment and utility (they are useful for a variety of activities, from tilling to milking to producing manure). Eventually, to keep cow numbers up on the rise, they were made sacred and with their milk-giving nature, equated with mothers, and ultimately made sacred.

Why is the cow sacred? Because she's helluva lot more useful alive than dead.

Interesting background on that. Good to know. As Jae showed and explained with the example of prohibition from eating pork, its easy to see how these traditions came about with a bit of research. Still, in modern day a lot of these moral codes are unnecessary (circumcision being one of the bad ones), yet many people still follow them with no background knowledge on how they came about. For example, the Kosher(Kashrut) diet set forth in Judaism. (Not widely practiced, though.)

Tommycat
05-17-2010, 02:38 PM
Well when I was talking with my Jewish supervisor, we drifted to the talk of religion... Hey you spend 20+ hours of a day and it's 3AM you can talk whatever you feel like. He stated that he really despised Catholicism. His reasons were many of the acts committed by the church. My response was that it's not necessarily Catholicism he dislikes, it's the church. Quite frankly that's my view as well. Christianity itself IS the belief in Christ as your savior. Tysyacha you ARE Christian. What your problem is seems more to the rules of the church. Various churches have different rules. Orthodox churches have a lot of rules(Catholicism has a lot, but they have the get out of jail free repent method).

My advice to you is simple. Ignore the church. It was outdated before Christ even died for your sins. Wherever you are is your church. A building doesn't make a church. The teachings of Christ do not need gold covered temples with massive ceilings and some man telling you that you need to give 10% of your earnings to them.

Ping
05-18-2010, 05:16 PM
"I like your Christ. I do not like your christians, they are so unlike your christ." -- Mahatma Ghandi.


^This. My experience with Christianity is actually similar to your's, Tysyacha. My parents didn't orginally go to church, so I grew up very secularized. Then, we went to church, mostly due to the fact that I needed a signature from a religious leader I knew to get my Eagle Scout. Now, given, I had been to Vacation Bible school before, but I just really listened to what others were spewing, and didn't really think, being young at the time. After going to church now, I ultimately reject and perhaps even loathe the religion. Jesus was a good fellow, though I wonder if he would have still preached if he knew what the results of his teachings would bring. I pretty much refuse to associate myself with a religion that views things only in black and white. I'm more of an agnostic now (though I'm not open about it ;)). Really, I honestly believe people are following Christianity because they're scared of going to hell. Fundamentalists have also made me go away from the religion - they give Christianity such a bad name, that I didn't even want to be associated with them in any way possible. Christinaity also has way too much influence in the government. They say "Church and state are separated," but we have politicians who do things according to how their religion dictates, and we have "In God We Trust" and "One nation under God." That led me to believe the religion itself was hypocritical, or at the very least, its practitioners were. I'm actually beginning to wonder if it's better to just ditch the religion entirely. It is way too influential, IMO.

Bimmerman
05-19-2010, 12:10 AM
^This. My experience with Christianity is actually similar to your's, Tysyacha. My parents didn't orginally go to church, so I grew up very secularized. Then, we went to church, mostly due to the fact that I needed a signature from a religious leader I knew to get my Eagle Scout.

Unrelated, but I feel it's an important point-- you don't need a signature from a religious leader to get an Eagle Scout. I'm an Eagle, and I've always been an atheistic heathen. Didn't prevent me from earning the rank, nor was there a signature line my lack of faith prevented me from getting signed. Might have changed between your time and mine, but I sure didn't need one as far as I can remember. I'm 99.9% sure of it in fact.

JediAthos
05-19-2010, 09:34 PM
http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/5559/26220432311568355812458.jpg

JediMaster12
05-20-2010, 12:20 PM
Tys:

Having read your post, I felt the need to say something. I was born into a traditional Mexican Catholic family and raised with those principles and when you're a kid naturally you think your parents are right and they can't possibly be wrong. Then you grow up into and adolescent and then an adult and actually show you have a brain.

The point is that I feel for you. Frankly I am Catholic in name only. I disdain Catholicism to the degree that I don't believe in praying the rosary, to the saints or the Virgin. I equate that with idolatry. What I think matters is what you feel in your heart. I believe in the basic principles that Christ taught people and try to live my life by the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

I am not a religious zealot myself heck I am considered somewhat of a family heretic because I associate with homosexuals, believe that same sex marriage should exist and that I think Fox News is the mouthpiece for Bible thumping uber conservatives. Oh and also because I read information pertaining to Wiccans and pagan belief systems regardless of the fact that I am studying them. Jedi Athos I think says it best with his pic from House.

My point is that you have a choice, that is your ultimate and true freedom. If you like what you believe then stick with it. I'm always partial to the line in the Declaration of Independence that says "Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Besides who said that sex was bad? The Bible condemns adultry explicitly but the act of sex itself?... One of the major turn offs for me about Catholicism and fundamentalist Christians. They twist words to fit their own agenda.

Ping
05-20-2010, 04:35 PM
Unrelated, but I feel it's an important point-- you don't need a signature from a religious leader to get an Eagle Scout. I'm an Eagle, and I've always been an atheistic heathen. Didn't prevent me from earning the rank, nor was there a signature line my lack of faith prevented me from getting signed. Might have changed between your time and mine, but I sure didn't need one as far as I can remember. I'm 99.9% sure of it in fact.

Odd, as the forms required me to get a signature from a religious leader. There was also that court case where the Boy Scouts were allowed to not let in atheists, too. Weird.

Totenkopf
05-20-2010, 09:00 PM
Odd, as the forms required me to get a signature from a religious leader. There was also that court case where the Boy Scouts were allowed to not let in atheists, too. Weird.

http://usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/changes/bsrank7-10.asp

List the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious, educational, and employer references.

This would seem to include the possibility of a religious leader, but not as a requirement all by itself. However the wording seems just vague enough to allow for someone to infer "religious" as a requirement.

Bimmerman
05-20-2010, 09:03 PM
Odd, as the forms required me to get a signature from a religious leader. There was also that court case where the Boy Scouts were allowed to not let in atheists, too. Weird.

Just because they're allowed to discriminate doesn't mean they do everywhere, all the time. Very few kids in my troop were religious. I can count on one hand then ones who were. Neither were our troop leaders. Scouts was fun.

I don't remember how I got around the religious signature line, if there was one. I probably just sent it in without any signature, and got the rank.

http://usscouts.org/advance/boyscout...bsrank7-10.asp

List the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious, educational, and employer references.

This would seem to include the possibility of a religious leader, but not as a requirement all by itself. However the wording seems just vague enough to allow for someone to infer "religious" as a requirement.

Yes. This. It's been a long time since I've looked at the form, hence my foggy memory. All they want is recommendations from people who know your character well. If that doesn't include a religious reference, it doesn't include a religious reference. Scouts is about more than that.

Ping
05-20-2010, 09:54 PM
@Bimmerman: Gotcha. Just saying what I know, that's all.

Arcesious
05-21-2010, 09:07 AM
*Pic and quote of House*

I think that's somewhat unfair... I may be secular but I disagree. Religious people can reason, and its kind of derogatory to say that that they can't with some seemingly clever/insightful quote. [rhetorical]How do you think I ever managed to conclude that my own religion was false?[rhetorical]

Though I do consider the religious people on this forum to have an error in judgement in regard to their own beliefs(as they probably think the same thing about people on this forum who are not religious), I have time and time again seen most of them demonstrate excellent reasoning capability in debates and discussions.

Don't lump everyone together into the same pile just because of their ideology.

JediAthos
05-21-2010, 09:28 AM
I think that's somewhat unfair... I may be secular but I disagree. Religious people can reason, and its kind of derogatory to say that that they can't with some seemingly clever/insightful quote. [rhetorical]How do you think I ever managed to conclude that my own religion was false?[rhetorical]

Though I do consider the religious people on this forum to have an error in judgement in regard to their own beliefs(as they probably think the same thing about people on this forum who are not religious), I have time and time again seen most of them demonstrate excellent reasoning capability in debates and discussions.

Don't lump everyone together into the same pile just because of their ideology.

I apologize if it seemed I was trying to generalize. I saw the quote and the picture and thought it was interesting if not mildly humorous. I have met a great many religious people who when it comes to their religion they refuse to see anything beyond what they believe and nothing your or I can say will change their thinking. Conversely I have also met some who are wide open and more than willing to have a discussion about the theology behind a great many things.

So, again I apologize. I should have posted something in the way of clarification and I failed to do so.