Tell me I’m Wrong

Christianity is a beautiful religion if you make it one. There is a lot to love about it, and a lot to learn from the Bible. I would fail to reason if I only disputed Christianity by propping up stereotypes and straw men. So I will examine the deepest parts of my personal knowledge of the situation, compare it with the questions that can easily be derived from this knowledge, and hopefully form an inquisitive path into religion.

I’ve been raised to think a certain way about the Bible, yet my questions have proven the Bible to be anemic in many ways. There are tenets of the faith that most, or every Christian should agree on:

1-The Bible is literally true, and can be trusted as a resource to inform us of the afterlife.

2-The One True God has created rules which we have violated, thereby sinning and earning our place in eternal separation from God.

3-God sent His only Son to provide a human sacrifice, allowing sinners to have a relationship with God.

4-Christ gave us a new covenant which we must follow until He returns to us someday.

Now, there are juicy topics that I prefer not to touch…yet. Bodily resurrection, virgin birth, the trinity, the doctrine of heaven and hell, and others. In my mind today there are only four major intersections worth investigating. Let’s start with the simple assumption that the Word is infallible.

“The Bible is God’s word, infallible, literal, and inspired.” Ok friend, this is super honorable and I would love to see more people commit to their worldview like this. Having said that, is there anyone to answer a few questions before they start piling up? Or do Christians like to keep their faith simple, like a child? My first contention is that there is no proof that God inspired any of the Bible. It could be completely full of lies, passed down from generation to generation as a perspective that had never been challenged. Moreover, doesn’t it seem a little excessive to interpret the Bible literally? I mean, every denomination has it’s own variation. A literal interpretation of the Bible leads to extremists and a lack of love. Dangerous as it would be to believe in a literal Bible, there isn’t any proof that the words of God are anything beyond the metaphorical beliefs of a nomadic desert tribe

“God created us, which gives Him the unique power to enact and enforce a morality across all of creation.” Yeah, that’s fair. If I could created a universe I would also expect to be the only arbitrator of my creation. Yet, without diving into the rabbit hole of origin stories, why is it that we believe this one God who hasn’t manifested himself to us other than in cryptic ways? He claims to desire a relationship with us, yet He challenges us to make decisions based on faith alone. Why should I chase a God who left me an enigmatic book and peaced out after killing His own kid? God loves me, but how would I know? And what happens if I don’t follow the words of this crazy book? Well, I get to suffer eternally for a momentary decision without any hope of recourse. Real loving God, real loving. I know I’m watering down the concepts of hell and sin and salvation to a childish level, but we aren’t having this conversation with masterminds and social elect, we are talking to the dude at 7-11 and 20 year old college kids who can barely read. When the Bible says to have faith like a child, it didn’t mean for us to be stupid. I would argue that we should ask simple questions like “How do we know Christ was born of a virgin, cause that sounds a little crazy?”

“In order to be saved you have to believe in Christ and live according to His example.” For every person on the planet to be condemned to hell unless they believe in ONE path to salvation is simply foolish. A caring, righteous, moral God would have the decency to allow persons of other worldviews to discover Him in other ways. Would you be out of luck if you had never heard the Bible preached? Would I be up a creek because I came to believe in Christianity while in an alternative (non-evangelical) denomination like LDS, Catholicism, or the Mormon church? Also, does salvation have any external fruit? If it does, then who are we to judge whether a person has been saved or if they are just a good and decent human?

“Jesus left us for a while, but He left his Spirit to comfort and guide us until he gets back.” People have a hard time distinguishing the two systems of individual thought, so how can we expect to differentiate between a spiritual element and a physical element? For most of us we have never seen anything supernatural, and if we have, it proves nothing about Christianity. In fact, if we saw a metaphysical occurrence today, we would have to investigate the claims of many, many religions before finding one which happens to align with the occurrence, right? When people say that they felt “lead by God,” or “called to ministry,” don’t you assume that they have been operating their brains in the same way as a secular person would? Where is the proof that the Spirit of God is here? Furthermore, why is eschatology the most confusing thing ever? The parts of the Bible that predict the future read like a long con. “I’ll be right back, just watch for a bunch of weird stuff like wars (super common), earthquakes (huh?) and signs in the sky (weird).” Extremist Christians will be thrilled because they are waiting for God’s Theocracy to finally begin. Evangelical Christians are hoping that when God gets back from the grocery store He will confirm all of their claims that He is the coolest, strongest, biggest, smartest Dad ever. Catholics will be sad because God will tell them to stop touching little kids.

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Athiagnostitian?

If I am remembering correctly, we seem to be fairly caught up. My marriage is probably on its deathbed, which leaves me with some shade of relief while still depressed. Maybe it is a good time to bring up religion and faith. What kind of man am I when it comes to belief and metaphysics?

Place yourself in the pew with me on a Sunday morning, let’s say about eight years ago. In reality you’ve been sitting in a metal chair among 250 of Christianity’s finest (read: 30 households with 8 kids each) for about 2 hours. The topic is whatever comes to the leader’s mind. This could be how American culture is pagan, paramount to Sodom and Gomorrah, or perhaps this weeks he is spewing bad statistics about how young men are to blame for the atrocities of rap music, college, and popular culture. After a couple hours of listening to this guy tell his community that they are the only hope for the world, you break into a weekly potluck. Bee-line it for the meatballs and pass the rows of gluten-free-sugar-free-MSG-free-nonhomosexual lasagna that somehow lacks noodles. Eventually you manage to agree with this guy, so much that you join an internship (free labor).

This was my religion, this was my creed. I even have a tattoo of a common creed that we studied. The tattoo came after I left the little cult. It was getting weird. My family stayed behind, but they respected my decision to seek God elsewhere. For me, elsewhere was anywhere I could go that didn’t bring judgment, hymns, white fifteen-passenger vans, or sad lasagna. I would say this was a turning point in my shallow, though expanding worldview.

At first I took the Bible for what it claims to be: exclusive truth. I had always wondered how the Abrahamic religions could be so different, yet claim to have the same foundation. Through some miracle I always managed to quiet those thoughts and return to hating myself for being the scourge of humanity. After I had distanced myself from this…group…I began to ask tough questions. How on earth does a world-wide flood make sense? Doesn’t the Biblical origin story seem poetic to you? Did God send his only son to be a human sacrifice, born of a virgin and raised from the dead? Why would God condemn everyone to eternal torment, yet make it difficult to be saved? Oh, how the list keeps growing.

If you talk to an average Christian, I doubt they could spell out the Bible in a way that would satisfy the average non-christian’s skepticism. That is to say, wherever I went I could not get good answers. All I’ve ever needed is an intelligent conversation about faith that doesn’t rely on the logic of a book written for illiterate farmers and shepherds. I’ve read Lewis, I’ve read Keller, I’ve talked to pastors, I’ve listened to lectures; they all fall short. And what if they didn’t fall short? Wouldn’t that lead me to believe in this ancient book of wisdom literally? Wouldn’t I reverse into the Christian extremist church I had just separated from?

Do you remember that one time when a bunch of Christians decided to go and fight a holy war against the Muslim nations? No, not 2017…try 1099 AD. If people follow the Quran or the Bible to their literal conclusions, we should see another crusade here shortly. So I’m a skeptic of Christianity. I’ve seen the man behind the curtain, and I can’t stomach the fact that people rely on religion as a means to define truth. Organized faith can be viewed a few different ways:

  • Religion is truth.
  • Religion is lies.
  • Religion is useful.
  • Religion doesn’t matter.

I stand firmly in the camp that claims religion is a useful tool to teach morality and to develop oneself towards enlightenment. I haven’t had to tell anyone my status as a Christian lately, but I feel like I should stop identifying myself as a follower of Jesus. There just isn’t enough proof that the religion I see in Christian churches is anything more than a show worth billions. I am not bitter or resentful, as many of my demographic seem to be. Rather, it seems that the Bible has a lot to offer as long as you don’t take it literally. Learn from every religious text. Walk among people who defend their views, but not so deeply that they forget to listen to the wisdom of logic, science, or other faiths.