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Monthly Archives: November 2011

It’s time for a reality check!

Well, it’s time for a new topic.  In case you’re stopping by for the first time, each month we pick a new topic to talk about and one of our four authors starts it off on the first week of the month.  Then each author takes a turn adding to what the previous author started.  Our hope and goal is to eventually have a GodDam Book where we turn our “topics” into chapters.   Last month was our first month trying this out and we really got a great response and some awesome feedback so here goes round two.

In the last month or so, the God Dam blog actually got quite a bit of traffic from a site called exchristian.net.  It was really cool to connect with a community of people who have been involved in the church in the past but are now atheist, agnostic, existentialist etc… It was interesting to hear some of the stories and dialogue with some of the people involved in a community that to be honest acts more like the church is supposed to than the church usually does.

With that in mind, as well as my own fascination with naturalism, I decided to make this month’s topic atheism.  I’ve recently started following a blog called the “friendly atheist” and this weekend they posted a video of Greta Christina (check out her blog here) and her speech titled, “Why Are Atheists So Angry”.  It’s about an hour-long but at least for me, it was worth it.

She begins her talk explaining why so many atheists are angry.  She talks about the oppressed women, and the raped children that religion seems to ignore if not encourage.  She talks about stupidity and close mindedness and hypocrisy but about 28 minutes in she makes an observation that I really thought was interesting.

To start off you must know her definition of religion. She gives it at about 26:40. She says that, “Religion is a belief in supernatural entities or forces that have an effect on the natural world. These entities or forces are invisible, inaudible, intangible and otherwise undetectable by any natural means.”  Now obviously we can debate whether or not this is the best definition for religion but that’s really not the point, so for the sake of the argument just go with it.

She goes on to say that because religion is based on invisible, inaudible, intangible, and otherwise undetectable sources, it has the potential to be very dangerous because there is no reality check.  This is something that I noticed my senior year in Bible College.  I saw professors and classmates who were convinced by scripture of certain things that simply didn’t work in real life.  They were rigid and unflinching and even made the claim that if evidence could be found to disprove them, they would not change because of what was stated in the Bible.

The general consensus is that Theology informs reality.  To me, that is kind of silly.  What if you’ve read the Bible wrong?  It’s happened before, just ask Galileo.

I feel like a more balanced approach is necessary for Christians. The bible is important but if what we see in reality doesn’t match up, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate.  If God is logical, and if he spoke through scripture into a logical world, then the Bible ought to work in reality. If it doesn’t then one of two things is happening.  Either we understand reality incorrectly, or we are reading the Bible wrong.

Christians need to start using the brains that God gave them and they need to add the reality check that seems to be missing in theology.

~James

P.S. Please leave feedback below, subscribe via email, or rss feed to the right, and come back next week for more on this same topic.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Atheism, Philosophy

 

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Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

Hurt shouldn’t make us deaf

I am one of those stereotypical Christians who has been very much damaged by my relationship with the church and the Church. I have not been entirely driven away from faith, but where I currently stand in regards to God and church is a place far removed from what most Christians would consider “enough”.

I am not going to try and defend where I currently am; I understand that by definition I am not being a very good Christian. Right now I am kind of okay with that. At the same time I am doing my best to not appear as a super Christian; I am not serving in a church currently, nor am I disciplining anyone. Anyone who comes to me for any kind of counsel or theological discussion is told about where I currently am; I will still talk with them but I do my best to make it known to them that I do not want to put on a mask of false piety.

I wanted to start a discussion from this side of the road, following in the vein of our “topic” this month. Knowing all of the other authors of this blog quite well, I’m comfortable saying I am in a unique place amongst them. I know James (as mentioned in his previous post ) discussed his own questioning. I am not really at the questioning phase of this journey just yet.

I am apathetic and I know that this is a problem that falls on my shoulders. I refuse to blame this on anyone or any particular church. However a large part of my disillusionment with Christianity is that so many Christians live hypocritical lives (myself included, I gladly point the finger at myself). I feel that my current place gives me a unique view of both believers and non-believers alike; I am not fully sold out on Christianity and yet I am not walking away from God just yet. It has given me several opportunities to speak to non-believers and have them be open considering I am not “cramming Christ down their throats.”

Now you might be asking why I have spent so much time talking about this. I want us to talk about talking. Discussions between believers and non-believers are not happening enough. Any more it only seems to be Christians sit in their groups talking in hushed tones and the non-believers are on the other side of some figurative border in their own groups. Right now most of the communication across this “border” is in the form of shouts and accusations, full of anger or judgment that has not brought either side ahead of the other.

Christians: stop bringing only messages of “You’re wrong!” and judgment to the table. Listen and openly discuss with those that hold different views from you. You’d be surprised how much you might actually learn.

Non-Christians: stop closing your ears on what you might consider “silly superstitions” and anger over judgment. Not every single Christian is responsible for the hurt that has been dealt to you; in fact it is probably the vast minority that you should be angry at. Be willing to talk and listen to them in their beliefs. You might find some things that shock you in their legitimacy and positive effects on the world.

Let’s stop fighting and start talking like civilized adults instead, what do you say?

-Ender

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in church, disillusionment, Failure, Philosophy, Religion

 

Are you Scared?

It’s one thing to be willing to ask yourself life’s tough questions.  It’s another to be willing to live with the consequences of life’s tough answers.  I might just be equally terrified of both.  I think KR Morris did a good job of opening up the subject for us last week but I’d like to take it one step further.

If you didn’t catch his post, check out Pointing Fingers in the Right Place.  His basic premise, just as a recap, was that many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, blame others for the pain in their life and point fingers in all the wrong places, rather than turning the scrutiny on themselves and having the balls to ask themselves the tough questions.

This week I’d like to navigate away from the original path and follow a rabbit trail for a bit to see where it takes us.

I’m convinced that there are certain ideals in every circle of influence that you just don’t question.  They are debates that have long been decided and it’s just understood that it would be counter productive to continue revisiting them.  I can speak best in regard to Conservative Evangelicalism because that’s what I know.  For conservative evangelicals the list of things that you just don’t question is quite extensive.   The nature of the Trinity, the full humanity and full Divinity of Christ, the Inerrancy of Scripture.

Depending on which brand of evangelical and the severity of the fundamentalism that exists, the list can get longer.  The virgin birth, literal 7 days of creation, biblically defined gender roles and the restriction of women from Church office, alcohol consumption, sex before marriage, and the list goes on.  In these, and countless other issues, you just don’t ask why.  And if you do ask why, you answer it quick and move on.

About a year ago the shit hit the fan and I got pissed. I’d had enough.  I was sick of the stereotypical answers.  Sick of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that raged in the circles that I found myself in.  So I started asking the questions, privately at first.  Why is sex wrong?  Is it really only for marriage?  Can I legitimately back that up in Scripture?  Why can’t a woman be a pastor?  I wouldn’t settle for the typical, “because the Bible says so” answer.  I wouldn’t even settle for finding the answers in scripture.  I began to ask questions of the Bible itself.  Why does Paul not permit women to teach or exercise authority in the church at EphesusWhy does the Bible seem to call Christians to a life of celibacy?

The questioning spread and got progressively scarier.  I started to question the legitimacy of canonicity.  I started to question the doctrine of inspiration as well as inerrancy and I found that they lacked a certain “set in stone” quality that I had just assumed for the last lifetime.  When the day came that I finally began to legitimately question the authority and legitimacy of the Bible, I was terrified.  I realized that the answers to my questions might lead me away from classical evangelicalism.  They might lead me away from Christianity.  It’s a type of fear that’s difficult to verbalize and almost stopped my journey of questions.

I’ve always said that my goal in life is to seek truth and I’ve more than once dropped the line that “if you can find the body of Christ and prove that it’s him, I’ll be an atheist tomorrow.” but did I really believe that?  Was I really willing to follow-through with such a life, career, and paradigm altering switch.  Was I willing to abandon Christianity, if in fact I found that it was not true?  Some might call this a lack of faith and if you really feel that’s what it is then fine.  The relationship between faith and reason is a different blog for a different day.

The honest answer was that I wasn’t willing to walk away, but I felt that an honest search for truth mandated that I be willing to follow truth no matter what that truth ended up being.

Fear set in.  “I work at a church.  If I decide that the bible is not inerrant, that creation actually took billions of years, and that women can and should be pastors… They may not want me to continue working for them.”  I was terrified.

I’m still working through many of these issues so I don’t have the ending to the story yet.  I can say that as of right now I haven’t found anything that will put me outside the scope of evangelicalism or get me fired.  I do however hold several views that are different than those of the leaders at my church and I’m aware that those views may lead us to part ways in the future but for now I strive for unity, for tolerance, for grace, and for love.

I cannot and will not abandon the questions and the potential implications of their answers.  To do so would eat me alive from the inside out.  My conscience simply would not allow it.  Maybe this is where faith comes in to play.  I have faith that the questions that I ask, though their answers may change the way I think and live, will lead me to truth.  That if God exists, and I believe that he does, this truth will lead me to him.

I believe that faith should constantly evolve and grow.  We have done something wrong when we stop asking questions and dealing with the implications of the answers.

So far my journey has been more liberating, confirming, and inspiring that I could have imagined.  I hope that you have the same luck.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in church, Doubt

 

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Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

Does anybody have the courage to ask themselves the hard questions in life?  Presently I have gone back and forth in my own mind if I am even asking myself the hard questions that would truly improve my walk with the Lord. For example, all people have issues with different areas of their life and can choose certain ways to handle these issues.  One issue that many individuals are having when it comes to the Christian culture is the church.  Instead of church being a place of community, fellowship, and worship it has become a place that individuals make themselves feel better for being a Christian at least one day a week.  All of a sudden church has become a check on our to-do list instead of a group of people coming together to love one another and live life together, which Jesus has called us to do.

I was recently involved in a debate between friends and new acquaintances. It really got me thinking about the real truth behind people seeing what church is to them. A few of the people around the table were bible college students, pastors, and people hurt by the church growing up that lead them elsewhere in their beliefs.  Of course the topic of religion and Christianity came up and the conversation was heated.  From this debate I learned more about the church and the different ways church has made an impact on people.  Anytime people are involved in a church, individuals are going to get hurt, it’s just inevitable.  I found myself stuck in-between two sides of the debate.  There was the “on fire” Christians who are highly involved in the church and the non-churchgoers who have been hurt by the church early on in life.  I am familiar with both side of the debate (not just knowledgeable about both sides but experienced both sides) but really listening to the context of the conversation I came to a conclusion.

Nobody is asking the hard questions!  The debate was continually going in circles because nobody wanted to offend anyone on a personal level.  The only personal question that sparked a thought in my mind was asked by the individuals who were hurt by the church, “Do you really live the way Jesus wants you to live?”  Now to the Christians at the table the answer was textbook.  It sounded something like this; “I strive everyday to glorify God but will never be perfect because of the presence of sin in our lives”.  Good answer, but it really doesn’t help our cause as Christians.  The people who are hurt by the church or dislike the church still think we are hypocrites. This brings me to the question that should have been asked by the “on fire” Christians. Instead of turning away from the church, why didn’t you take on the challenge of showing others in the church that the life they are living is not honouring to God? Instead of turning away from the church, why join all the people who live to the world’s standards?  If you are hurt so badly by a group of people than why did you let them win?

There is a passage in the Bible that comes to mind when I need to get my thoughts back on track.  Proverbs 4:4-5: “Then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth’”. Sometimes we come up with our own opinions and understanding about the way we should live our life, instead of focusing on the true understanding and wisdom of God.  The hard question that I need to ask is “Have I been in a daily walk with the Lord, or am I foolishly leaning on my own understanding?”

No matter where you are at in your life, please take a step back and ask the hard questions.  Even if it has nothing to do with religion, we always take the easy way out in life and just blame others for things that happened to us.  Who cares if others hurt you or me, if you truly want to take the next step in life, do something about it!  Stop pointing fingers at others and point it at you first.  You may find the answer you are looking for and it might just change your life.

~K.R.Morris

 
18 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Bible, church, Doubt, Failure, Religion

 

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