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Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

01 Nov

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

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18 Comments

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

 

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18 responses to “Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

  1. Katie

    November 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Hey, I found you all though a comment on the exchristian.net site. I love the premise of this blog! Wish I’d done something similar when I was a Christian, but I had few Christian friends (…none) who wanted to ask the hard questions alongside me.

    I can tell you in my own journey, I was constantly bothered by the way I saw Christianity lived out, but it also bothered me that I was so offended by this. I would wonder who I was to judge their understanding of Scripture, which ultimately pointed the question back at me as to how I can be so sure that I understand Scripture. I’m glad you guys are earnestly fighting for your faith. In my experience, the fight ultimately had me surrendering to the other team. Either way, I hope you all find fulfillment through this process.

     
    • James

      November 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Hey Katie,
      I really appreciate the encouragement and sincerely apologize on behalf of other Christians out there that you didn’t receive the support that you are giving to us now. I now I didn’t receive that support until just recently with the other authors of this blog and a few select friends that were just as frustrated as I was. I think that many times in Christian circles, we put on a mask that says everything is okay and I’m fine, while on the inside we struggle alone with many of these issues. Like you’ve pointed out, this often leads to us turning the finger back at our self and feeling guilty for being so judgemental of others when in reality the scrutiny of others would have been healthy if it had the proper outlet.

      I’ve been very intrigued by the exchristian site. I’ve always sympathized with a naturalistic worldview and found it fascinating.

      Thanks for stopping by and please come again.

       
      • Katie

        November 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

        I, too, sympathize with the naturalistic worldview. It is what had me initially questioning my Christian faith. At this point, I’ve come to identify what we know as reality as basically constructed. Even “natural” faculties we possess such as logic and reason have no proof behind them identifying them as the sole means to understanding Truth. They perpetuate their own system of belief that I am also not entirely interested in subscribing to. People ask me how I think I can live without a foundation of belief. I must believe something. I do believe that I don’t know what I “should” believe and that’s the presupposition from which I look at the world. Perhaps even this is a faulty belief, and if I ever recognize it as such, I hope for the courage to move from that position.

        It’s hard to distinguish “knowns” in a world that often seems to be widely unknown.

         
  2. James

    November 7, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Katie,

    I’m intrigued. If you’re up for it I’d like to here more. Is there anything that you do look to as a base reality or foundation of truth? Or would it be accurate to say that you question the legitimacy of there even being truth out there at all? Just trying to make sure I’m understanding where you’re coming from. You said that you don’t know what you should believe and that is the presupposition from which you look at the world. Do you believe that there is something that should be believed but that you haven’t found yet? or do you believe that we may never know or find any type of objective knowledge?

     
    • Katie

      November 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

      Haha, can I say, “All of the above?” I honestly don’t know, and I’m tentative to say I know much of anything, including what I think i’m searching for. God filled this void for me before as a definition and wonderful purpose for the great unknown, but I had a hard time following my own God and dealing with the consequences of that belief–e.g. that others were “wrong” for following their gods or no god at all. I find it’s easy for me to be persuaded by logic, but this seems to be just as easy for me as it is for my mother to be persuaded by a “sense” of something (which does not persuade me), such as spiritual fulfillment. She has absolutely no interest in the logistical matters of the Bible, and I don’t wish to convince her that she should. Atheists and secular humanists generally would insist that people like her should.

      I do see value in remaining true to yourself, because I do believe there is something particularly identifying about each of us, and I am not certain that all of our individual needs are met by One Truth. Perhaps they are, but it is seeming unlikely to me just based on my own experience. I had the strangest relationship with God. I always believed he was everything he said he was, but whenever I tried to understand him intellectually, I found myself lost and confused and ultimately floundering. I sunk into serious periods of depression whenever my doubt became too much for me to handle. None of the apologist books would help, and the Bible only complicated matters. It was only the realization that I couldn’t believe in this God that finally pulled me out of that depression. It was completely counter-intuitive. I thought I needed to have a stronger faith in order to find true peace, but the exact opposite ended up being the case.

       
      • James

        November 7, 2011 at 7:32 pm

        HAHA of course you can say all of the above. lol I’ve been there before and depending on the day I’m still in that place of being unsure of what I even think.

        Unfortunately all too often I see Christians trapped in depression just like you have described. It’s sad that sometimes the only escape from that guilt and depression is to abandon what you’ve “known” for so long but I totally understand that sometimes that’s how it works. For me I was able to abandon a lot of what I’ve come to see as false beliefs about God in order to escape the depression that i found myself in. I’ve discovered the peace, and freedom that I hear many on exchristian.com talk about within Christianity. But it’s definitely a different Christianity than the one that I grew up in. My theology has changed dramatically, hopefully for the better. And now, rather than seeing God as the jealous old man with a huge beard sitting on some throne in the clouds with lighting bolts ready to zap me if I screw up, I see God as the loving God, in pursuit of relationship with his people that I think he’s supposed to be. I still don’t claim to have all the answers but at least for now I’ve found what seems to be a healthy balance. Still searching though.

        Thanks for all the comments and feedback.

         
  3. Katie

    November 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I was very conscious of not abandoning my faith in God based on how I saw him represented. I was upset with Christianity, but I knew I had to try to extract the God of the Bible from that in order to deal with any core issues I might have had. My theology did change over the course of my college years. Having come from a Reformed, Calvinist background, I slowly became more accepting of other denominational understandings of God, which was encouraging for me for a while. I attended an Assemblies of God church during my final year of college and very much enjoyed it. It was always the “big picture” mindsets that had me doubting the most, such as realizing the difference between heaven and hell is merely belief or disbelief. It didn’t even seem to be about God anymore. It was whether I could believe something or not, which I don’t see as a decision. I hated thinking that the entire Islamic community is severely misguided, even though their beliefs are based on personal revelation just like Christians’. And to think Jews just didn’t understand Jesus, even though they have valid reasons for believing that Jesus did not fulfill prophesy. They’re not ignorant. Who am I to say my qualitative reasons for Christianity being “better” or “more viable” actually are Truth? I knew that it wasn’t my Christian expectation to cast judgments on these differing beliefs, but by subscribing to a belief in direct opposition to theirs I inevitably was. It felt wrong to assume I knew the source of Truth while others don’t, and some of them believe I am misguided. I can’t prove them wrong. All I have is conjecture.

    Of course, that’s just one example of how I had a hard time dealing with doubt. I’m sure you understand how much deeper these issues actually go.

     
    • James

      November 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I thought I had already replied to this but I guess not.
      I feel the tension that you described wondering how a just God could send the entire Muslim population to hell because they grew up in the wrong hemisphere and have never known any different. I’ve wondered this same thing about many religious groups. I see many Mormons living much more “Godly” lives than many Christians I know, but theology tells me that they get the trap door leading to eternal fire while the average Joe christian that treats his wife like shit and is a terrible father gets the pearly gates. I’m not sure that I buy it anymore. The thought occurred to me that if God is real, and I believe that he is, and if he’s as big and powerful as people say that he is, Couldn’t it be possible that he is big enough to use different forms of truth for different people. That he uses the book of Mormon to communicate truth to Mormons while using the Bible to communicate with me. I think it’s possible that God is big enough to handle multiple truths, and most of my christian friends would probably label me a liberal, universalist for saying something like that. IDK maybe I am. I still haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still waffling back and forth on this issue and trying to find a place to land.

       
      • Katie

        November 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        Fascinating! This is where I landed first when I allowed myself to “let God be God,” which is how I explained it on my blog and to my friends. I honestly could not handle crediting any sort of reality that was without God, because he was too real. Such a place seemed impossible to me, so I thought, “Well, then that means God is bigger than any of us can probably even imagine.” I started qualifying truths, relative truths, and I did this coming out of a *deep love* for absolute truth. I reveled in absolute truth before. I still find it attractive but implausible insofar as my understanding can presently reach.

        I did stop calling myself a Christian once I decided God was bigger than Christianity, because I decided he was probably bigger than both the cultures of Christianity (obviously) and the Bible (which I finally decided was probably fallible). I was pretty sure this meant I wasn’t a Christian anymore. It didn’t take that long for me to finally accept the possibility of God’s nonexistence. I sometimes teeter over the line to atheism, just because of my tendency to *know* something or stand for something. I’ve discovered atheism most widely seems like a platform for reason as truth, but I have no more proof that reason is truth than God is truth. My faculties might seem more reliable than those of a supernatural, unknowable being, but I can’t really prove that they are. I can’t prove that what we think is reality is reality.

        That’s how I’ve “resigned” to saying I don’t know. I am starting to see how admitting that I may not ever know is a good platform for openly understanding other beliefs without preset biases against them. To say that I don’t know if another’s beliefs are true or not means that I merely accept them as a part of that person’s perception of reality, and I can measure them on my own scale of how well I can ever *know* the truth of this concept myself. I’ve become more accepting and more thoughtful with this mindset, so I’ll probably ride it out until I find it untenable, which it very well may be. I honestly don’t know. ;)

         
      • James

        November 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm

        Thanks so much for your all your comments. It’s awesome to dialogue back and forth. I’m fascinated by, i guess I’ll call it your lack of a need for a foundation. I’m not sure, but I think i would find the unending limbo of “I don’t know” answers to pivotal questions absolutely terrifying. I would feel helpless and rudderless but I guess I can also see how that could be very liberating. I guess I’ve always worked under the assumption that everybody has to have a foundation, and in order to start to understand them you just have to figure out what their foundation is. But you’ve taken it a step farther and said screw the foundation I don’t need it. Not gonna lie. It’s kinda boggling my mind.

         
  4. Katie

    November 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Oh, it’s boggling my mind, too. Don’t worry. I found the problem with foundation is that a foundation always requires another foundation. It’s the whole root of the root of the root thing. This also applies to the concept of absolute truth (God). The process of infinity simply leads to “I don’t know,” so really I’m just trying to make “I don’t know” into a sort of pseudo-foundation since a foundation is the only thing we humans know how to build upon. It’s a pretty faulty system by theory, but I’m seeing if I can still rig it up well enough to work.

     
  5. Katie

    November 9, 2011 at 6:47 am

    I admit I’ve wrestled with nihilistic thoughts before, especially as a doubting Christian. It was a lot easier for me to jump to the conclusion that there’s no purpose whatsoever when I was still a Christian finding myself doubting the existence of God at times. Nihilism is definitely a threatening place for one to rest, both threatening to self and to others. In my “I don’t know” mindset, I think landing on nihilism would be the same extreme as landing back on glorifying God. I am supposing too much if I say this world is entirely pointless and that we have no actual purpose here. That’s so cut-and-dry. If anything, I will move further toward the conclusion that I probably either have to define purpose for myself or continue to figure it out for myself. I do love being part of a like-minded community, so I am glad to have found exchristian.net. I understand where each of them is coming from, and we genuinely care about each other just like people in a church. We’ve just decided to cut the crap and break down the barriers on thought and possibilities. This is more like the church I always wanted but never could have. I do like the theory that God reveals truth through all people. It was a beautiful idea to imagine for a time. I might go back to entertaining those thoughts at some point. Christians quickly shut down such possibilities because of the contradictions between religions, but I think it’s safe to say there are contradictions within Christianity itself. I see Christianity as Christianities. It’s pluralistic now, and it always has been. Why not consider more pluralistic revelations of truth outside of Christianity?

     
    • James

      November 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks for the honestly. I agree that nihilism is a very threatening and potentially dangerous place. It seems like maybe your moving toward more of an existentialism. I don’t want to just slap a label on you but sometimes the isms and labels can help discussion.

      We started this blog with the express purpose to “cut the crap and break down the barriers on thought and possibilities”. There are four authors and several that will guest author from time to time on the blog and the questions that we had and weren’t allowed to ask created a very lonely, and desperate place. When we found each other and started to cut the crap, even in our own little group, I know at least I found relief from the loneliness and guilt that I didn’t have enough faith or that I was the only person that felt like this. Since then I’ve found a huge online community of like minded people and writing on the blog I’m sure will expand that community. When we launched the blog we basically said, “even if nobody reads it the four of us can come together and be a community as we wrestle through these ideas.” It’s sad that it had to come to that because this type of community should exist within local churches but it just doesn’t. Our hope and large scale goal is to be part of a movement of other like minded young Christians that begin to reform the church and fight for unity. To break down the theological, practical and social barriers that have been erected in most church settings.

       
      • Katie

        November 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm

        Existentialism is a title that works. Atheistic agnostic probably works, too, with its definition being that I don’t know whether there is a God but I live as if there isn’t one. My desire is to see all belief barriers fall, but that seems highly unlikely. I guess that’s why men came up with the concept of an afterlife where this is reality (except that reality eliminates all of the people who have it “wrong” instead of compromising). I’m having a hard time talking to my Christian family about any of this, because it hurts me that they can’t consider that my belief transition might be good for me even if I never come to know Jesus as my Savior (again, like I did before…). My old pastor tries to diligently respond to my current profession of transition, but he still uses terms like “wrong,” which automatically turn me off. I am tired of thinking in terms of right and wrong.

        I deeply appreciate Christians who care about what other people think and actually carefully consider their arguments. You’re doing exactly what I wish everyone would do, so I hope that you succeed in your mission to break down the barriers.

         
      • James

        November 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        You’re words are extremely encouraging to me and hopefully I can be an encouragement to you. You’re transition and your questions are not wrong. You may find them misguided later and you may find them right on track but who cares. That’s part of life and it’s part of the journey. I strongly believe that without questioning we become the stereotype of people who have a baseless faith and are anti-intellectual. If God in fact does not exist, then I’d rather ask questions and find out that God doesn’t exist than just believe that he does and live my life based on a lie. I believe that you’re asking the right questions and the fact that you’re willing to be honest with yourself is refreshing. If God does exist, and if He’s a good God, like we hope; then i believe that he will give evidence, that when questioned will lead people to him rather than away from him. Maybe I have too much faith but I struggle to believe that if God exists, that he didn’t leave any evidence behind. As we struggle through the questions and the evidence, we will either find him or not. Hopefully that made sense.

         
  6. Katie

    November 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I appreciate the validation, James. I’ve faced a lot of opposition, and you’re probably the first Christian to tell me my questions are totally good to ask and that my conclusions thus far are reasonable on this journey.

    I received this comment from my pastor: “How much eternal mental suffering would it bring to the mind to realize on the other side that one is in this foul, vile place called hell simply because they trusted in the ‘I don’t know’ of agnosticism.”

    Then I thought, yes how crazy it would be if all that happened simply because I trusted in “I don’t know.” How dare I have not found sufficient evidence for God. How dare I have been a truly honest seeker and came back wanting. Quite frankly, I think it’s very generous of me not to jump to the conclusion that God’s probably not there after all. I haven’t “sensed” any such presence in my life lately at least. I’ve cut God a lot of slack. Throwing me in hell wouldn’t be any skin off his back anyway. God is sufficient in himself after all. I add nothing to who he is.

     
  7. K.R.Morris

    November 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Thank you both for the conversation that went back and forth. It is my ultimate goal to see this happening as a writer. Im glad I could spark up a conversation. I hope to hear more.

     
  8. Ender

    November 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I gotta say my favorite part about this blog is that it has the potential to anger both sides of the debate in much needed ways. This is a problem that extends far beyond the church and is pervasive in the entirety of the culture we now live in; it is always someone else’s fault and thus up to someone else to solve the problem. All too often I am faced with individuals who are discounting a group or activity simply due to a single bad experience from an individual. Take a look at every infomercial that comes on TV; every single product is meant to give a fast and easy solution to something that once took work and time. Our culture (and I name myself among the guilty) is growing lazy, most of all when it comes to our mental/spiritual health. People by nature do not want to change their perspective, they would rather the circumstances change around them.

     

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