Something happened to me in Mexico recently. Don’t worry, this is good news.
In early December we took a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We hadn’t taken a real vacation for about two years. It was so-oo-oo-oo nice! It refreshed all of us!
And at some point, something happened!
I changed. I became happy again.
- Singing “Fa-La-La-La-Laaaaaaaaa!”
The last four years have been a time of major transition in many ways. One of the transitions has been the re-evaluation of my faith and religion and the loss of much of that faith and religion. So it has been a time of deep reflection accompanied by a gamut of emotions. But somehow, in December, I think that I moved on. I accepted myself for who I am at this time in my life.
Does the God of the Bible act like an abusive lover or spouse?
Below is a great article that compares attributes of God as portrayed in the Bible with an abusive spouse or lover. Some of the comparisons of God’s words and actions are chillingly reminiscent of an abuser. What do you think? Based on the Old Testament prophets’ depictions of God, is God someone you would want your daughter to date or marry?
The God of Abuse- ExChristian.Net – Articles.
These days I find it hard to “believe” in things that are patently absurd.
I could probably believe in a limited amount of absurdity if there was good reason or some evidence to do so. I might be able to believe that a virgin conceived a child if there was reliable evidence recorded at the time of the event by credible witnesses. I can also think of many strange, hypothetical circumstances that would lend evidence to such a “miracle.”
There are some things that I can believe.
I can believe a man named Jesus was born in the first century who had a close and special relationship with God (assuming arguendo there is a god). I can believe this man traveled, evangelized, started a movement and was sentenced to death. I don’t have any problem with that per se. I can believe there have been many peaceable, wise, spiritual people to walk this earth. Assuming the existence of a supreme God, I could believe such a God started the process of creation.
However, to believe that God made a mud pie in the shape of a human and then blew magic breath into it and the figure came to life?
This pushes my rational mind too far. I cannot permanently suspend my disbelief on this one. I just can’t do it, as I can’t believe that somewhere an Italian boy named Pinocchio began his life as a wooden puppet or that near Hansel and Gretel’s home there really was a cottage made of gingerbread and candy.
Even if I could believe the following: that a virgin gave birth to Jesus, whose father was the Holy Spirit, and Jesus was half-God, caused miracles, explained the wisdom of God to us, was crucified, rose again and then ascended into heaven in front of his disciples; there is no contemporaneous evidence that any of these things actually happened.
FAITH YEARS AND THE BEGINNING OF DOUBT
PART ONE: COLLEGE FAITH YEARS
A little more on my journey and what caused me to begin to doubt……..
I haven’t talked much about my journey yet but I can tell you where I am today. Today I am happier and less angry than I was a few years ago when felt I had reached my breaking point with Christianity and religion.
I became a born-again Christian when I was 18 during the spring of my first year of college. After being born-again I was water baptised by immersion and baptised in the Holy Spirit, complete with the gift of tongues.
For the next four years while earning my bachelor’s degree, I worked and served as a student evangelist in every free moment. I attended multiple weekly bible studies, led many evangelistic student groups, attended church at least twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday night!), and devoted an average of (at least) 1 to 3 days a week to evangelistic outreach. I helped run and man an outreach table in my college student union providing bible tracts and engaging students in conversation about God and Jesus to evangelize. For about five years I studied the bible for *at least* an hour a day, on average. I don’t want to belabor the details here. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
As I journey from certainty to openness in my faith walk, I often wonder how to help others who are locked into a rigid belief system that does not encourage them to question their assumptions. I am still working on a letter to others, in my head of course, to help myself and others to begin to question their own belief systems. However, in the meantime, below is a letter, “Dear Born-again Christian” by Marlene Winell, a psychologist and writer who counsels people who are leaving harmful religious systems. I think the letter is nicely done.
Winell’s letter points out how a rigid born-again belief system can seem to solve problems for people, such as give us comfort in our fear of death and loneliness and also give us absolutes for answering the big questions in life. She correctly suggests that the born-again belief system could create other problems system, such as cutting ourselves off from our fellow humans on the planet and sharing in the human journey and by causing us to miss the reality of our life here and now (the only life we can be sure of, I might add) by living one’s life for a future, hoped-for afterlife that may not materialize.
I think that anyone, such as a born-again christian or anyone else, who begins their journey for truth by accepting a system that proposes to provide all the answers for them, is unlikely to find the truth. However, once having accepted a system promising the “truth” to all questions, it can be hard and frightening to begin to question that belief system. I think Winell’s letter is a good attempt to help a person locked in a belief system to begin to consider opening their mind to questions and answers outside of that belief system.
Here is Marlene Winell’s letter. What do you think?
This looks like an exhaustive list of great resources for folks who are recovering from fundamentalism, cults and religion.
Even before I was “born-again”, I had seen enough examples of the “born-again” transformation to understand the “born-again” script. The basic schema is generally the same for fundamentalists & evangelicals. Think Bill Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws.” Briefly, recognize you are a Sinner, repent (change direction and start going God’s way), believe in and decide to follow Jesus the Son of God and you will be saved from Hell. (Alternatively, some milder versions instruct you to “ask Jesus into your heart and life” enabling you to have a “relationship” with God through Christ, etc., which also leads to salvation).
Being born-again is/ or is expected to be a life transformation. In many church cultures, this transformation is followed by the command to “Go NOW and tell others.” One of the most common ways to share the gospel is by sharing one’s “testimony” (an account about what God has done in your life).
***In the church that I joined, every aspect of Christian life was more “radical,” public and expressive than most other churches so my experience might not be the average Evangelical experience if there is one.***
In my church, the testimonies were larger than life! Often they contained more personal information than the average person on the street would share with a stranger! People would become highly convicted of their sin from their pre-born-again days (convicted= strong feeling from Holy Spirit instructing person of rightness or wrongness of her actions). To evangelize, they “testified” about how the Lord had changed them. In witnessing, they would explain to perfect strangers:
“Hi! My name is Jimmy, and I used to be a compulsive fornicator, adulterer and drunkard, and the Lord saved me from being an immoral heathen and has turned me into a man of God!”
Ok, someone can see the humor in that, right? Folks publicly labeled themselves, using colorful hyperbole, in terms of some of their most egregious sins.
Humorous? Or perhaps rather sad.