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5/31/2006                                                                                       View Comments

A letter to Jesus

by Ian

Earlier this year, I was getting a bit fed up with religions and Christianity in general. It was a period where I was in the last stages of breaking off from organized religion, and as one can expect, it’s a difficult process.

At one point, I finally just got so fed up that I decided to do a little rant to try and get the frustration out of my system. This is the result:

To Jesus:

Okay Jesus, if you don't mind, I'd like to rant a little to get this out of my system.

For one thing, why on earth did you come to earth? Did you have even the slightest idea how your teachings would be taken and used for centuries afterwards? Did you foresee the rise of fundamentalists and evangelicals? If you did...aw geez, I don't even want to go there. Those guys used to creep me out. Now, they just annoy me.

Anyway, just why did you come here in the first place? I've heard so many answers and so many versions of those answers that my mind gets boggled down in thinking about it. Oh yes, i've heard the long toted "He died for our sins." one. After the first 2,947,281 times, it does get a bit irritating. Here are a few other answers on why you came to earth.

1. To restore our hearts to love...that seems to have half-succeeded.
2. To give us an example of individual Christhood.
3. To give humanity a new, better way to live.
4. To die for our sins.
5. To show humanity what it can do.

That's just five of them. There are probably thousands of them out there. Tell me Jesus, what is it? Which one is it? Which one of these answers is the one we're supposed to know?

And I want to tell you one thing Jesus: I have no interest in worshipping you. None. Nada. Zilch. Why? Because I am so tired of people turning you into some kind of golden calf to dance around, praise, and worship. When I see people holding up hands, swaying around and singing songs...to me, it looks like some sort of brainwashed cult ritual. Everyone is so focused on one guy that it frustrates me. People turn and worship you, apparently not getting up and trying to get going on their own feet and working out their own spiritual mission.

Oh yes, they are in a way, but it's by turning to an assembly line religion, a consumer based one. If you do this, you'll be saved. If you accept Jesus, you'll go to heaven! Nothing else required!

Please. From what I see, that's laziness. Turning to a guy and letting him do all the work for you. Anybody can turn to you and get off the hook. No need to pay back for any damage you've done, no need to take responsibility, nothing. Just turn to Jeeeezzzzuusss and you're saved!

Damn, I'm angry. Sorry Jesus, but i'm angry. Spirituality is about finding yourself, understanding yourself, and knowing how you fit in with God and the entire universe, with all of existence. It's about answering the question "I am? What am I?" Spirituality is not about depending upon other beings or other people to do the work for you, or to make your life suddenly easier. It takes effort, discipline, focus, and a desire to know, to experience, to overcome.

And yet...when I look around I see a cult of Jesus worship.

Of course, i've probably got it all wrong. But then again, I don't even really know why i'm angry at Christianity. Maybe it's the feeling of self-righteousness (We're saved and you're not! I'm saved and you're not! We're the chosen ones! Etc.) that it can give some people. Maybe it's the use of power and fear to control. Do this. Do that. Don't question heathens or the unsaved. Read your bible. It is true, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, and don't forget the kicker. If you don't follow this religion, you're damned to hell for all eternity (while we get to be with THE LORD in heaven!). Why? Because you've sinned, and the wages of sin are death. And in death you'll have to pay off those sins, and the only thing that will warrant is eternal punishment.

Bullcrap.

Horseshit. Pure and utter horseshit. No God is so enormously cruel and unmerciful, especially if he is perfect, that he condemns people to hell for all eternity, especially for finite human mistakes. He certainly wouldn't send people to hell just because they weren't christians.

Oh yes, i've heard the phrase "God doesn't send us to hell...we choose to go there." Wait a minute! We "choose" to go to hell?! Okay...how does that work? How does one "choose" hell? Who in their right mind would choose hell?! Just because we chose not to believe in christianity does not mean we've chosen to go to hell. We just don't believe in that faith. We didn’t "choose".

Now, I am of the belief that some may go to hell because they fit in. Because in the spiritual world, you go where you fit in, right? You go where you fit in. If you don't like where you are, you can choose to leave.

I find it sick and disgusting that some believe that God will not allow any soul to be released from hell, no matter how much begging, pleading, or tearful apologies are given. What kind of asshole God would be so cruel as to keep genuinely sorry people in hell forever? A true asshole, that's what. A psycho God who's not even worthy of being worshipped.

Yeah, I made a cuss word. But it's an insult to a false god, a crazy human made god who has human traits and human emotions like anger, regret, and all other crazy traits. If God is as great as I have come to believe from NDE readings and research, then God really is without limit, without end, and infinite. A being of infinite love and acceptance, of forgiveness and understanding. A God who is not crazy, who is not psycho, and definitely NOT an asshole.

Yet why are people not following this kind of God? Why have they instead focused on you, rather then the being who they should be turning to? I just can't understand it. We should worship God, not the messenger. We should give thanks to God for helping us, not his supposed son. The focus should be on GOD, not, and I mean not, a man.

People sure do have an interesting way of turning people they admire into idols. It seems to have happened with you. You've been turned into an idol that automatically saves everyone who pledges allegiance to you. That seems to encourage spiritual laziness, of staying with the same thing year after year when one should keep evolving, keep searching, and keep moving upwards, not staying with the same rituals, the same books year after year. If there's one thing i've learned in this short time on earth, it's that everything is changing and evolving. Those who do not adapt and evolve die. It is inevitable.

Yet people turn you into an idol and keep you like that. They've written an entire book surrounding you. Why can't people just see that the book is the works of people, giving you their own opinions and their own interpretations on things? They are telling you what THEY think about things. The authors are telling you what THEY believe to be true. And yet people take this book to be the infallible word of God. Please. I just can't accept that. No ifs, ands, or buts.

In fact Jesus, I find it funny how there are ARMIES of people out there to explain every little thing about the bible that's hard and clearly the work of humans. Apologenists really amuse me. It makes me shake my head that there are entire dictionaries and encyclopedias based completely on bible difficulties, showing that it is not a perfect, timeless work.

And please people, for the love of God, please stop saying that the bible is "true" or that it is "the authority" or whatever you can come up with. I hear "the bible is God's word" or "the truths of the bible" so often that I oftentimes want to take whatever is saying it and chuck it out the window or smash it with a hammer.

And you know Jesus...the thing is...I don't know why i'm so angry at religions, at Christianity, or you.

I don't know why i'm so upset and angry at. Is it the self-righteousness? The threats? The fear? The saying that if you don't accept Jesus you go to hell? What is it? What do I detest, what do I dislike so much that I feel compelled to lash out, to rant and rave at what I...what I...

...hate.

Hate...

It's a nasty word. It's an extremely negative one. In all our languages, in all our customs, there are few things as negative as hate. "I hate you." "I hate this." All such negative things. Where love is not, fear, anger, and hate take it's place.

I know hate is bad for me. After all, it's the opposite of love. It's the opposite of who we really are, what we really should be. Humans are once both the most beautiful, and the most ugly creations on earth.

We are the only creatures that hate. We are the only ones that kill each other over petty issues such as fossil fuels, disagreements, and what we believe in. We go to war, we dress up in uniforms and get loud sticks and kill each other. Slaughter each other. Butcher each other. We soak our soils and our dirt with human blood. And for what? For thinking that one of us is right and the other is wrong? That we need more fuel for our cars?

We pollute our planet. We dump waste into our water. We suck our resources dry like there's no tomorrow. We are, as Agent Smith so correctly pointed out, a virus. We suck up all the resources and move on when there's nothing left.

We are, in a way, so ugly.

And yet...

...we also are the most beautiful things too. We can love each other. We may be the only species on this planet that has the best grasp of what love is. We may be the ones that treasure it and value it the most. We have the ability and the capacity to love each other.

When we love each other, then we undo the damage. We can work together. We can agree to do things to make life better for everyone else. We can put our combined talents, our own efforts and skills to make everyone's life better and more happy.

When we are at our best, we shine like stars in the dark night. When we are united, we are beautiful and wonderful. We have so much potential within us. We all have the spark within us. We all have the power of God. To create, to marvel, and most importantly...to love. To love what we create, to love ourselves, and most important...to love each other.

Why can't we get that?

Why can't we just see that this is all we have? Why can't we see that we shouldn't spend our time debating endlessly about who is right, who is wrong, and what faith will save us?

Maybe that's what I don't like about Christianity, or any religion for that matter. It separates us, places us into different camps. Saved and unsaved. Believer and non-believer. We are good and you are wicked. You are damned and we are saved. We have the truth, the way, and we're the only place you can find it.

Maybe I don't like that some religions call some saved and others wicked. Maybe I don't like how people use the Jesus idol as an excuse to do all sorts of atrocious things, to do unspeakable acts of cruelty.

There's the obvious stuff of course. The inquisition, the witch hunts and the burnings at the stakes.

But...sometimes the damage is not seen. The cruelty is not witnessed, yet it is there nonetheless. This type of cruelty may be more awful then that which can be seen.

It is the cruelty against the soul. Of spreading the cancers of fear, uncertainty, and of separation. It's the cruelty of telling someone that they are damned. It is telling someone that you know everything and they don't.

My younger sister was once told by one of her closest friends that because she wasn't a christian, she was doomed to hell. My sister cried for hours. That act of supreme cruelty bit just as deep as any inquisitor’s blade. Yet the friend thought it was true.

And this is what I don't like. Her beliefs placed people into separate camps. My sister was damned and she was saved. Such an attitude is toxic and corrupts. It can drive people apart, which happened with my sister and her friend. They no longer talk to each other. The beliefs of separation, of grouping and classes drive people apart.

I don't like that. We are all one, whether we believe it or not. What we do affects each other. Why can't we just get rid of the excess garbage of endless debates about why this guy is right and why this guy is wrong, or how this person had an axe to grind against christianity.

Why can't we just get rid of all this? Why, Jesus, can't we just get rid of it? These kinds of arguments waste our time. Precious time that we can put to good use helping others, of helping make everything all right for each other. We refer each other endlessly to writers like C.S. Lewis. I don't care about C.S. Lewis. I could care less about the guy. I don't care what he said or why he said it. Christians point him out endlessly and tell people to read his books.

So what? Really, so what? Why should I care? I have much better things to do with my time. In the time it would take to read one of his books that promotes christianity, I could make a person laugh with a joke of mine. In the time it would take to read his views on why Jesus is savior, I could help brighten a child's day by finding a book he's looking for.

Aren't these things more important? Helping other people over reading the books of C.S. Lewis? Is reading a man's "lord, liar, lunatic" theory more important then comforting someone who is sad about something? For that's one thing i've realized Jesus. When one can spend endless debates about what faith is right, what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, one can do other things like helping a person out, by helping them discover their true selves, by awakening that little light within them, by helping them to love others.

The one thing I have learned is that these debates about the damned and the saved, of the christians and everyone else, is that they leave a negative energy. These debates try to place people in groups. They try to separate, when we should be coming together. When we should be uniting and helping each other, we simply talk about who is saved and who is not. And I see now that it's a waste of time. We are all one. Why can't we act like it?

When I read books about faith, or even glance at them, I see that they are trying to prove that they are right and others are wrong. It's a frantic scramble to get high up, to be an authority, to get to the top of the hierarchy. It's about power, and showing that you are right while others are wrong.

We insult each other, put each other down, try to make each other look like idiots and proclaim from our pews and our buildings that we are saved and they are not, while the others are doing exactly the same thing.

And for what? All we're doing is separating each other. We're pushing ourselves apart from each other, rather then tearing down the barriers and coming together. We proclaim that when the final judgment comes, God's chosen people will be saved while others will burn forever. Don't people know how much that separates us? How much that drives people into fear and terror?

If the God you know Jesus is perfect and benevolent, loving and caring towards his creations, then I can see no reason why there would ever be a last judgment. I cannot see why you would come down here and solve everyone’s problems for us. We made the mess here on earth, and we need to learn to clean it up. I need to learn to be more environmentally focused. I'm not perfect. Nobody is. Yet our species needs to learn about responsibility and taking care of our possessions. Religions paint the hope that a guy on clouds or chariots is going to come down and magically solve all our problems (including chucking all the non-believers into hell).

When I see end times, I see threats. When I see the last judgment, I see the inquisitors blade, cutting deep at the mind, and I see cruelty with that blade.

When I see Billy Graham at his mega speeches, I see a man who is turning others to christianity by fear. Turn or burn. If you are not a christian, you go to hell. I see people like him turning humanity against itself. I see people like him spreading the cancers of humanity. And it's in your name, no less.

Aren't you sad about that? Aren't you sad at all?

If we're not careful, one day humanity will be made up of groups, each convinced that we are right and everyone else is wrong. If such a day comes, then perhaps it's best for our species to go extinct, to fade into nothingness.

What would our final legacy be? Billions of years of history, thousands of years of human thought, philosophy and ideas would all serve one thing...we would be a warning. If aliens came to our ruined cities and our empty tombs, and if they would find what we left behind in books, films and thoughts, they would see a species at war with itself. Primitive, angry, torn against each other. Instead of uniting, these people had separated, convinced that only one group, one way, was right. Instead of learning lessons on how to be good and responsible to our beautiful planet, it spent all it's time focused on this system that said not to bother with today, think only of tomorrow.

And perhaps those aliens would wonder why we spent so much time on that instead of helping each other, of loving each other, and helping to make our lives better.

They would probably wonder why we spent so much seeking to put each other down and convince each other that everyone else was wrong. They would probably wonder why we just didn’t get together and help each other.

Our only legacy, our only memory would be a warning to others. A warning not to separate each other, to apply labels to each other. To say we're saved and you're not.

That's what I don't like about christianity Jesus. I don't like how it separates, how it places humanity into different classes. Saved and wicked.

It's like cancer.

That's why I found NDE's to be so refreshing. They emphasized love, oneness, and how we will all come home in the end. No idol worship. No rituals. Just a simple message of love: Love God and love others.

Isn't that what you said? Isn't that what you said was the most important commandment, that was more important then all the others? And yet...whenever I point that out to christians, they usually just say "well yes, but..." Why? Why can they not see that it's all about love? About loving each other, helping each other, and accepting each other?

Why is it that when I try to promote universalism, some try to put it down? Why is it that some say only a group of people will be saved, while others will not? The cancer of separation shows it's head in the ugliest of ways.

I admit that i'm not perfect Jesus. I am not perfect now, and I will most likely not be perfect during this lifetime. But i'm going to try. I am damn well going to try to do the best I can. I am going to try and help the others around me, even if it is only with a joke, a smile, or a shared laugh. Couldn't the world use more of those things instead of more idols to worship?

I am not going to worship you. Why? Because I want to focus on God, not on someone who is apparently God's only son, a claim that I find ridiculous. We are all one. We are all God's children. We are all God's sons and daughters. And looking over some of your teachings, there are some I don't agree with. I don't want to hate my family. I find your saying that if someone does not hate his family, he cannot be your disciple. I don't agree with that.

If you could directly intervene here on earth Jesus and change one thing, I think I would ask you to please show people to stop placing you into such a high, unreachable position. I would ask you to please show that you are there to help them if they want it, and that they can go to God in their own way if they don't want to do it your way. I would ask you to please just stop all the idols and the separation between people.

We are all one. Why can't we act that way? Stop the threats, stop the hellfire and brimstone. Stop dividing people into groups of saved and unsaved. And just stop all the fear and the superiority.

Stop trying to prove each other right or wrong. Stop trying to put others down. Stop saying that Christianity is superior to other faiths. Stop with the books that say Jesus is the only way to heaven. Stop with the smug superiority of essays putting others down.

Stop doing those things for God's sake, and for our sake. It's killing us.

Why can't we all just get along? We're all children of God, no one is unloved or loved less then the others. We all have to play together nicely and share our toys. We don't have to spend hours debating which toy is the best, or which way pleases our daddy the most.

We're all children, and our mother/father loves us all. Why can't we just get that? We're on the playground, endlessly threatening each other and dividing each other into camps when our daddy is just outside the playground, where we can all come to him in any way we want. He is there, arms open, just waiting for us to come. All we have to do is walk to him.

Why would we need you to get to our daddy Jesus? Can't I just come to him as I am? Can't I just go to God's safe arms and be with him as I am, in the way that works for best of us? Can't I just be with my God?

Can't I just love others without being threatened with hell?

Can't I just help others without worrying about damnation or separation from others?

Why can't I just be as I am? Can't I go through life as I am, as I have been forged and created to be? Can't I just be myself?

Why can't we just be kind to each other?

Why can't we all just get along?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favorite comment by the Bill O'Reilly's and others is that "Christianity is under attack." Let me see if I have this straight. Here is a religion that teaches that anyone who doesn't accept it will fry forever in hell--what am I supposed to respect about that?

Tim Simmons said...

"Is reading a man's "lord, liar, lunatic" theory more important then comforting someone who is sad about something?"

Lewis conveniently leaves out the most probable option: Jesus never existed.

But assuming that the gospel Jesus did exist... couldn't he have been a normal man whose teachings became lengendary with time and the supernatural events were all added later and never happened?

That is as feasible as his three. The option that Jesus never existed would be quickly laughed at by all Christians but that is the one I believe.


I like Occam's Razor. :)


Tim

Bentley said...

God who? And which God?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian,

your 'letter to Jesus' is pretty passionate, while anger is o.kay i think you are exerting yourself a bit much. Yes there are many hypocritical things that people do in life and some are done in the name of religion, that does not mean the principles of Christianity are evil, that just means somenone is abusing them to do what they want. If you really are concerned about what Jesus died on the cross for don't rely on what other people tell you ie. your ex-priest or whoever, get up and check it out for yourself. Read the bible and figure out if Christians really know what they are talking about but more importantly understand about the principles they follow. I am not particularly familiar with them myself but don't be responsible in helping create more animosity in the world, there is quite enough already.

Bentley said...

Hi anon, I mean Doug!

TruthSeeker said...

Here we have some interesting questions posed by Bishop John S. Spong, a man who has studied the bible from end to end, and has landed christianity with more Q's than A's. Judge for yourselves !

A Call for a New Reformation

by John S. Spong

In the 16th century the Christian Church, which had been the source of much of the stability of the western world, entered a period of internal and violent upheaval. In time this upheaval came to be called the Protestant Reformation, but during the violence itself, it was referred to by many less attractive adjectives. The institution that called itself the body of Christ broke first into debate, then acrimony, then violence and counter-violence and finally into open warfare between Protestant Christians and Catholic Christians. It produced the Hundred Years War and the conflict between England and Spain that came to a climax in the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588. That destruction was widely interpreted as a defeat for the Catholic God of Spain at the hands of the Protestant God of England.

Yet, when looking at that ecclesiastical conflict from the vantage point of more than four hundred years, there is surprise at how insignificant were the theological issues dividing the two sides. Neither side was debating such core teachings of Christianity as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, Jesus as the incarnate son of God, the reality of heaven and hell, the place of the cross in the plan of salvation or the role of such sacraments as Baptism and Communion. These rather were faith assertions held in common.

Of course this conflict was not without theological issues, though they seem quite trivial in retrospect. Protestant Christians and Catholic Christians disagreed, for example, about whether salvation was achieved by faith alone, as Luther contended, or whether faith without works was dead as the Vatican, quoting the Epistle of James, argued. There was also debate over the proper use of scripture and the role of ordination. Despite the hostile appellations of "heretic" hurled at Protestants and "anti-Christ" hurled at Catholics, anyone viewing this debate from the vantage point of this century would see that, while an acrimonious and unpleasant fight, it was nonetheless a fight that pitted Christian believers against Christian believers. The Reformation was not an attempt to reformulate the Christian faith for a new era. It was rather a battle over issues of Church order. The time had not arrived in which Christians would be required to rethink the basic and identifying marks of Christianity itself.

It is my conviction that such a moment is facing the Christian world today. The very heart and soul of Christianity will be the content of this reformation. The debate which has been building for centuries has now erupted into public view. All the past ecclesiastical efforts to keep it at bay or deny its reality have surely failed and will continue to do so. The need for a new theological reformation began when Copernicus and Galileo removed this planet from its previous supposed location at the center of the universe, where human life was thought to bask under the constant attention of a humanly defined parental deity. That revolution in thought produced an angle of vision radically different from the one in which the Bible was written and through which the primary theological tenets of the Christian faith were formed.

Before that opening salvo of revolution had been absorbed, Sir Isaac Newton, who charted the mathematically fixed physical laws of the universe, weighed into the debate. After Newton the Church found itself in a world in which the concepts of magic, miracle, and divine intervention as explanations of anything, could no longer be offered with intellectual integrity. Once more people were forced to enter into and to embrace a reality vastly different from the one employed in the traditional language of their faith tradition.

Next came Charles Darwin who related human life to the world of biology more significantly than anyone had heretofore imagined. He also confronted the human consciousness with concepts diametrically opposed to the traditional Christian world view. The Bible began with the assumption that God had created a finished and perfect world from which human beings had fallen away in an act of cosmic rebellion. Original sin was the reality in which all life was presumed to live. Darwin postulated instead an unfinished and thus imperfect creation out of which human life was still evolving. Human beings did not fall from perfection into sin as the Church had taught for centuries; we were evolving, and indeed are still evolving, into higher levels of consciousness. Thus the basic myth of Christianity that interpreted Jesus as a divine emissary who came to rescue the victims of the fall from the results of their original sin became inoperative. So did the interpretation of the cross of Calvary as the moment of divine sacrifice when the ransom for sin was paid. Established Christianity clearly wobbled under the impact of Darwin's insights, but Christian leaders pretended that if Darwin could not be defeated, he could at least be ignored. It was a vain hope.


Darwin was followed by Sigmund Freud who analyzed the symbols of Christianity and found in them manifestations of a deep-seated infantile neurosis. The God understood as a father figure, who guided ultimate personal decisions, answered our prayers, and promised rewards and punishment based upon our behavior was not designed to call anyone into maturity. This view of God issued rather into either a religious mentality of passive dependency or an aggressive secular rejection of all things religious. After Freud, it was not surprising to see Christianity degenerate into an increasingly shrill biblical fundamentalism where thinking was not encouraged and preconceived pious answers were readily given, but where neither genuine questions nor maturity were allowed or encouraged. As Christianity moved more and more in this direction, contemporary people, who think with modern minds, began to be repelled and to drop out of their faith commitments into the Church Alumni Association. Between these two poles of mindless fundamentalism and empty secularism are found the mainline churches of Christendom, both Catholic and Protestant. They are declining numerically, seem lost theologically, are concerned more about unity than truth, and are wondering why boredom is what people experience inside church walls. The renewal of Christianity will not come from fundamentalism, secularism or the irrelevant mainline tradition. If there is nothing more than this on the horizon then I see no future for the enterprise we call the Christian faith.

My sense is that history has come to a point where only one thing will save this venerable faith tradition at this critical time in Christian history, and that is a new Reformation far more radical than Christianity has ever before known and that this Reformation must deal with the very substance of that faith. This Reformation will recognize that the pre-modern concepts in which Christianity has traditionally been carried will never again speak to the post-modern world we now inhabit. This Reformation will be about the very life and death of Christianity. Because it goes to the heart of how Christianity is to be understood, it will dwarf in intensity the Reformation of the 16th century. It will not be concerned about authority, ecclesiastical polity, valid ordinations and valid sacraments. It will be rather a Reformation that will examine the very nature of the Christian faith itself. It will ask whether or not this ancient religious system can be refocused and re-articulated so as to continue living in this increasingly non-religious world.

Martin Luther ignited the Reformation of the 16th century by nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517 the 95 Theses that he wished to debate. I will publish this challenge to Christianity in The Voice. I will post my theses on the Internet and send copies with invitations to debate them to the recognized Christian leaders of the world. My theses are far smaller in number than were those of Martin Luther, but they are far more threatening theologically. The issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these:

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.

So I set these theses today before the Christian world and I stand ready to debate each of them as we prepare to enter the third millennium.

bill said...

<<< My favorite comment by the Bill O'Reilly's and others is that "Christianity is under attack." Let me see if I have this straight. Here is a religion that teaches that anyone who doesn't accept it will fry forever in hell--what am I supposed to respect about that? >>>

I once heard O-reilly - to one of his "guests" that didn't see things the same way he did- say, Sir, Faith is one of the "Gifts" from God. It sounded to me like Bill got to open all the presents.

The comment sounded so "infantile" coming out of the mouth of such a "professor". It made me laugh.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Thanks Ian, for sharing your catharsis with us. It was a great read, and I can see the commone frustration we've shared.

The "lord, liar, or lunatic" argument is a strawman that's been very effective in convincing droves of people that Jesus must be God. It's a strawman because it chooses three extreme examples of what Jesus could've been and the "facts" of his life are fixed around these notions. There are other possibilities, but no one ever looks at those.

Anony,

"Read the bible and figure out if Christians really know what they are talking about but more importantly understand about the principles they follow."

The Bible is no indicator as to whether Christians 'really know what they are talking about.' Furthermore, there is ample evidence that many fail to follow even the most basic principles they claim to espouse, or apply them only when it's convenient for them. Yet these same Christians are more than happy to condemn others for the same thing.

You're right there's enough animosity in the world already. However, I don't see Ian's letter as generating more animosity. I see it as a perfectly healthy expression of the frustration and anger that accompanies a departure from the myth of Christianity.

Dano said...

TruthSeeker wrote: ^ABOVE^

"Here we have some interesting questions posed by Bishop John S. Spong, a man who has studied the bible from end to end, and has landed Christianity with more Q's than A's. Judge for yourselves!

A Call for a New Reformation

by John S. Spong.................."

Dan replies to TruthSeeker:

I have read posts on this site over the past several years by many brilliant people who have come to the same conclusions as Spong.

Reading his challenges was like rereading most of my comments, and the comments of the regulars here.

After a while it becomes "Self evident" that our understanding today, of how the universe works, and how we evolved makes all traditional theology obsolete.

When we understand what miracles were just natural events in nature, and why people thought the things that they did, two thousand years ago, it all looks pretty silly. You can, with the exception of some of the moral teaching, throw the whole Judeo Christian history into the trash, along with everything that has evolved out of it.

I agree with Spong in that we simply cannot keep talking about God as if we know what it is. We have to find another way to talk about what created, us and why. A new "Reformation" if you will!

We know a FORCE created everything and a little about the physical properties of that creation, but not enough to be able to discuss it without ending every statement with a question mark.

The "True Believers" have always been around and always will, because there will always be people who are not satisfied what they see in the world and what they see in them selves, and they will forever try to project something magical and mysterious onto the reality of what life on this planet is.

It helps them to cope, when they look around and see the millions and millions of suffering people, and the literally countless instances of cruelty that is our history.

The only difference between them and most of us who are not willing to believe fairy tales any more is that we have come to realize that any prayers to a theist entity are not likely to be answered, so we may as well spend all of our time and energy here looking inward.

We may as well quit taking religion so seriously, and begin to realize that we are all in this together, regardless of what we believe.

Dan (AGNOSTIC,humanist,realist,rationalist)

SpaceMonk said...

Ian,
You said it all.
I agree with everything you've said and have thought all those things myself.
I love you man.

...and to anonymous: WTF!
Did you even read the post?
That seemed like some kind of stock reply based on a half thought through stereotype impression of people at this website.
You show no comprehension at all.

LadySidhe said...

You ranted about a lot of questions I've had myself, and rather than rehash it all in my post, I'll just say, "Right on."

John said...

I agree with Ian to a point. We really do need to spend less time on ritual and a lot more time on loving and providing for each other, on helping each other however we can. Trying to prove that there is no truth in Christianity (so that conservatives don't win the fight over abortion or gay marriage) is a waste of time that you can spend on doing just what Ian said that we should do.

Firecrow said...

John, you clever logician you. What a way to take a post, directed at ritualistic christianity, and reverse it towards anyone who attempts to discredit ultra-evangelical christianity, as if anyone in that act, is wasting their time as well.

Stating that time spent in rituals such as; "eating of the sacrament" which symbolically represents the cannibalistic act of eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood, is more productive than the time people spend trying to prevent the ultra-evangelicals from establishing national laws that could require everyone to engage such ritualistic acts, is absurd.

Taking the stance of a liberal christian, doesn't remove the ancient rituals. The only difference between a liberal christian and an ultra-evangelical christian, is in how much energy they spend in carrying out their rituals.

Anonymous said...

John it's easy to just sit back and say we need to take care of our fellow man, when so much is being done right now, take Habitat For Humanity, The Red Cross, etc. etc. Who in America is in need right now? Can you think of or name anyone who has a particular need right now? If so, then you are a hypocrite. Take the homeless people they've all elected to be in that position, most could hold a job if they were not too lazy, they could wash windows or pick up trash, but would prefer to live in a cardboard box and have people come around and feel sorry for them. Most homeless people are herion users or mentally insane, why does the US not recognize these people as being in need and help them. instead we'll spend 400 billion dollars on a war in some other country, while the people curse us and tell us to get out, rather than help our own people here in the USA. Oh I forgot, we're a Christian Nation.

tariq said...

"And I want to tell you one thing Jesus: I have no interest in worshipping you. None. Nada. Zilch."

WHEN DID JESUS EVER ASK HIS FOLLOWERS TO WORSHIP HIM??!!

Courious George said...

Tim Simmons said... "That is as feasible as his three. The option that Jesus never existed would be quickly laughed at by all Christians but that is the one I believe. I like Occam's Razor. :)"

Tim, i just have one Question, can you prove your theory that Jesus never existed? if so tell me . . . i really want to know. History tell the story of Jesus, our calender even marks his birth, Josephus a Jewish Historian talks about him. I like Occam's Razor, too, I guess I just need some proof for your statement so i can tell others.

Because right now Occam's Razor is saying that Jesus did exist!

lillaya said...

THe respect you have for Jesus is evident. It may not be the easiest thing to do (follow Jesus) but its s worth it. All of you who doubt and feel so frustrated by trying to follow the word of God are going to find out that it is a lot harder to not follow God than it is to because when yo find yourself in a situation where you have nowhere to turn and all those that you thought would be there for you all the people you think love and care for you flee from around you. You will have no one to lean on and its then that your faith will be made manifested it is then that Jesus will show you that He is the son of God. The Bible tells you repeatedly who He is but sometimes people want a sign....just remember call on Jesus! Watch HIm do what He said He will do

Jim Arvo said...

Curious George,

Let's talk "evidence", not "proof", okay? I'll give you some facts that suggest Jesus may have been mythical. Then you can try to offer some evidence that he was real. Does that sound reasonable?

First, let me address the evidence that you already provided. "History" does not tell of Jesus, only anonymous gospels that liberally copied from and redacted one another and lifted phrases from the OT. There is not one sentence written by a contemporary of Jesus that mentions him. The famous passage in Josephus is very likely a late interpolation partly because the passage does not fit the flow of the text, the earliest copy is from the 4th century, and NOBODY cites this passage before that.

Now, here is what I would like for you to consider:

1) The earliest epistles (those of Paul) mention no historical details of Jesus. From Paul's letters one would not be able to determine whether Jesus had been a living human or a spiritual being like Mithra, Osiris, or Tammuz.

2) Nearly the entire passion narrative was formed by piecing together out-of-context passages from the OT--a process known as midrash. If actual historical facts had been known about Jesus, why did the evangelists need to "learn" about him from the OT?

3) Why were there Jesus sects and early church fathers who denied the physical existence of Jesus well into the 2nd century?

4) Why was there apparently no interest in visiting the cites of Jesus' birth, sermons, death, and burial until the 2nd century?

5) Why is there no artwork depicting Jesus until the 4th century?

All of these things admit a trivial answer if the earliest Jesus cults began with a purely spiritual Jesus (just like Mithra, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Isis, Dionysus, Horus, and Tammuz). However, each of these is quite baffling if there was an historical Jesus behind it all. This is NOT proof that Jesus did not exist. However, it certainly raises serious doubts.

Comments?

boomSLANG said...

Curious George...Tim, i just have one Question, can you prove your theory that Jesus never existed?

'Hope it's no problem for me to butt-in briefly....

Georgie, Theories, such as the one you inquire about, can never be "proven", in an absolute sense. For instance, you cannot "prove" that George Jetson never existed, in that very same sense. This is why one must(As Jim Arvo always says) marshal whatever evidence they have, that affirms the positive claim.[paraphrased] 'Hope that helps.

Curious George...History tell the story of Jesus..

History "tell the story" of Quetzacoatl.

Curious George...our calender even marks his[Jesus'] birth..

And "our calender" also "marks" Halloween. Now, is that indicative that the pint-sized zombies, ghosts, and gobblins who show up at our doors, are real?

Curious George...Josephus a Jewish Historian talks about him.

So you're Jewish, I take it?

Shalom!

boomSLANG said...

lillaya...THe respect you have for Jesus is evident.

Lillaya, while I'm confident that you addressing the author of the article, I still think it's a good idea to address that person by name, because on the off-chance that you were speaking generally, such a statement would've been a heinous faux pas. To be sure---I have as much "respect" for "Jesus", as any Christian has for "Gumby". Furthermore, I don't support the notion that "Jesus", or any "God", is needed to become spiritual, and/or, in tune with the one's self, or the universe.

lillaya...It may not be the easiest thing to do (follow Jesus) but its s worth it.

Well, you're half right---it certainly is NOT "easy" to follow a "someone" who:

a) is not tangible, b) is not audible, c) is not visible, d) holds us responsible for someone else's crime, e) is in control of the universe, but comes unglued if a tree won't produce fruit, f) wants us to hate our own families, g) wants us to hate our own lives, h) wants us to believe hammers swim, i) wants us to believe shrubberies, donkeys, and snakes at one time spoke the human language, j) wants us to believe that he was murdered, but at the same time, is alive, k) wants us to believe disease can be healed with bird's blood, l) wants us to believe blindness can be cured with magic, and if not that, spittle works, m) wants us to believe that his followers know the One Truth, when there are now 33,000 some-odd split-offs of this "Truth".

No...it most certainly is NOT easy to "follow someone" like that. But then again, that's what "Faith" is for, right? Right..like McDonalds has "Faith" that burgers, fries, and shakes don't cause obesity. (You'd think they'd put treadmills in the playground, but that would be admitting defeat)

lillaya...All of you who doubt and feel so frustrated by trying to follow the word of God are going to find out that it is a lot harder to not follow God than[it is to follow God] because when [you] find yourself in a situation where you have nowhere to turn and all those [who] you thought would be there for you all the people you think love and care for you flee from around you.

*The fact that some human beings are not trustworthy, is not evidence that flying conscious disembodied beings exist.

lillaya...You will have no one to lean on and its then that your faith will be made manifested it is then that Jesus will show you that He is the son of God.

Let's review: See here*, above.

lillaya...The Bible tells you repeatedly who He is but sometimes people want a sign....just remember call on Jesus! Watch HIm do what He said He will do

Check this out---it's been two THOUSAND years, and "Jesus" still hasn't done what people said "Jesus said" he would do. Couple that, with a quick review of list "a - m", above, and it's pretty evident that no such creature exists.

Jim Arvo said...

Oh, I forgot to respond to Curious George's comment about the calendar. I hope you realize that the calendar we use today was not established until the 6th century CE. Christian theologians simply guessed at when their savior might have been born and counted from there. It's not based on any recorded event.

I'm surprised you didn't mention Christmas or Easter. Perhaps you realize that those too were guesses; in fact, they were simply adopted from Pagan traditions, such as Mithra's birthday (December 25), and they correspond to winter solstice and vernal equinox, respectively. Again, there is no recorded date for the Christian savior being born or resurrected. Somehow, everybody forgot to jot those events down on their Babylonian calendars. Go figure.