12/01/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Conversion, Spiritual Epiphanies and Mystical Experiences

By Dave, the WM



I've never met a single person who became a zealous Christian after being presented an intellectual reason to believe. In fact, I would dare to say that there has not been one real conversion in history that can be entirely attributed to a simple, unemotional presentation of facts. That's not how religion works. Religion finds fertile ground in the field of a person's emotions. If a few random twigs on the periphery of a Christian's faith suffer damage during a violent storm of logic, the roots of that faith tend to remain deeply buried, far out of site, and untouched.

I've never been accused of being overly sensitive or romantic, yet my own conversion to Christianity was highly charged with emotion. Tears ran down my face. I trembled uncontrollably. I felt that I was having a face-to-face meeting with the everlasting Godhead. Even today, the experience is strong in my memory. "How to Witness" classes I attended in following years encouraged me to rely on my subjective emotional conversion with statements like, "Unbelievers can't argue with your personal testimony," which meant no one could refute your personal experience.

Here I was in a witnessing class learning how to "disciple the nations," yet the most reliable weapon against unbelief is subjective personal experience?

Is an emotional experience really that reliable? Does an emotional experience provide solid enough ground on which to build a life?

Admittedly, much of life rests on just exactly that type of foundation. For instance, do any of us scientifically and analytically pick a mate? Or, is our selection usually based on something less well defined, such as emotions and/or hormones? Do we choose our food after a thorough nutritional analysis? Or, is our dinner choice usually based on something considerably less researched, like what would taste good today?

Our religious choices fall along the same lines.

While a Christian, I was also a musician, heavily involved in the music ministry at a Charismatic church. I understood music’s power and knew how to use music to play on the emotions of the congregation. If you doubt that music has this ability, to play on your emotions, try watching an adventure or mystery movie with the sound turned off – just read subtitles instead. See if your anticipation for “what will happen next” is nearly as intense as compared to when the soundtrack is playing underneath the action.

When the music at church was "right," and the volume swelled just so, ecstatic utterances — tongues, words of knowledge, prophecies — would bubble out of people's mouths like milk boiling in a pot. After the service I'd hear, "Wow, the Spirit was really moving today," and "The Lord really ministered to me today," and "I felt the Lord all morning," and so on.

I'd speculate about what would happen if we abandoned music during the services. I questioned whether anyone would still enjoy worshipping God. I wondered if the Holy Spirit would be felt at all.

Feelings. That's really what the bulk of Christianity and religion is really all about: fabricated, fluffy, feelings.

Although I eventually wearied of the shallow emotionalism, I didn't immediately give up on faith in the magical Christ. "People will disappoint you, but Christ is faithful!" That's what I told myself for the next 15 years.

I went from church to church, searching for the real thing. "I" never "found it" in church. Along the way I catered to my appetite for deeper truth by consuming theological, historical, apologetic, and inspirational books of every stripe. My education wasn't formal, but it was extensive. Gaining that knowledge altered my views dramatically. In time I began to realize how much Christianity had mutated over the centuries, and how nearly every "truth" that modern day believers hold dear evolved over time. Today’s 20-century-old Christianity would be unrecognizable to its First Century progenitors.

The details of each Christian "testimony" are varied, but the root of every conversion is some sort of a spiritual (emotional) epiphany. And the "high" that religion can bring will carry a new believer along for a considerble while. Eventually, if the believer has a questing mind, doubts will arise, and that's when the vast libraries of apologetic books are brought into play.

As an aside, apologetic books sell by the millions, to believers. Unbelievers don't generally purchase apologetic books. Apologetic books are not a tool for evangelism. Conversion is based entirely on emotion and not because the unbeliever finally collected enough information to be converted. While I've never known of a single person who was converted solely from reading an apologetic book, I do know people who have "backslidden" and later rededicated their lives to Christ after reading an apologetic book. However, rededication is not the same as conversion.

Christian logic is primarily the armchair variety: "When I look at the stars, sky, trees, and my new baby, it just seems logical to conclude (insert here: 'It just feels right to me') that the world was created by an incomprehensible, loving, spiritual entity. Therefore, Jesus is the Son of God!" And, "This experience was wonderful. I was filled with a feeling of love so powerful, it was simply overwhelming. Therefore, Jesus is the Son of God."

So, how to interpret personal conversion experiences? If a harbinger of truth is knocking at the door, talking about his or her unquantifiable ecstatic "miracle," and seems dogmatically sure of his spiritual experience, what's a skeptic to do? Is it true that no one can argue with a Christian's personal experience?

If Christianity were the only modern religion that provided powerful, life-changing, mystical experiences, then those things might add validity to their beliefs. If only Christianity provided these unexplained feelings, it might be reasonable to conclude that Christianity is unique. The problem is that disciples of other religions also have dramatic stories.

Here's one:
I was born in China during the Cultural Revolution and brought up as a typical atheist. We were educated to believe that religious theories were made up by rulers to manipulate people's minds and maintain their political power.
I came to this country in 1996 as a graduate student at the University at Albany. A few months after I arrived, a lady approached me outside a post office in Latham. When she offered me a religious pamphlet and asked if I believed in God, I proudly answered, "No!"

I can never forget the shock and pitying expression on her face. She said, "You don't believe in God? You don't believe that God created human beings?"
I found that idea inconceivable and pitied her for thinking that way.
One day in 1997, my best friend showed me a book she recently got from her parents in China. It was entitled "Zhuan Falun" (Turning the Law Wheel) by Li Hongzhi, founder of a traditional Chinese spiritual practice known as Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa. I opened it and could hardly put it down. Page after page, my lifetime questions were being answered one by one. I recalled my encounter at the post office, thought about the true meaning of life and moved away from atheism. The world became new to me. I finished reading the book in two days -- the happiest days in my life. — Yu Chen


Here's another:
(The) Hindu religion is a source of happiness in this and the other world. No other religion seems to be equal to Hindu religion. Those having mean and unwise bent of mind and give up this religion are wicked and base. Such people suffer greatly in this world and even Yamraj (god of death) does not get satisfied while punishing them. We are wise and learned. Why should we forsake Hindu religion? We have a permanent commitment and love for protecting our religion. — Guru Teg Bahadur


And this one:
"While I was speaking in Southern California a number of years ago, I met four young men who were members of Hare Krishna. It wasn't a planned meeting, we just happened to strike up a conversation as we were crossing the same busy street in Los Angeles. To my utter shock, three of these lost souls were Jews. As I listened attentively to the testimonials of these oddly dressed fellows, each of them carefully described how their newfound religion had transformed their lives. They joyfully spoke of their joining this eastern sect and I could sense the elation and inner peace they felt. They were certain that what they believed was true and it was quite apparent that they were more spiritual now than they had ever been in their former lives." — Rabbi Tovia Singer


I'd like to wind this down with a quote from George Boyd
Conversion by fundamentalistic groups is begun by introducing doubts about one's fundamental beliefs about life, and using irrational fear to coerce confession of sin, repentance, and adoption of a primary religious belief system (faith). After this primary belief system has been established, basic guidelines for belief, morality, lifestyle, and behavior are inculcated and shaped through socialization into the "new family" of the Church. Finally, through asking for and challenging individuals to make progressively deeper commitments to the Christian community and spiritual life, they are led to a greater participation in the works of Christian charity, development of the church and active ministry. Rare individuals may undergo the transformation of character and reliance on inner guidance indicative of holiness.

Fundamentalists need to recognize, however, that viable and personally rewarding solutions to the quest for personal meaning and value, and spiritual growth, across cultures and throughout history, have not been restricted solely to the Christian Church. They also need to appreciate that the same free will they so highly respect, does not function either freely or rationally when conflict is introduced into the subconscious mind through conversion tactics using fear, shame, guilt and the creation of doubt. If we are to survive into the 21st Century, we must recognize that we live in a world of multiple cultures and pluralistic religious beliefs, and tolerance and respect for others' choices, however different from our own, must guide our actions.


OK, so what's the point?

Christian conversion is emotional, much like falling in love, or going into an angry rage, or having an episode of hysterical laughter. Once the passion subsides, it's often difficult to explain why it was ever felt in the first place. Emotional feelings can't be proved or disproved, but they aren't reality. Emotions exist, in essence, only in the mind.

In the decades since my emotional "real-to-me" conversion, I've left Christianity, obviously. I now have a better understanding of how my own mind processes information and the role my imagination plays in filling out my psyche. I realize now that I was initially so convinced of the truth of Christianity, so affected by the emotional appeal of an evangelist, so wanting to connect with the true God, so filled with guilt over my 11-year-old sinful life, that when I knelt down and prayed the prayer of faith, my mind fabricated a significant emotional experience that absolutely blew my mind. But that's the only place that experience existed — in my mind.

What do you think?

91 comments:

Mrs. WM said...

Worth reading! Great article!

twincats said...

I was never converted, people have tried, but when I was a Lutheran, I just found these attemps insulting.

I did, however, long for some moment of inspiration, something, anything, to let me know that I was on the right path. I never got it, of course. I thought I wasn't worthy, that my heart wasn't fertile ground for the Holy Spirit.

After I left Chritianity, I came to the conclusion that I'm just not wired for profound emotional experiences. I can't be hypnotized, either. I got up and left the stage of a hypnotist's show in Vegas because nothing happened to me and I was wrecking the show. That's when I knew I was never going to have the emotional experience you speak of. I guess it's a sort of neurological defect, but I'm not at all unhappy about it.

Anonymous said...

You proved a very interesting point. I myself have started to observe the ways of emotion and how it affects everybody's choices. One thing I have found to realize is that feelings can be great things which bring about much happiness, but it is when feelings become the sole basis of our decisions, that is when they bring about slavery and death.

I often hear people say, "Well if it will make you feel happy." But really how we feel often changes and when we base our decisions on something that changes we have a problem. That is why we must choose to be joyful (a mindset not an emotion) and stay that way so our decisions will be based on common sense and previous personal experience.

To get back on track here, I found it very intiguing how you talked about your conversion and how powerful it was emotionally. But then you slowly started to move away from the church and what not. And I am wondering myself about conversion. One of my questions to you was did you want to be converted or did just happen? And did you feel like a need for acceptance from other human beings or was it just a breakdown?

Because for me the answers to these questions would raise interesting ideas. The idea about why humans need acceptance in the first place? Why are emotions so powerful? Where did emotions come from? And yes because emotions are controlled in the mind then it must have scientific proof. But from just taking a look that, the mind, the center of human processes. From observing that, and to process it in my own mind, it seems to me that there is speculation of something that created that brain.

I'm not sure if you are agnostic or anything, I know I still have alot to learn about life but from looking at science I must say that in my thought process, science proves the existence of a god, not against it.

And it is also very interesting the examples you gave. Yeah there probably is alot of different experiences tied to a lot of different religions.

But what you said "Feelings. That's really what the bulk of Christianity and religion is really all about: fabricated, fluffy, feelings."

I'm not sure logically that I can believe that. I understand where you come from about it. That there are alot of "Christians" who are really fluffy and fake, but just going back to 1st century Christianity, Paul and his conversion, it does prove what you say about emotion. But how so quickly? How so passionately? I mean I'm still asking these questions myself, but without emotion, life seems not as life like. How could Saul have been converted to Paul a complete 180 degrees? It seems like his conversion almost defies logic.

If all we have as humans is logic and statistics we will live as robots. But when I look at my own personal beliefs, it is possible that my mind convinces it self of these beliefs but then again that brings be back to the circle that then wow how powerful my mind is and how did I even get something like it, how did it get there?

But I am definately still searching for answers. Emotion is tied to religion as it is anything that is personal. But from thinking without using my emotions to overcome my logic, religion is not based solely on emotion. And if Christianity is to be considered a 'religion' than I am not religious.

You most likely do have a vaster knowledge of this subject than I but this is just the first thing I thought of after reading and reviewing your article.

Thank you for listening to my opinion and I'm positive that I can learn alot from you.

At the very least I am thinking for myself. If not that I am trying to live what I believe as well.

chris said...

I was bored a few nights ago and was flipping through the TV channels. I started watching The Way of the Master. It featured Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. They showed clips of Kirk and another woman going out into the streets and interviewing people on camera.

They began by asking "Are you a good person?" Of course the people said yes, they were. Then they were asked,"Have you ever lied?" The answer was yes. "Then what does that make you?" A liar. "Have you ever stolen anything?" Yes. "Then what does that make you?" A thief. "Have you ever taken the lord's name in vain?" Yes. "Then what does that make you? A blasphemer." "Have you ever lusted after anyone?"
One guy said no, so they said, "Are you a living breathing man?" (in other words, it's a perfectly natural thing to do on one hand, but a SIN on the other - they didn't get the contradiction in their own remark).

It was amazing. The guy was getting all sweaty and nervous and was wiping his brow and his head with his hand. The woman totally broke down in tears. These christians took these people and worked on them emotionally, making them see themselves as the lowest most vile creatures they could ever imagine, then offered them jebus as the solution. They were pros.

I noticed that they never asked these people if they had ever told the truth, or paid for anything, or said kind words to anyone, or fell in love with someone. They would not allow them to see themselves in any kind of positive light.

I know that's how xtianity works, but to see it in action like that really bothered me. I couldn't get it off my mind. How sweet it is to be on this side of the fence and to be able to recognize these master manipulators for what they are.

"Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel." Horace Walpole

chris

Wes said...

Y'know, I often wonder how many takes they have to record before they get the answers/results they are looking for. Geez - I think for every 'ideal' take they record, they probably have to piss off thirty others. Kirk and Ray have got to be some of the biggest flakes representing the christian faith. Har har. And good - they need more people like them to make christians look stupid... -Wes.

jfraysse said...

Dave (WM): Thanks for sharing this – it takes balls and I feel your pain. Gee, now I’m emotional !

I sense some embarrassment over your past religious history - me too. So should I conclude that I should never trust my feelings again? I hate this thought because it sounds horribly boring and for all my love of life I do, so much, wish to be interesting!
Besides, hot chicks don’t like logic – just kiddin’ ladies, just kiddin’, please no hate email!

But are our emotions bad? Are we evolving away from them? Should we? It seems to me we must. Let’s assume that we all evolved from “pond scum” or bacteria in deep sea volcanic vents or from meteorites from other life-bearing planets, it doesn’t matter, the point is that we are evolved creatures. Our emotions have also evolved with us, ostensibly to help us, otherwise, why would we have them?

Let’s look at two basic emotions: “Flight v Fight and “Wonder v Worship”. The “Flight v Fight” emotion is primal and relates to self preservation, that is, what we don’t think we can defeat, we run from or avoid – basic. The “Wonder v Worship” emotion also appears to be primal and relates ultimately to our intellectual survival, that is, when we don’t understand something, we seem to either wonder about it (explore it) or worship it – again basic. Note that the worship choice ALWAYS seems to involve some sort of sacrifice! I have never understood this. From recorded history, we started thousands of years ago, with many gods needing sacrifice and have evolved to a more monotheist approach that still needs sacrifice (Jesus, your money, time, your life’s work, etc). Why would a God, especially a creator God, need the sacrifices of mere humans? Puzzling and Depressing, methinks, but I have digressed.

Our emotions bond us together as families, foster love, compassion, even give us a sense of morality, right and wrong and ,in general, help us to survive as a species, I suppose. But they also seem to be our undoing. We are naturally “joiners”. We want to belong to someone or something or some group. Our emotions also seem to make us “tribal”, with a “yea, for us (or me) - boo for you” attitude. This is the root of all human conflict and wars. So, is the laying down of our emotions and, therefore, our tendencies toward religion ultimately good or do we just naturally need these emotions so we don’t over populate the Earth? A grim thought! Perhaps Mr. Spock was right! Pure Logic Rocks!

Lorena said...

Great article as usual, Dave. I agree with every word.

I took a rhetoric class a couple of years ago, and while doing homework, I found an article by Campus Crusade for Christ. The article explained how to use the appeal to pathos when evangelizing.

The appeal to pathos is the ability to reach the audience emotionally. As an example, the article told the story of a girl who cried while telling someone that he would go to hell if he didn't believe in Jesus.

After that, I could clearly read the preachers' intentions when they appealed to my emotions. It was hard to stomach.

Anonymous said...

Your article is truly food for thought. As a 70+ woman,I've been a "church-goer" and deeply involved participant all my life, and still have so many questions.I still have such numbing guilt and cannot find a reason for it. Thank you for opening a new window for thought.

Anonymous said...

C.S. Lewis went from Christian to atheism and back to Christianity after realizing the logical and amzing lifestyle it had to offer. He was an athiest from age 13 to 31.

G.K. Chesterton wrote his book Orthodoxy describing what he believed is the perfect life and after writing it realized that it was very similar to the intricate and simple teachings of Christianity.

C.S. Lewis also describes emotion very well like how you said two people "fall in love."

"...the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also many things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all.Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called 'being in love' usually does not last. if the old fairy-tale ending 'They lived happily ever after' is taken to mean 'They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married', then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesireable if it were...but of course seizing to be 'in love' need not mean ceasing to love. Love in the second sense-love as distinct from 'being in love'-is not merely a feeling. A deep unity..."

I am not sure how long or when you decided to stop being a Christian, but one thing that would be interesting to know is how it happened.

The deconversion, was it emotional? Was it knowledge? Was it both?

You bring up a very good point about Christianity from 1st century to now. Take Rob Bell's analogy of God and Christianity. God is like a trampoline, the doctrines or 'truths' that try to describe Christians certain beliefs about God are the springs. They hold God up, but they are also very flexible and can be interpreted differently for each different time but still hold the same basic truth. We must read into the original translation of what Jesus actually said not only what English translation has to say.

The Church as a body and not as a place is always in need of reforming back to original context and beliefs, so that it doesn't stray away from the truth. And I agree it has moved away from some of the original purposes. But still God is a trampoline in which we invite others to jump with us.

We don't try to prove each other wrong we invite people to experience God personally and collectively and enjoy Him.

Many 'Christians" do not do so. And that is why there is always a need for reformation.

Dave8 said...

Some humanity consciously and deliberately uses communication to influence the environment to the perceived best interest of the self.

Some humanity non-deliberately and semi-consciously uses communication to influence the environment to the perceived best interest of the self.

All humanity is influencing their environment, some more aware of their efforts than others. For the observer, it's just a matter of determining the impelling drive of the individual.

It't the observer's responsibility to understand the underlying drive of such rhetoric, and unfortunately many are either incapable or complacent.

Chris said...

Hey Jfraysse, I don't think we'll evolve way from emotionalism toward a more rational mind anytime soon. Here's why: intelligent, thoughtful, individualistic people have fewer babies and at a later age, meaning the birth rate for intelligent people is lower. At least in developed countries. In a way, like it or not, it's the sheep of society that have the upper hand as far as survival goes.

One ethical question I've been battling myself over is this: should I have kids in the future? On the one hand, this would subject the world and its resources to the added pressures of additional human beings, and I strongly believe that we need to reach a population equilibrium sooner rather than later if we want to avoid disaster. On the other hand, though, what if I can raise children who are intelligent and can make a positive difference in this world? (Of course, it's funny that many religions promote reproduction so their children can change the world!)

When it comes down to it, it's not going to be a purely rational decision, and my spouse will have her opinions and desires, but it's something to think about... And I've heard there's a lot of joy in raising children, a major part of the human experience that I might like to be a part of.

How's that for bringing a tangent full-circle? (Okay, I realize it's not completely related... gosh I go on and on and on when I'm tired... I could keep on writing for hours... blah blah blah...

Chris said...

By the way, I forgot to mention (though I implied) that intelligence isn't always the most important determinant of fitness for survival. Perhaps a huge natural disaster will strike this world and it turns out that the athletic meatheads survive because, though the intelligent people might be able to engineer the A380, it's the jocks who have the raw animal instincts that, at least right now, have little benefit to humanity outside of real estate development and professional sports.

Perhaps being intelligent is even a problem... heck, I could outscore 95% of students on a test but might be clueless when it comes to, say, catching game for food. Plus, it seems that nerdiness and poor eyesight go hand-in-hand; if society is in shambles after a disaster and our glasses break, we're pretty much dead in our shoes while Mike Tyson is running around killing deer with his bare hands and planting his seed in every woman he sees.

Okay, now I'm really off topic and I'm not going to try and salvage it.

Chris said...

Okay, sorry, last post!

After further thought, I realized that our society still depends a lot on physical labor (construction, manufacturing, etc.), so my comment on "raw animal instinct" was a little off. Apologies.

.:webmaster:. said...

"So should I conclude that I should never trust my feelings again?"

I enjoy the heck out of my emotions, all of them. Sheesh, without a little heat and passion in our lives, it'd indeed be boring. I'm not denigrating human emotion; I was just pointing out that conversion is little more than an emotional experience. Falling in love with a real person, that's great! Falling in love with an imaginary, invisible Ghost, that's something else.

I am not sure how long or when you decided to stop being a Christian, but one thing that would be interesting to know is how it happened.

My testimonial: click here.

We don't try to prove each other wrong we invite people to experience God personally and collectively and enjoy Him.


That's nice, but I'm of the opinion that gods and goddesses are all pretend. Thanks anyway.

The Church as a body and not as a place is always in need of reforming back to original context and beliefs, so that it doesn't stray away from the truth.

The early first believers were absolutely convinced that Jesus was returning in their lifetimes. That's why they quit work and lived communally. The KINGDOM was about to be established! As the decades rolled by, and people started to die off, Gospels started being written all over the place, each with a new, different understanding of the "real" Christian message. Eventually the councils were held to democratically decide what "True Christianity™" would be, and wipe out all the other kinds of Christianity. I suggest you study some real history instead of a few weak evangelical soundbites.

Anyway, of we're going to get back to the actual roots of Christianity, then we need to believe that Jesus is coming back to establish HIS Kingdom in the 1st Century. And guess what that means...

.:webmaster:. said...

Twincats said: That's when I knew I was never going to have the emotional experience you speak of.

And that's why you never converted, which lends support to my observations here.

If I were you, I'd probably have to conclude that I had a stronger sense of self than most people -- and that'd be a good thing. I envy you.

Pull The Other One! said...

I agree that music plays a big role in both whipping up the faithful and winning new converts.
But you don't have to try the webmaster's film soundtrack experiment to realise this.

Can anyone remember an altar call at a rally or church service being made without that pull-at-your-heartstrings music playing in the background? Don't they trust the holy spirit to do the work?

In the church I used to go to, I also remember the different reactions to traditional hymns and modern 'choruses', as they were always called. The whining choruses, with their dumbed-down music and lyrics always got people lifting their hands in the air, whereas the hymns, which actually had some artistic merit to them, produced a far more restrained reaction.

Perhaps this was because the hymns had to rely on the organ alone, while the choruses were backed up with guitars, bass and drums. And if the tempo was quick and the beat prominent...bingo!

In fact, I'm sure that you could come up with a mathematical formula for it, something like: response = tempo + volume + beat etc.

You can add some non-musical factors, of course, such as size of congregation, type of service, denomination and so on. Just remember that if you put the holy spirit in the equation, the value is zero.

jfraysse said...

Chris: Good postings, good food for thought. I just hope that our emotions don’t lead to our destruction – now that would be completely uninteresting! One solution to “having your own kids” is to adopt – it’s a pain (Red Tape) but I can hardily recommend it!

Dave: I too enjoy my emotions most of the time and the points you make about true love are unquestioned, but I honestly worry about my initial emotional responses to situations and people at times. For most of my life, I have tried to implemented a policy of “leading with my heart” but being weary of malignant intent. When and if this becomes obvious, then I fight like a sewer rat. Giving people and situations the initial benefit of the doubt has severed me well. You seem to have a reasonable balance. Again, thanks for this site and your courage!

Anonymous’: Some good things said here. Got a name to go with your posts?

Pull The Other One! said...

This always happens. I write a comment, then find that someone has posted something I want to react to in the meantime!

The webmaster wrote that he envies twincats because s/he didn't have a certain emotional 'wiring' and didn't convert.

That's a good point, but what if you don't have that emotional wiring and still convert? Then you're really in trouble.

I know this because it was my own case, and I'm sure that it applies to many others. I too am the kind of person that can't be hypnotised, but I still converted due to a special set of circumstances and some twisted logic that I still reproach myself for.

That's another story that would take up too much space and time here. The fact is that I did convert, and never felt a thing, ever!

When you buy something that has been praised to the skies, and then take it home, unwrap it, and find that it's not at all what it was meant to be, you can always try taking it back to the shop and getting your money back. You may be annoyed with yourself for making the purchase, but you don't blame yourself for what you find inside the box.

It isn't like that with Christianity. When you've been promised for years that it's a great thing, that it will transform your life, and then find nothing but emptiness when you convert, you then discover that you've already made too much of a committment to simply drop it. You set off on a wild goose chase instead.

You blame yourself, fearing that you've been rejected for some reason, etc. This leads to all kinds of anquish.

So, those of you who did feel something, don't feel any envy for us who 'opened the door', and found that there was no one there. We should all just be glad that we got out of it!

Andrew said...

Webmaster.
As you admit you used a type of emotional blackmail through your music to con people into beliving the Spirit of God was moving when in fact it was you all along - no one else just you. I expect that you have contacted everybody you made believe in Jesus and informed them that you were nothing more than a con artist and that you regret forcing them into believing something which you now know are untrue.
I take it also that you and many other Non Christians who evangelised will have made apologised and made restitution to all the people you have caused great suffering to by making them believe something that you now consider to be a complete lie and that you are going to come to some arrangement (presumably financial) to pay restitution to them.
Then of course as the many writers on this site delight to point out that all Christians want is to make a quick buck out of those they have conned, So presumably that is what you and the other Ex Christians on this site did so you will be making restitution for that as well.
And lets not forget how so many Ex -Christians delight in making out that pastors of one sort or another are all paedophiles, murderers or thiefs. I wonder which of these you and may of the other Ex Christian ex pastors were.
When you finally realise it is not Christians who are deceiving themselves but that it is in fact you yourselves that are deceiving yourselves. You will find that Jesus Christ who gave Himself up to death for you and rose again from the dead so that all who put their faith in Him will be forgiven and made righteous in the sight of Yahweh.
Oh and by the way I was not converted as a result of an emotional appeal in fact I had long since been convinced there was no God or if there was he certainly was not interested in me. I agree that there are many evangelists who do play on the emotions but there are many more who preach Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead in a non emotional way and many have believed as a result of that preaching.

.:webmaster:. said...

Hi Andrew,

It's so nice to finally meet a "True Christian™!

Don't worry, you're loving heavenly father will be torturing me and those like me (most of humanity) for all eternity in the most sadistic and horrific ways imaginable, without giving a chance for a parole, and without allowing any opportunity for reform, and won't even let any of us (again, nearly all of humanity) to die. It'll be a great day in heaven then. You can join the celebration as most of your fellow creatures shriek and howl in agony forever, and ever, world without end... Amen.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, if you were already convinced there were no Gods then what was the cause of your conversion if not emotionaliam? You sound pretty emotional to me.

Leonard said...

Yes, Andrew, please tell us all about the logical and rational reasons for your assumption that the Almighty Creator of the Universe has such a fragile ego that he has to torture those of his creations that do not blindly assume he exists! :D

Of course, I am pretty sure that we all knew that religion plays with emotions, not actual thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with the premise of your article, I would have to point out that CS Lewis came to Christianity through a slow thoughtful (I would have to believe) an intellectual argument

Anonymous said...

Excellent Article...I agree 100% Thanks for sharing


Rock N Ryan

Wilson said...

Andrew,

Why don't you take your imaginary Jesus and stuff him up your, well you know where.

With God all things are possible, except he had to invent a virgin birth bastard child and murder him, so that he could save your sorry ass stinking nasty filthy unworthy invisible rotten soul.

Get a brain jerk!

jfraysse said...

Hi Andrew (the first discipline of Jesus):

Why does the god of the bible demand sacrifice and worship just like other pagan gods? Why does the creator of the universe need this? Also why does it have to be blood, especially since the Bible tells us that God looks at the heart? (Please, don’t say that the heart is “blood”, I’m trying to be serious). Why is this god any different than the gods of the Greek and pagan cultures which came thousands of years before Yehwah, other than the fact that Yehweh created Evil?

Many Christians say that God has allowed and created all of this evil and wars and vile stuff so that we can better experience His Peace and long for Heaven. Will you be happy in Heaven, with a God who made up this earthly soap opera for his amusement (poor Job)? Will God decide to “Play You” and others in Heaven?

Don’t answer immediately. Pray about it – think about it – research it. I sure hope god doesn’t tell you go mass murder people as he has so many times in the past. Keep your answer succinct because the Bible says that many words lead to perdition. BTW, “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer.

I’m honestly glad that whatever relationship you have with your creator is working for you, if it is. Personnel peace is very important and being brutally honest with yourself is paramount. But if you can’t answer these very basic questions (and there are many, many more), then you should be very cautious about sharing or attempting to impose your belief system on others.

In fact, since Jesus died for all of mankind, and if you really believe in his power, he doesn’t need your efforts or mine to draw all men unto himself. Perhaps your time may be better spent serving mankind by going into the Hospitals and city streets healing all of the sick and addicted (possessed?) people since this is only one of many signs that will follow believers. Oh, and don’t forget the abused kids and homosexuals and all those with birth defects and little kids dying of cancer and stuff too.

Anonymous said...

"Although I agree with the premise of your article, I would have to point out that CS Lewis came to Christianity through a slow thoughtful (I would have to believe) an intellectual argument"
Wasn't he already a Christian who had been raised in the faith but had backslid? I only mention that because it's does make a world of difference. His thoughtful investigation was framed by the beliefs he was familiar with. I'm guessing there were positive reasons for him to embrace Christianity that effected his day to day life, and I don't think he left any room to find anything other than the Christian God.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Dave,

Excellent article about the power of emotion being concomitant to our choices. This is something I too noticed some time ago, while still a Christian. Like you, at the time I was deeply involved in the ministry as a musician. As humans we easily recognize the power of music to provoke our hearts. So much so that at the time, I thought that if their was a way through which God would communicate, music would be His chosen vehicle; the lingua franca of God.

I remember noticing this again when my ex-wife's grandfather sent Mormon missionaries over to our house. My ex was still on the books as a member, having joined it years earlier as a child. Admittedly, I looked forward to it as a chance to test my own faith, and to prove that Christianity had a better foundation than Mormonism. It seems I'm still a bit contentious even today. At any rate, after two days of discussing biblical verses and the validity of the Book of Mormon (they spent one hour with us the first night but had to leave, so they came back the following evening), it finally came down to one key moment; the testimony.

It happened one more time a few years later, as a last-ditch effort of the local Mormon constituency to bring one of their own back into the fold. Once again it came down to their personal testimony.

Mormon missionaries are taught that their testimony is the most powerful and persuasive method for winning converts. It's a total appeal to emotional conviction. The idea being that this will cause the listener to think "Wow! That must be some powerful stuff!" In other words, it's intended to be intriguing; to pique the listener's interest about the Mormon faith. Maybe that's partly why there isn't as many Mormon apologetics resources. It's there, but since these kinds of things are meant primarily to reinforce faith already established, I don't think Mormons give it as much importance.

Again, great article!

Andrew,

No matter how you spin it, there is an emotional appeal implicit to the story of the crucified and resurrected Christ. Are you seriously denying this? Are you saying that there is a logical, empirical reason to accept that Jesus did, in fact, die for our sins and subsequently rise from the dead? I'd be really interested in the science behind this.

As for the rest of your post, it appears designed as an appeal to emotion (guilt), and is a repetitive non sequitur. All you are doing is proving Dave's point. If you don't like what people say here, why bother coming back? Careful how you answer! If you say it's because you love us and don't want to see us burn, that too would be an emotional appeal, as well as an appeal to consequences.

Have a great weekend everybody! That means you too, Andrew.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christian, though I probably shouldn't logically be. I used to be an atheist, then an agnostic, then a christian. I came to a place where it was unscientific to not believe in intelligent design. Then I looked at humanity itself and saw that there was something not just different or more highly evolved about humans, but even more then that. I found that things like emotion, for example, would serve no evolutionary purpose at all. They actually tend to do more damange to the species. It is our minds we often use to hide emotions, but often emotions destroy our minds. This made very little logical sense, the idea presented a problem, which led me to examine some of the claims of various religions. I found that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, if practiced by most, would lead to a revolution of society and the planet. But it seemed that many people were claiming to be 'Christians' and not practicing these principles, such as, "Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and then come, and follow me." Or, "If you don't love me more than your father or mother or brother or sister you cannot be my follower." Those are not easy commandments, but it raises the question, what if it was THAT level of commitment, that totality of choice that opened the doorway into true christianity. It will become apparent, to any person reading the gospels, that Christ made large claims, and made demands of people just as large. I think it is very likely, and certainly worth looking into, considering the claims Christ did make, that it is not Christ which is false, but the 'church' as it stands today, with it's "Easy Grace" and "Salvation for All" policies. The evangelical movement came to a place where it so desired converts that it falsified and twisted its own doctrines to suggest anyone could be converted. When, in reality, quite a few people cannot because they blatantly refuse to or simply have never been properly explained the real 'good news.' I guess the point I'm making, for anyone who has ever wondered about Christianity, is this - take about an hour and read the gospel of matthew, you can do it online. You'll find Jesus wasn't lovey-dovey, he was a radical. He wasn't clean and cute, he said some hard things. He didn't make things easier for most people, he made them harder. He didn't just give you life, he gave you an ultimatum - follow him or be destroyed, your choice. He even said as much, "Don't follow me without waiting to count the cost" and this is a real lame thing evengelicals do. They don't explain all that following Christ involves. If you truly are converted, Christ will own our soul and your life will focus around him. It's weird, but like he said, "those that remain until the end will be saved" and "my true disciples are those that obey my commandments."

.:webmaster:. said...

Anyone want to explain to me what that anony above me was trying to say?

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous: "I came to a place where it was unscientific to not believe in intelligent design."

Now isn't that odd. The vast majority of scientists have come to exactly the opposite conclusion. In fact, ID does not even qualify as a science as it has no testable hypotheses. Not one. Go figure.

Anonymous: "I found that things like emotion, for example, would serve no evolutionary purpose at all."

Really. I guess you'll need to break that news to the scientific community. Even Darwin was quite aware of how natural selection can explain emotions (which is to say, he could explain what "purpose" they served). I take it you have never read his "The Expression of the Emotions in Man And Animals". As with "Origin of Species" he seems to have gotten it mostly right. For a more modern treatment that is extremely readable, I'd suggest "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright. It may change your thinking on the "purpose" of emotions.

As for the rest of your post, I'll have to admit that I'm puzzled too.

Bentley said...

I think what anonymous was trying to convey was, that Jesus made very stiff and rigorous demands that whomever shall be as stern and rigorous and hated as much as he, to the point that one must also be willing to give up their own lives as a sacrifice, just as he was,(supposedly) in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.

anony: "I found that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, if practiced by most, would lead to a revolution of society and the planet."

In other words Jesus upset alot of people back then and unless you are willing to do the same thing as he, you will not see heaven, and anonymous is saying (I think)there's not many willing to become christ-like, not in deed but with their lips, so no one that is not upsetting the world as Jesus supposedly did, with their Christian beliefs, will not make it to heaven, as my understanding probably less than 1-100 or 144 perhaps, a very small limited number anyway, since the time of resurection that is, I'm not sure if anonymous is including his/her own self in their interpretation.


Also backed by this statement,

"Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and then come, and follow me." Or, "If you don't love me more than your father or mother or brother or sister you cannot be my follower." Those are not easy commandments, but it raises the question, what if it was THAT level of commitment, that totality of choice that opened the doorway into true christianity. It will become apparent, to any person reading the gospels, that Christ made large claims, and made demands of people just as large."

And this statement,

"Christ made large claims, and made demands of people just as large. I think it is very likely, and certainly worth looking into, considering the claims Christ did make, that it is not Christ which is false, but the 'church' as it stands today, with it's "Easy Grace" and "Salvation for All" policies. The evangelical movement came to a place where it so desired converts that it falsified and twisted its own doctrines to suggest anyone could be converted. When, in reality, quite a few people cannot because they blatantly refuse to or simply have never been properly explained the real 'good news.'"

He/she is trying to say that not many will be in heaven,(providing any of it is true) because not very many are willing to do as Jesus commanded, such as sell everything that you have, or hate your mother and father and put Jesus first in all things that you do.

Such as Mark 13:13

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake, but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

I also think he/she is saying, that the churches are passing people through as being saved like herds of cattle or sheep, just by confessing Jesus as their savior + 10%, but to be truely saved you must sell all that you have and give to the poor and to be hated of all men, to be a bona fide "True Christian" destined for heaven.

This is totally under the presumption that what the Bible says is true.

I think most of us here think that the Bible is all bunk.

If one must sell all that they have and hate their parents, then Jesus would have already known that not many would be willing to follow him, on a blind whim, if Jesus did exist and what was wrote was said by him, then Jesus must have been one psychotic egotistical tyrant.

I think the embellishments of Jesus' sayings got way out of hand, it goes too far and discredits itself to it's own veracity. I believe that Paul kept going for one upmanship and shot himself in the foot, that's why they had to divide the gospels up to appear as if written by many authors, when it was only the works of one mentally ill bi-polar man, Saul/Paul.

Pull The Other One! said...

So, anonymous, I suppose that you yourself have sold all your worldly possessions and given them to the poor. (That includes your computer, of course. You must be using someone elses).

You have done that, haven't you anonymous? Otherwise it would be rather hypocritical of you to come preaching to us on that particular subject.

By the way, the gospel of Matthew is one of the most obviously false books in the whole New Testiment, with its particularly clumsy twisting of Old Testiment prophesies, and its obvious fabrications (such as the guard on the tomb that no other gospel writer seems to find important).

It was so badly done, that it has even been suggested that it was a deliberate parody. So, I don't think it was a good choice as a persuasive tool.

Pull The Other One! said...

Whoops! I did of course mean 'sold all your worldly possessions and given THE MONEY to the poor.'

I really would be impressed if you had both sold and given away your possessions at the same time, anonymous. That would be even more difficult than riding two donkeys simultaneously! (Matthew 21, 1-7)

Anonymous said...

Dave, I have none of these things that you have mentioned... Conversion, Spiritual Epiphanies and Mystical Experiences...

Read: (Ephesians. 1-13). Our lot was cast before we could have anything to do with it, which we don't anyway.. For it is God who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will... "Our so-called (freewill) is a Philosophical Fable". We have mone.

Religion (the biblical definition) "Dread Demonism" Belief in Christ is not a Religion, although man has made a Religion and attached Chirsts name to it and called it the christian religion (Christendom) which is apostate fromm truth. I have been a believer for longer than I can remember, why, I do not know. Nor can I exlaine, not do I care to do so. "Not my job" I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. __"Not God the Son"__ (There is no Triune Deity) or what they might call a Godhead. There is one God, The Father and One mediator who is Jesus Christ.

Conversion, Spiritual Epiphanies and Mystical Experiences (___ This is "The Emotion and superstion at work"_____)

celestials1938@msn.com

Mrs. WM said...

One of the principles we have tried to instill in our children is not to be ruled by emotion.

Give yourself time to let the feeling subside. Investigate the facts. If action is still necessary, proceed with caution.

Too many times my emotions have gotten me into a pickle. Emotions without logic is usually not a recipe for success!

How easily we jump without thinking.

A pastor once explained to me that the use of music or "Praise and Worship" in the church is to put the congregation in a "receptive" atmosphere, so the Holy Spirit can do his work!

Sounds like manipulation to me!

Leonard said...

Celestials... you could have just stuck with "I am insane", because that would have done the job equally well.

Predeterminalism. Predestination. Indeed Supralapsarism: the belief that nothing, absolutely nothing we do means anything, because everything we do was planned ahead by God. All of this - all of history, from the planned fall of Adam to the planned burning of the majority of mankind for all eternity - is just his way of masturbating.

What kind of disease - I ponder - does it take to come to this conclusion? Even a dying dog will bite your hand if you try to harm it. But not, it seems, them.
They are beneath contempt. I hesitate to even consider them human beings, for what is a human being without will?

Even an amoeba has desires. Even a bacterium has goals in its miniscule life. Compared to these miserable creatures, who have foregone their will, each microbe is an emperor on his throne.

.:webmaster:. said...

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (27) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

It seems as if Jesus' brother, and leader of the Church in Jerusalem, thought he was part of a religion. Hmm, I guess it's a good thing Celestials has come along to correct James on that point.

jfraysse said...

Mrs. WM: I agree completely with your last post! I also found it useful to have a quite time together each day if possible to reflect, with my kids, on what we have done (or failed at) and even scheme and/or imagine what we might do tomorrow. Just before bedtime is nice but anytime is fine, including the car on long trips. I think it helps me express to them how valuable they are (my wife included) to me and that our time together, our lives and the love we share does matter - to us, to others, our nation and the world. Teaching them not to hate is central.

BTW, I never told them that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman or any of the other childhood myths were true. Yet they and I still enjoy the stories and the seasons nevertheless, and none of us seem permanently damaged.

Whether you, Dave and kids engage in the “end-of-year” season or not, here’s wishing you all happiness, joy and safety during this time and throughout the coming new year!

A friend of Your Cause, John Fraysse

steele family said...

You wrote, "I would dare to say that there has not been one real conversion in history that can be entirely attributed to a simple, unemotional presentation of facts." I disagree.

As a Christian (not hiding that) but also an intellectual, I faced similar questions and found answers to disprove this contention. But, I do want to note that there are instances of purely intellectual conversions. Explore the preacher William Law's story. More recently you can explore Josh McDowell's "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict".

Also, on a more conceptual basis, why do Christian's have to defend on purely intellectual grounds for it to be valid? In classical rhetoric, students were taught there are 3 ways to win in argumentation: pathos, logos and ethos. Pathos, as mentioned here, appeals to the emotions. Logos, though not explicitly mentioned, is the appeal to what we call logic. Lastly, ethos is the ethical appeal of living one's faith.

I've always wondered how challenges to Christianity overlook the fact that, even in classical, i.e., secular, rhetoric, persuasive argumentation relies on 3, not 1, means. Overly sentimental arguments can be "soft and fluffy", but they are still effective. Nonetheless, relying solely on logic is just a fallacious an approach if we are looking at "conversion" to (or rejection of) the faith from an argumentative standpoint. Logic just has a different set of tricks than emotionalism.

Andrew said...

I see nothing wrong with emotion in the worship of God, in fact worship by its very nature is emotional. We were created in Gods image and He is emotional - He delights in his creation – He loves the world – He is jealous - He is slow to anger.

What I do find wrong, and the webmaster admits to doing this in his use of music, is to manipulate people into an emotional state where they no longer make a reasoned decision.

"As for the rest of your post, it appears designed as an appeal to emotion (guilt)." I suppose it is. Should I infer that you consider any appeal that causes a person to feel guilt is wrong?

I think it is quite a legitimate question to ask if someone who has deceived hundreds maybe thousands has recompensed or at least apologised to all those people. But then maybe this has not been done because the web master knows that people were not converted by him but were converted by the very Holy Spirit he would like others to believe he does not believe in.

I am not convinced that he believes that there is no God or that He is unknowable. Or that he disbelieves that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ all, who put their faith in Jesus, will be forgiven and made righteous in the sight of God.

The same goes for the many true Ex Christians on this site. I don’t mean those who have never been a disciple of Jesus Christ that is a Christian.

As for emotion when I was converted, yes there was emotion it was the emotions of surprise, love and eventually awe. But was their an emotional build up by a music group – no, there was no music group. Was it an emotional build up by the preacher – again – no, he was possibly one of the most boring preachers I had ever been forced to go and listen to.

Why did I go to Church that night? Looking for a non spiritual reason – I do not know. The only reason I had been attending Church at that time was that there was a Christian young woman who I wanted to ****. But by the evening I was converted we had gone our separate ways.

That night, illogically, I felt compelled to go to Church. Illogically? I had already been kicked out of the particular Church I went to for having committed adultery. That day at that time was the greatest day in my life, nothing could beat it. I had been made to go to Church because it was expected that the ministers children would go, I was never given the option of not going.

The night before I was converted I spent it with yet another married woman (Did I feel guilty perhaps and that was why I went? No, in fact quite the opposite cos the sex was good and I had wanted more.

The only reason I have ever managed to come up with is a spiritual one, that God wanted me to sit down and just be quiet. I would have gone out drinking and to meet the woman from the previous night if I hadn’t gone to Church.

J. C. Samuelson said...

"I think it is quite a legitimate question to ask if someone who has deceived hundreds maybe thousands has recompensed or at least apologised to all those people."

I'd like you to think back to your childhood and all the times you played make-believe with your friends. Got it? Now, track them all down and apologize for decieving them. You now know they were just fantasies, and you feel sorry that you ever played those games with them.

Prior to your conversion to Christianity, did you ever say anything to others that you found out years later is false, or that you no longer believe is true? If so, do you plan to track down all those people and apologize for misleading them? Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people have been corrupted by your misleading statements prior to your conversion, as they passed on what you told them to others.

C'mon Andrew. You know this is ridiculous. If we were talking about a world leader or someone like Ted Haggard, this might hold water. As it is, it looks like you're being deliberately provocative. Once again, if you don't like what is said here, go someplace else.

"...the web master knows that people were not converted by him but were converted by the very Holy Spirit he would like others to believe he does not believe in...I am not convinced that he believes that there is no God or that He is unknowable. Or that he disbelieves that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ all who put their faith in Jesus, will be forgiven and made righteous in the sight of God...The same goes for the many true Ex Christians on this site. I don’t mean those who have never been a disciple of Jesus Christ that is a Christian."

Sure. That's what I'm doing. Busted. I'll come clean. I just want everyone to think I don't believe. That's how I get my chuckles.

Andrew, I think it's about time for you to find another hobby. Dave?

.:webmaster:. said...

I faced similar questions and found answers to disprove this contention.

What answers would those be? Care to be more specific?

As far as Josh McDowell and his conversion, please examine this article: Josh McDowell's Charade. I'm not familiar with William Law's story, do you have a link that would enlighten me? I'd be interested.

Why do Christian's have to defend on purely intellectual grounds for it to be valid?

Two Mormons knocked on my door last weekend. They told me that they knew Mormonism was the truth because they felt a "Burning in their bosoms." I suppose, that following your logic here, those two mens' feelings validates their religion. Did you even read the testimonials in the article above? Feelings are NOT a good way to measure the validity of anything.

We were created in Gods image and He is emotional - He delights in his creation – He loves the world – He is jealous - He is slow to anger.

And if you don't love HIM back, he's going to make you suffer and suffer, and suffer and suffer, forever and ever and ever. HE really just can't stand being disrespected, and will ensure that most of humanity will be sadistically tortured with no chance of parole, no opportunity for reformation, and will not even allow anyone to die. HE will punish all those who refused to believe in HIM and submit to HIS LOVE during their pitifully short lives with the most delicious and horrific agony.

This so-called god is hideous and ridiculous. He'd fit in with a great Sci-Fi series though. Maybe they'll use HIM in the next season of SG1. They could call HIM "Yah-a-oold."

Should I infer that you consider any appeal that causes a person to feel guilt is wrong?

Do you consider guilt manipulation a proper way to coerce someone into joining a religious cult? If you do, then you shouldn't resent the Moonies or the Hara Krishna's or the Jehovah Witnesses using similar tactics.

As far as the rest of your confessions, it sounds like your life was pretty screwed up. Perhaps it is best that you stay in your religion, even if it is a fantastic myth-based illusion.

.:webmaster:. said...

Although "Stelle Family" didn't post the following insights here, but rather on his or her own blog (link), I decided to share some of his or her thoughts here because they are relevant to the discussion.

Steele family wrote: "God made each person on earth with a tri-partite soul. The mind, will and emotions work together to create the whole of inner man."

While I'll have to admit I am familiar with this teaching, I challenge any Christian to quote the Bible verses supporting this belief. Where in the Bible does it say that people have a tri-partite soul?

Steele family wrote: "Here is where Christians have to be careful. Rule 1: don't get into an intellectual argument with an intellectual."

This sounds like a bald admission that Christianity is not intellectually defensible. I'd have to agree.

Steele family wrote: "Paul warned about when he wrote, "that no one may decieve you by fine-sounding arguments." (Colossians 2:4)"

So apparently, even Paul realized that Christianity was not intellectually defensible. Hmm. Interesting. That's something I hadn't noticed before. Thanks.

Steele family wrote: "I clearly have strong feelings about this ... Agree with nothing if God does not present it as true."

Thank you for confirming the premise that Christian conversion is founded on emotion.

.:webmaster:. said...

J.C.S wrote: "
C'mon Andrew. You know this is ridiculous.
"

'Nuff said on that topic.

Thanks JC.

boomSLANG said...

Or that he disbelieves that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ all, who put their faith in Jesus, will be forgiven and made righteous in the sight of God.

Alrighty, let's and examine this "logic", shall we?

Okay, Jesus died and got back up(turned into a zombie). And if you have "faith"(suspend your reasoning skills) that Jesus' father sent his only begotton son(bastard son)to die and get back up(become a zombie), then you will be forgiven(receive a get out of jail free pass) for what our great-great-great-great grandmother, "Eve", did---that being, she got stopped at a sinner's check-point by an undercover devil dressed as a snake, this, because the Father who sent his son to die and get back up(become a zombie) didn't want our Grandmother to eat from the tree that was in the middle of a garden, because she'd find out she's naked, and that would make her wise(aware she's naked)---yet, the undercover snake, who was created by the Father who sent his son to die and get back up(become as a zombie), tempted our Grandmother, and so she and our Grandpa, "Adam", ate the fruit, knew they were naked..and decided to hide from Jesus' father, who knows everything(except where they were hiding), however, Jesus' father finally found them. As a result of this trespass, we, as the fallen great-grandchildren, must have faith(suspend our reasoning skills) that Jesus really did die and get back up(become a zombie), and if we do, we are forgiven(receive the get out of jail free pass)for what our great-great-great-great grandparents did, and thus, we can be righteous with Jesus' father, the one who set up the sinner's check-point to begin with, and thus, we can live forever in heaven(A perpetual Night of the Living Dead, in the clouds somewhere).

Absurdity par excellence. = )

Anonymous said...

very impressive...very impressive way of discovery ...keep that up ..i have plenty to write but I need to reorganise my thought first ....

Anonymous said...

I guess the victors of history are always the ones who possess control over technology aren't they. Where did all those posts go? Unredacted truth,

The Steele family

Andrew said...

WM

I'm outta here for now. Like many non evangelical Christians seems there is no room in your theology or whatever you want to call it, for people who have not lived perfect goody goody lives.

A last thought for you WM - who did you preach to? The folks who were already Churched or ?.

.:webmaster:. said...

Here's an interesting comment posted to Wired News concerning an article in their November issue on Atheism entitled "The Church of the Unbelievers."

I thought it appropriate to this topic.

Being a “suspect” agnostic, I read the November issue article on “The New Atheists” with great interest. As a psychologist for 18 years involved in both research and clinical pursuits, I read it from that perspective, of course, and the article raised the following issues for me:

Despite the fact that we like to consider ourselves governed by logic and reason, human beings are, first and foremost, emotional, although often our actions can be tempered somewhat by reason. We make decisions emotionally and justify them later intellectually—any psychologist, or salesman for that matter, can tell you that. As the author says, “Logic doesn’t quicken the blood sufficiently.”

Human culture is therefore transmitted primarily through story, art, and music, with the understanding of right behavior and the promise of fulfillment of one’s life primarily dependent on story in its various forms, i.e. tale, parable, allegory, poetry. Who will develop atheism’s stories? Scientists? Atheist prophets? It must be done if atheism hopes to capture the human imagination and spirit in order to be a genuine option to religion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some interesting brain food.

Funny though...The article attacks faith in Jesus as being based on personal experience, not logic. The evidence? Personal experience.

The very opening line..."I've never met..." of this article attacking those who enthrone personal experience in their souls...is based on the enthroning of personal experience.

The fact is, if the writer correctly portrayed the logic he was presented in his Christian experience...it was pretty shi**y.

However, as humans, we all have a propensity to anoint our experience as normative upon all others. The writer is not exempt from that.

This may not mean much...but for what it is worth...I'm sorry that those in a position of influence manipulated a message of hope and peace to mess with your head and emotions. They had no right.

.:webmaster:. said...

Hi Brian,

You make a good point about my having used my own life experiences to make a judgment call on the validity of my own and others' emotional Christian conversions.

However, when I was on the Christian side of this subject, I would have arrogantly believed any who rejected my magical, mysterious, message of hope was bound for an eternity of suffering. Obviously I'm less arrogant than that today. Perhaps I should have included in the article something along the lines of, "In Christianity, emotional feelings are nearly always the foundational and overriding evidence for believing in impossibly magical stories and creatures. The reason? There simply isn't any other evidence that any of those creatures exist or that any of those stories ever happened! If it weren't for an emotional feeling that the stories are true, people would likely dismiss them as quickly as they dismiss Greek mythology.

Anyway Brian, excellent comment. I hope you hang around. I've a feeling the conversations would be intriguing.

I put my hand in a boiling pot of water one day. The experience taught me something valuable. I never did it again.—Dave

freedy said...

"Was bound to an eternity of suffering". This emotion,"fear", keeps Christianity alive and thriving,..(that's hell)!

Have you noticed more and more death bed, hell experiences lately?
They are totally unscientific and are problably no more than chemically induced nightmares.

Being a church musician for twenty years,..I knew the exact songs to play/sing to get backsliders and sinners crying like babies.Music is the hook, and preaching keeps them in the bucket!

The born again experience is a totally natural experience that happens many times through-out our lives.There is nothing supernatural about it!

Rich C. said...

Freedy First and foremost I just want to say that you are a bitter old man who wrote crappy christian for years and years and now your taking out against all good christians. Don't you see how rediculous you are man? Stop being so bitter dude and just come back to christ. The fact is Christ is Lord and every knee shall bow dude. I'll do my best to help you when your burning in hell but I'm not sure if my Jesus will let me.

Yours in Christ,

Rich C.

Rich C. said...

JESUS IS LORD!!! THINK ABOUT IT!!!
No one likes a quitter!!!

RICH C. said...

I'm not Perfect and I know christianity is not perfect but I do know this JESUS our Lord and Savior will someday wipe that goofy grin off your webmasters face. GET A CLUE PEOPLE AND WAKE UP BEFORE ITS TOO LATE! Don't let some webmaster with a goofy smurk lead you to hell! Get a grip people! Jesus is KING!

Pull The Other One! said...

Nobody likes a sadist either, Rich.

boomSLANG said...

JESUS IS LORD!!! THINK ABOUT IT!!!

We did think about it, that's precisely why Jesus is not "LORD".

This message brought to you by Crispy Christ Crackers™.

Anti-Almost-Everything said...

That is an excellent blog entry. Thanks very much for sharing. I may link to it, in my blog.

Jim Arvo said...

To Rich C.

Your comments are woefully out of place. We have come to drastically different theological opinions than you, mostly by diligent inquiry and reason, so simply stating your own convictions is about as useful as threatening to hold your breath until you turn blue. If you've got nothing interesting or novel to say, then I'll politely suggest that you have no legitimate business here. Have a good day.

freedy said...

Thanks Rich C.,I was contemplating going to a biker church near by, to meet some people.

Your reminder of the mean-spirit
of fundies has once again repelled me from "coming back to christ"

My blood is on your hands man,...woooo!Jeebus is holding you accountable!
What are you,..about 15 or 16 years old?

*I'll admit it,..I wrote crappy, sappy worship songs,and I have bitterness.Will you you admit your a mean s.o.b.with an over-inflated ego? Wake up man!

Rich C. said...

sorry freedy I'm actually 13! I'm not 15 yet. I'm just saying this website is sad man. I was just at school the other day praying for you guys. I think your webmaster misleads all these people and they believe his crap. I'm not perfect but I don know Christ is Lord and your webamster will pay for damaging the body of christ.

Rich C. said...

As a young christian I wish there was something I could do to help you guys but geees oh man you guys are some angry bitter people. Is this what happens when you leave Christ? I was reading all the testimonies and I just started crying and praying for you guys at school. I put all of you on our youth groups prayer list.

.:webmaster:. said...

If Rich C weren't logging in from Sarasota, I'd wonder if he weren't one of the stars of Jesus Camp.

Rich, you need to let your parents know you're on this site.

boomSLANG said...

Hey little Richy, 'just so happens I'm from your home town. 'Care to disclose which school it is that you attend? I'd be curious to know what school would allow it's students to sit around and "cry" and "pray", instead of study and learn. I mean, how will you get an education worrying about who's on your school's "prayer list"? Or are you praying for an education, while you're at it? Nonetheless, maybe you should consider a secular school, "man"....you know, a "big-boy" school?...like Brookside Middle School?

This angry bitter message brought to you by Crispy Christ Crackers ™.

Jim Arvo said...

To Rich C,

I'm going to try this again. Your dogmatic comments contribute absolutely nothing to the discussion here. Can you please ponder that for a moment? You adhere to a belief system that we have long ago rejected as fictional, along with myriad other religions. Nevertheless, you are quite welcome to believe whatever you want. Once you learn to accept that others can legitimately hold opinions that are different from your own, and learn enough about other points of view to have a meaningful conversation, you may want to consider coming back here. Until then, so long.

Anonymous said...

Rich C.,

Not to sound condescending, but at 13 you have less than half the life experience as the WM had as a Christian (30 years). You say you've read some of the testimonies, but it doesn't seem that you understood anything. Bottom line is that there are a fair number of people who reject your faith for good reasons. Whether you agree with them or not is completely beside the point. Please read the Site Purpose and Legal Disclaimer. The pertinent portion reads:

"This forum exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge to Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their invisible friend."

As Jim pointed out, your posts are completely inappropriate, ill-informed, and off-topic. Believe what you wish. We prefer not to share those beliefs. Get over it. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

And Rich, young man, praying for people who do not want to be prayed for is rude. Think about it: How would you like it if I did that to you?

Oh, what the heck: I'll do it anyway. (raises glass of mead) Have a lovely Yule, young'un, and hope you find what you're looking for in life. Not in the afterlife, which may or may not exist, but in the here-and-now.

mj said...

Christians should stop peddling Christ. Emotional blackmail does not make converts.

Christian conversion does, no must involve the emotions, it involves the whole man. One does not become strikingly aware of ones sinfulness and destitute position without becoming emotional. Neither does one receive forgiveness and assurance without an overflow of joy.

Services and preachers that play on the emotions to get a response will find that those who are lured to an alter-call or the like through anything but the truth, I mean by that the mood, the music a touching story, as a general rule will have spurious or counterfeit conversion.

The New Testament experience is that of the apostle Peter when he confronted with his own sin in the light of Christ falls down and says “depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man” or the result of Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost when the crowd cries out after having their heart pierced “men and brethren what shall we do.” The truth comes to the mind, however the truth is so great so overwhelming that it moves a person emotionally.

For those that doubt their conversion, that is a very healthy thing. Make sure that you have been converted, because of those that are converted “none shall be lost.” If you truly know Him and who He is and what He has done for you then when a great many disciples leave Him as they did in His earthly ministry (John 6) you will say with Peter when Jesus asks if the remaining disciples will also leave “where shall we go you have the words of eternal life.”

For those that believe they have popped in and out of Christianity, (generally as this article points out because the initial emotional experience fades and can’t be worked up again) I remind you that John Wesley was raised in a Christian home, had decided to become a missionary and was on his way to the mission field when he was converted. Doing “Christian things” does not make one a Christian.

Crowds that were impressed by the Lord Jesus’ miracles wanted to make Him king “but He would not commit Himself to them.” Simply because they wanted to make Him king did not make them converts. “They that are of Israel are not all Israel.”

I also remind Dave WM that emotionalism is not the only thing that can produce counterfeits. There is also the opposite which is a mere intellectual ascent to certain doctrine. No emotion at all, “I just chose Jesus.” There was one case of a gentleman that had caught a ferry to a meeting and because the preacher had made an alter-call and used words to the effect “come down the front if you don’t want to miss the boat” this fellow walked down because he didn’t want to miss his ferry. He then in parrot fashion recited “the sinner’s prayer” and 12 months later according to the reports “was going strong.” But for how long?

To say that the intellect is not involved in conversion is nonsense. You must be aware that there is and have been many able people with great minds that are Christians. But it is not only the intellect it is the whole person. Paul for instance, a super intellect, when you read him working doctrine out reasoning through it then suddenly he is moved by the very words he is writing, he is overwhelmed when he contemplates what God has done for him in Christ and he breaks out in rapture. That is Christian emotion, a response to the truth and unrestrainable.

At its essence one can choose to believe that there is logic behind the universe or it has come in to being out of chaos. I am aware that a divine mind does not prove the Christian case but it is a starting point. The arguments I read here are foolish, “if god exists why doesn’t he…” “how did a snake talk,” “what about all the starving children” etc. What you won’t accept is that God will act as God not according to what you think He should do. Hence Paul’s “what if” argument of Romans 9. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory”

You say “well if that’s your god I don’t like him, I don’t want him, he is unjust, he doesn’t suit my picture of what a god should be”. That is completely understandable when you consider the natural mind is an enemy of God, it hates God. This is what Christians must understand when they come to this site. Of course you will find God haters what else would you expect?

Modern man feels so superior to those of past centuries. He thinks that man used to believe in these things because they were somehow less intelligent than he. He feels his arguments are so clever, but what he doesn’t realise is that the same arguments have been used by men for thousands of years. He would like to think that what he has to say is somehow original, but it all boils down to the same thing “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”

In my own experience (for what it’s worth) I went to a charismatic church for about 5 years, I even did a year of full time bible college, the church had suited my emotional state in my late teens and early 20’s, (family problems, deaths, etc). I became disillusioned with charismatic theology began to study reformed theology and after looking at bible history, church fathers, councils and creeds ended up leaving and abandoning it all. I became very anti-christian and took great pleasure dissuading others. People here will scoff at me, but I could have fitted in perfectly on your site. Then almost 20 years later I had a “But God” experience, no people witnessing to me, I had never been back to church, no TV evangelism, none of the usual. I was converted. And for the first time I knew something of what Paul continually says in different ways throughout his epistles “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost,” “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

People join clubs and groups for all sorts of reasons; unfortunately the church has used methods better suited to the marketing of cola to increase membership. Some have done it out of ignorance, some out of greed, the more members the more money.

There are people that sit in church for 20 years and are suddenly converted. A woman in a small church in Wales was considered a pillar of the church. She never attended the evening service. A new minister took over and after his first sermon he later explained that his method was to use the morning service to edify the saints and the evening service’s preaching was aimed at those that were not familiar with the gospel, the unconverted. On the way out she told the new minister that she would be attending the evening service, the old minister shocked asked “Why?” She replied that after hearing the new minister’s sermon this morning it had suddenly dawned on her that she was the type of person that needed the evening service.

Very recently at a local Baptist church a minister in training that had just spent the last 3 years at theological college got up in front of a congregation of about 1000 people to tell them he had just been converted.

I suggest that some people could remain unconverted and in church the whole of their lives, so why should anyone be surprised when someone says that they were a part of the Christian group for 30 years and then left and don’t believe a word of it anymore. Likewise a person whatever the age and experience that has been arrested by the gospel and knows anything of the love of God in Christ knows more about the true Christian life than the one that spent 30 years studying and was never converted.

A church full of unconverted members and leaders is a very dangerous thing. You only need to look at what is happening in the US to realise that. Politics, marketing and the amassing of fortunes is not the church’s business she is to be primarily concerned with preaching the “unsearchable riches of Christ”

Why should any Christian be surprised at the testimonies on this site? Why should they be surprised at the behaviour of those that hold themselves out to be luminaries of Christianity but are not? Our Lord whilst on earth plainly said ”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Christianity is knowing Him.

Now people here are saying “I once was a Christian and now I don’t even believe Jesus existed.” You never knew Him. You may have tried “to make Him king” at one stage in your life, something may have appealed to you, you may have needed certain comfort, help, a sense of belonging, you may have “invited Him into your life”, walked up the front, had an emotional outburst, cried, sang in church, played in the band, gone to meetings, preached in His name, studied, gone to seminary, even “prophesied or cast out devils” but I say you never knew Him or the power of His resurrection. The Apostle John puts it this way “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

.:webmaster:. said...

Nice sermon MJ. Unfortunately, it was only words and wasn't accompanied with the power of the holy ghost.

Buried within all the nicely phrased sentences, all you have described is your personal experience, your personal revelation, your personal epiphany.

Unfortunately, personal spiritual epiphanies, or direct revelations from GOD ALMIGHTY are only stories. Your personal feelings are not evidence to anyone else except yourself. My father-in-law, a life-long true believing missionary to Europe, believes that God talks to him directly, daily. He tells how God's voice speaks out of the void, giving him advice on how to fix the plumbing, or what might be wrong with his lawnmower, or other similar important matters. He is fond of weaving "Me and Jesus" into his conversations. He is completely convinced that God speaks to him and advises him on the most mundane matters. "Do you want to go out to eat tonight?" is answered by my father-in-law with, "I'll have to get the Lord's mind on that." When he makes his decision, he is sure that it was HIS decision.

Now, no matter how much he preaches about his personal relationship with his god, I have a differing opinion about where his voices are coming from. He's probably needed medical help for years, but Christianity enabled and applauded his delusions, and now he's too old for it to really matter all that much.

The other thing you've done with your little missive to the "lost" is discount everyone's experiences, except your own. My experiences were as real to me as yours are to you. However, because I eventually left your religion, then my experience was invalid? Oh, that's right. The Bible says any who leave the faith were never really in the faith, so everything they say can be quickly dismissed as irrelevant.

Did it ever occur to you why that would have been written? Obviously people were backing out of the ridiculous cult from day one! The leaders had a big problem: how to explain how magically transformed, born-again, spirit-filled Christians could be apostatizing in large numbers. Easy solution: Anyone who leaves the cult was never a "True Christians™."

That's just too easy. That's the way every cult works. Apostates were never true converts, and so the true believers can dismiss them as hell fodder with a wave of the hand.

I didn't join a club, I had a mind-numbing, life-changing, personal encounter with the risen Christ. I was a complete sold-out, evangelistic, on-fire, missionary zeal, preaching the gospel Christian. I escaped the death-worship cult of Christianity, and so can you.

I like to think that personal epiphanies are evidence of a powerful imagination, so those who have them, like me and you, can feel fortunate to be so empowered. However, the downside to having an active imagination is that the line between fantasy and reality can be blurred. If and when you return to reality, be sure to come back and tell us all about it.

Alan said...

mj wrote:

At its essence one can choose to believe that there is logic behind the universe or it has come in to being out of chaos.

You imply that evolution is equivalent to chaos, which just means you don't understand evolution. The "logic" behind the universe does not require a supreme being or intelligent designer.

The arguments I read here are foolish...

The arguments here are perfectly valid. People are asking for proof, not in a highly revised 2000 year-old text, but in the here and now. Psychological phenomena don't count, they are only proof of the power of the human mind.

That is completely understandable when you consider the natural mind is an enemy of God, it hates God.

This is wrong in so many ways, I'll just say it shows the handicap religion imposes on the human intellect.

Modern man feels so superior to those of past centuries. He thinks that man used to believe in these things because they were somehow less intelligent than he

No, what previous generations didn't have was our level of knowledge. Assuming we don't destroy ourselves, future generations will look back at our time and wonder about our ignorance. You are welcome to reject our current "superiority" and read the Bible instead of seeing a doctor the next time you are sick.

...but what he doesn’t realise is that the same arguments have been used by men for thousands of years

People have been asking for proof of God's existence for thousands of years. Here it is, almost 2007, and still no proof (except for psychological phenomena that don't prove anything divine exists.) All you have is a Bible verse that says man is foolish to question what the Bible says.

Then almost 20 years later I had a “But God” experience...

Another psychological event, or do you have some physical evidence?

..but I say you never knew Him or the power of His resurrection

I say you are afraid to let go of your superstitions.

Jim Arvo said...

MJ, I'm only going to respond to one aspect of your argument; one that is a common point of contention between believer and nonbelievers. In a sense, it comes down to epistemology. You said

MJ: "The arguments I read here are foolish, 'if god exists why doesn’t he…' 'how did a snake talk,' 'what about all the starving children' etc. What you won’t accept is that God will act as God not according to what you think He should do..."

Let's first agree on something. If there is an all-powerful god, she can do absolutely anything she pleases, whether or not we have the capacity to understand it. Such a being could exhibit what appears to be breathtaking indifference to human suffering, and we would not be in a position to judge her reasons with any authority; after all, our knowledge is only a finite drop in an infinite bucket. Is that a fair statement from your perspective?

I hope you will also agree that this being, if she exists, has allowed numerous religions to come into existence, with conflicting doctrines, and many with their own god-revealed scriptures. Therefore, at most one of them is the true inspired word of god, unless she wishes for us to have conflicting doctrines, that is. After all, she may do all manner of puzzling things for reasons we don't understand. In fact, maybe ALL the so-called inspired texts are completely wrong! Maybe she wants to see who will endorse books that contain what we deem to be ghastly violence and who will insist on better authority than ancient anonymous texts. In the latter case, we skeptics are on much better terms with her than ardent believers.

You see, if you insist on dismissing our only tools -- i.e. reason and evidence -- then you cannot argue rule out any set of beliefs. They ALL might be endorsed by some god or goddess, even if they might seem contradictory to us. And maybe they are ALL just a ploy to test us. Another possibility, of course, is that they are all simply man-made belief systems and NONE of them are endorsed by a powerful invisible being.

In summary, either you accept that our own powers of reason have some validity, or you have no means to pronounce one set of beliefs to be truer than another.

MJ: "You say 'well if that’s your god I don’t like him, I don’t want him, he is unjust, he doesn’t suit my picture of what a god should be'. That is completely understandable when you consider the natural mind is an enemy of God, it hates God. This is what Christians must understand when they come to this site. Of course you will find God haters what else would you expect?"

I am not a "god hater" and, frankly, I take offense at being labeled such. I have used the tools available to me, to the best of my abilities, to make an informed and honest judgment about religions and gods/goddesses. In my informed opinion, they are all based on emotional appeals and erroneous reasoning; that is, while they may speak to human psychology, they are very poor reflections of objective reality. In short, man invented god. I therefore have no "hate" for this imaginary being, I simply do not believe she exists.

MJ: "Modern man feels so superior to those of past centuries. He thinks that man used to believe in these things because they were somehow less intelligent than he..."

That's a very poor characterization. There is no reason at all to believe that the ancients were any less intelligent that we are. However, that is not to say that they had access to the same *information* that we do. We have the benefit of science, modern methods of history, much more advanced mathematics, vastly higher levels of literacy, and much more refined skills of critical thinking. No, we are no smarter, but we have vastly better tools. That puts us in a much better position to separate fact from fiction than the ancients, which is NOT to say that we now have all the answers. We categorically do not have all the answers; that's why we continue to search, debate, and discover.

mj said...

Thank you Gentlemen.

Dave WM I think all you’re giving is your experience too, before and after.

“I was a complete sold-out, evangelistic, on-fire, missionary zeal, preaching the gospel Christian.” That doesn’t sound like a Christian experience. “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” I am persuaded from the New Testament and the testimonies of the saints that true conversion does not leave one in the state you speak of.

The gospel has a very compelling argument. The consistency of the whole of the scriptures is something that I know I can not ignore.

The consistency of experience is astounding. I have encountered the same God as Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul, Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Spurgeon, and every other covert throughout the ages.

I can raise my voice with Toplady and say;
Naked come to Thee for dress
Helpless look to Thee for grace
Foul I to the fountain fly
Wash me saviour or I die.

Or with Charles Wesley;
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and natures night
Thine eye diffused a quicken ray
I woke the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off my heart was free
I rose went forth and followed Thee

Amazing love how can it be
That Thou my God should die for me

Again with Wesley;
Adam’s likeness now efface
Set Thine image in its place
Second Adam from above
Reinstate us in Thy love

Even with that mighty apostle Paul
“O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory”

This is a complete transformation. Although Dave WM thinks my imagination has got away with me and that there is still hope that I can return, I would not want to return. This is life. This is the life He spoke of. The yoke is easy.

This is something that all my studying and searching was powerless to give me. All the wisdom, science, reasoning and philosophy can not give this life, this “well of water springing up” Neither can it make one hunger and thirst for righteousness. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” One cannot arrive at a knowledge of God. The Lord Jesus is real. It is as Blaise Pascal (a brilliant mathematical and scientific mind, perhaps one of the greatest of the last few centuries) has noted “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars”

God’s ways (with reverence) seem foolish
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan”
A King born not in a palace but in a stable
A carpenter confounding the learned
A messiah that is crucified in weakness
The church left to unlearned fisherman
Their leader had denied Christ 3 times
But that is God’s way, He confounds the wise, His ways are infinitely greater than ours.

And although it was always before me I could never see it. I studied the scriptures and came up with a similar result as the Sadducees – There is no resurrection. The more I tried the further away I got. But my eyes were opened. That’s the only way I can explain it. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins”.

mj said...

"I am not a "god hater" and, frankly, I take offense at being labeled such."
Noted jim arvo. I shall refrain from such terms but the gospel is a very offensive message.

.:webmaster:. said...

My point, MJ, is that personal experience, when it comes to supernatural, spiritual epiphanies, means twat.

It means nothing.

It is completely irrelevant. My personal experience, yours... everyone's.

What you need to give is some testable evidence for your magical, mysterious, invisible, buddy from another dimension. Without that, you're just another raving, religious lunatic.

I can't explain it, but one day my eyes were opened and I realized I'd been living in a fantasy world! Well, that's not true, I can explain it: I used my reasoning abilities and had to admit that I had been duped by a religious cult. Christianity is big, and popular, but it is nothing more than another religious cult, with magical talking snakes, flying fiery chariots, floating ax heads, demon possessed pigs, and un-dead god-men flying through the air.

It's a kooky religion with kooky stories.

Rant and rave about your "personal revelation" all you want, but plenty of people in plenty of other religions have exactly the same kinds of rabid testimonials as you. You don't believe their testimonials. And when you figure out why you don't believe their rantings, then you'll know why I reject yours.

And, remember, I had the experience you are talking about. As much as I once believed in that experience, I now realize it was only all in my mind.

Ultimately, as you admitted in your post, Christianity plays on fear -- the fear of death. "Oh death, where is thy..."

I'm no longer afraid of death; death is just a normal part of being mortal.

.:webmaster:. said...

the gospel is a very offensive message.

Nah, it's not offensive. It's nuts.

Here's the gospel in a nutshell:

"Believe in me, or I promise I'll make you bend your knee, and then I'll sadistically roast your a** in horrific everlasting torment and torture, and you'll never die, you'll just become an example to eternity of my holy, righteous indignation at having my affections spurned. Why would I do this? Because I love you!"

Yup, definitely nuts.

Either nuts, or your god is having a really tough time dealing with her premenstrual syndrome. I mean, that "message" just doesn't make any sense at all.

mj said...

you're quick, i'll give you that

A. J. Chesswas said...

I’m sharing my testimony with my youth group this Friday. As a result I’ve been thinking about the word testimony, and how it means today something a heck of a lot different to what it would have meant to earlier Christians. As you say, “Today’s 20-century-old Christianity would be unrecognizable to its First Century progenitors.”

What got me thinking was how the word testimony is legal by nature, and the way Jesus said “you will be my witnesses” (also a legal term). It struck me that the chief concern of Christians through the ages has not been whether he’s able to give me good feelings today, in person, but rather whether he is the Messiah promised to God’s people who would be God incarnate, teaching all truth, atoning for our sins and conquering evil.

Look at the first sermon of the Apostle Peter;

“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him…”

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”

“…we are all witnesses of the fact…”

A Christian testimony is not meant to be a story of an emotional experience, but rather an explanation of why it is clear to the believer, beyond all reasonable doubt, that Jesus Christ is who he claims to be. A true testimony is something like that of Lee Strobel’s, in “A Case for Christ”, or any of the countless other great thinkers whose minds were converted - not just their emotions. Who, in the mould of the Apostle Paul, “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”.

I’ve discovered an interesting looking essayto this effect, by Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853). I might give it a read and get back to you. Have a read yourself.

http://www.bibleteacher.org/sgtestimony.htm

Wes said...

"Lee Strobel’s, in “A Case for Christ”, or any of the countless other great thinkers whose minds were converted."

Hyuk yuk.. There it is AGAIN!! Hey Dave, how many times on this site has Lee Strobel's book been referred to?

A great thinker? Now there's an oxymoron! Nah - just moron. -Wes.

Wes said...

"http://mwillett.org/atheism/strobel.htm"

Wes said...

Judge: “Mr. Strobel now produce your eyewitnesses please.”
Silence.
Judge: “Mr. Strobel, I heard your irrelevant story about the black kid, now will you produce the eyewitnesses for your case, please.”
Silence.
Judge: “One last time, Mr. Strobel, do you have an eyewitness?”
Strobel: “Your honor, I have an expert who can testify...”
Judge: “Mr. Strobel, by the story of the black kid you gave me the impression you had eyewitnesses —don't you even have one eyewitness?”
Strobel: “I have an expert, actually several scholarly, sincere, Christian experts, who are willing to testify.”
Judge: “So, you concede you have no eyewitness for Jesus Christ?”
Strobel: “Your honor, I will offer you expert testimony that shall convince you and the jury of the authenticity of the Jesus story.”

Yup. That DOES about sum up that shitty book. -Wes.

A. J. Chesswas said...

What sort of judge would expect an eyewitness to an event that happened 1977 years ago??

Wes said...

"What sort of judge would expect an eyewitness to an event that happened 1977 years ago??"

One that would want all the real evidence on the table before handing down a decision about something that supposedly HAPPENED 1977 years ago, I suppose. ;-)

But really, what sort of judge would really take any of Lee's 'evidence' seriously?? What real evidence has this guy put forward??

Wes said...

Lee has presented NOTHING that any courtroom would accept as evidence for a case worth hearing. Perhaps this "Case For Christ" stuff would be better suited for a courtroom setting in the Bronze Age, when people were a hell of a lot more ignorant and had a propensity to believe superstitious nonsense. Then, and only then, would Christ have a case at all. But then, so would Zeus, Osiris, etc...

Wes said...

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html

Anonymous said...

Along the lines of this post, I found that the times I was "strongest" in my faith were when I felt good about a message or a song. I would go home that day and vow to myself to work on being a perfect Christian from that point on. The feeling didn't last. Sooner or later I was jacking off to nudie magazines, followed by an extreme feeling of guilt. Then I'd feel guilty until through the next sermon about having jacked off, and would vow, then jack off, and feel guilty again. That was pretty much my life for over 20 years. Damn that sucked! I love jacking off now! It makes me feel 20x better than any sermon or song ever did. Ahhhhhh, feels so good. I especially love the fact that every Christian who feels the need to evangelize us to earn brownie points will read this comment and be disgusted with it. Take that, bitches!

eel_shepherd said...

Great thinker...

Lee Strobel...

...cognitive dissonance.

Wiseman27 said...

I am going to interject something here:

Let's look at the obvious here, we know that the Israelites came out of Egypt according to the Old Testament(I'm not Jewish but bear with me), and we know that Osiris supposedly resurrected from the dead on the third day after sacrificing himself to himself for the sins of Egypt so that those that put there faith in HIS resurrection would be saved from eternal damnation any of this sound familiar(this of course happening at least 1000 years before Jesus walked the earth), what are the chances that the Christian faith is nothing more than another conception or take on a VERY ancient concept?.....Can any of you Christians ABSOLUTELY GAURANTEE ME that after you die YOU won't be cast into hell for not putting your faith in Osiris? I didn't think so......

On another note, most of what Jesus taught about BEHAVOIR and MORALS the Buddha taught about 500 years before he was even born. Am I belittling Jesus' core teachings? Absolutely not. Do I accept him as a Man-God, absolutely not. Do I accept the Buddha(I am not Buddhist either but I respect that religion more than I do Christianity and I do practice Buddhist/Taoist philosophy) as a Man-God? Abosulutely not.

But how can someone who is rational argue a rational point to the irrational? True Christianity is about CONTROL, and if you argue with a fundy about the holes in their arguments it will keep them trying to use fear to control you because that is all they know. They think that they well inherit the earth and therefore if you rise up against them they will continue to push their point and it will never end because they want to CONTROL YOU!

I also don't fully understand(being that Buddhism is an atheist religion at the core of it, the gods and demons were aspects of the human psyche) why a lot of Atheists have such a problem with it? Not prostelyzing here but just curious....

have a good day, ALL religions, and ALL Agnostics, and ALL Atheists

.:webmaster:. said...

Wiseman,

We used to be Christians. We know what Christians think and believe.

"They think that they well inherit the earth and therefore ... they will continue to push their point and it will never end because they want to CONTROL YOU!"

Now your statement is true.

webmdave said...

"...intelligent, thoughtful, individualistic people have fewer babies and at a later age, meaning the birth rate for intelligent people is lower."

Off topic but... this reminds me of a funny movie, Idiocracy. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

Over time only the dummies reproduced and the world was left without anyone smart.

webmdave said...

I am responding to a comment from 3 years ago and realize this is a late entry, but I just had to comment, since my husband and I were just talking about this yesterday.

Anonymous (from 3 years ago) said:
I'm not sure logically that I can believe that. I understand where you come from about it. That there are alot of "Christians" who are really fluffy and fake, but just going back to 1st century Christianity, Paul and his conversion, it does prove what you say about emotion. But how so quickly? How so passionately? I mean I'm still asking these questions myself, but without emotion, life seems not as life like. How could Saul have been converted to Paul a complete 180 degrees? It seems like his conversion almost defies logic.

First of all, you are assuming the story is true. But let's put that aside for a moment, and examine it as if it were true. Before Paul was coverted, he was a passionate Christian-hater, ready to go to any extreme to stamp out the blasphemous new sect. Upon conversion he became a passionate Christian. His character was one of passion and complete, zealous devotion. Both as a Pharisee, and as a Christian. So for me, it was just a different channel to funnel his zeal, and not that big of a change at all.

Now, if God took couch-potato, uber-ambivalent Joe and turned him into a religious zealot, that would be more surprising to me :)

That is, of course, assuming this is all true.