2/19/2009                                                                                       View Comments

It's not a religion -- it's a relationship

Fai volare in alto tutto e non temer di non sa...Image by confusedvision via Flickr

By Josh Sullivan

"It's not a religion. It's a relationship.” Has anyone else heard Christians use this argument? It's hard to say when this phrase gained popularity. According to Gregory Kouki of the radio show, Stand to Reason, "this slogan has been a rallying cry of 1970s and 80s evangelicalism.” Whatever the case, the phrase is popular amongst Christians. You can read blog posts on it, watch Christians on YouTube recycling it, you can even buy bumpers stickers proclaiming it. But what bothers me about this phrase is how many things are just wrong with it.

This phrase sets up a classical logical fallacy, called a false dichotomy (more specifically, it's black-and-white thinking, a sub-class of the false dichotomy). The phrase implies that there are two choices. It's either religion, or a relationship. In reality, there are more than just two choices. A possible third choice is closer to the truth: it's religion and a relationship (albeit imaginary). Christianity continues to thrive because of religion. Christians continue thinking that they're developing personal relationships with God because of religion. With a little critical thinking it's obvious that a relationship with God requires the framework of religion to answer basic questions about the nature of relationships with God. It is a religion. Religion propagates the idea of a relationship with a personal God. Religion tells you what the relationship will be like. Religion reinforces the concept that God communicates directly to you. Religion encourages evangelism and indoctrination. A relationship without the framework of religion is meaningless. One begets the other.

Like most specious Christian arguments, the phrase is vague and packed full of equivocation. What is the "it” in this phrase? Which religion is the person talking about? Christianity? If so, which of the +20k denominations within Christianity? What kind of relationship? D. Q. McInerny, author of "Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking” warns against the use of vague and ambiguous words, "not because they have no meaning, but because they are especially rich in meaning”. Though, that doesn't seem to stop Christians from using vague, ambiguous, and equivocal words in their arguments. When Christians say "it's not about religion” they are using the word "religion” equivocally. I suspect that a good number of Christians who use this phrase are defining religion as getting up on Sunday, putting on dress clothes, going to church, singing hymns, and listening to a sermon. Religion certainly contains these activities, but religion is by no mean summed up by these activities. They are, in essence, setting up a false definition of what religion is in order to de-emphasize its importance.

Religion reinforces the concept that God communicates directly to you. Religion encourages evangelism and indoctrination. A relationship without the framework of religion is meaningless. One begets the other. In a strict sense, the two words mean pretty much the same thing. The Oxford American Dictionary defines religion as "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods”. So, religion can be defined as believing in and worshiping a personal God. Kind of sounds like a relationship to me.

It's not a relationship. At least not in the sense that they imply. Moreover, making a statement about the existence of a relationship with God means they need to give evidence of the relationship's existence. And resorting to personal experience (another logical fallacy, called "special pleading”) or using the Bible as a source of evidence doesn't count. Personally, I would love to see evidence that there is a God and that He is a personal God who communicates with us. The moment someone can show this to me I'll gladly believe. John Proctor, a character from Arthur Miller's work, The Crucible, said, "God never spoke in my ear and I can't think of any one else he's done the favor!”.

I'd like to see Christians dump this tired, stupid phrase from their repertoire of one-liners. The statement is false. If it's not about religion, then we can get rid of religion. If it is about religion, which I believe it is, then they should concede that the statement is bunk and that they're playing games with words.

Have any of you experienced Christians using this phrase as if it proves a point? How did you respond? What was it like for you to realize that the relationship Christians are so fond of is completely imaginary?

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56 comments:

webmdave said...

As a Christian I find some good nuggets here. The difficulty is that people who have a problem with "religion" as it pertains to Christianity are not using the Oxford American dictionary as their definition. It seems that the idea of religion or being "religious" has taken on a different meaning for people. It carries a negative connotation and includes ideas of being bound up in man-made rules and organization and--thanks to seedy televangelists--money is exchanged for wealth and happiness. The "It's not a religion..." slogan is just a common ground for Christians who are rebelling and want to break out of this stereotype of "religion." Yes, the religion of Christianity is where we learn about God, what he expects from us in our relationship with him, etc. I think you're being a bit too pragmatic with your definition of a relationship to suit your personal unbelief. I don't have the Oxford dictionary handy, but when I type "relationship" into my dictionary app on my Mac it says: "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected" Your unbelief in God does not affect my relationship with Him. There is plenty of evidence and I find it interesting that you would not allow someone to present you with personal experience and the Bible. Are you in love? Do you talk with that person all of the time? Do you feel loved and wanted in their presence? Do you send cards or write love notes that I could read? Were you taught by example how to love? Are there guidelines for your relationship in place? Are you sure it's not imaginary?

webmdave said...

Pdrv,
I'm glad to agree with you that religious views should consist of more than simply

webmdave said...

Pdrv: "I don't have the Oxford dictionary handy, but when I type "relationship" into my dictionary app on my Mac it says: "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected" Your unbelief in God does not affect my relationship with Him."

Ergo, the relationship is between two psychological concepts in your mind; your idea of you and god – you’ve just chosen to make it a pleasant relationship, but could have just as easily chosen an unpleasant relationship in your thoughts.

Wonder "why" you've chosen to opt for one particular mental relationship over another - religion perhaps?

Peace
D8

webmdave said...

When Christians say "It's not about Religion" They just want to make the term "RELIGION" go extinct from this world. When we say "RELATIONSHIP" it's all about loving and talking God however and whenever you want... No need to repeat the Holy Mary or Our Father a dozen times especially when it doesn't come from the heart. We Christians KNOW that there's a God and we don't look at him as an "imaginary friend" so we have a relationship with him like a normal human being who you can talk to. That's the thing, you all want visual proof. Just have faith! God is a miracle worker and he will work around your life if you have the patience. If you think Religion includes a relationship, you're wrong. Religion has so much more nonsense that us Evangelical Christians believe! God should never be placed under Religion... He doesn't belong in any terms! For those foul-mouthing God and his disciples, I feel sorry for you. It's really sad how people don't believe in Him. You know, you don't lose anything nor does it physically affect you in any way if you believe and trust in the Lord. There is really no harm! Let's just say you didn't believe that there wasn't a God and you did die... Then your right, no heaven or hell, you just DIE. But if there really WAS a God... Uh-oh. :)

People need to know that us Evagenlical Christians aren't around to freak people out because we love God so much... You just judge too hard. I guess it's too much "nice" to handle huh? Do note that most of us have hearts full of love and positivity. We stay optimistic! Our pastors are so full of energy cracking jokes every minute of his preachings. We dance our hearts out to the Lord and we sing our hearts out!

LOVE GOD! :)

webmdave said...

A friend of mine is in a loving relationship with Keira Knightley and Jessica Alba. Now a lot of people scoff when they hear that, but it's true. He thinks about them nearly all the time, imagines what he'll do when he finally meets them, even changes his behaviour to be more the sort of person they would like. And he is absolutely, unshakably convinced that they love him and want to be with him for ever and always. Truly are Keira, Jessica and my pal an inseparable threesome of wholesome love.

Lucky guy.

webmdave said...

"They just want to make the term "RELIGION" go extinct from this world."

Yeah, well just keep praying for it to happen. Meanwhile, here in the real world, Christianity is still a religion.

"We Christians KNOW that there's a God and we don't look at him as an "imaginary friend" so we have a relationship with him like a normal human being who you can talk to."

Actually, the second half of that statement is literally true. Brain scans have revealed that people praying to God really do use the same parts of the brain they would if talking to another real person, rather than imagining a conversation. Sadly, those same scans revealed no brain activity indicating they were receiving any kind of reply.

It's the first half where your statement falls down. You don't know it's true, you just believe so. People with strong beliefs of any colour are apt to fail to see any possibility of them being in error, so claim to 'know' the truth, when in fact they merely can't imagine otherwise.

"That's the thing, you all want visual proof. Just have faith! God is a miracle worker and he will work around your life if you have the patience."

I want objective proof, not subjective distortion. Evidence is evidence, real, physical, immutable. If I have to believe something is a miracle to see it, then it is ipso facto not objective.

"You know, you don't lose anything nor does it physically affect you in any way if you believe and trust in the Lord."

Wait, you just said I had to have faith to see proof of God, now you're saying having faith doesn't affect me in any way. Which is it, because making me able to see evidence of God sounds like a pretty physical effect to me.

Or are you implying that faith in God only affects you mentally? Because I'm sure you'll find plenty of people here agree with you.

"Let's just say you didn't believe that there wasn't a God and you did die... Then your right, no heaven or hell, you just DIE. But if there really WAS a God... Uh-oh. :)"

Let's say there's really a god, but it's not yours... Uh-oh, you just wasted your one life praying to the wrong guy. So you went through all that self-sacrifice crap and still burn with the rest of us. Or perhaps there is a god, but he only likes atheists. Then we win double and you've screwed up both your life and your afterlife.

Pascal's Wager is the classic false dichotomy; he presupposes that there is either his god or no god, setting the conditions so as to arrive at the result he wants. But Pascal was well aware that there were many competing religions who all saw the others as damned for eternity, and that there were as many again Christian sects who thought the same about all other sects, his wager could never have made sense, even to him. Also, it assumes that God does not care about motives, only that praise and lip-service be directed his way.

"You just judge too hard. I guess it's too much "nice" to handle huh?"

Says the person who put a smiley after an insinuation that if I was wrong I would be tortured for eternity. I'm sure there are nice evangelicals, but being nice doesn't make you right in the way that being vile proves you wrong. If Christians of any sect were beacons of sweetness and light to a (wo)man, that in itself would be remarkable enough to be of note. But take the time to read some of the testimonials on this site, the pious, self-serving scum that feature far too often? They are your faith's spokespeople too.

"LOVE GOD! :)"

LOVE PEOPLE! IT HAS RATHER MORE EFFECT! :)

webmdave said...

I just want to say that as far as I am aware, most religions don't think most people will be damned for eternity. This seems, more or less a Christian or Abrahamic religious construct. It is, seemingly the monotheistic religions that have tended to be more black and white in their thining. God is all good. Satan is all bad. Many other religions have more nuanced gods. And many other religions have a far less severe form of hell or an unfortunate afterlife. So, if you want to place your bet, I suggest you do so without involving the Abrahamic god. Just from what I have been reading so far. I still have a lot of research to do on the topic of an unfortunate afterlife and/or hell around the world.

webmdave said...

Shelovesdcfc: "For those foul-mouthing God and his disciples, I feel sorry for you."

For you, who invaded *our* space, I have little more than contempt. I can't even feel pity for you any more.

"Let's just say blah blah blah... Uh-oh. :)

Nice smiley you put there, kiddo. That's truly disgusting, smiling at the thought that non-believers will get punished by your imaginary hissy-fit buddy in the sky.

It isn't a joke. It will never be a joke.

If even one child is lying awake at night, afraid of going to your mythical hell (or afraid that a much-loved friend or family member is going there), then you have gone too far. There is no excuse for causing such terror and psychological damage.

"People need to know that us Evagenlical Christians aren't around to freak people out because we love God so much... You just judge too hard."

On the contrary, I don't think we judge you nearly hard enough. If your sick bleating and thinly-veiled hellfire bullying is an example of your "nice" and "hearts full of love and positivity," I for one will give it a miss.

Now go away. Your mythology is not welcome here.

webmdave said...

The word religion has several definitions, one of which perfectly describes your "RELATIONSHIP" with gawd to a T. So regardless of what you think, you are practicing a religion.

And that act you people put on about being full of (ahem) "love and positivity" is nothing but a cheap flim-flam. I know. I was raised by you idiots, and I have seen it for myself.

Now why don't you and the baby jesus go give each other a tabasco colonic.

webmdave said...

Your belief if God places him FULLY in religion. Religion is the worship and belief in a supreme being. You had as well be saying that the sun shouldn't be called a galactic object because it isn't in the galaxy.

You are narrow in your thoughts and beliefs. Like every other religious person on the planet, you believe that YOUR god is the only TRUE god and that every other god is a fake. With over 5 billion religious people in the world, I say the chance of you being WRONG is near 99.99999999999999999999%

With that in mind, dear Christian, I must say: WELCOME TO HELL!

webmdave said...

You sing your hearts out.
You pray your hearts out.
You worship your hearts out.

Have you ever stood back and considered just how one-way your relationship is?

You do all this and yet all you get in return is silence and a nice warm glow inside.

I get that nice warm glow inside by talking to people who actually exist, who are actually interested in me, and I in them.

Next time you talk to your god, be silent occasionally and listen. You will discover that no matter how hard you try, the only voice you hear will be your own thoughts.

You will convince yourself that your god is talking to you, because you need to do that, otherwise you have to admit that you are fooling yourself. You are being fooled by an organization which began in the 4th century and which is devoted to taking your money and resources form you while giving you nothing in return except the warm glow that you produce.

I would so like to give you a gift for xmas. Read your bible, talk to god, ask him to keep his promises and, when you discover that the book, the church and your prist.pastor is lying to you, accept the gift of freedom that reason and knowledge offer you. Freedom from guilt; freedom from sin which you never committed; freedom from the feeling that you are worthless without a deity who, even if he existed, does not care and will not even spare the time to sit down and have a meaningful chat with you.

My gift to you this season is freedom from being conned, fleeced and demeaned. I sincerely hope you accept it and discover the ineer peace for which you so obviously strive and which you can never find in the one-way relationship you are in now.

Peace on earth can only happen when you accept yourself and responsibility for yourself.

Peace,

David

webmdave said...

David,

That was a beautiful, eloquent comment. I'd like to see those same thoughts on a xmas card we could send to believers -- our gift to them.

Yeah, I know.... it's not going to happen. But sometimes it's the dreams and imaginings that keep us going.

BP

webmdave said...

David,
Now that was downright upright, and inspiring! It just seems like there should be a "Thus sprach David," or something, at the end of it.

I'm some old glad you're on my side, you silver-tongued devil!

[P.S. All they're getting for their efforts is THEIR OWN "nice warm glow inside." Love it!]

webmdave said...

Tabasco colonic?

No, no, no, Juan_marco! Tabasco is far too mild for the likes of these trolls. I recommend a nice Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce. :-D

webmdave said...

**That's the thing, you all want visual proof. Just have faith! God is a miracle worker and he will work around your life if you have the patience.**

Says the poster to someone who personally waited 22 YEARS for god to answer 2. Simple. Prayers. What I got was a world of hurt, empty promises, lies, mocking, and all out war.

Everything has improved greatly after I quit the *cough, hack* 'relationship'.

I ask again... do you people actually *read* ANYTHING people post on this site? Or do you just kinda skim over stuff and wade in like a half drunk elephant thru the fine china section of Pier One? *Watches Pier One collapse in a giant fireball* Oh.

webmdave said...

"Religion has so much more nonsense that us Evangelical Christians believe!"

- So you're saying that you believe even more nonsense than the non-evangelical christians? Also (english major here) "us" cannot believe in anything; us is a direct object and cannot perform the action of a verb.

"You know, you don't lose anything nor does it physically affect you in any way if you believe and trust in the Lord. There is really no harm!"

- I beg to differ. I was done untold psychological damage by the beliefs in hell, in the afterlife, in the rapture, in the idea that god is sitting up there and condemning me for every tiny sin I was committing and didn't even realize it was a sin. Only after I hit rock bottom did I wake up and realize how much more peaceful my life would be without the nonsense of religion. And it truly has been.

"Do note that most of us have hearts full of love and positivity. We stay optimistic! "

- Unfortunately this has not been my experience. This "love and positivity" is really immaturity and a need to be TOO bright and bubbly to try and convince "us atheists" that christians are fun and cool and rad too!!!!! I don't buy it. I see it for what it is (immaturity and insecurity; you need to feel accepted so you'll be "jammin' for jesus!" if that makes you feel a part of your particular church)

"Our pastors are so full of energy cracking jokes every minute of his preachings."

- See, that's part of the problem. Not everybody wants a jokey, buddy-buddy pastor. I thrive on intelligent, critical discussions that teach me to use well-thought-out semantics, challenge me intellectually, and enhance my reasoning skills to be used in everyday life. "Buddy Jesus" pastors are usually on the level of intelligence with used car salesmen in their intelligence and remind me of my sleazy boss from my first job out of college.
Please reference the article below from the Wall Street Journal this summer: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111704575355311122648100.html
Clearly I'm not the only person who feels this way.

webmdave said...

**Or do you just kinda skim over stuff and wade in like a half drunk elephant thru the fine china section of Pier One? *Watches Pier One collapse in a giant fireball**

You have such a way with words, wylekat. I usually read the posts here while I'm having my morning coffee. You make me smile ... if not LMAO! Thanks for that. 8-)

webmdave said...

Outstanding reply!

webmdave said...

**"You know, you don't lose anything nor does it physically affect you in any way if you believe and trust in the Lord. There is really no harm!"**

Yeah. I somehow left that little gem out of my post. Dont lose ANYTHING, huh... The obvious implications and damage report aside- do you know how the post you answered reads to me now?

Anyone ever go to a hard sell- like to a condo (for the free prizes) or anything with a 'hard sell'? Everything is played up and up- and the truth of the matter is, you end up with a badly maintained, insect infested, cheaply made condo or car or whatever- and the 'expensive free prize' is a plastic camera that takes lousy photos and a white gold faux ring with Genuine Imitation CZ solitare: it's plastic covered in silver paint and a tacky plastic gem the size of a flea's crap mounted in the middle with hot glue.

And you pay out the butt for it with monthly payments that break the bank.

webmdave said...

*bows* I try :-D

webmdave said...

I think there is a typo in the sentence you quoted from Shelovesdcfc's dump-and-run post; she probably meant to type "than" instead of "that." But, perhaps, it was really a Freudian slip. ;-}

If that's the case, there's some hope for her because it indicates that, at some level, she actually realizes that her religion (or "relationship" or whatever she calls the delusion she professes to believe), is full of nonsense.

This is just speculation, of course, but I do like to think that many of the would-be evangelizers who intrude here must be struggling with some doubts that led them to visit our EX-christian site. Maybe, there's hope for some of them to free themselves from the religion/relationship/cult eventually and become rational, thinking adults. So, I'll just keep thinking that. It is, after all, the season for hope.

Anyway, I just want to add that I am in complete agreement with you about the yuck-factor inherent in over-the-top claims of "hearts full of love and positivity" and praise for hip, joke-cracking ministers. Nothing turns me off like smarmy, evangelizing christians. Uggghhhh!

webmdave said...

"I think there is a typo in the sentence you quoted from Shelovesdcfc's dump-and-run post; she probably meant to type "than" instead of "that." But, perhaps, it was really a Freudian slip. ;-}"

I'm pretty sure it was a typo, but hastily made fundy typos make for good humor in my book :) Sure we all make one once or twice, but the terrible grammar, misspellings, and overall lack of coherency in the majority of the "drive by" posts here make me snicker :D

webmdave said...

I'm going to have to get some of those out of sheer curiosity.

webmdave said...

"LOVE PEOPLE! IT HAS RATHER MORE EFFECT! :)"

Couldn't have said it better myself!

webmdave said...

What do you mean a relationship with Jesus does not contain any of the elements on the second list? I've experienced everything on the second list through my relationship with Jesus Christ. The whole "it's not a religion, it's a relationship" is that.... for example.... I used to go to Catholic church but never benefited from anything by going. I never knew God by going there, it was just to go because it was "the right thing to do" in some persons' view. Then I started going to a different church that claimed this statement "it's a relationship" and truly my experiences in this church changed my life. The worship style is completely different, it actually makes me feel closer to God and I have felt God's presence numerous times because of this. It IS actually a relationship because I do talk to Jesus about my troubles, I do feel his presence "in the dead of the winter", and he DOES protect me from harm, He has saved me from whom I used to be. He has allowed me to forigve others that have done me wrong and honestly I feel so FREE! I know that He is the provider for my food, money, clothes, etc... Why do you think there are so many branches of Christianity? because the Catholic church wasn't giving them that connection, neither was the Protestant, the Lutheran, and so on! That they kept trying to make new branches to find that connection. These branches, let's say Catholics for example.... I was proof that most Catholics have not had that relationship with Jesus because they go to church because they feel they have to, they may think God is going to punish them for sins they have done, they truly do not know God's grace and love for them! That is the difference between taking Christianity as a religion or being a Christian as having a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. Honestly, I have NEVER been more HAPPIER than I am now due to my relationship with God. Many fail to see his love for us.... and it's so sad because he honestly LOVES everyone one of you reading this soooo much!!!
It's a religion when you only think of Jesus as our Lord & Savior. It's a relationship when you BELIEVE this with all your heart and know of God's LOVE for us! and when Jesus turns into your best friend.
And also how would you know what a relationship with Jesus is like if you have never had one? That would mean you are not qualified to make that assumption.
any more comments or questions feel free to say or ask :)

webmdave said...

The answer is actually NO. This is because there is a different with being a Christian religiously or being a Christian as having a relationship with God. (refer to my response I left under Roan7995's comment) One can believe that Jesus is our Lord & Savior but that's it.... they just believe that but they never let God into their lives that much. But even so they are still going to heaven merely because they believe this but unfortuntely still do not have a relationship with God.

webmdave said...

If you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord & Savior then you get to spend eternity in heaven with God after you die. If you don't then you get to spend eternity in hell. It doesn't matter whether you have a close relationship because that is for you own benefit if you do.

webmdave said...

nice sarcasm...
and are you trying to say that God views us humans as filthy rags? that is entirely false, where did you get that idea? We were made in his image, why would He view his own image as filthy rags??
and actually when you have a relationship with Jesus you are not the only one talking, because trust me He has plenty to say if you listen. And also, Jesus encourages me more than anyone else. He has given me the strength to do anything.
And just because He does not physically give us soup He sends us a friend or family member to do so.
Honestly why would I try to convince you otherwise if having a relationship with Jesus did not truly make me happy?? It's not that I'm getting you to believe in something false. Because it's not false, I only hope for you all to see what great things Jesus has done in my life He can do that and even more for you!

webmdave said...

**
You do all this and yet all you get in return is silence and a nice warm glow inside.

I get that nice warm glow inside by talking to people who actually exist, who are actually interested in me, and I in them.**

When I get a 'warm glow', I reach for the antacids. :-P

webmdave said...

<<" I do feel ....">>

No one is denying your feelings. But emotions are unreliable when testing the evidence for reality.

People "feel" ghosts, gods, and love for Charles Manson.

webmdave said...

Andrea in reply to Astreja:
"nice sarcasm...
and are you trying to say that God views us humans as filthy rags? that is entirely false, where did you get that idea? We were made in his image, why would He view his own image as filthy rags??..."

Andrea,
So then God has "Vestigial Organs", like we do? He/she has a tail bone, an appendix, wisdom teeth etc.?

Kinda make you look at God in a different light doesn't it?
Dano

webmdave said...

"If you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord & Savior then you get to spend eternity in heaven with God after you die. If you don't then you get to spend eternity in hell." ~ Xian guest, Andrea

So what happens if I am unable to honestly believe that "Jesus Christ" actually exists, which would be necessary in order for me to believe that this individual is my "Lord and Savior"? Does your invisible "Lord" accept phonies?....you know, people who lie to themselves(and others) just so they can get into "heaven"?

And anyway, is having to spend an eternity with a guy who drowns children, women carring child, and animals, much better than getting tormented in "hell"? Nah, 'don't think so.

webmdave said...

"It's a religion when you only think of Jesus as our Lord & Savior. It's a relationship when you BELIEVE this with all your heart and know of God's LOVE for us!"


I'm sorry, but the distinction you are attempting is a bunch of equivocal, nonsensical drivel. You either believe person X is dah, dah-dah, dah-dah, or you don't believe it. If I "think of", as in contemplate the idea, that "Jesus" is my "Lord", and yet, I don't believe it, no intelligent person is going to tell me I'm in a "religion".

"I know that He is the provider for my food, money, clothes, etc..."

So, tell me, how do you run around church with you hands thrown up in the air feeling "blessed" that your invisible provider has hooked you up with all the food, clothes, and money that >YOU< need, when this same guy lets millions of your fellow human beings on the other side of the globe go without food, clothes, and money? Well?

webmdave said...

I doubt you will ever convince anyone that your god is not make-believe, but you have laid the foundation for some spectacular sectarian violence.

Be there a lurking Catholic or Lutheran out there willing to offer rebuttal to Andrea's blasphemy?

webmdave said...

Ha! I'm a former catholic who got every bit as much out of catholicism as I did out of bornagainsm.



Nothing worthwhile.

webmdave said...

Andrea: "What do you mean a relationship with Jesus does not contain any of the elements on the second list? I've experienced everything on the second list through my relationship with Jesus Christ."

As far as I'm concerned, all that means is that you have a spectacularly fertile imagination.

"He has saved me from whom I used to be."

No, Andrea. You saved yourself.

"And also how would you know what a relationship with Jesus is like if you have never had one? That would mean you are not qualified to make that assumption... any more comments or questions feel free to say or ask :)"

I have three questions, Andrea.

What part of EX-Christian do you not understand?

Why should we believe your unverifiable personal spiritual experience over our own experiences?

And are you prepared to apologize without qualification for your statement "You are not qualified to make that assumption"?

If the answer to the third question is "No, I will not apologize to you," then don't ever come back to this site because you are not welcome here.

webmdave said...

Andrea, I choose hell.

I do not think that Jesus actually existed. If he did exist, I am quite certain that he was just a mortal man and did not come back from the dead. I cannot accept his alleged 'sacrifice' because I consider it the height of cowardice and dishonour to allow someone else to die in My place. Original Sin is a sick myth. Revelation is even worse. The god of the Bible is either incompetent, sadistic or completely nonexistent.

I simply cannot believe, and I will not stoop to faking belief for the sole purpose of avoiding eternal punishment. I have no desire to spend eternity with a god that would create a hell. If such a place as hell actually exists (but I doubt it very much), I prefer to spend eternity rescuing as many beings from hell as possible.

And if I cannot rescue them, I vow to stay with them.

webmdave said...

You are having a relationship with yourself, Andrea. And you have brought your self-centered, self-loving message to our website. We have heard your line of thinking, or should I say feeling, Andrea. We just don't buy into it.

I truly think it was super self-centered to say "how would you know what a relationship with Jesus is like if you have never had one?" Close minded of you considering I and others here have indeed been real live Christians. Why don't you try listening to what we have to say before opening your mouth in such a condescending fashion?.

webmdave said...

Andrea: "nice sarcasm... and are you trying to say that God views us humans as filthy rags? that is entirely false, where did you get that idea?"

The Bible.

"...trust me He has plenty to say if you listen."

Why should we trust your delusion, Andrea? It has obviously crippled your ability to respect us and our place on the web. It has filled your mind with the unconscionable idea that some hypothetical god-man died for YouYouYou to save you from a horrible fate that it, itself created...

...A fate that you seem to believe awaits us. Yet you persist in deliberately worshipping a being whom you believe created hell. Why? Because you're scared of hell? That's cowardice. Because you think that anyone who doesn't do the will of your imaginary friend 'deserves it'? That's abusive and slanderous.

"Honestly why would I try to convince you otherwise if having a relationship with Jesus did not truly make me happy??"

Because I would rather face reality with both eyes open instead of succumbing to a comfortable myth. Your idea of 'happiness' is utterly worthless to Me.

webmdave said...

So Andrea, what does it matter if a christian doesn't have a "relationship" if the end result is the same for said christian? Furthermore, why would anyone want a "relationship" with someone who tortures anyone, (as in non believers)? Or is it that you believe that there isn't a hell for them to go to?

webmdave said...

Do you think it was right of Jesus to have abandoned all those who died in the Holocaust while providing for all of your needs? Somehow, I suspect you believe the six million Jews the Nazis killed are in rotting in hell for not believing in Jesus. I also suspect that since many of the Nazis were believing Christians, you believe that they deserve heaven.

The Holocaust was not in any way limited to killing Jews. Polish non-Jews and Gypsies ran close seconds to the Jews in terms of the nationalities Hitler wished to wipe out. How do you explain Jesus meeting your each and every need while millions of Polish Christians were enslaved and murdered by the Nazis? What about the Belarussian Christians or the Christian Serbs killed by the Nazis and their Croat collaborators?

You sound like a real sick person. I would much rather spend my eternity in hell than in heaven with self-righteous jerks like you.

webmdave said...

I get it all the time; these days online, of course. I always respond that it's mere equivocation. They want to escape any negative connotation of religion in general and make it all warm and fuzzie and personal by saying it's a relationship.

webmdave said...

"It's not a religion. It's a relationship.” Has anyone else heard Christians use this argument?

Oh yes and the way some people talk about it, it puts new meaning to having a "relationship" with the dead- aka necromancy. I swear when one goes talking like this, they are getting some sort of thrill out of it. IMO, it's really bizarre and freaky.

webmdave said...

Excellent post, Josh. It really resonated with me.

In the early 80's, when I was in college, the "Relationship not a religion" cliche was being thrown about. The phrase was being used to combat a concept called "legalism" which was the emphasis that a church or youth group placed on rules and regulations.

The "model" for relationship was , of course, Jesus( The crowd screams, 'Yea!!!') and to some extent the apostle Paul. The "model" for legalism was the evil, nasty Pharisees (shouts of 'BOO!' erupt all over the house). Another related phrase that was kicked around at the time was "Let go and let God."

The intent was to stress and experience "freedom in Christ." where you depend on a personal experience to lead you to do the right thing and not a series of external rules. However, when your experience of God lead you to do things differently than the understood rules - - OH MY!

Even at the time I got the sense that people were being manipulated by this approach to exchange one set of rules for another. It's all about religion.

Religions are a lot like gambling casinos. They design everything around getting people to come in spend as much time in the house. The more time you spend in the house, the more the house will get out of you.

"Relationship vs. Religion" was a nice try. But it's like a casino. You can change the lighting and the carpets and buy new furniture, but in the end its all the same game.

webmdave said...

This "relationship" business got started as I was coming of age (oh, many years ago). This was during the hippie movement, or subculture, or whatever the hell it was. It was in vogue to refer to your boyfriend or girlfriend as your relationship. One would say "I have a new relationship" or "My relationship broke up".

Running parallel to the hippies was a bunch called, and calling themselves, "jesus people", otherwise known as "jesus freaks". They looked and talked like hippies, and took a smug delight in insisting that they did not have a religion, they had a relationship with jesus. Religion is what their parents have, in their big, expensive, phony churches.

I am sure the WM remembers all this.

Questions that never failed to stump them was: "What happens if we die without ever having formed this relationship? Do we go to hell?" This would never get an answer, of course, because they believed in the hell and heaven of the xristian religion. They also believed in the bible as god's word; became baptised; prayed on their knees, and had regular worship, where they sang, heard sermons and even took communion. Damned if it didn't look like a religion.

webmdave said...

I was brainwashed by the statement for the longest time growing up in a Baptist church. I'm glad to read that someone is speaking out against it!

webmdave said...

Same here, Rob. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church and heard this all the time. I heard a Lutheran pastor use it in an argument recently and it almost sent me over the edge.

webmdave said...

I first..sort of heard it when a family an extended member dicided to let himself die inside (or so I am convinced) and become a Born Again.

My 7 year old mind basically said "How can you have a relationship with a dead guy??"....

Then I heard about skull fucking a few years later......

Combined with this, that pretty much put me as far away from religion as anyone can get :)

webmdave said...

My ex-pastor told me that hell means "being apart from god or separated from god", not like the hell with a fire.

I couldn't understand the benefit-cost ratio with this idea.

He could not explain what being apart meant.

webmdave said...

Thank you so much Josh. Brainwashing. It destroyed my mind. and my life.
Walking into a christian church is the worst thing I ever did in my life. I am living
proof that it is wrong, it is dangerous to your mental health. Its ABUSE.
thank you and everyone on this website for your help to recover. Thank you
for your time in explaining and breaking this down. It is much appreciated.
and the only reason I am recovering is this website. and the books that literally prove that the bible is inaccurate- thank goodness. Thank you all.

webmdave said...

Next time a Christian spews this nonsense within earshot of you, ask him or her this simple question:

If a person dies and they DON'T have a relationship with your imaginary friend, do they go to hell? If their answer is Yes, then baby...it's a r-e-l-i-g-i-o-n.

webmdave said...

Krixstains also have a relationship with their assholes......... And if they would take their heads out of their assholes and look around at the World, theymight find some humans that they can have a relationship with. Get with it Krixstains.. You can't have a relationship with some make-believe g-od who couldn't even save himself, and who dies more that 2,000 years ago. Yor're all mental cases. who should be commited to the locale insane asylum.

webmdave said...

The book The End of Religion by Cavey talks about how religion is bad and what matters is that god is personal and a relationship with him.

I was talking with some christians friends a few days ago and they came up with these points to me:

1. Faith. It does not matter if you understand or not the bible or god, all you need is faith or blind faith if you encounter ugly parts in the bible. By faith you know you are saved that's it. We will ask god someday about those horrible stories in the bible. Now, we are only required to have faith.

2. Personal experience. Only when a christian have had a personal experience they know that god is real. If you haven't had one so far, that is why he is no real to you. And beacuse it is "personal" nobody can't refute it.

Those were the conclusive points from that meeting. And I left with this big WTF? those explanations sounded really brainless to me. I will meet them again to see if I am a believer again. They don't know yet I am completely atheist. I don't want to be confrontational, but I want to make them see the logic and rationale.

webmdave said...

Ryan: Running parallel to the hippies was a bunch called, and calling themselves, "jesus people", otherwise known as "jesus freaks

Ryan,
The "hippies" were big on getting-high using drugs, while the "jesus freaks" were big on getting high from connecting with jesus, at least in my neck of the woods that's how it usually went.

Of course, sometimes the jesus-freaks found jesus while using drugs to assist in that effort...LOL.

ATF (Who also remembers those jesus-freak communes to)

webmdave said...

Rosemary,

I prefer to use the term "stunted" rather than "destroyed". Your life and your mind are not destroyed. You are still here. You're with us, recovering. You were able to recognize the damage that you were dealt and you appear to be changing that.

You have a new life and a new mind now. You are recovering!

webmdave said...

Let me see if I got this straight. If I sign up for this relationship, eternal joy. If I don't, eternal torment. No pressure there, right?

Well written post Josh. Thanks.