By Bill J
The problem with Christians is that they are not taught to look at the Bible critically. They are taught to believe it without doubt, usually from an early age. To most of them, it is inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it has to be correct. When I took bible classes in Bible College we always looked at the difficult passages with faith. The kind of faith that believes there is an explanation for why something seemed contrary. The professors always gave some reason for why God had the Israelites kill children or commit genocide. They would explain why God doesn't answer every prayer, even when we follow the Bible literally, like bringing the elders of the church to pray for the sick. Aren't the sick supposed to be healed if the elders pray for them? Only if they are true elders, right, whatever.
Their explanations seemed plausible to us because we believed the Bible came from God and God must have had a good reason, right? Weren't we taught that God¡¦s ways are above our ways and we can not possibly fathom why God does or did stuff like that, or why He doesn't answer every prayer? My apologetic courses were similar. They never taught you to think for yourself. Seminary was different. At least they didn't try to explain away the difficult passages. They made you talk about it, but they didn't teach you to question your belief in God. They just taught you to modify your belief. Seminary is where I learned that we didn't really know who wrote most of the Old and New Testament, we learned that the Gospels were written decades after Christ¡¦s death and so on. My seminary had at least 40 different denominations so there were a lot of disagreements and debates. It was unity in action. Boy am I glad Christians have the truth and they all agree on what it is.
Most fundies see a site like this as an attack on God. They are committed to proving that they love God and that their faith is real and accurate. This makes them feel good about themselves and re-enforces their beliefs.
When a Christian gets on this site, to argue about why they really know the true and loving God, it¡¦s hard to know what type of Christian you are dealing with, because there are so many different denominations and theologies among Christians. Most evangelicals don¡¦t even understand the other non-evangelical denominations. They only know enough to write them off, as if they are some lesser form of Christianity. They usually believe that they, the true Christians, have it right. Feeling right about their belief unfortunately gives way to feeding the ego. If you believe that you have the real truth, what does that do to you?
It ought to make you sell everything you have and live your last breath serving God. It ought to scare the hell out of you because all your friends and family might go into the fire forever while you lay about praising God for eternity. It ought to make you see how selfish your life is if you don¡¦t do everything you can to insert the Gospel into your daily life and share the good news with everyone. It ought to make you give to the poor and open your home to anyone who needs it. It ought to make you turn the other cheek and offer the coat on your back to your enemy or a stranger. It ought to make you meek, slow to anger and thoughtful. It ought to make you treat your neighbor just the way you want to be treated. It ought to make you love, yes, actually love your enemy as well as your neighbor. It ought to make you rejoice when you experience trials and tribulation. But it doesn't, does it?
So what's up with that? Well, that is the cognitive dissonance Christians try to explain away inside themselves. This is what makes them creatures of hypocrisy and self deception. This is what makes them believe they can keep living a nominal Christian life without really being a "sold out Jesus Freak." This is the point where the Christian says, "I am under grace, because we are all human and God sent his Son to pay for our sins." This literally means, I can not really live up to the teachings of Jesus on a daily basis, but I've got a way out. It¡¦s called forgiveness. I can just keep on living as I please and ask God to keep on forgiving me. Never mind about the Holy Spirit who is supposed to indwell every true Christian and give them the power to overcome sin and serve God. Aren't we supposed to know them by their works? This is the point where false guilt and continued repentance comes in. Some Christians compartmentalize their Christian life (this usually happens after 40). Some always feel like they don¡¦t measure up so they ask God to forgive them on a daily basis. And some don't give a rat's ass as long as they believe the right doctrine and keep doing what their church tells them.
Boy am I glad I grew up and started thinking for myself.
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)