Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the Deism.com website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”

Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!

“Praise the Lord”

A few minutes ago I read a posting on FB about a car accident that happened yesterday a few miles from where I live. Several people posted comments, most of them saying they hoped the involved parties were OK (as it turns out, one person got a couple of cracked ribs).

One of the last commenters wrote: “Praise the Lord.”

I wanted so badly to respond and ask whether the “Lord” should be praised for allowing the accident to happen or because someone was hurt …
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(In case you’re wondering, I held myself in check.)

Do You See Satan in Ezekiel?

In a discussion on one of Nate’s posting at the Finding Truth blog, there was some discussion on the authenticity of Paul. Was he truly an apostle? Did he speak for Jesus? Were his teachings from God or were they his own? One individual claimed that Paul was a “false apostle,” and referenced Deuteronomy 13 as her evidence.

After reading the chapter, I could see where she was coming from. However, as someone noted, these scriptures could be applied to any numbetr of persons. Thing is, this is true of the entire bible. There are innumerable passages that can be interpreted innumerable ways. How can we know which interpretation is correct? Christians will say the “Holy Spirit” will reveal the truth. Er … well … OK.

I’d like to offer my own perspective on another passage of scripture related to the existence of “Satan.” This is from Ezek. 28:11-19.

12 Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the stones of fire. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from among the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you.

This passage has long been accepted as pertaining to the “Big Bad Guy.” Even though the words, “devil,” “satan,” or “fallen angel” are nowhere to be found, scores of Christians are certain Ezekiel is writing about “someone” other than the person named in verse 12 (the king of Tyre).

What’s interesting is that throughout his book, Ezekiel speaks to several foreign rulers. So why do believers isolate this message written to the leader of Tyre and assign it a second meaning (i.e., Satan) — especially when Ezekiel specifically says he’s speaking to a mortal?

Personally, I don’t believe Ezekiel was talking about “Satan.”

Through extensive reading and research.  I discovered this idea came from the writings of Origen of Alexandria, one of the early church fathers. It was his contention that Ezekiel could not possibly be talking about a human being and therefore must be referring to “some superior power which had fallen away from a higher position,” and who was then converted into a “wicked being.”(1) In case you don’t know this Origen fellow, he played a major role in the formation of Christian doctrine. In fact, it was his viewpoint on this matter (among others) that set a precedent in early Christianity, and remains the accepted teaching in many churches today.

What do you think? Is Satan in Ezekiel?
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I discuss more on this topic in my book, along with several other passages that believers contend are about “Satan” (Garden of Eden, Book of Job, Lucifer in the Book of Isaiah, Revelation).  I think many will be surprised at what I learned.

 

(1) Origen, De Principiis, Book I, Chapter 5, Verse 4

Why Do People Pray?

In the area where I live (So. Oregon), there are multiple fires burning. Just in the last couple of days, another one  flared up and has pretty much wiped out a town in No. California (Weed). A couple of other fires are fairly close but it appears, thankfully, they won’t threaten the community where I live.

On Facebook, numerous individuals have been posting photos of the fires. Invariably, the ensuing comments include those who say they are “praying.”

It puzzles me that people believe praying after the fact is going to change anything. If “God” is in control, as many people believe, why did the fire, the earthquake, the tsunami, the hurricane, the tornado, or any other “act of nature” occur in the first place?

I know this is not a new question but when tragic events occur,  I find myself once again wondering why people believe an invisible supernatural entity is “looking down” on them and is going to change everything simply because they “pray.”

I used to pray. I won’t deny it. But if I’m honest, very rarely did I feel my prayers were answered. Of course, in those days, I had innumerable excuses for why the Big Guy in the Sky hadn’t responded as I had hoped.

Truth be known, it’s probably all psychological (Victoria?) in that the act of praying is the stimulus that brings comfort to the individual. And I suppose we all need a little help in that area once in awhile.

Kill ‘Em All!

Just read this in an article at AmericanThinker.com … and it chills my bones:

America is in a generational struggle against the sick, pathological and extreme ideology of Islam, and America must show no mercy for the merciless Islamic State, which seeks the “breaking of the American [Christian] cross” and the fulfillment of Islamic prophecy. We must unleash the full fury and might of the U.S. military on the Islamic State and annihilate these animals who would end our U.S. Republic, democratic elections and religious freedom, leaving only Sharia law. And, we must fight to victory or condemn future generations to a perpetual state of war, or worse.

I don’t think any of us want to be in a “perpetual state of war,” but is unleashing the “full fury and might of the U.S. military on the Islamic State” the answer? Does this writer think we can just walk in and blow the smithereens out of the countries that support terrorism and walk away unscathed?

I recognize that diplomatic reasoning doesn’t seem to be working, but it turns my stomach when the writer says we should “annihilate these animals.” If the U.S. were to follow his strategy, not only the “animals” would be annihilated, but thousands of innocent people as well.

I admit I don’t know the answer to the global situation that is facing the U.S. (and other countries), but there must be a better way than the venomous and vicious plan offered by this writer.

Thoughts?

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayer?

praying-hands

Many years ago, while living in California, I had a close friend (let’s call her Carrie) with whom I partied on a regular basis. One distinct thing I remember about Carrie was that she always seemed to be on a super-high whenever we went out. Flighty. Talkative. At the time, I just accepted it as part of her personality. It wasn’t until after I had moved away and we had drifted apart that I put two and two together. She was snorting cocaine! I know, I know. How could I miss it? Well, let’s just say I was young and innocent. Besides, the point I’m making is that this girl was definitely wild and crazy!

Awhile back, I got a Friend request from Carrie on Facebook. Come to find out, she’s “gotten religion” over the years. She doesn’t post very often, but when she does, it’s nearly always requests for prayer. Mostly related to her health … and her friends respond.

This week, she wrote a rather sad posting. Apparently, she has been told she has lung cancer and possibly bone cancer. But, as she put it, she’s fooled “that old Devil” because “all of this has only made me stronger, much stronger.” She then asked, once again, for prayers – and once again, her friends have responded.

Now I ask you, if God is real, if God is a healer, if God loves, if God answers prayer … then why is Carrie now diagnosed with CANCER! Why haven’t the “fervent prayers” for her health availed much (James 5:16)? Why has it come to this? The bible says:

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14)

When I was a Christian, I was given innumerable reasons why God didn’t always answer prayer. Often, the above scripture was quoted, saying it must not be “God’s will.” Of course, I swallowed these reasons whole because this is what I wanted to believe. I mean, after all, we’re talking about GOD here. But down deep inside, it just didn’t make sense. If God said he was going to answer our prayers (Matthew 7:7; 21:22, Luke 11:10), then why didn’t “He”?

Why doesn’t God answer prayer? Could it possibly be that “God” doesn’t really exist? Or is “He” just being fickle?

Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry

From an online Huffington Post article:

But CUFI (Christians United for Israel) has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of (San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John) Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to (Sen. Joseph) Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee’s flock as “even greater than the multitude Moses commanded.”

OMG! Fanatics all.

Notice that even “mainline Christians” are doomed? Gotta’ be a fundamentalist or you’re a goner.

P.S. Be sure to watch the video at the above link.

Sharing My Feelings

After reading a post on Out From Under the Umbrella about how believers and non-believers sometimes react to those who disagree with them, it got me to thinking.

During the course of my de-conversion, I remember having very negative feelings towards those who were still bound to Christianity. Whenever believers tried to “convince” me I was on the wrong pathway, I felt anger … indignation … frustration. I wanted to tell them how blind they were. How indoctrinated. How easily swayed by rhetoric and tradition.

Instead, I would say nothing. Oh sure, on occasion I might mumble something like “I think you’re wrong,” but mostly I remained silent. I knew from years of having “been there, done that” that nothing I could or would say would change their thinking. Besides, by nature I’m not confrontational, so silence (and a smile) was my “weapon of choice.”

As I’ve looked back, I think this was the primary motivation behind writing my book. Communicating my thoughts and feelings through the written word has always been easier for me than one-on-one conversation. Through my book, I was allowed to share what I had learned about the Christian faith (which was at odds with what I had been taught) without direct confrontation.

Interestingly, since the book has been published,  I’ve noticed my feelings towards those who still “believe” have softened.  I’m now able to earnestly say … “If it works for you, that’s well and good. Each person has to follow what feels right for them.” This is not to say that when the opportunity presents itself (in person or on the internet), I won’t share what I have learned through my research. But I no longer feel disdain for those who are still trapped by doctrine and tradition. It is now more a feeling of sympathy, but also understanding in that for most, this is all they know.

Of course, down deep inside, there is always the hope they will read my book and learn the “facts” behind many of the things they are taught in church and Sunday School. wink