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Guest BaylorBear
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Guest BaylorBear

I'm a Texas transplant currently residing in Montana, was raised as a Southern Baptist, but have always had a natural inclination towards Roman Catholicism. I even graduated from the prestigious and very religious Baylor University-hence my screen name. As someone who was raised in a devout SB family and in the buckle of the Bible Belt I have always seen religion as something extremely important in my life. I was "born-again" when I was 12 years old, but after I took a humanities course in community college I lost my faith, and started to have questions. I found that members of the college group of the Baptist church I was attending did not appreciate my questions, and essentially told me to just "have faith". I have found few Xtians willing to put Xtianity to the test.

 

Since that humanities course I have been in a revolving door-accepting Xtianity, rejecting Xtianity, accepting it, then rejecting it again-it is like a viscious cycle that never ends. In my own teenage experience I was taught as a SB that all people who reject Jesus are hell-bound and will suffer eternal torment, which I think has partly fueled my 'Revolving Door Syndrome'. I have finally come to the conclusion that in order to break this cycle I must start from square one (Is there a god?) and start from an agnostic position. Any book reccomendations? I must find what I believe is the Truth, not what my parents or ancestors believed is the Truth.

 

This past summer I met my fiance, who was also raised a Xtian, but as an adult, he is a nominal Xtian at best. I love him-he has made me question so many more things about the Bible and "orthodox" doctrines such as the Trinity even further than I have before. I have also broken through the "no pre-marital sex" barrier, and I have no regrets about that. That has even helped in the de-conversion process a little.

 

Sometimes though I do struggle with a fear of Hell and damnation, thanks be to my Baptist upbringing. However, why would the Christan God (if She even exists) punish for all eternity a person who sincerely seeks the Truth? This process is still extremely difficult and fightening. Above all I want to be honest with myself. Any advice?

 

Diane

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Since that humanities course I have been in a revolving door-accepting Xtianity, rejecting Xtianity, accepting it, then rejecting it again-it is like a viscious cycle that never ends.

 

Hello and welcome!

 

I am extremely curious what humanities course got you to question your faith and why. I am working on my MA in the arts and humanities. I grew up with the idea that education beyond Grade 8 leads away from God. But for me it worked the opposite way. Had it not been the opportunity for higher education I would probably have left much sooner.

 

In my own teenage experience I was taught as a SB that all people who reject Jesus are hell-bound and will suffer eternal torment, which I think has partly fueled my 'Revolving Door Syndrome'. I have finally come to the conclusion that in order to break this cycle I must start from square one (Is there a god?) and start from an agnostic position. Any book reccomendations? I must find what I believe is the Truth, not what my parents or ancestors believed is the Truth.

 

All I can say is you're on the right track. Books? To prove or disprove the existence of God? Even the most highly educated Christian profs tell me it is not possible to prove or disprove God's existence. You could try these:

 

Armstrong, Karen. History of God. (I haven't read it but I've heard that it is a really good book.)

 

Stewart, David. Exploring the Philosophy of Religion. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 2001.

 

Thse might give you some ideas to work with. I had to read Stewart for a course several years ago.

 

Sometimes though I do struggle with a fear of Hell and damnation, thanks be to my Baptist upbringing. However, why would the Christan God (if She even exists) punish for all eternity a person who sincerely seeks the Truth? This process is still extremely difficult and fightening. Above all I want to be honest with myself. Any advice?

 

Diane

 

Here are a few threads on this forum that you might find helpful:

 

Fear Of Hell

What Convinced You That There Was No Hell?

Fear Of Hell - Let's Talk!, Did you / do you fear hell? Why? How much?

 

That might get you started. I typed the word "hell" into search and much came up. Looks like you are by no means the only one struggling with this fear.

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Hi Diane,

Welcome and thanks for sharing your story. I am pretty new to this site too but have found it very helpful in the short time I have been here.

 

I can relate and understand about the fear of hell, I was raised Pentecostal.. though more conversative and yes all my fundy pentecostal friends think I am going to hell for not believing. I did blindly accept this heaven and hell as truth,to going to not believing is hard to change your thinking right away after years of brainwashing.

 

It sounds like you are on the right path, to start from scratch to exaime what you believe and what you do not.

 

That's interessting that you were able to break through the no sex before marriage rule, and come out with no regrets and to help with the deconverson process. For me this was one of the majour issues that I have dissagreed on always never bought about xtianity. I finally gave up that belief and broke free too with no regrets either.. Amazing no guilt or feelings of convinctions..nada. Totally can relate. I do not tell my xian friends that this was one of several factors which has helped with my deconversion. And one xian friend I have not confided this in either, because I know she will freak..and two I don't want her telling the whole world and my family.

 

I wish you the best in your search. It sounds like you are truly seeking the truth whatever that may be.

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Diane:

 

When I read the posts by folks who have recently landed here at ExC, somewhat reminded of Grateful Dead's "Long Strange Trip" tune.

 

Welcome to here and Dave's House. Gonna find that there is a wide variety of people and experiences that post here. In this mix there are people with whom you will find are fellow travellers in life.

 

Might not be *exactly what and where you are* but will know somewhat of where you are thinking...

 

Enjoy your time here. You may find like some that you get what you need and move along, or as many of we have done, found a home_on_net to be part of.

 

Vent, rage, discuss, advise, join in, participate.

 

Feel welcome.

 

kevinL

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Welcome Diane!

 

You've been given some great advice so far.

 

My first suggestion is to start a topic on a question that bothers you and exchange veiws and discuss it.

 

Check out the excerpts of Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker.

 

Next I would read "Kissing Hank's Ass" http://www.jhuger.com/kisshank.php It is really funny and makes an excellent point about dealing with people who would try to suck you back into xtianity.

www.Jhuger.com has some other good and original stuff to make you think.

 

An interesting approach to debunking xtianity is to view it from the Jewish perspective. They know the bible better than fundies and they embrace reason.

http://www.virtualyeshiva.com/counter/difference.swf Check out what they say about hell. Ask yourself why god would be so damn vague about such a critical and important point of doctrine? It is nothing but a vile manipulation of natural human emotion.

 

SkepticOfBible has some interesting views on what Jews have to say about xtianity. He seems to know his stuff. http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=11767

 

Go to the articles and read The Historical Evidence for Jesus. Cross reference this to actual translations of ancient manuscripts that can easily be googled. Read them for yourself!

 

How about going to a group and debate a fundy. Take note of how many Ad Hominin attacks they make and Straw Men they create. Nothing makes it more clear that xtians avoid thinking than asking them to discuss issues seriously. You don't want to go back to that do you?

 

Keep looking and you'll find answers. Ask and ye shall receive.

 

Mongo

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Also...

 

Diane,

 

I find that apologetic issues have little impact on fundies and hence I propose that in de-conversion they are not the most relevant helps.

 

Since I believe xtianity is fundamentally an emotional connection entangled with moral issues, I’m struggling with what really are the keys to deconversion.

 

I have a theory that tackling moral issues directly have far more effect than apologectic ones.

 

In other words, moral issues like:

1) the morality of god requiring a blood sacrifice in order to forgive rather than just forgive. (Excellent thread) Humans can do that why can’t god?

2) How can god be moral and good and yet be outright obscure about hell? God is going to condemn billions and billions of people and yet he only get’s around to discussing hell with “minimal” clarity in the New Testament. Even then it is not clear. Unbelieveable!

 

Are more relevant in helping deconversion than apologetic ones like:

1) Is Noah’s Ark possible?

2) What about all the evidence for evolution?

3) Did god create the big bang?

4) Inconsistancies in the bible

 

As you go through this Diane, I’d be curious to learn later on what you think most impact your direction.

 

Besides morality is there another dimension I’m not hitting on that is critical in the deconversion process.

 

Send me a PM if you ever have some thoughts on that.

 

Mongo

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Greetings, BaylorBear-Diane, welcome...

Sometimes though I do struggle with a fear of Hell and damnation, thanks be to my Baptist upbringing. However, why would the Christan God (if She even exists) punish for all eternity a person who sincerely seeks the Truth? This process is still extremely difficult and fightening. Above all I want to be honest with myself. Any advice?

As another ex-so.baptist, ex-christian, now an atheist, I can confirm, that threat of hellfire can be a very real one, until you realize that not only is there no evidence for it, it doesn't even make sense. Especially for those who are honestly seeking truth. Advice...dismiss the whole idea...it's nonsense. Seek honesty, knowledge, goodwill to all and malice to none. If any god really existed, what god worth its salt could condemn such a person? Christianity is bullshit. Being positive with your life and using common good sense is better.

 

Enjoy the ex-christian site.

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Guest BaylorBear

Mongo,

 

I have a theory that tackling moral issues directly have far more effect than apologectic ones.

 

In other words, moral issues like:

1) the morality of god requiring a blood sacrifice in order to forgive rather than just forgive. (Excellent thread) Humans can do that why can’t god?

2) How can god be moral and good and yet be outright obscure about hell? God is going to condemn billions and billions of people and yet he only get’s around to discussing hell with “minimal” clarity in the New Testament. Even then it is not clear. Unbelieveable!

 

Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues. The only moral issue I have ever had with Xtianity is why is there suffering in the world. If you have ever listened to Sir Elton John's song "If there's a God in Heaven (What's He Waiting For?)" then you will get what I mean. Mr. Taupin's lyrics in that song had a major impact on me.

 

I am much more interested in questions such as these:

1. How did the canon of the Bible form?

2. Why did the early Church include some books in the canon, but excluded others?

3. When Constantine made Xtianity the official state religion then the Church became more political, and thus more prone to corruption. The offical Church taught "orthodox" doctrine while labeling every other group as "heretics", however; what if the "heretics" were right and the official Church was wrong on some issues.

4. Why do Xtian denominations (especially Roman Catholicism) today paint a picture of the early Church agreeing on all beliefs when in reality the early Church disagreed on many important theological issues such as the nature of Christ, God, original sin, etc.?

5. What is the nature of Jesus?

 

BB

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1. How did the canon of the Bible form?

2. Why did the early Church include some books in the canon, but excluded others?

 

Here's a book that may address some of your questions on the canon of the Bible:

 

Friedman, Richard Elliott. Who Wrote the Bible. New York, HarperSanFrancisco, 1987.

 

3. When Constantine made Xtianity the official state religion then the Church became more political, and thus more prone to corruption. The offical Church taught "orthodox" doctrine while labeling every other group as "heretics", however; what if the "heretics" were right and the official Church was wrong on some issues.

 

You're not the first person to ask this question. My guess is that this is one reason it took so many centuries for the church to close the canon. And it's not exactly closed even yet. For example, Christians cannot agree as to whether the Apochypha (sp?) should be inside or outside the canon. I get a feeling that if the fervor does not die down, eventually some of the books found in the last century will be accepted by some Christians as part of the canon, too.

 

4. Why do Xtian denominations (especially Roman Catholicism) today paint a picture of the early Church agreeing on all beliefs when in reality the early Church disagreed on many important theological issues such as the nature of Christ, God, original sin, etc.?

 

I don't know if I have a full understanding but here is how I understand it:

 

First of all, the church destroyed all "heretical" books it could lay hands on.

 

Secondly, what better way to convince people that the church had the one and only way to God than by teaching that it does? If we are convinced that the early church had it right, perhaps we will be more inclined to agree that today's church has it right. If the laity can point to all the many different stories about Jesus, some of which hold drastically different views from the "orthodox" view, how will the church ever keep law and order? Does this sound like a conversation that could have taken place in a board room? I think so. But I wasn't there so I don't know.

 

5. What is the nature of Jesus?

 

BB

 

I wrote some stuff on this. It's nothing but guesses in the dark, but maybe I'll post some of it in a new thread. I think whole libraries have been written on the topic so perhaps it warrents a separate thread. Also don't take anything I write as the definitive and final word because it's nothing but a bit of introductory study in the New Testament.

 

Okay, it's posted here.

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Hi Diane,

 

I'm Mick. Welcome. I abandoned Christianity and the Bible this past years after 17 years as a fundy. (Spent at least last 7 seriously questioning though)

 

You say that moral issues don't bother you. Are you aware of the very serious horrors and attrocities commited by Yahweh himself, ordered by Yahweh himself, and outlined by Yawheh himself scattered throughout the OT? The reason I ask, is that it continues to astonish me, as I am sharing them with my old Christian friends, how many of them have no idea these things are in the Bible. I have a friend from college who has been a Christian for 20 years, who has renounced his faith over this verses. I showed them to him this past couple of months. He and his close Christian friends were all shocked that these scriptures and some of the nasty details actually exist in this book, that pastors hold in the air and call it the perfect example of moral living.

 

The main reason I ask if you are aware of the attrocities, is that if you are not, and you go and start reading them one after the other after the other, you may no longer care about how the canon came about, or whether there really is a Trinity. You will rule out Yahwhe completely as a disgusting Tyrant.

 

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/don...n/atrocity.html

 

This link covers alot of the attrocities of the BibleGod. I have found that after sorting through these, none of the theological issues matter anymore. Then when you add Hell to it all, the whole things is really just a nightmare. Thank goodness it is all false. That is the good news.

 

Mongo,

 

I have a theory that tackling moral issues directly have far more effect than apologectic ones.

 

In other words, moral issues like:

1) the morality of god requiring a blood sacrifice in order to forgive rather than just forgive. (Excellent thread) Humans can do that why can’t god?

2) How can god be moral and good and yet be outright obscure about hell? God is going to condemn billions and billions of people and yet he only get’s around to discussing hell with “minimal” clarity in the New Testament. Even then it is not clear. Unbelieveable!

 

Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues. The only moral issue I have ever had with Xtianity is why is there suffering in the world. If you have ever listened to Sir Elton John's song "If there's a God in Heaven (What's He Waiting For?)" then you will get what I mean. Mr. Taupin's lyrics in that song had a major impact on me.

 

I am much more interested in questions such as these:

1. How did the canon of the Bible form?

2. Why did the early Church include some books in the canon, but excluded others?

3. When Constantine made Xtianity the official state religion then the Church became more political, and thus more prone to corruption. The offical Church taught "orthodox" doctrine while labeling every other group as "heretics", however; what if the "heretics" were right and the official Church was wrong on some issues.

4. Why do Xtian denominations (especially Roman Catholicism) today paint a picture of the early Church agreeing on all beliefs when in reality the early Church disagreed on many important theological issues such as the nature of Christ, God, original sin, etc.?

5. What is the nature of Jesus?

 

BB

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Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues. The only moral issue I have ever had with Xtianity is why is there suffering in the world.

 

BaylorBear,

 

I can see that Mick has taken that bull by the horns so I won't go there at least too deeply for now.

 

Anyway... you're shooting a hole through my theory but that is OK. I'm interested in truth and if my ideas don't hold up *and* I don't cling to them... then I move one dumb idea closer to the correct answer. :scratch:

 

I wonder whether your disinterest in moral issues (moral conflicts and anomalies in the bible) is merely an issue of lack of awareness. When I left xtianity I was not all that aware myself of the many evil deeds that god condones.

 

Consider the story of Lot who is the only *good* person to survive Sodom with his two daughters. After leaving Sodom he gets his daughters pregnant and the bible authors blame his daughters. Is this moral?

 

How about god demanding that Joshua to ethnically cleanse The Promised Land and in some cases kill every man woman and child. This is not the holy book of a holy god but a book intended to cultivate obediance to clerics with unholy objectives.

 

Can you live out the precepts of the Sermon On The Mount? I cannot. I cannot let people harm me and then intentionally put myself in harm's way (turn the other cheek). I paraphrase this nonsense as "If a soldier rapes your daugher, offer him your son". Something similar to that can be found in the OT too.

 

How is the bible a book about morality?

 

The first 4 or 5 commandments (depends which ones you use) are all about being obediant to god. the rest are merely civil order commands.

 

Why is god so obsessed with obediance and not about how you treat your fellow man?

 

Is not xtianity about loving what is good and right? Nope... it's about obeying god. It is about being capable of sacrificing your own flesh and blood in god's name. If you could do that, you are moral in god's eyes.

 

This may be a lot to take in if you have never considered it before. Take your time.

 

I left xtianity because god never showed his power to me over the long term. I experienced super-blasts of his holy spirit and then it eventually dissipated and to get it back I had to endure exhaustive prayer sessions until I "broke through". Each time it got harder and harder. Eventually I found that it was nothing but an emotional creation of my own making.

 

Only later did I look deeply at moral issues (conflicts) of the bible but I wonder whether knowing them would have made me abandon the whole thing a lot sooner.

 

One person describes the bible in terms of being "terrifying moral ambivalence" and "frightening unpredictability". When I heard that my mind was struck. I wondered how I could have been so blind to that.

 

I really appreciate your feedback regardless of whether you agree or not.

 

So glad you've opened the door to thinking for yourself. Isn't it great? Cheers.

 

Mongo

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Guest BaylorBear

Hi Mongo,

 

Thanks for the reply. I am aware of such stories in the OT, however; the Xtian apologists that I have read satisfactorily answers those moral questions for me. Ultimately for me, Xtianity hinges on who Jesus of Nazareth was, which is why I am more interested in doctrinal issues concerning him, the canon, the Early Church, etc.

 

BB

:)

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Hi Mongo,

 

Thanks for the reply. I am aware of such stories in the OT, however; the Xtian apologists that I have read satisfactorily answers those moral questions for me. Ultimately for me, Xtianity hinges on who Jesus of Nazareth was, which is why I am more interested in doctrinal issues concerning him, the canon, the Early Church, etc.

 

BB

:)

 

Mick and Mongo,

 

I agree with Baylor Bear. Let me rephrase that. I do not discount the moral issues that were major for many exChristians. For my personal experience it was doctrine. No matter how badly some church people treated me, or how terrible things happened in the Bible, I could have overlooked it all except for the simple fact that the plan of salvation does not hang together. So, BB, even though both of us are hung up on doctrinal issues, it's not the same one. I've looked at many different churches, and was on the point of commitment but had to draw back because I will no longer lie about my beliefs.

 

The moral issues of God support my hunch that hell is not real. Thus, the moral issues have weight with me. I am also relieved to learn that others have had major problems with the way women were treated in the Old Testament. The very worst cases for me were when David's wife was used as payment for some deed or other, and the virgins who were kidnapped by the Benjaminites because the entire tribe was killed off except for a couple hundred young men. No, there's also the concubine whoe was given to the men of a certain city who ravished her to the point of death. In light of this, Paul's offense at telling women to be silent in church is minor.

 

But I'm off-topic. BB, have you read any Gnostic literature? The Nag Hammadi Library, for instance? Reading those texts broadened my concept of God and the Saviour. Be prepared for some radical ideas if you have not been introduced to this type of literature yet. I haven't seen the Dead Sea Scrolls but I understand they are worth reading, too.

 

I think the editor under whose name the Nag Hammadi Library (it's all in one volume) is listed is James Robinson but I'm not perfectly sure. If you are interested, type "Nag Hammadi Library" into Google or Amazon.com. That should give you the info you need to check your local public library if you don't want to buy it.

 

If you want to explore doctrine from various perspectives, you might find Comparative Religion helpful. There is information and also dialogue forums on that site. The Center for Progressive Christianity is another possibility.

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Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues.

Sorry Mongo, I had much more issue with doctrines than morality. I think it's the fundy mindset typical of Southern Baptist upbringing.

 

I am much more interested in questions such as these:

1. How did the canon of the Bible form?

2. Why did the early Church include some books in the canon, but excluded others?

3. When Constantine made Xtianity the official state religion then the Church became more political, and thus more prone to corruption. The offical Church taught "orthodox" doctrine while labeling every other group as "heretics", however; what if the "heretics" were right and the official Church was wrong on some issues.

4. Why do Xtian denominations (especially Roman Catholicism) today paint a picture of the early Church agreeing on all beliefs when in reality the early Church disagreed on many important theological issues such as the nature of Christ, God, original sin, etc.?

5. What is the nature of Jesus?

 

BB

Hi BB! Former SB, preacher's kid, now atheist. Glad ta meet ya.

 

Some of these overlap, but address these areas you mentioned very well:

 

God Against the Gods - covers a lot of interesting detail including inner political struggles in Rome

Lost Christianities - Bart Ehrman - deals with early Christian sects and why they didn't win in the end

Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman - this will set you free from any Baptist 'inerrant' doctrine

101 Myths of the Bible - good overview, the author inserts his own view but brings up a lot of good points - will have you saying "How did I not see that before?" a lot.....

The God Delusion - Dawkins is an awesome communicator - I'm just starting this book but every thing I've heard or read from him is brilliant.

 

This web site also has a basic primer on whether or not Jesus actually existed.....

 

Historicity of Jesus FAQ

 

I recommend Barnes & Noble if you really want a book right now, or Amazon.com - buy used paperbacks, I get 4-5 at a time that way.

 

Oh, and our very own LanaKila is in Montana - you two should hook up!

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God Against the Gods - covers a lot of interesting detail including inner political struggles in Rome

Lost Christianities - Bart Ehrman - deals with early Christian sects and why they didn't win in the end

Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman - this will set you free from any Baptist 'inerrant' doctrine

101 Myths of the Bible - good overview, the author inserts his own view but brings up a lot of good points - will have you saying "How did I not see that before?" a lot.....

The God Delusion - Dawkins is an awesome communicator - I'm just starting this book but every thing I've heard or read from him is brilliant.

 

This web site also has a basic primer on whether or not Jesus actually existed.....

 

Historicity of Jesus FAQ

 

I recommend Barnes & Noble if you really want a book right now, or Amazon.com - buy used paperbacks, I get 4-5 at a time that way.

 

Oh, and our very own LanaKila is in Montana - you two should hook up!

 

Hi trashy,

 

This sounds like an excellent list. May I post it on Seekers Open Forum (see my siggie)? I am collecting sources for people who are seeking religious alternatives and this list would be a great contribution.

 

BB, I logged in to tell about a book I'm reading in case you're interested after all of trashy's great recommends. I'll list it so you can decide.

 

Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, by Mark Allen Powell. I have to do a book review on it for a course assignment. I'm fascinated. Since it's for a Christian school I can't say all I'd like to but I can say it here.

 

By the time we peel back everything people have imagined or made up about Jesus for their religion, all that's left of a historical Jesus is bits and pieces. I think no solid core personality emerges. That, to me, is strong evidence that no historical Jesus ever existed. See my long posts in the thread on "The Nature of Jesus" in the Theology section.

 

The sources Powell lists for evidence of the historical Jesus' existence are, in my opinion, not credible.

 

Josephus (totally incredible in my opinion)

Tacitus (only proves the existence of Christians, which does NOT prove the existence of a historical Jesus. It may have been their version of Goldilock and the Three Bears, or Lord of the Rings, or the Davinci Code.)

Jewish writings (sounds extremely vague and abstract)

New Testament

Q, L, M, which are hypothetical sources on which the New Testament is supposedly based; none of them are extant or have ever been seen or referred to in any extant Christian writing. It's amazing the extent to which people will go to prove Christianity correct.

Apocryphal Gospels (these are religious documents so I discount them along with the NT; just don't tell my prof, okay?)

 

He also has criteria of authenticity but why bother if we have already analyzed and disregarded the sources? Besides, they make no sense to me.

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Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues. The only moral issue I have ever had with Xtianity is why is there suffering in the world.

Anyway... you're shooting a hole through my theory but that is OK. I'm interested in truth and if my ideas don't hold up *and* I don't cling to them... then I move one dumb idea closer to the correct answer. :scratch:

 

Mongo, I realize you were speaking to Baylor Bear here so I am not sure if it's okay for me to butt in. I'm finding it a bit difficult keeping silent with the spin you put on some of these biblical passages because in my opinion you're twisting them way out of context. But I wouldn't classify them as "dumb ideas" because I'm sure you have very good reasons for feeling the way you do.

 

I wonder whether your disinterest in moral issues (moral conflicts and anomalies in the bible) is merely an issue of lack of awareness. When I left xtianity I was not all that aware myself of the many evil deeds that god condones.

 

I was aware of these evils for many years while I was a Christians. My mother, who was my religious mentor, explained away this stuff in the OT as not being relevant to us today in the dispensation of grace. I know now that dispensational theology is not universal and perhaps not something you as a former Catholic are familiar with. Today, I tend to think these atrocities are mostly myths written in retrospect by people who had political and/or theological agendas, not least of which was to promote the superiority of their god. But I can see that this is dangerous when people who believe this was the almighty god of the universe use it to justify their own policial agendas.

 

Consider the story of Lot who is the only *good* person to survive Sodom with his two daughters. After leaving Sodom he gets his daughters pregnant and the bible authors blame his daughters. Is this moral?

 

How about god demanding that Joshua to ethnically cleanse The Promised Land and in some cases kill every man woman and child. This is not the holy book of a holy god but a book intended to cultivate obediance to clerics with unholy objectives.

 

These belong to the category described above.

 

Can you live out the precepts of the Sermon On The Mount? I cannot. I cannot let people harm me and then intentionally put myself in harm's way (turn the other cheek). I paraphrase this nonsense as "If a soldier rapes your daugher, offer him your son".

 

I think I can, though I do not interpret these "commands" as you do. I do not believe Jesus is commanding anyone to put themselves in harm's way. But if a person is nasty to me, sometimes they can be won over by kindness, or forgiveness. I think that is what is meant by turning the other cheek. Sometimes, though, I think there is just as much wishful thinking in that one as reality.

 

How is the bible a book about morality?

 

I'm not making major claims for the Bible's morality. I am just saying that the immorality in the Bible was not the foremost of my problems with Christianity. We all know right from wrong, even the Christians who proclaim long and loud how "lost" they would be without the strictures of the biblical commands. I don't think those people know themselves all that well, so they just preach the party line that supports the church, which of course must be kept alive at all costs, considering the major money-machine it is.

 

The first 4 or 5 commandments (depends which ones you use) are all about being obediant to god. the rest are merely civil order commands.

 

Why is god so obsessed with obediance and not about how you treat your fellow man?

 

Is not xtianity about loving what is good and right? Nope... it's about obeying god. It is about being capable of sacrificing your own flesh and blood in god's name. If you could do that, you are moral in god's eyes.

 

This may be a lot to take in if you have never considered it before. Take your time.

 

I have a major problem with authority. When I chucked the old church I chucked obedience right along with it. No more blind trusting obedience to a power-mongering church=god for me. Sometimes I think that was my real deconversion but it's probably more accurate to claim a double deconversion as I do in my testimony.

 

I left xtianity because god never showed his power to me over the long term. I experienced super-blasts of his holy spirit and then it eventually dissipated and to get it back I had to endure exhaustive prayer sessions until I "broke through". Each time it got harder and harder. Eventually I found that it was nothing but an emotional creation of my own making.

 

Sounds like a legitimate reason to leave. It differs from my experience but is no less legitimate all the same.

Only later did I look deeply at moral issues (conflicts) of the bible but I wonder whether knowing them would have made me abandon the whole thing a lot sooner.

 

Maybe I'm just getting to this part. I do like the moral arguments because it seems to me to be about the strongest evidence available for a lack of hell.

 

One person describes the bible in terms of being "terrifying moral ambivalence" and "frightening unpredictability". When I heard that my mind was struck. I wondered how I could have been so blind to that.

 

In my opinion, anything moral that is in the Bible is also found elsewhere, which renders the Bible superfluous.

 

I really appreciate your feedback regardless of whether you agree or not.

 

Yeah, I realize you weren't asking for my feedback but you got it anyway. I won't pretend to speak for BB. I will be interested to know how BB's and my responses compare on this, in case you care to respond to this, BB.

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Mongo,

 

I have a theory that tackling moral issues directly have far more effect than apologectic ones.

 

In other words, moral issues like:

1) the morality of god requiring a blood sacrifice in order to forgive rather than just forgive. (Excellent thread) Humans can do that why can’t god?

2) How can god be moral and good and yet be outright obscure about hell? God is going to condemn billions and billions of people and yet he only get’s around to discussing hell with “minimal” clarity in the New Testament. Even then it is not clear. Unbelieveable!

 

Oddly enough I have never had major issues with moral issues. The only moral issue I have ever had with Xtianity is why is there suffering in the world. If you have ever listened to Sir Elton John's song "If there's a God in Heaven (What's He Waiting For?)" then you will get what I mean. Mr. Taupin's lyrics in that song had a major impact on me.

 

I am much more interested in questions such as these:

1. How did the canon of the Bible form?

2. Why did the early Church include some books in the canon, but excluded others?

3. When Constantine made Xtianity the official state religion then the Church became more political, and thus more prone to corruption. The offical Church taught "orthodox" doctrine while labeling every other group as "heretics", however; what if the "heretics" were right and the official Church was wrong on some issues.

4. Why do Xtian denominations (especially Roman Catholicism) today paint a picture of the early Church agreeing on all beliefs when in reality the early Church disagreed on many important theological issues such as the nature of Christ, God, original sin, etc.?

5. What is the nature of Jesus?

 

BB

Welcome Diane from another Texan (and an ex-Southern Baptist).

 

Your questions are some of the same that led me away from Christianity. I believed for many years that the bible was the inerrant word of a god. Once I began an open-minded investigation into the origins of the bible and the diversity of early christianity I found my faith faltering and finally fleeing. Any fundamentalist christian who dares take an open, honest look at the foundation of their faith is likely to re-think their beliefs, IMO.

 

Welcome to this site- it's been a big help to me over the past 3 1/2 years.

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Hi trashy,

 

This sounds like an excellent list. May I post it on Seekers Open Forum (see my siggie)? I am collecting sources for people who are seeking religious alternatives and this list would be a great contribution.

 

Absolutely! It's just a list, not a copyrighted work or anything :grin:

 

I like your web site, good stuff.

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With all due respect to you both, I have read many apologetic defenses of the attrocities and they are all ghastly embarrassments to Christianity, and the humans who would dubiously defend them. I would be very curious to read even ONE piece of information that "satisfied" you about the OT attrocities.

 

I think you were wrong for not calling a spade a spade. AND I think you remain wrong if you do not recognize those things for what they are. It is a VERY weak position.

 

Also, I reitirate my doubt that potentially one who claims they are aware are not fully aware of the of the extent of the attrocity of Yahweh. My friend told me he was aware of those issues and said he was certain he would be able to defend it. I sent the bombardment of these scriptures and he admited he was fully unaware. I'm not convinced that someone who says they have no problem with these things is not just in denial.

 

The dispensation of grace thing, by the way, is an absolutlely rediculous reason to blow off the OT attrocities. From a Christian standpoint, with a literally, innerrant Bible, Jesus Christ, is the same ontological being who commands babies be slaughtered by the sword, that virgin girls be abducted, that people be burned alive and stoned to death for minor sins, etc.

 

If you "blew off" the OT attocities because of the "dispensation of grace" you didn't think very hard about it. Also, if you blew them off because of the absurd CHristian defenses, you also didn't think very hard.

 

I'm sorry if I seem confrontational, but this is a serious issue. Decent human beings, KNOW, those things are completely wrong and ghastly when they read them. When one defends them, in any way whatsoever, we have a problem in need of addressing.

 

Hi Mongo,

 

Thanks for the reply. I am aware of such stories in the OT, however; the Xtian apologists that I have read satisfactorily answers those moral questions for me. Ultimately for me, Xtianity hinges on who Jesus of Nazareth was, which is why I am more interested in doctrinal issues concerning him, the canon, the Early Church, etc.

 

BB

:)

 

Mick and Mongo,

 

I agree with Baylor Bear. Let me rephrase that. I do not discount the moral issues that were major for many exChristians. For my personal experience it was doctrine. No matter how badly some church people treated me, or how terrible things happened in the Bible, I could have overlooked it all except for the simple fact that the plan of salvation does not hang together. So, BB, even though both of us are hung up on doctrinal issues, it's not the same one. I've looked at many different churches, and was on the point of commitment but had to draw back because I will no longer lie about my beliefs.

 

The moral issues of God support my hunch that hell is not real. Thus, the moral issues have weight with me. I am also relieved to learn that others have had major problems with the way women were treated in the Old Testament. The very worst cases for me were when David's wife was used as payment for some deed or other, and the virgins who were kidnapped by the Benjaminites because the entire tribe was killed off except for a couple hundred young men. No, there's also the concubine whoe was given to the men of a certain city who ravished her to the point of death. In light of this, Paul's offense at telling women to be silent in church is minor.

 

But I'm off-topic. BB, have you read any Gnostic literature? The Nag Hammadi Library, for instance? Reading those texts broadened my concept of God and the Saviour. Be prepared for some radical ideas if you have not been introduced to this type of literature yet. I haven't seen the Dead Sea Scrolls but I understand they are worth reading, too.

 

I think the editor under whose name the Nag Hammadi Library (it's all in one volume) is listed is James Robinson but I'm not perfectly sure. If you are interested, type "Nag Hammadi Library" into Google or Amazon.com. That should give you the info you need to check your local public library if you don't want to buy it.

 

If you want to explore doctrine from various perspectives, you might find Comparative Religion helpful. There is information and also dialogue forums on that site. The Center for Progressive Christianity is another possibility.

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Hi Mongo,

 

Thanks for the reply. I am aware of such stories in the OT, however; the Xtian apologists that I have read satisfactorily answers those moral questions for me. Ultimately for me, Xtianity hinges on who Jesus of Nazareth was, which is why I am more interested in doctrinal issues concerning him, the canon, the Early Church, etc.

 

BB

:)

 

Well, if that is where your head is at, I'm pretty confident you will find some valuable information.

 

Mongo

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If you "blew off" the OT attocities because of the "dispensation of grace" you didn't think very hard about it. Also, if you blew them off because of the absurd CHristian defenses, you also didn't think very hard.

For the vast majority of Christians, belief trumps questions. When faced with a dillema Christians seek answers from an apologist. When one is provided, no matter how many holes there are in it, it is accepted with great relief. In other words, the Christian wants an assurance that their cherished beliefs have some sort of intellectually defensible basis. Most Christians leave the details to scholars. They, as a group, truly do not think very hard.

 

The ones that do are all on this site. LOL

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Ruby - thanks for the feedback. I find the topic facinating.

 

I'm finding it a bit difficult keeping silent with the spin you put on some of these biblical passages because in my opinion you're twisting them way out of context. [/quote}

 

Let's say that my paraphrase has some bending in it. You are suggesting that I took much of that way out of context.

 

I'm not sure I get that. God demanded that Abraham be willing to sacrifice his son.

 

My conclusion is that Abraham was an twisted bastard and nothing less. Extreme? I think killing your son is extreme. The very thought of it sends me wild because I love my children dearly and nothing less. I could NEVER obey that kind of god and anyone who can is sick and twisted. (e.g. Yates) How am I out of context?

 

I see this as obediance being more important than love. The bible has several variations of this kind of morality.

 

I know you are a very thoughtful person so where are you coming from?

 

My mother, who was my religious mentor, explained away this stuff in the OT as not being relevant to us today in the dispensation of grace.

 

This does not explain god's character. We have been taught that to be afraid of questioning god's character. I can accept that you believed your mother. I do not see that you could *today* find her argument satisfying.

 

Regarding dispensationalism, I'm familiar with it and am suprised that Mennonites are on that spectrum.

 

Dispensationalism is quite a mental contortion. Basic doctrine can be quite challenging in itself let alone trying to explain the errors of prophecy that way.

 

Again it does not explain god's sense of morality. God is erratic and ammoral.

 

Consider the story of Lot who is the only *good* person to survive Sodom with his two daughters. After leaving Sodom he gets his daughters pregnant and the bible authors blame his daughters. Is this moral?

 

How about god demanding that Joshua to ethnically cleanse The Promised Land and in some cases kill every man woman and child. This is not the holy book of a holy god but a book intended to cultivate obediance to clerics with unholy objectives.

 

These belong to the category described above.

 

Which catgory? Twisted out of context or explained away by grace? How does doctrine explain away ethnic cleansing? I cannot fathom how god would require Joshua to slaughter so many people.

 

Mongo

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If you "blew off" the OT attocities because of the "dispensation of grace" you didn't think very hard about it. Also, if you blew them off because of the absurd CHristian defenses, you also didn't think very hard.

 

Are you talking to me, Mick?

 

No matter who you are talking to, you are being a judgmental bully and you haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about.

 

You DO NOT have the information about anyone else's life to make those statements. Get it? You do not know the first thing about my life, or the life of anyone else here. If you are nice and polite and ask, perhaps we'll tell you.

 

If those statements are about me, they're just plain ludicrous. Maybe when and if you learn to think on the adult level you will understand why. In the mean time it will make you look good to be a bit more modest.

 

If you want to know more about my situation, you can look up my story at "Double Deconversion." I don't know where it is but you can search. So long as you don't do that you have no right to blow off at me--or anyone else for that matter.

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Ruby - thanks for the feedback. I find the topic facinating.

 

 

Consider the story of Lot who is the only *good* person to survive Sodom with his two daughters. After leaving Sodom he gets his daughters pregnant and the bible authors blame his daughters. Is this moral?

 

How about god demanding that Joshua to ethnically cleanse The Promised Land and in some cases kill every man woman and child. This is not the holy book of a holy god but a book intended to cultivate obediance to clerics with unholy objectives.

 

These belong to the category described above.

 

Which catgory? Twisted out of context or explained away by grace? How does doctrine explain away ethnic cleansing? I cannot fathom how god would require Joshua to slaughter so many people.

 

Mongo

Mongo, I think you and perhaps a few others missed the important part. I'll copy it here:

 

Today, I tend to think these atrocities are mostly myths written in retrospect by people who had political and/or theological agendas, not least of which was to promote the superiority of their god. But I can see that this is dangerous when people who believe this was the almighty god of the universe use it to justify their own policial agendas.

 

I'll look at your other questions in a separate post.

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The quotes are not working on my "preview post" so I will colour code my replies.

 

Ruby - thanks for the feedback. I find the topic facinating.

 

I'm finding it a bit difficult keeping silent with the spin you put on some of these biblical passages because in my opinion you're twisting them way out of context. [/quote}

 

Let's say that my paraphrase has some bending in it. You are suggesting that I took much of that way out of context.

 

I'm not sure I get that. God demanded that Abraham be willing to sacrifice his son.

 

My conclusion is that Abraham was an twisted bastard and nothing less. Extreme? I think killing your son is extreme. The very thought of it sends me wild because I love my children dearly and nothing less. I could NEVER obey that kind of god and anyone who can is sick and twisted. (e.g. Yates) How am I out of context?

 

I was not referring to this part about taking things out of context.

 

I see this as obediance being more important than love. The bible has several variations of this kind of morality.

 

Okay, I can see that some of us may be coming at this Christianity thing from more than one perspective. I was definitely taught (by example if not by deed) that obedience is more important than love.

 

In other words, "If you love us (parents) you will do as we say." The same attitude was applied regarding one's relationship with God and also regarding the rules of the church. The duties of parents toward children was to teach obedience to parents, which for adults equals obedience to the church, and hence to God. By leaving the church of my parents in my forties I was disobeying God's law by disobeying my parents. They never put it this way but I can put together a few facts and realize that what applied to others as I was growing up applied to me when I did the same.

 

I know you are a very thoughtful person so where are you coming from?

 

Does that clear up a few things?

 

My mother, who was my religious mentor, explained away this stuff in the OT as not being relevant to us today in the dispensation of grace.

 

This does not explain god's character.

 

Supposedly it does explain God's character. A god who forgives us when we deserve death is a very gracious god--so I was taught. Never made sense to me for two reasons:

 

  1. I was expected to forgive horrendous offenses--without so much as an apology or even acknowledgement of having been done wrong by. Just what's God's problem that he/she/it/whatever cannot forgive repentent sinners who confess their sins and feel terrible remorse? WHY was blood required to make things right?
  2. I just disagree in a very major way with the idea that anyone deserves death for being less than perfect.

We have been taught that to be afraid of questioning god's character. I can accept that you believed your mother. I do not see that you could *today* find her argument satisfying.

 

I see I took too much for granted in my conversation here. I did NOT agree with my mother--back then it made not the slightest sense to me, but I had to choose between accepting what she said and being consumed with the idea that God is unjust. Accepting that God was unjust when my life depended on believing in God was not thinkable. I was too young to understand, she told me when these things made no sense, so I had to accept her word for it.

 

Regarding dispensationalism, I'm familiar with it and am suprised that Mennonites are on that spectrum.

 

Based on what I've read in this past year on dispensationalism I get the idea that it's just an easy way out of an insoluble problem. It makes no sense that God ordered all those masacres in the OT but forbade killing in the NT. Easy answer: The rules changed. New dispensation. We're living in grace now. In the OT they weren't living in grace because Jesus hadn't died yet to pay for our sins. Crazy theology if you ask me but there's not much a little girl can do. Nor an unmarried old maid.

 

Dispensationalism is quite a mental contortion. Basic doctrine can be quite challenging in itself let alone trying to explain the errors of prophecy that way.

 

Errors of prophecy??? Wow! you're bold. Oh let's see, this is the exC forum and we're allowed to talk sensibly even if it violates sacred law.

 

Again it does not explain god's sense of morality. God is erratic and ammoral.

 

Hey, I like this. Except I cannot ever dedicate my life to such a god. The christians explain it away and say we just don't understand God's ways. They can hide a multitude of sins with that explanation.

 

I love this--being allowed to say the obvious without fear of retribution.

Consider the story of Lot who is the only *good* person to survive Sodom with his two daughters. After leaving Sodom he gets his daughters pregnant and the bible authors blame his daughters. Is this moral?

 

QUESTION: Why the concern that humanity was dying out? THAT is the question that leaped out at me when I was eight years old. I learned to stuff those questions and accept the only answers christianity ever offered me. I was told those girls thought they were the only humans left on earth. That seemed like a lame answer back then and makes no more sense today. What would be so bad about the human race dying out?

 

Answer: UNTHINKABLE.

 

Me: Okay, let them have their way. I can't change the Bible.

How about god demanding that Joshua to ethnically cleanse The Promised Land and in some cases kill every man woman and child. This is not the holy book of a holy god but a book intended to cultivate obediance to clerics with unholy objectives.

 

These belong to the category described above.

 

Which catgory? Twisted out of context or explained away by grace? How does doctrine explain away ethnic cleansing? I cannot fathom how god would require Joshua to slaughter so many people.

 

I responded to this above. I suspect it's all just a story. Not the nicest story but I can't change it.

 

Mongo

 

Okay, Mongo, here we go. You said:

 

Can you live out the precepts of the Sermon On The Mount? I cannot. I cannot let people harm me and then intentionally put myself in harm's way (turn the other cheek). I paraphrase this nonsense as "If a soldier rapes your daugher, offer him your son". Something similar to that can be found in the OT too.

 

To "turn the other cheek" does NOT mean to "put yourself in harm's way." At least, not the way I was taught. It means that instead of striking back you decide not to. But this must be done with discretion. Using the above example it would mean that instead of killing the soldier you would do what you can to protect your children. I've seen Russian Mennonites address this issue on a video about their experience in Russia during the revolution and it's a really tough one. The video was done by Mennonites and it closed without answering that question.

 

I think most times it is applied to less drastic situations such as someone stealing a basket of apples from your fruit stand. Or telling lies to your friends about you. In those cases it is possible to demand retribution but many people choose not to. Some might offer the thief a basket of pears while they're at it. Or in the case of gossip find a way to embarrass the gossiper by being nice when you're supposed to be mad. I think this is what Mennonites consider "turning the other cheek."

 

What I find maddening is that they taught me that only Mennonites would be so good to their enemies. I am finding this is not the case. It would seem many of Jesus' sayings possibly applied more to everyday life than to situations of extreme violence such as war.

 

When Jesus said those who take the sword die by the sword, did he mean as in being attacked? Or did he mean as in how far to take a fist fight? Or what means of coersion to use to get your debtors to pay back? etc.

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