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Missionary Parents Return...


Llwellyn
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Yesterday my parents came back from Africa where they are missionaries translating the Bible into African languages. We've had quite a few discussions about religion already, and I'm kind of confused. You would think that as missionaries they would know a lot about what the Bible teaches and a lot about Christian theology. But, when I talk to them about Christianity, they act as if they don't understand the religion or see it differently than the way that it presents itself in the doctrines. For example, I told them that I am unable to believe in God's curses and vengeance, but they respond by acting as if Christianity doesn't actually teach anything about God's punishment except for the idea that God punishes people to correct them. They cannot see how certain doctrines -- like the atonement, or justification by faith soteriology -- point to the idea that God is going to punish non-believers with curses! It's very frustrating when they can't think clearly about the religion in order to see that it teaches "hell"!

 

It's so wierd, it feels like I am shadow boxing with a ghost! When I finally see the horribleness of Christian doctrines and try to point to it in order to explain why I don't accept it, Christians act as if those doctrines don't exist and never did! Are these the same people who told me in high school that "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" was a true and worthwhile sermon to read?!? Perhaps my parents are of very low intelligence? I am starting to think that this is the case -- they are too simple to understand the doctrines of the religion that they are spreading around the world. Or perhaps my parents are dishonest? They understand that the Bible teaches of non-corrective punishments, but just lie to me when they say it doesn't exist.

 

People say that Protestantism is "always reforming" -- semper reformanda -- I'm starting to think that what this means is that you can never get an honest answer about the doctrines of the religion, because as soon as you discover the things about it that are objectionable, the religion shifts and hides that face from you, only to menace you when you look away.

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I doubt the problem is that your parents have low IQs. The problem is more than likely one of cognitive dissonance. They make the religion fit what they believe to be true. The religion does not shape their beliefs, they shape their beliefs about the religion based on their preconceived notions. All religionists do it. It's an emotional response, not an objective one.

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Did you know that West Africa has the highest proportion (80%) of any area or region in the world, of people who believe that there is only One True Religion/God?

 

Yep, all those new fundamentalist Muslims and new born-again Christians living so close to each other are sure to be a happy brood.

 

Anyway, my mother's the same way. I have a cousin who is, quite obviously, gay. His mother, a devoted Christian, likely denies it in her head, but we all know. I told my mom how difficult this is going to be for her and my cousin, and my mother said that Lutheranism is so very liberal and permits homosexuality. Oh, really? Then why did my pastor tell me differently? If the Lutheran church believes in evolution (as she went on to tell me), then why did my pastor tell me that the world was 4,000 years old? She just said that those pastors that confirmed my father and I (all the pastors we've known, basically) were "weird" and "different". Right, two seperate churches, three different pastors, and then two more pastors at my grandmother's church also......simply by coincidence are going against the Lutheran doctrine they were trained in for more fundamentalist beliefs, because Lutheranism is really so liberal. Hey Mom, did you see that 747 fly by just now? I think I saw a pig in one of the seats. :Wendywhatever:

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  • 3 weeks later...

I really wish the missionaries would leave Africa alone. They've already done enough damage. :stop: I agree with Vigile del fuoco. People just shape their religion to fit them. This is why xtianity has so many denominations and sub-denominations. No one can agree on what is really "The Truth."

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I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. I expected to see poverty, AIDS, inadequate education and everything we commonly associate with the third world, and I did in varying amounts. What I wasn't expecting was all the praying - at meetings on the job, before school starts, etc. And with so many people dying of AIDS you get an extra dose of praying at funerals on the weekends. I met a minister there (white, male, Protestant) who conducts "workshops" on AIDS for anyone who will listen (mostly church groups). The gist of the workshop content as far as I remember was that God has a 2,000 year old cure for AIDS called abstinence and salvation in Jesus Christ. He goes on to describe how condoms have tiny holes in them and how people with AIDS must repent and be saved - followed by more praying. Then everyone would leave and prepare to pray at all the funerals on the weekend. Lovely isn't it? I loved my experience and the people I met but sometimes Africa really made me want to bang my head against something. :banghead:

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