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Christianity As I Saw It


Lycorth
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I agree with you. I do think many people are confused because they see Christianity as what you described. My uncle, for example, who is not educated at all, feels this way. And it isn't because of academic Bible study, it is just because that is how he views his own Christianity and my own loss of faith. He still holds some of the more conservative beliefs too, but only because he hasn't really thought about it, like you have said.

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You know what though? I think Christianity is what you describe - but not entirely.

 

It just strikes me, whenever I take a second look at the Bibble, that what's really going on with the whole thing is that you have a book that can't make up its damn mind what it wants to be.

 

I mean, there's the Jesus who goes around doing what you describe: defying the religious paradigm of the day, treating women with respect, hanging out with and taking care of people who nobody back then would've even talked to.

 

Then there's the Jesus who gets pissed off and curses fig trees, has a rumble with the money-changers at the temple, and tells people that he's come not to unite but to divide families and set family members against one another.

 

Then you have stuff show up in the NT that doesn't mesh - like the lines about how there's no male or female, slave or free, etc. among you, for all are equal in Christ. And then Paul smashing that same equality with the edict about not allowing a woman to speak in church, and requiring wives to submit to their husbands.

 

And then in the OT there's an entire book that's a joyous, beautiful, erotic love poem - Song of Solomon, celebrating sex and romance and the delights of carnal pleasure, and the best about love. Then there's the stuff about conquering nations and killing off every last citizen - men, women, children, dashing infants against the rocks, and taking the virgin daughters captive to enslave and, presumably, force into a lifetime of rape, bearing more little babies for god's bloodthirsty tribe.

 

I mean really, what the fuck is wrong with this book?? It's like it's got the best and the worst of what humankind is capable of, all tied up together in one volume that's trying to get a single message out - and failing miserably, because one half is love and the other is hate, and you can't reconcile the two.

 

I think Christianity is whatever you make of it. I don't actually have a problem so much with people extricating the nasty stuff from the good stuff, because I'm not entirely convinced that the nasty and good belong together anyway. I suppose I just wish that more Xians would actually do that: pull out the good stuff and follow that, instead of being arrogant bastards intent on condeming the rest of the world.

 

It's easy to use the violent part of the Bible to justify being a total jackass. It isn't so easy to use the peaceful parts as an example of how to be a better human being. I dunno why. Maybe people are just dicks.

 

:shrug:

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If all of your biblical knowladge comes from the church itself then you see it much differently. I was a fundy from the Church of Christ and KJV Bapsit so all it took for me was a visit to www.losingmyreligion.com and a bit of reading. I already had biblical software on my PC and was used to looking up stuff. The essays on that website are very well written and to the point without childish attacks. I was converted in hours.

 

I get 3-4 hours of fire and brimestone each Saturday night following this group

http://www.pbase.com/lautermilch/repent

and not a single twinge to go back enters my mind. Someone suggested to me that I follow this group in an attempt to return to the flock. I am at ease with deism.

 

53688305.jpg

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Ever heard of the book Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/037550156...glance&n=283155

 

Amazon.com

Shortly after Elaine Pagels’ two-and-half-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, the religion professor found herself drawn to a Christian church again for the first time in many years. In Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas Pagels, best know for her National Book Award-winning The Gnostic Gospels, wrestles with her own faith as she struggles to understand when--and why--Christianity became associated almost exclusively with the ideas codified in the fourth-century Nicene Creed and in the canonical texts of the New Testament. In her exploration, she uncovers the richness and diversity of Christian philosophy that has only become available since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts.

 

At the center of Beyond Belief is what Pagels identifies as a textual battle between The Gospel of Thomas (rediscovered in Egypt in 1945) and The Gospel of John. While these gospels have many superficial similarities, Pagels demonstrates that John, unlike Thomas, declares that Jesus is equivalent to "God the Father" as identified in the Old Testament. Thomas, in contrast, shares with other supposed secret teachings a belief that Jesus is not God but, rather, is a teacher who seeks to uncover the divine light in all human beings. Pagels then shows how the Gospel of John was used by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon and others to define orthodoxy during the second and third centuries. The secret teachings were literally driven underground, disappearing until the Twentieth Century. As Pagels argues this process "not only impoverished the churches that remained but also impoverished those [irenaeus] expelled."

 

Beyond Belief offers a profound framework with which to examine Christian history and contemporary Christian faith, and Pagels renders her scholarship in a highly readable narrative. The one deficiency in Pagels’ examination of Thomas, if there is one, is that she never fully returns in the end to her own struggles with religion that so poignantly open the book. How has the mysticism of the Gnostic Gospels affected her? While she hints that she and others have found new pathways to faith through Thomas, the impact of Pagels’ work on contemporary Christianity may not be understood for years to come. --Patrick O’Kelley

From Publishers Weekly

In this majestic new book, Pagels (The Gnostic Gospels) ranges panoramically over the history of early Christianity, demonstrating the religion's initial tremendous diversity and its narrowing to include only certain texts supporting certain beliefs. At the center of her book is the conflict between the gospels of John and Thomas. Reading these gospels closely, she shows that Thomas offered readers a message of spiritual enlightenment. Rather than promoting Jesus as the only light of the world, Thomas taught individuals that "there is a light within each person, and it lights up the whole universe. If it does not shine, there is darkness." As she eloquently and provocatively argues, the author of John wrote his gospel as a refutation of Thomas, portraying the disciple Thomas as a fool when he doubts Jesus, and Jesus as the only true light of the world. Pagels goes on to demonstrate that the early Christian writer Irenaeus promoted John as the true gospel while he excluded Thomas, and a host of other early gospels, from the list of those texts that he considered authoritative. His list became the basis for the New Testament canon when it was fixed in 357. Pagels suggests that we recover Thomas as a way of embracing the glorious diversity of religious tradition. As she elegantly contends, religion is not merely an assent to a set of beliefs, but a rich, multifaceted fabric of teachings and experiences that connect us with the divine. Exhilarating reading, Pagels's book offers a model of careful and thoughtful scholarship in the lively and exciting prose of a good mystery writer.

 

I own the book, and it makes me realize that a lot of the BS I find in Christianity is just that, BS. It is a very enlightening read. I would recommend it to everyone on this site.

 

take care

 

_/\_

metta

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  • 3 weeks later...

IMO, Christianity is not what it was before the 'minds' of men got ahold of it and distorted the message into something that brought control through fear. There are still bits of the original intent within the bible (and even more without as not1not2 posted about), so that is why I also feel it is okay to dump the non-sense when searching for common sense.

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I know that's a good bit of a ramble, but I just had to get that out. I also wonder if anyone agrees at all; does a misunderstanding of Xianity according to the above prevent more people from realizing what an unhealthy fraud it really is?

 

Heck I have a whole group of friends that adhere to Christianity under these guises or other thin myths of control & stability that they're afraid to give up. So yeah, I know exactly where you're coming from.

 

I think I was in & out of it for a good while too because I just didn't understand where it was coming from.

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Ever heard of the book Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/037550156...glance&n=283155

 

Wow Not1Not2 I have read that book. And you are right, it throws a whole new light onto Christianity.

 

The problem, however, is that most people do not study these things. Most folks I go to church with have never heard of the Nag Hammadi texts. They don't know what Gnostic writings are. Many have never heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls either.

 

Also, after reading these texts, I have become convinced that if the average illiterate street preacher type got a hold of them, they could be twisted and turned like any other text. It's not the ancient texts that are at fault - it's what people do with them.

 

There is as much mythology in the Nag Hammadi Library as there is in the Bible. Someone who didn't care to study the context of the mythology, it's literary composition, the cultural history surrounding its writing... could easily manipulate the text and use it to harm other people.

 

I mean really, what the fuck is wrong with this book?? It's like it's got the best and the worst of what humankind is capable of, all tied up together in one volume that's trying to get a single message out - and failing miserably, because one half is love and the other is hate, and you can't reconcile the two.

 

Gwenmead.. you are right... it has the best and the worst of what humankind is capable of .... and the conflict can't be reconciled. I agree with you completely.

 

Please do understand that what I'm about to write is NOT a defense of the Bible - or the way people have misused it for centuries. What I am about to write is merely my observation. I fully recognize that my observation is coming from a completely different perspective than most in this forum.

 

But, for my own part, I've come to look at the Bible as one record of humanity's search for the sacred. Because it is a record of the human search for the sacred or infinite ... it is also a record of human violence as well as love. It is a record of humanity not very different than one would find of our current world.

 

For instance, if 2000 years from now, an archeaologist who specialized in cyber archaeology were to find two forums. The first forum being CF and the second forum being this one. What would that archaeologist see it today's search for understanding or search for the sacred in life. S/he would see multiple and conflicting views of the infinite or sacred. Then if the archaeologist were to discover forums run by scientists in search of understanding or the infinite - a whole new dimension would be added to the picture. One would think all these points of view would be enough... but they don't really complete the picture. To complete the picture the archaeologist would also have to discover and study websites and forums run by terrorists from both Christianity and Islam ... then what would they see of humanity? They would see the same thing we see when we shine a critical eye on the Bible or the Koran. All the different web sites together would paint a picture including the best and the worst of human history.

 

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm well aware that the Bible only represents one very small portion of humanity. The point I'm trying to get at is that - even within the small confines of the Bible - one will get as much variation. The terrorists are represented as well as the peace-makers. The terrorists are as much a part of history (if not more than) as the peace-makers.

 

It says something about humanity that there are peace-makers (in all cultures and at all times). We all find different lessons in that reality - I'd like to think we all find hope in that reality. But would we fully grasp the lessons of the peace builders if history lost sight of the terrorists?

 

As awful as the picture is, it is valid in the sense that it reflects something we should all pay attention to. Would you, for instance, want future generations to ONLY discover this forum, or forums run by scientists?

 

As a student of history ... do you only want to study the goodness of humanity? Or are there lessons in the worst sides of humanity as well? :shrug:

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As a student of history ... do you only want to study the goodness of humanity? Or are there lessons in the worst sides of humanity as well? :shrug:

 

Funny you should mention this OM. I have found....as a lifelong student of less-than-popular topics, that I have to seek harder for the history lessons displaying our un-pretty. Society likes to teach the pretty. Our textbooks are full of pretty. Much of it dishonest and inaccurate pretty. And can we be surprised when kids get out of public school "indoctrinated" with inaccurate views about our nation's place in the world?

 

A good book on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/068481886...=books&v=glance

 

I've wound up feeling I'd learned more from the un-pretty. Rather ironic the sign found posted at Jonestown.....with bodies scattered around beneath:

 

http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/jonestown.jpg

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I just saw that book on line the other day. Now, I have to get it.

 

I went to church, was friends with Christians, most of my family is Christian. I discussed my beliefs and doubts with other Christians who supported my beliefs. I believed that God was love, and willingly embraced anyone who accepted that Jesus died on the cross. I didn't think you had to say the sinner's prayer to be "saved". I thought just believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins was enough to get you out of hell as in John 3:16.

 

I love history, the dirt swept under the carpet kind of history that is contrary to what is normally believed. Knowing that history isn't always the way people believe it is, helped me to deconvert. When I first got my computer, I started searching Christian history. I found all these references to "Pagan Origins" or Christianity. I had never heard of such a thing. I looked up books to read, and checked them out of the library. I was floored. There was another side to the history of Christianity that I never knew existed. The true one.

 

I often think what I would have done had I encounted this site when I was a Christian. Would I have said the things that Christians come here and say? Probably. I would have been one of those Christians who said, "I'm sorry." However, I would have been shocked by what I read here, and maybe, or at least I would hope, it would have made me think.

 

Taph

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I discussed my beliefs and doubts with other Christians who supported my beliefs. I believed that God was love, and willingly embraced anyone who accepted that Jesus died on the cross. I didn't think you had to say the sinner's prayer to be "saved".

 

OK... I hope you guys don't mind me asking stupid questions... but truly I wasn't raised with, nor did I ever participate in literalist Christianity. So... I've seen reference to the "sinner's prayer" all over this board.

 

Since this thread is about "Christianity as I saw it" can you all explain to me what a "sinner's prayer" is? Until I came to this board, I'd never heard of it :scratch:

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WHAT! You've never did the Sinner's Prayer? Well, then I'm not sure you're saved OM! :HaHa:

 

Sinners prayer is what the "not-born-again" victim have to do to become a full-blown-zombie for Jez-z.

 

The ritual usually is performed the way that the Christian lead the victim in a little pre-scripted prayer of this kind:

 

"Jesus, I know I'm a sinner. I have realized that I need to be born again to go to Heaven, and that you took my sins on you to save me. Please Jesus come into my heart." ...etc. (with variations)

 

And that is the magic formula to become a True Christian™. (I wonder if saying alacazam would work just as fine?)

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OM,

 

What denomination of Christian church do you go to? Just wondering.

 

I was Methodist growing up and had never heard of the sinner's prayer either, until Fundy's got a hold me when I was 13 and told me I was a hell bound sinner.

 

Taph

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How funny. That's the only thing I even knew of. It was a must to be "born again". I guess the sinners prayer was invented by the pentecostal or something?

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What denomination of Christian church do you go to? Just wondering.

 

I was Methodist growing up and had never heard of the sinner's prayer either, until Fundy's got a hold me when I was 13 and told me I was a hell bound sinner.

 

Taph

 

I attend an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) congregation. ELCA is mainstream to liberal. We're as close to Catholic as a protest church can get :lmao:

 

I say that because - like Wolfheart - I grew up going to Catholic schools. My parents were Catholic until I was 12/13 years old. Then they left the church, but I continued to go to Catholic schools until I graduated highschool.

 

I stopped considering myself Christian in 9th grade (I remember the moment vividly - a priest informed me in front of a religion class of 20 some kids that my mother was going to hell because she left the Catholic church). I decided at that moment, if this is the type of "god" you're selling than I'm not buying.

 

It would be many years before Christianity would have any meaning to me... I'm lucky to be in a congregation that is open minded and willing to host interfaith dialogs, willing to hold a meditative/interfaith service every Sunday. They accept me - and the group I'm invoved in - and I appreciate it more than I can ever say.

 

Well that's probably more than you want to know, so I'll stop now :)

 

BTW.. thanks HanSolo for explaining the "sinner's prayer" to me. One more time you've given me a good laugh in the last few days :grin:

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OM,

 

Actually, it's quite interesting. I had always considered Lutherans fairly liberal, but Amethyst was in a pretty fundy sounding Lutheran church.

 

I guess it depends on the synod.

 

I don't have a problem with liberal Christianity. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs or non beliefs, as in what works for you may not work for me. However, as you know, most Christianity doesn't have the "Live and Let Live" philosophy and considers everyone but them to be wrong.

 

Taph

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Actually, it's quite interesting. I had always considered Lutherans fairly liberal, but Amethyst was in a pretty fundy sounding Lutheran church.

 

Most likely Amethyst was involved in Missouri Synod or WI Synod. They are both national Lutheran churches, just like ELCA (where I'm a member). But both are pretty conservative. ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination in America and is closer to liberal Episcopalian than either Missouri Synod or WI Synod Lutheran churches.

 

I don't have a problem with liberal Christianity. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs or non beliefs, as in what works for you may not work for me. However, as you know, most Christianity doesn't have the "Live and Let Live" philosophy and considers everyone but them to be wrong.

 

How right you are :(

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How I saw Xianity is reflected almost completely in what I wish Xianity really were. I'd have no problem with it if it were this: the story of a man named Jesus, born to poor folks, who lived a morally good life and took it upon himself to defy the religious and political establishment of his day to preach the "Golden Rule", to "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" - in other words, equity, fairness, and respect. He was hated by many for his ideas, persecuted, and was murdered for them. He was however resurrected for a brief time to tell his closest friends about the validity and sacred nature of his ideas before leaving the earth for good.

 

:)Hi Wolfheart! Isn't that how the original story goes? :huh:

 

IMO, there's nothing supernatural going on with this man portrayed in these stories. I think the character of Christ was as a great revolutionist of those times, that came and fought for equality of ALL people, while emphasizing respect for all. He wanted to end the complacency so that we could ALL have real peace. IMO, if he came here today and saw what the movement using his name has come to be/mean... he'd do it all over again against these "Christians"!!!

 

Unfortunately, these "Christians" would probably crucify him again for this... and it would be the ExChristians defending him. :shrug:

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If all of your biblical knowladge comes from the church itself then you see it much differently. I was a fundy from the Church of Christ and KJV Bapsit so all it took for me was a visit to www.losingmyreligion.com and a bit of reading. I already had biblical software on my PC and was used to looking up stuff. The essays on that website are very well written and to the point without childish attacks. I was converted in hours.

 

53688305.jpg

 

That guy started a new podcast session. Check it out

 

http://www.achristianandanatheist.com/

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