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Why I Can’t Be A Christian

May 29, 2009

I remember, years ago, when I was just a dumb kid, believing in the Golden Rule, “turning the other cheek”, and all that sort of stuff. Everyone I knew understood that “taking the Lord’s name in vain” meant that you weren’t supposed to use God as an excuse to do something that was wrong. Faith, science, morality and compassion could all exist simultaneously.

What an idiot I was…

In Catholic School, I came to doubt the veracity of transubstantiation. In Bible College, I came to doubt the wisdom of translating every word in Scripture literally. And every time a national election was coming to a head, I came to doubt the message I heard time and time again in church after church: You must vote for the Republican, or you’ll burn in hell forever.

I am going to burn in hell forever – I finally broke down and voted for a Democrat.

Don’t get me wrong, my fundamental belief system is still intact. I think the Genesis accounts of Creation, the Garden of Eden and other stories are moral tales, and have a place of importance. The notion that God – whoever or whatever that Being might be – is more concerned with the condition of a person’s heart than if they ever violated some subsection of labyrinthine doctrine, still resonates with me.

But I can’t hate a person or group of people because they look, talk, act, or even think differently than I. I can’t judge another person, especially when – according to the Bible – I’m not even permitted to walk a mile in their shoes. I can’t pigeonhole my thought process to an interpretation of God’s Word solely based on a group of folks working in conjunction with Fox News. That group would be Zondervan – look it up.

It’s wrong of me to have hope that there is any goodness to be found in mankind, I know. It’s called “humanism”, and it’s a sin. But since I’m going to hell anyway, I’m going to cling to that thin thread of hope; as tightly as I can, for as long as I can.

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. Fishleg permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:33 am

    How sad for you.

  2. June 1, 2009 10:20 pm

    Thank you for your empathy. The world has certainly gotten colder and lonelier.

  3. Gloria permalink
    June 1, 2009 11:09 pm

    p of v – followed you back to your blog. Thanks again for your comment. I’m sorry for fishleg’s comment. You are so right on in that God is most concerned with the condition of one’s heart. He tells us that out of the heart the mouth speaks. And that our words bring life or death – there is power in the tongue. I am so saddened when ‘christians’ (and I use that here lightly) use their tongue to tear down. Nowhere in scripture is that said to be ok.
    I am glad to hear that you can’t hate a person because …. God also doesn’t promote hate. Course you know how I feel about that from my blog 🙂

  4. June 2, 2009 12:34 am

    As a former Catholic school student, I too understand how difficult it is to struggle with narrow-minded Christians. I am reminded of the Great Soul, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    • June 2, 2009 2:28 am

      I remember that one! Darn, Gandhi was pretty smart…

  5. June 2, 2009 11:37 am

    I’m not sure how our ‘exchange’ contributed to this post… or why you thought I’m not a Christian. Or why you say that you can’t be a Christian.

  6. June 2, 2009 2:53 pm

    I guess it comes down to fundamental beliefs. You’re never going to see things from anyone’s perspective but your own.

  7. Funky J permalink
    June 2, 2009 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the comment p of v. I definitely agree with your sentiment though. I grew up around the church and when I was old enough to start asking questions about religion, the some people decided I was a bad influence on my peers. It’s more than annoying that some people consider that free thinking is a danger to your friends and family.

    • June 2, 2009 6:01 pm

      Exactly.
      The real danger is that it threatens their own position of power.

  8. Gloria permalink
    June 2, 2009 6:25 pm

    FunkyJ – yet another thing that saddens me.
    In our church we encourages people to know why they believe what they believe. The answer isn’t “because that’s the way I was raised.” I wish you would have been at our church when you began to ask questions. Our teen class starts out each Sunday with the teacher asking if anyone has any questions. If he doesn’t know the answer he isn’t afraid to tell them that. Then they begin to dig for the answer in the Bible. The adults have Wednesday night Bible study but they also know that if they have a question – getting off topic is way ok. There are people out there who hold to the belief that God is the one who is all powerful. We are His servants called not to Lord over people but to love people.

    • Funky J permalink
      June 2, 2009 6:57 pm

      Gloria– I’m glad to hear that your church welcomes questions and deeper study of Christianity. I think youth pastors should be able to encourage an open environment. Most of the time, religion is forced upon people and, before they can make up their mind, going to church/synagogue/mosque or worshiping god becomes more routine than a spiritual part of their life.

  9. Gloria permalink
    June 2, 2009 6:27 pm

    oops should have looked it over before hitting send 🙂 encourage – not encourages.

  10. June 3, 2009 12:49 pm

    I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school and I can remember being told that only Catholics would go to heaven because it is the one and only true religion. As a recovering Catholic, I know that was just propaganda fed to a young child.

    Throughout the years, I have questioned my faith many times and I have finally come to the conclusion that religion was created by men as a means to control women. Having said that, I must state that I am a very spiritual person. It’s just that I can’t be part of any religion. My spirituality is what keeps me free. I’m in the alternative health profession and I could not foster healing without my spirituality.

  11. June 3, 2009 5:05 pm

    Spirituality versus religion. Sounds like a great topic for an honest discussion. Of course, after the wrangling over definitions is over, I think most folks would agree that spirituality is far more important. Thanks, Cats.

  12. June 3, 2009 5:39 pm

    Is there a category that fits a lapsed agnostic?

    Organized religion is a real turn off to me and I’ve no patience left for those who want me to see how righteous they are. Believe me, I recognize love, kindness and righteousness without having it pointed out!

    For me, love is what its all about, and after all, didn’t He tell us that is what He is?

  13. June 4, 2009 11:53 am

    Of course there is no hell, no ANGRY God.
    Both man-made.
    And yes, I’m a christian because I say I am.
    Not because I conform to some dogma and doctrine.
    MY JESUS says I’m doing just fine without approval of others who are also self-appointed christians.

  14. June 4, 2009 11:20 pm

    That sounds like narcissistic-relativism. If that’s what you’re about, that’s fine, I just need a little more logic mixed in my worldview.

    • June 5, 2009 1:46 pm

      Wow, you make me sound so evil and shallow!
      I’ve also got a logical streak and some heretical thinking, depending on who you let judge that.
      I believe there’s a huge gap between history and dogma.
      In any case, way too involved for me to dive into psycho-babble.

      Are you familiar witth Joseph Campbell’s “The Power Of Myth”?

  15. June 5, 2009 1:47 pm

    And I kinda prefer Kirekegaard over Jung.

  16. June 5, 2009 1:48 pm

    I don’t think I spelled that correctly. sorry.

  17. June 5, 2009 4:28 pm

    Kierkegaard, subjective truth, where you get the MY JESUS talking points.
    Campbell, the “follow your bliss” guy.
    They all have a place, along with Jung, I just think his quote fits my blog title most appropriately.
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on you with my narcissistic-relativism comment, like I said, that’s fine. Believe me, there’s lots of folks out there with thought-constructs way more shallow and evil than that!
    We’re not really all that far apart.

  18. whitet permalink
    June 6, 2009 4:03 pm

    Where did you go to church? You said, “And every time a national election was coming to a head, I came to doubt the message I heard time and time again in church after church: You must vote for the Republican, or you’ll burn in hell forever.” Wow! I am a church going Republican but I have never said this line nor have I ever heard this line said. I trust this was hyperbole.

  19. June 7, 2009 3:35 am

    Not at all. Up and down the east coast, Southern and Independent Baptist as well as many Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches. Basically I was referencing the 2000 and 2004 elections. I’d say I’ve been to about fifty different churches, and pretty much heard the same message everywhere.
    Not hyperbole in the least.

  20. June 8, 2009 1:09 am

    Whenever I do post spiritual stuff it’s usually Buddhist.
    I consider myself a subscriber to the theistic evolution thought.
    Christianity is just what I happen to have been born into.
    I’ve never been evangelistic and consider it annoying at best.

    This is one of my favorite quotations on the subject:
    “I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.” J.D. Salinger

  21. June 8, 2009 1:01 pm

    Sekan, I believe you just blew my mind!

  22. June 8, 2009 1:37 pm

    POV,

    For some reason or another, I wrote you an email but I received a “Delivery Status Notification” message. My note wasn’t successfully sent. I was writing in response to your recent comment on my blog.

    Since my private email was unsuccessful, I’ve decided to paste my words in your “comments” section. I really hate to be rude like this, but I am determined to clarify how I feel…

    Re your comments on my blog:

    I found your words insulting yet inspiring.

    I wrote a response:

    http://claireshegoes.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/do-i-detect-some-hostility/

    I managed to explain, in detail, what I meant. I won’t belabor the point here. You can read my link if you wish.

    The progression of my thoughts intrigued even…Me.

    [Also, concerning the above post, the following words] caught my eye…

    “I can’t hate a person or group of people because they look, talk, act, or even think differently than I. I can’t judge another person, especially when – according to the Bible – I’m not even permitted to walk a mile in their shoes.”

    I skimmed what you wrote. I admit it. Yet those words stuck out.

    I don’t know WHAT version of Christianity–or the Bible–have come your way, but the mindset that you’ve described in the quote above has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what I believe.

    At one point in the Bible, among many other wise words, Jesus does in fact say, “…if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

    We are called to be selfless and consider the plight of others. Hell, more than consider. DO SOMETHING about it…

    Furthermore, as a Christian, I am called to love not only God, but my fellow man.

    I don’t know how to do anything else.

    ETA: Also, there are plenty of Christians who are Democrats. If I was American, I’m sure I’d be one. 😉

  23. June 8, 2009 2:37 pm

    Sorry for whatever the problem was about the email thing.
    I have been to a number of different Christian churches, hell, I even went to two different Bible Colleges, and no, I won’t mention their names, I’ve read several different Bible versions all the way through. Along with countless books on apologetics, et cetera ad nausea.
    My indictment of Fox News Christianity stands firm. You may not subscribe to that majority doctrine, and if so, I feel sorry for you; ’cause you’re going to get it from both sides.

  24. June 12, 2009 5:34 pm

    “My indictment of Fox News Christianity stands firm.”
    amen PofV.
    The last thing christ would be about is anything on Faux News.
    BillO and Rush don’t seem good role models for disciples.

    Also, boy howdy, you made somebody mad huh? Normal.

    About evangelism, I believe Christ demonstrated true evangelism the best by washing his disciple’s (and no doubt other ‘sinners’) feet!

  25. anthony oneil permalink
    December 7, 2009 11:06 pm

    i am a preacher and i will say it is very hard to be a christian of the bible. I just got done with a music director that said i teach the bible or do things for others because it makes me feel better then them.i know preachers that still have affairs look at porn, drink, event deny the bible they preach out of and found one thing to be true it is usually the odd ones so called that are the true christians. here is some stastics 3% of the world claims to be christian. out of the that small percentage only 8% of those sitting in church wednesday not sunday but wednesday are true christians this is given by the pew statics southern baptist and the barna group check it out. but what ever happens you can never judge on the abuse but you must judge the foundation that is taught

  26. May 18, 2011 4:28 am

    I had a professor in college that claimed to be an atheist, one of the students ask him why he didn’t go to church. His answer was one that we all need to hear, “Your go to church, there’s no Jesus.”
    If he only knew how right he was. We have a religion of Jesus where we use the bible for sermons, studies and establish doctrines so we can build our own divisions…. Which the bible says He hates.
    We create churches that have nothing to do with the bible.
    Division is not of God
    Naming our churches is not of God
    One man preaching every Sunday and stopping the body of Christ from functioning in body ministry is not of God
    The sinner’s prayer is not in the bible
    The Lord’s snack for communion is not in the bible.
    A man from China once told me, “There is nothing you do in America that is Christian.” I came to realize he was right. We talk of “our” church. We talk about going to church. We give our money to the church… none of that is in the bible. The word “church” was a planned mistranslation to put the focus on a building, no building no clergy. The Greek word ekklesia means a called out assembly that made up the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God there is one King and one kingdom and all are subject to obey Him. One King in the city, one called out assembly in each city… not hundreds of divided churches.
    Unity
    Loving one another
    Fellowshipping with one another
    Body ministry
    Its all gone and has been replaced with men’s traditions handed down… the church is not the kingdom of God, it is the mini-kingdoms of men and most don’t read their bible enough to know it.

  27. Judible permalink
    August 7, 2011 9:04 am

    Interesting blog. P of V your sincerity stirred me to ask your opinion of Ravi Zacharias – The Existence of God – Jesus Revealing God video:

    • December 8, 2015 4:09 pm

      far from compelling, with some obvious holes in the basic premise of almost everything he says and in most of his lectures. Zacharias this is an entertaining showman with an irritating penchant for sophistry – he is also an unrepentant evangelical/apologist of the first water. He will happily blame you for not believing and I have a feeling that there’s something basically wrong with that!

  28. Nigel permalink
    April 21, 2012 6:57 pm

    I am a scientist by training, I was once a Christian and I lost my faith… although that is merely the best way I can describe it, because it left behind a hole that ached. I remained in the state for about 12 years until, one fateful night, I made my first tentative prayer in over a decade. I could easily write a 5000 word essay on what followed. I class myself as a person of faith, but with no religion and that the judgements of other people pass me by. When I was in the process of regaining my faith there were those who naturally expected me to go back to being a Christian, and some distance themselves from me when it became obvious that this wasn’t going to happen. I don’t need to go to a church, I don’t want the advice of priests, I don’t have a creed and I am responsible for my own ethics and devotions. Sure, you can abuse such a set of ideals and keep changing your own rules to suit the way you lead your life… but that’s not taking your responsibilities yourself seriously and the only person who loses out is you. I don’t often pray out loud, but what I say in prayer see is truthful and is in my heart. If honesty and love are bad things, and it looks like I’ll be joining you in hell!My spiritual life is purely experiential and I do not read religious texts of any kind. I love God with all my heart, but I don’t insist other people do the same thing (even though it is a truly wonderful feeling). Here, in the UK, we managed to keep our religion and our politics from getting too messed up together! Write to me if you want to, I’m almost harmless!

  29. Jack permalink
    January 2, 2013 6:04 am

    Hi Nigel, I have read your message with a lot of enthusiasm, and would sincerely like to hear more from you since you are almost harmless. I am a free thinker, and hope we can share a great deal. Thanks! Jack

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