Some people seem to think there's only one kind of Christian in this world, and they don't really like them. I don't feel that way. There are lots of variations, and if you get to know the differences you might find you like a lot of them. I hope you'l find you like the kind of Christian that I believe I am. I may not be unique in my beliefs, but I gather I'm quite rare. See if you agree.
On Monday, September 10th, 2012 I engaged in a discussion on another Viner's topic, entitled: And Some Christians Still Wonder Why Some People of No Faith Get Fed Up? That topic belongs to a viner named Grisham, and I truly thank him for posting that article. I think you'll see why as you read this article.
I realize now that the title itself was a setup for conflict. Grish brought together the two opposite ends of the spectrum, Christians versus "People of No Faith" Kudos to you Grish! Very skillfully done.
Well, I just couldn't resist adding my two cents worth, so I began my first comment by stating, "you know you're never supposed to discuss religion or politics unless you want to start a fight?"
Maybe that's where I should have ended it. But, I didn't.
I didn't quite get into a "fight" fight, but I could sense some emotions were getting a bit ragged during my discussion with a few viners who replied back to my comments. Not my emotions mind you, I was here to learn not fight, and certainly not to judge others. And I say that sincerely, because I'm not at either end of that spectrum, I really am somewhere close to the middle. So I rarely get upset with either side's view of religion and/or faith, because I have issues with Christians as well as with atheists. Plus, I have real sympathy for those who've been subjected to the kind of condemnation Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists can sometimes mete out to others, in spite of Jesus' admonition to "judge not lest ye be judged".
Like I told Grish, in my first comment,
"I'm not exactly sure when, but my karma ran over my dogma."
What I meant by that is that I was born into a Christian family, and raised in a certain religion which I won't specify because it doesn't matter. Then, somewhere along the line I stepped away from my church and that religion never to return.
I left the church, but I never left my belief in God. I know He's out there, looking over us, and waiting for the final day. But I believe, to Him, we human beings are now a spectator sport and He doesn't get directly involved with us anymore. We're on our own, we have Free Will and when the final day comes when we meet up with Him (or Her), that's when things will finally be decided.
I believe that day comes for us all, atheist or believer, regardless. Then the atheist may say, "Holy Crap! You really do exist." But, instead of just pointing the atheist to the Shuttle-Bus To Hell, I believe God will give him or her a second chance to accept the truth, and everything will be cool. Same goes with any and all non-Christians. All mankind of all faiths or no faith will have an equal shot at the heavenly reward or the other alternative. The God I believe in is an equal opportunity redeemer, and it doesn't matter to Him (or Her) what religion you are, or even if you are an atheist.
I really believe the guys who'll have the REAL PROBLEM with God are the ones who are here now preaching their view of God to serve their own selfish purpose and line their own pockets with filthy lucre. I believe that on their final day they will have to eat those words when they do finally meet Him and try to vainly explain why they lied about Him.
He's out there, trust me. You don't need to believe it now, but I think you will on that last day. If you're a good person now, atheist or believer, Christian or Muslim, Jew or Gentile, you're okay. If you're not a good person, no matter what you say your religion is or what you falsely proclaim you believe in, it just ain't gonna help that much later on.
Unless you change. And I don't mean change to another religion, or change from being an atheist to a believer. I mean change from being a jerk to being a good person. Because I believe that your ticket to heaven is NOT guaranteed by how many Sunday services you attend. That's not the important part. What is important is how you treat people, here and now, that will get you a place there and then.
I really believe that all good people, truly good decent caring people, even atheists, go to heaven. If you haven't been a good person, it doesn't matter how much money you've given to your church or charity, you just can't buy your way into heaven. You have to earn it. You have to deserve it. And you do that by living the good life of a basic, decent, good person, regardless of what religion you are or aren't.
Well, that's kind of an expanded and enhanced version of my comment to Grish, because I wanted to flesh it out a bit more for you here in this article.
Eventually (actually about two hours later) someone replied to my comment accusing God of taking pleasure in killing people via floods and whatever. (But he specifically mentioned God's floods killing people, so keep that in mind.) Obviously, that was one of the 'People of No Faith.' There's always those who not only don't believe there is a God, but they believe that if there is a God, then He's a mean spirited and vengeful God. (Which tells me that they actually do believe there is a God after all, but they just don't know Him very well so they deny Him.) Okay, so I replied, and I said...
See, that's where I feel the whole rap on God goes off the rails. If you believe anything in The Bible (I'm talking Old Testament here, which I personally tend to pretty much ignore, but if you are a believer and you go with the OT) then you have to recall that after the Great Flood of Noah's time - God gave man the Rainbow as a promise He'd never do that again. So, as a believer, you're all wrong if you think God uses hurricanes and floods to smite mankind. God said he would never do that again. For example, Pat Robertson's crap about Hurricane Katrina being God's punishment for gay tolerance in New Orleans is bullfeathers!
Like I said, I pretty much ignore the OT, and much of The New Testament as well. I base my beliefs in God through the words ascribed to Jesus. Only Jesus. Thus, since I believe in Jesus, it only follows I also believe in God, because in Jesus' own words they are one in the same.
The way I look at it, I am a "Jesus Christ-Christian", and if Jesus didn't say it, it just doesn't count. Do you follow me? It's kind of like saying "I'm a Kennedy-Democrat" or "I'm a Reagan-Republican." Being one of those has little to do with the Democrats or Republicans we have in our country today. Being a Jesus Christ-Christian has very little to do with most of the Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists of today!
You see, as far as I know and have read of his life, and his teachings, Jesus never hurt anyone physically. Jesus taught love, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. Jesus didn't kill any people when he was alive on Earth, so God doesn't kill people, or at least he hasn't since Jesus was born. Anyone who says that the God or Jesus killed this group or that group of people, or even this one person, is wrong. It just hasn't happened.
Sometimes I think that the big name evangelists use stories of fire and brimstone, famine and flood, to create fear among their followers so that will generate higher revenues from their donations. Other preachers who make such accusations against God are just crackpots. So you have the nuts who just say crazy stuff about God, and the liars who use God's name to line their own pockets and fill their bank accounts with money from their fearful followers. Either way, I really believe they are going to end up paying at the final round-up. You know what I mean?
Another three hours passed before the next reply to my comments, actually two responses were posted from two different people. This is where things really started getting interesting.
I'm not going to quote their comments exactly because it would make this article far too long. And I'm not going to even reveal their names, because that wouldn't be fair to do without their permission. Let me just say that in their replies they did not agree with me very much, or at all, on almost anything I had written.
One commenter questioned the existence of God, having never seen Him, and there being no real concrete empirical evidence that He (or She) ever existed in the first place. The other person echoed this same sentiments but then questioned which God I was referring to: an all seeing loving God or the smite-happy vengeful God.
So, I replied thusly…
We each see the 'evidence" we are willing to accept. There's an old saying that goes, "I'll believe it when I see it." but for many, perhaps you, the truth is "You'll only be able to see it when you believe it."
For me the "evidence" is Jesus Christ. That's the only evidence I need, and accept. And Jesus is an "all loving [and] forgiving God." He never smote anyone during his time here on Earth.
Jesus preached that we all should treat each other as we wished for others to treat us.
Jesus taught that we should love God, but it wasn't necessary to overtly worship him. In fact, Jesus made a point of saying that those who openly prayed and worshipped in public, on the street corners and at the temple so all others could see them praying, were hypocrites. Hypocrites Jesus called them, not me.
Jesus taught that when we felt the need to pray to God, we should go somewhere out of sight from others, and talk to the Lord, because God does not need or want us to make a spectacle of ourselves in the act of talking to Him. And praying is simply talking to God, not worshipping Him.
(I also pointed out very specifically that I was not trying to convert either one of the commenters with my words. I told them that they, as well as you, must do what is right for you. But, I asked them if they could now see where I was coming from on this, and how my points of view could at least be as valid as theirs?)
That should have been the end of it I thought. Well, I thought wrong!
The first commenter shared that she had been raised in a Christian family, and was indoctrinated into her family's church much like I was, involuntarily. But if God really wanted her to believe in Him, then He should have contacted her directly. So, she walked away from her church, from God and from all of it. She became one of the People of No Faith. She gave me her four point critique, so I replied to each point as follows:
1. Empirical evidence: The Shroud of Turin. The fountain in Lourdes, France. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can believe these things or not. Your choice, but there is evidence for each one that it really happened and existed, or exists still today.
2. I never kneel when I pray. People who do that, in public, I think do it for show, and as Jesus said they are being hypocrites. I pray all the time, and you would never know it by looking at me. I don't kneel or fold my hands together, or do any of those showy things when I pray. When I feel the need, I just shoot a mental shout-out to God, and it's done.
3. Why should God contact YOU specifically (I asked her), when He doesn't contact anyone personally, not even Pat Robertson (though Pat wants you to believe God talks to him all the time. Bullfeathers!) Belief in God is about faith. Faith is a belief in the unseen. Either you have it or you don't. You apparently don't, but that's okay. It's what works for you. Be okay with that. I certainly have no problem with it, just as long as YOU can accept that I do have faith in God, because that's what works for me. Okay?
4. Like I said before, I don't go by anything written in The Old Testament. I don't have a problem ignoring that, because my belief is in Jesus. I don't even give much credence in the words written by the Apostle Paul or any of the others in The New Testament. Only those words ascribed directly to Jesus himself guide me, because that's all I need, and that's how I reconcile it. Besides that, The OT is Jewish, and not Christian anyway. The Trinity does not necessarily point to the God of the OT. Jesus simply said: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn't specify "God the Father, you know that Guy who took out Sodom and Gomorrah. You remember Him. Yah! That's Him! That's my Dad!" Jesus did not specify God that way.
Then the other commenter replied with a fairly scathing point-by-point criticism of what I had written, and to what another believer had also posted in the interim.
I decided to take a shot at finding out the motivation for this attack, rather than try to respond in kind. So I asked this…
I would guess you believe in The Big Bang Theory. Where is your empirical evidence for that. And, by the way, where did Space come from? How was it created?
This could go on endlessly. BTW, reread my comment, I did toss the entire OT and the 10 Commandments along with it, because it and they are Jewish, not Christian.
As far as Jesus not being the only one to teach The Golden Rule, in his part of the world he probably was. Confucius and Buddha didn't quite make it over to Israel during their life and times.
And then I asked:
Why does it seem so necessary for you to prove my beliefs wrong. I have not tried to prove yours wrong, and in fact, I say that whatever works for you is fine. Why not allow me to be comfortable with what works for me. You seem to be protesting too much. Why?
And that set off the firestorm of extensive replies from both commenters just minutes apart. And again, I won't quote them, but I think you can get the idea of the core of their critiques from this response I sent back.
For two people who claim they are atheists, or at least non-believers in any Christian faith, you certainly pretend to know a lot about Christianity.
Unfortunately, you are incorrect about almost everything. But I'll limit my response.
I never said I thought the Jews were wrong. I'm not at all arrogant about that. You read-in that interpretation perhaps as part of your own reflection. I said…
I don't go by anything written in The Old Testament. I don't have a problem ignoring that, because my belief is in Jesus.
See! Nothing about the Jews being wrong. Not even when I wrote...
I did toss the entire OT and the 10 Commandments along with it, because it and they are Jewish, not Christian.
Facts are facts. The men who wrote the OT were Jews. The stories in the OT are about Jews. There's not a single Christian described or mentioned in the OT. Prove me wrong. That doesn't mean the Jews were wrong, and I never said that. I said - for me, singular, I don't follow the OT, because I am not a Jew. I am a Christian. It's that simple. Try not to read anything else into that. It is what it is. I am who I am.
And you (the other commenter) are so very wrong.
Jesus was born to a Jewish woman and raised by a Jewish family, but he was an outcast amongst the Jews when he began his preaching. He was not a devout Jew, and he broke Sabbath Law by working and feasting on the Sabbath, and justifying his actions to the Jewish Rabbis who scolded him. It's in The Bible, a book written by men, hearsay evidence as you put it, but evidence nonetheless. Look it up if you don't believe me.
Jesus did say to obey the Laws of Moses, but then he proved to the Jewish leaders and to the people that all the Laws of Moses could be obeyed by simply obeying the two new laws he brought to mankind from his father, God. The first and most important law is to: Love God, and the second is to: Treat others as you would have them treat you. Jesus said if you obey just these two laws of The New Covenant then you cannot disobey any of the Laws of Moses. And he was right!
A devout Jew does not create a new religion that divides the Jews, does he? No. A devout Christian, leads his people to the true paths of righteousness and goodness, kindness and compassion, as Jesus did. Jesus was a Jew who became the first Christian, as The Christ, the very first Christian.
Still, I find it very interesting that the two of you are so intent on trying to prove me wrong in such detailed point for point rebuttals. But, your efforts will be as digging a hole in the ocean. As soon as you take one scoop out, it will refill itself, for the ocean is correct, and you are wrong.
God bless you both for trying!
And again, I thought wrongly that that would be the end of our debate. Until they commented yet again.
I was accused by a new commenter of being brainwashed and also promoting my beliefs under the guise of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. I didn't know what that was, so I had to look it up.
And one of the original two commenters replied thusly and I replied to her quote…
YOU are expressing a view of Christianity that is NOT mainstream.
EXACTLY!!! You are finally getting it. I am NOT "mainstream Christian." I don't agree with them. But I am a Christian. I am a "Jesus Christ-Christian", NOT a "mainstream Christian."
Then my knowledge of Christian history was also put in question, by another new commenter.
you are now placing yourself on a pedestal and basically talking down to us, while at the same time not realizing the incredible shaky evolution of the "new testament" you tout.
Well I had to correct that misstated notion, so I wrote:
Nope! Not talking down to anyone at all here. Not being arrogant as accused. Just stating what I believe in, which is NOT the OT, and NOT the NT either.
Again, please read this carefully, my beliefs are based on ONLY THOSE WORDS ASCRIBED TO Jesus Christ HIMSELF. That is all. That's what I believe. And I also believe, YOU and whomever else, are free to believe or disbelieve what you wish. I have no problem with that. Why, I wonder, do some of you seem to have such a big problem with what I choose to believe. Do YOU feel I MUST believe as you do? If so, that's where I say you are WRONG.
p.s. Darwin was right about a lot of stuff, and I feel he was correct about evolution of the species. But, even though I believe that, I am still a Christian. Now, how do you like that?
One of the originals again stated that she had never been given a "first chance" to believe in God, but that statement didn't ring quite true to me. So I replied…
You keep saying God never gave you a "first chance." Maybe from your perspective you believe that's true.
I can't explain my view of first, second and third chances better than Aaron Sorkin did from this episode of The West Wing, when President Bartlet prayed for guidance from God concerning a death penalty decision, and he was disappointed that God had not given him the answer. His friend and priest had this to say in response:
Father Thomas Cavanaugh: You remind me of the man that lived by the river.
He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town, and that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, "I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me."
The waters rose up. A guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, "Hey, hey you, you in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety." But the man shouted back, "I'm religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me."
A helicopter was hovering overhead and a guy with a megaphone shouted, "Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I'll take you to safety." But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety.
Well... the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter he demanded an audience with God. "Lord," he said, "I'm a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?"
God said, "I sent you a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?"
Remember that you wrote:
I was raised as a Christian and my father went to seminary and taught me lots of stuff about the bible that they don't teach outside of seminary.
May I ask: Wasn't your father teaching you about God and Christianity your "first chance?"
And here I must quote her reply:
No. Unless you mean my first chance to believe what I was told without question. If I was raised by Muslims would that have made Islam correct?? What if I was raised by Buddhists??
And in reply I said:
In order to "reject" something, you must "first" have a "chance" to accept it. You had your "first chance" even if you choose to deny it. That's just simple logic.
The West Wing story points to the fact that some folks just can't see the opportunities placed before them. They deny what is right there in front of them, because they have preconceived ideas and cannot open their minds to accept other alternatives.
I still believe you will have another chance. And, when you do, I hope you'll think back on this conversation, and that it helps you make a choice that works for you. Until then, take care! (I hope we're still friends.)
Well, this generated a few final wrap-up comments and pretty much brought the debate to a close. So I wrapped my end thusly…
Thank you all for the great debate on God vs Atheism. I've learned from you. I hope you can say the same of me. Your thought-provoking comments caused me to do a bit more digging, where I found these interesting videos I share with you.
Please know, I am NOT trying to convert you. You have your beliefs, I have mine. We can always change our beliefs, but nobody can change them for us. So, please do take a small amount of time to view these videos and give them all some thought, will you?
Thanks again! Great comments!!! And thanks to the article's author for publishing his thought-provoking article in the first place.
Former atheist Antony Flew's conversion to theism
Five Proofs For The Existence of God
Albert Einstein on God
Oh, and about the "No True Scotsman" Fallacy. I wrote back to that commenter…
The "No True Scotsman" ploy doesn't apply to anything I have argued here. I didn't know what that was, but since you mentioned it at least twice I looked it up.
- A Scot says "No Scotsman would do such a thing."
- Then a Scotsman does do such a thing,
- So the Scot adds a qualifier and says , "Well, No TRUE Scotsman would do such a thing."
The statements I made concerning my faith and what I believe to be true Christianity for me, apply only to me, and no other. I don't speak for other Christians, or TRUE Christians, I only speak for one Christian and that is me. I am the one me, thus the true me, and the only me, so that is what I think with or without qualifiers. I am not we, or they, them or us, just me. I speak for none other than myself. So, your "No True Scotsman" just doesn't apply.
Sorry. But, thanks for introducing the concept, even though it's inaccurate in this case. I did learn something new from it and you. So thanks!
And that's how this great debate ended. (So far. Because, as with all comments on the Newsvine, they can be reactivated at almost any time. So, I guess I'll have to check back from time to time to see if there are any new comments to answer.)
I made an article out of this because, quite frankly, this is one of the best debates I have yet been a part of on Newsvine, and this is the first where I've really had an opportunity to express my views about Christianity and how I practice my version.
I'm curious to see if there are others here who feel like I do, that Christianity should be based mostly or even only on the words of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Books of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John, and pretty much nothing else.
It's been my feeling for many many years now, that if you read Jesus' words in The Bible, and really try to live your life by his words as your primary guidance, then you just can't help but lead a good and honorable life worthy of heavenly reward.
Yes, Jesus began life on Earth as a Jew, but ended it here as the first Christian. The Old Testament just does not apply to Christians at all, as it was written by Jews, about Jews and for Jews.
This philosophy works for me. I think it can work for others, but it's not my goal or my mission to convert others to it. If it makes sense to you, then it's got to be your choice (and not mine) to change your beliefs. What you choose to believe is up to you, and I'm okay with that.
What do YOU think?
UPDATE: October 11, 2012 ===================
Today I came back to this article for some reason I can not really describe. No, it was not the disembodied Voice of God or anything like that telling me "BRUCE! GO BACK TO THAT ARTICLE YOU WROTE! YOU KNOW THE ONE!!!" Rather. it was just a feeling I needed to revisit this for a moment.
While scanning the comments below I came upon one that I wrote to a someone that made me think, "I may owe this guy an apology!" So, I wrote one.
Well, what do you know? He wrote back! And I wrote another comment, and then a thought occurred to me that I don't think I have ever put into words before, until now. Which is why I am writing this...
To me Religion, or Faith, or whatever you want to call it serves only two purposes. Just two.
1. To help you to be a better person in this life, so...
2. You will have a better time of it in the next life.
That's it! That's why religion or faith or what I call My Kind of Christianity is important to me.
Now, here's the thing. If you don't believe in Heaven, The Great Beyond, the next realm, Valhalla or whatever the various folks call it, but you do have faith and it helps you to be a better person right now, a better person than you would have been without it, then you are still way ahead of the game! You're on the Plus Side of Life in the here-and-now when you have faith, even if you don't believe in Heaven.
If your faith doesn't help you to be a better, nicer, kinder person, and by being so then the world doesn't seem like a nicer place to be in with more hopefulness that things will just keep getting better, well, if your religion doesn't do that for you, then you might just be in the wrong religion.
If your religion makes you a bitter, angry, judgmental person who criticizes and complains about everyone else. Well, you can have it. I like my religion better. It takes way too much effort to condemn others, and besides that, I don't have the right to do that anyway, and really, neither does anyone else.
Do unto others as You would have Them Do unto YOU!
That's really all you need. That's what Jesus said.
Oh! And if you really want to get into Heaven after this life, then: Love God too. That's easy! He never complains one way or the other. At least, He's never complained to me about it.
God Bless You!
See ya on the other side someday!
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