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Neon Genesis
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Hello, everyone! I just joined and I look forward to reading the posts and joining in the discussions. To give some background info on my religious experience, I was raised a fundamentalist Christian in the Church Of Christ. I believed the bible was the inerrant word of God and that homosexuality was a sin and you would go to hell if you were gay. To make a long story short, I later realized I was a gay and was unable to change my sexuality in spite of my church's claims that you could. I then started studying the scriptures and realized it wasn't the inerrant word of God after all. I knew there were gay Christians out there who were able to believe in God while accepting their sexuality, but I was unable to reconcile my faith with my sexuality and I deconverted to atheism. In an ironic twist of fate, I think I understand the more liberal versions of Christianity better now as an atheist than I did as a Christian. I have a great deal of respect for liberal/progressive Christianity and there are a lot of liberal religious figures I am a fan of, like Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Karen Armstrong, and John Shelby Spong. If I could believe in God, I probably would be a progressive Christian, but I'm unable to make the leap of faith to believe in God. But I'm interested in learning more about progressive Christianity and I found myself interested in a lot of the threads here. I'm glad to be here and I hope to learn more here.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Hello Neon Genesis, glad to have you aboard. There is no need for you to take any leaps of faith here. You're welcome as you are. I grew up within fundamentalist Christianity too. Unfortunately, there are few issues which tend to be more provocative than that of homosexuality, so I can only imagine what you've gone through in finding your way.

Personally I have never really been able to make leaps of faith either. If God, for me, was a matter of either belief or unbelief, I'd probably just stick with unbelief since it seems the only reasonable default position. God has only become meaningful for me as I've understood how life itself - my life - can in the immediacy of personal experience find communion with what is sacred. As such, God need not be defined at all. And if there is nothing defined - no thing or object posited, then there is nothing to believe or not believe in. :)

Just my brief thoughts on the matter for whatever they may be worth.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Welcome again Neon Genesis,

 

So glad you decided to post. I believe you will fit in just fine here from your introduction. In case you weren't aware, Marcus Borg, Karen Armstrong and Shelby Spong are part of the leadership team and Honorary Advisors here at TCPC.org.

 

As Mike said, i would echo, since God is beyond definition of words or the mind, there is no need for belief. A subjective experience is possibly the only human connection one as a creature can have. I find it also appropriate for me to neither be concerned with believing or disbelieving. For me, God is, and is the very substrate of my existence, and is a reality in my life that is self evident and at this point requires no belief.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Welcome, Neon Genesis! We're glad you're here!

 

I, too, was raised and cultivated in conservative Christianity. Those experiences pretty much killed off any notions of theism that I held to. :D So labels like theist and atheist, Christian and non-Christian, while we talk about them, are awkward handles for many progressive Christians, kinda like trying to balance a bowling ball on a spoon.

 

For me, I'm no longer a theist but I still sense God around me and inside me. So I'm not, technically, an atheist either! And I'm no longer a Christian because I think Christianity is a religion about Jesus and I'm more drawn to the religion of Jesus.

 

So you'll find a wide range of beliefs, experiences, and worldviews here. What binds us together? On the surface, we call it the 8 Points. But they, too, are just handles that help us to say that EVERYONE has value and should be loved and respected.

 

Glad you found your way here. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better.

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Welcome NG - new here as well. After reading some of your thoughtful and well written posts, I thought I would say Hi, you seem like an interesting individual.

 

Seems to me to describe one's self as a antheist is to reject any notion or concept of God. Do you or would you simply have rejected curent understandings of God? I ask because most of the atheists I know do not post as you do. Seems like you are seeking some religous or God-experience, just in a different venue that you (and perhaps even I) am use to.

 

That and Billmc's remark that he is not a Christian because he thinks that "Christianity is a religion about Jesus and I'm more drawn to the religion of Jesus." has got me thinking, but I am not sure about what just yet.

 

Seems to me that Christianity is the religion of Jesus, but has changed to include the religion about Jesus, which I call christianity (notice the little "c". Also, the christianity that has been transformed by or into the traditions of man I call churchiantiy.

 

Perhaps this could be posted on the debate and discussion forum site for futher discussion. I leave that up to another to do if they agree, or perhaps for another to post the thread or threads that already addresses this.

 

Either way, I welcome responses and clarification - especially as someone remind me, though indirectly so (JosephM), to "Seek first to understand, then be understood.

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Seems to me to describe one's self as a antheist is to reject any notion or concept of God. Do you or would you simply have rejected curent understandings of God? I ask because most of the atheists I know do not post as you do. Seems like you are seeking some religous or God-experience, just in a different venue that you (and perhaps even I) am use to.

 

 

I consider myself to always be on a spiritual journey. I'm an atheist in the sense that I don't believe in supernatural deities but if I have any God beliefs at all, I see God as being Nature and the Universe itself rather than detached supernatural being. I also tend to agree with John Shelby Spong's definition of God:
But whether I define God in that way depends on what my mood is in a day and I also don't use it all the time in most theological debates on the existence of God because it's not a definition of God most people are familiar with and I don't want to confuse people.
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Don't have sound when I go the internet for some strange reason and I never remember to bring headsets to the library to use their internet, so could you tell me, in however many words, what John Shelby Spong's definition of God is. Plese and thank-you.

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Guest billmc

Don't have sound when I go the internet for some strange reason and I never remember to bring headsets to the library to use their internet, so could you tell me, in however many words, what John Shelby Spong's definition of God is. Plese and thank-you.

 

Spong says that his greatest teacher was Paul Tillich, a theologian who himself moved away from theism (how's that for a contradition in terms?). Spong gives various answers to his definition of God, mainly Tillich's "the Ground of Being" which is, at least for me, somewhat ambiguous. But Spong is quick to say that ANY definition of God is a human construct, more of an idol than an exact representation.

 

In most of the Spong books I've read and sermons I've listened to, Jack usually refers to God as the presence of love in our universe. He ties it closely to the biblical statement that "God is love" and sometimes he flips it around and says that "love is God." As love, Spong sees God as an influence in our lives that calls us to live fully, love passionately, and to be all we can be. So he sees God reflected, not in what we believe, but in what WE DO (I concur, but I don't write any best-selling books...ha ha!).

 

So Spong is not a theist and says so. But he does believe in God and tries to live out that belief in actions, primarily in love. I'd love to hear him live some time, but he doesn't seem to come to the Bible-Belt very often. I wonder why? :D

Edited by billmc
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I heard Spong lecture several years ago, sponsored by a liberal/progressive Episcopal church. He was an inspired speaker and generous in answering questions from the audience. What appeals to me in his writing more than Borg or other PC theologians is the way he portrays Jesus as the suffering servant, and re-interprets the sayings about Christ in the fourth gospel. There are a number of articles by him on this site, as well as one of his shorter books, which to me is his best work--

 

here

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