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Soul Salvaging


jerryb
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" The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful,and has no one to thank". G.K. Chesterton

 

 

In His book Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey writes.."Why am I still a Christian? What keeps me pursuing a gospel that has come to me amid so much distortion and static...that often sounds more like bad news than good"?

 

I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

A work in progress,

 

Jerry

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What's left after fundamentalism???? Gosh - all the good stuff. For many people, fundamentalism is all about rules and figuring out how to make yourself acceptable to God when you fundamentally are not.... PUNT.

 

What are you left with? GRACE, God's unconditional love and desire for you, freedom to find Him every/anywhere. The freedom to learn about other paths/religions - not necessarily to change paths, but to learn about God from a different angle.

 

You get to move from a selfish idea of salvation - it's all about whether I'm in the book to a salvation that comes through you to change the world by touching everyone you touch. You lose the need to force others into your viewpoint so that they don't go to Hell. You can just show God's love, no strings attached.

 

For many people, leaving a fundamentalist background, it is hard to stay in christianity at first. Many explore other paths and then return to christianity. God is everywhere; so's Jesus. :) Learning more about Him will probably strengthen your faith. I'd try Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Phillip Yancey, Brian McLaren (His first 3 books are loosely fictional about a conservative pastor who becomes more progressive and how he deals with that with his church, friends, family, etc. A Generous Orthodoxy gives you a new framework).

 

It's early, hope I'm not babbling too much, but your question really struck me. The good stuff is left. Really. Godspeed Jerry - I really enjoy our conversations here.

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" The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful,and has no one to thank". G.K. Chesterton

 

 

In His book Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey writes.."Why am I still a Christian? What keeps me pursuing a gospel that has come to me amid so much distortion and static...that often sounds more like bad news than good"?

 

I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

A work in progress,

 

Jerry

 

It's a journey we are on. I have often found myself so enamored with Buddhist insights that I have thought about leaving Christianity behind. But the Bible really has a hold on me! And the progressive Christians I know and love in mainline congregations all over the planet are a network of love and compassion I can count on. I give Alan Watts the credit for letting me know that Christian myth and ritual is a good representation of the perennial philosophy or Mysticism which is the core, the heart, the foundation of all wisdom.

 

Moses met God at the Burning Bush. Jesus met God in the wilderness. Buddha met God at the Bo Tree. Mohammad met God at a little shack or something like that where he communicated directly with God. You can and do. I can and do.

 

Borg in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY argues that the born again metaphor is too important to give away. Indeed "emerging Paradigm" or Progressive Christians have a great way to be born again or born from above, the way of the journey of humility and openeness. Christianity offers so much wisdom as do other wisdom traditions. Here in the USA there is every reason to stay connected to any congregation where the "emerging paradigm" is either accepted or embraced and there are many.

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What's left after fundamentalism????  Gosh - all the good stuff.  For many people, fundamentalism is all about rules and figuring out how to make yourself acceptable to God when you fundamentally are not....  PUNT.

 

What are you left with?  GRACE, God's unconditional love and desire for you, freedom to find Him every/anywhere.  The freedom to learn about other paths/religions - not necessarily to change paths, but to learn about God from a different angle. 

 

You get to move from a selfish idea of salvation - it's all about whether I'm in the book to a salvation that comes through you to change the world by touching everyone you touch.  You lose the need to force others into your viewpoint so that they don't go to Hell.  You can just show God's love, no strings attached.

 

For many people, leaving a fundamentalist background, it is hard to stay in christianity at first.  Many explore other paths and then return to christianity.  God is everywhere; so's Jesus.  :)  Learning more about Him will probably strengthen your faith.  I'd try Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Phillip Yancey, Brian McLaren (His first 3 books are loosely fictional about a conservative pastor who becomes more progressive and how he deals with that with his church, friends, family, etc.  A Generous Orthodoxy gives you a new framework).

 

It's early, hope I'm not babbling too much, but your question really struck me.  The good stuff is left.  Really.  Godspeed Jerry - I really enjoy our conversations here.

 

Thanks Cynthia.....guess I sounded a bit hopeless in this post. But I really am not hopeless....just hoping that I can be more realistic in my new faith.'

You are right though....all the 'good stuff' is left....and I intend,by God's help, to find it.

 

Blessings to you,

 

Jerry

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" The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful,and has no one to thank". G.K. Chesterton

 

 

In His book Soul Survivor, Philip Yancey writes.."Why am I still a Christian? What keeps me pursuing a gospel that has come to me amid so much distortion and static...that often sounds more like bad news than good"?

 

I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

A work in progress,

 

Jerry

 

It's a journey we are on. I have often found myself so enamored with Buddhist insights that I have thought about leaving Christianity behind. But the Bible really has a hold on me! And the progressive Christians I know and love in mainline congregations all over the planet are a network of love and compassion I can count on. I give Alan Watts the credit for letting me know that Christian myth and ritual is a good representation of the perennial philosophy or Mysticism which is the core, the heart, the foundation of all wisdom.

 

Moses met God at the Burning Bush. Jesus met God in the wilderness. Buddha met God at the Bo Tree. Mohammad met God at a little shack or something like that where he communicated directly with God. You can and do. I can and do.

 

Borg in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY argues that the born again metaphor is too important to give away. Indeed "emerging Paradigm" or Progressive Christians have a great way to be born again or born from above, the way of the journey of humility and openeness. Christianity offers so much wisdom as do other wisdom traditions. Here in the USA there is every reason to stay connected to any congregation where the "emerging paradigm" is either accepted or embraced and there are many.

 

 

Mystic......Thanks for reminding me of the 'progressive network of love'....I too believe it is there...maybe not always as sharply defind as I wish...but still there.

Thanks for your encouragement

 

Blessings,

Jerry

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JB

 

Silence, persistence, consistency, openness, reading the ideas of others, and deep-emotionally-connected thought and reflection. Practice these and it will all come to you my friend.

 

peace to you...flow.... :)

 

 

Hi Flow...as always,you are an encourager. Thank you. I'm really working on the 'silence' part of your equation. I recently began reading 'Peace is every step' by Thich Nhat Hanh and He is helping me stop and breathe,and wait....amazing how that helps.

 

Blessings Friend,

Jerry

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am still a Christian because I can change my life by becoming aware of my unity with an infinite God and the infinite possibilities that await all of us, but first, every new stage in life requires us to part from the previous one. Childhood gives rise to youth as it develops into adulthood. After a temporary stay our minds expand doing away with ignorance in order to approach God where the only medium between our minds and God's pure consciousness is our thoughts. As we bring ourselves to a greater consciousness, positive life affirming beliefs are accepted and negative thoughts and problems disappear as we express more love, peace, joy, wisdom and harmony with everything that flows unceasingly from God, but many hesitate to venture into the unknown. They tend to cling to the familiar in life, even if they are not happy. That is why Jesus preached with parables because pure consciousness is above reason but not against it, if pure consciousness can first be translated into terms that the mind can grasp people will learn to sense what is expressed. Pure consciousness and reason are friends, not enemies so we should be open to new ideas because we can always reject what we consider false and concede to the truth.

 

Christians throw rocks at me and people who hate Christians throw rocks at me so why am I a Christian because the rocks chip away the exterior showing the soul shinning underneath.

http://thinkunity.com

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May I reply. I spent a year in hospital for a failed hip operation. My sister, who is a fundamentalist, started to blame me for being disabled. This was the last straw. I needed something to hold on to but the only words in the Bible that made any sense to me was "My God, my God, why thou forsaken me." Yet I did find confort in chanting "Abide with me."

 

When I got out of hospital I read the book "Stealing Jesus" (sorry I can't recall the author. The book talked about how fundamentalist, self-righteously claimed that the how destructive it is when fundamentalist claimed that the only way to be a Christian was to accept their belief and interpretation. Yet, the auther point out that being a Christian isn't about self-righteousness and judgement but about compassion. It is about living in the world with compassion and seaking jusice and invlusion rather then judgemjent. I claimed myself as a liberal Christian.

 

I joined Ruah, a church which at that time was based on Matthew Fox. His book "Original Blessing" talks about the via Negativa, the acceptence and working with suffering. I had long asked 'If there was a God, why was there suffering.' The priest a Ruah explained how we are purified by suffering just as a fire purifies metal. I began to see my ordeal in hospital as a fire of purificatation. It certainly fooorced to redirect my life, find way of reaching out, and has led me to study progressive Chrisrian theology on my own. I am grateful to find like minded people on this message bord with whom I can share my journey

 

Marilyn

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It is curious how those who claim that the Bible is everything get only half of the Bible's messages. Some take the idea that disease is due to sin as TRUTH, and miss that even the Bible says that's not always the case. How much farther someone would have to go to accept the modern knowledge that no disease is directly due to sin, that, "Arise and walk!" and "Your sins are forgiven!" do not mean the same thing, even if the gospels quote Jesus as saying so.

 

God in life and God in words are two different things. I'm grateful to traditional Christianity for giving me a way to discover the difference. It is not words that gets someone from an understanding like that to living one's life to end poverty or to end conflict or to help people in other ways, including oneself.

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I am now studying "Beyond Belief" by Elaine Pagels, a leading gnostic scholar. I am amazed and intregues at the debates which took place in early Christianity. In Beyond Belief The Gospel of John with it emphasis on 'believing in Jesus Christ was directly written to discount the Gospel of Thomas which emphasized how each of us can experience the "Divine within': Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas says "Those who drink from my well will become as I am."

 

The early Church Fathers were trying to figure out how to respond to the persecution of Christian. Some of the gnostics refused to be martyred. Their belief that the Divine within made Christianity andividual personal experience which could not be controlled by the Church. The Church Fathers resented the disrespect for their authority. They labelled the gnostics heretics and banned their books. This argruement continues on today.

 

Other books, particularily the "Bible Unearthed", by Finckelstein and el, talks about how Yahweh became a masculine tribal God to distinguish the tribe from the surroumding other tribes. These tribes worshipped the goddess or both god and goddess. The early Hebrews defined Yawheh as an angry, jealous god who would not tolerate other gods and goddess. Defining God this way gave them a sense of self-righteous superiority and distinction which is carrired on even today vis a vis other religions. No wonder the gnostics rejected Yawheh.

 

Looking back on these helps me to understand the confliocts in the Church are bo new. I do not want to get rid of the concepts of God and Christ but redefine them so that they make sense to me and my inner experience.

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I am  now studying "Beyond Belief" by Elaine Pagels, a leading gnostic scholar.  I am amazed and intregues at the debates which took place in early Christianity.  In  Beyond Belief The Gospel of John with it emphasis on 'believing in Jesus Christ was directly written to discount the Gospel of Thomas which emphasized how each of us can experience the "Divine within': Jesus in the Gospel of  Thomas says "Those who drink from my well will become as I am."

 

The early Church Fathers were trying to figure out how to respond to the persecution of Christian.  Some of the gnostics refused to be martyred.  Their belief that the Divine within made Christianity andividual personal experience which could not be controlled by the Church.  The Church Fathers resented the disrespect for their authority.  They labelled the gnostics heretics and banned their books.  This argruement continues on today.

 

Other books, particularily the "Bible Unearthed", by Finckelstein and el, talks about how Yahweh became a masculine tribal God to distinguish the tribe from the surroumding other tribes.  These tribes worshipped the goddess or both god and goddess.  The early Hebrews defined Yawheh as an angry, jealous god who would not tolerate other gods and goddess.  Defining God this way gave them a sense of self-righteous superiority and distinction which is carrired on even today vis a vis other religions.  No wonder the gnostics rejected Yawheh. 

 

Looking back on these helps me to understand the confliocts in the Church are bo new.  I do not want to get rid of the concepts of God and Christ but redefine them so that they  make sense to me and my inner experience.

 

Good post!

 

It is sometimes difficult for some contemporary Christians to imagine a time when the "New Testament" did not exist. Some seem to think that the Bible dropped magically out of the sky, and that the early Christians were walking around with Bibles that were mass produced.

 

MOW

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A great book on the making of the New Testament is: WHO WROTE THE NEW TESTAMENT? by Burton L. Mack. Very comprehensive and provocative. He says that we know almost nothing about the historical Jesus. He says the early followers created a Jesus Movement which later became the Christ Cult. Fascinating.

 

The Jesus Movement was based on Sayings (Q) which were quite similar to the wisdom teachings of the Greek School of Cynicism. Not necessarily to be confused with a modern cynic.

 

I am going copy and paste this post in the book section and see if anyone wants to discuss it further.

Edited by mystictrek
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A great book on the making of the New Testament is: WHO WROTE THE NEW TESTAMENT? by Burton L. Mack.  Very comprehensive and provocative.  He says that we know almost nothing about the historical Jesus.  He says the early followers created a Jesus Movement which later became the Christ Cult.  Fascinating.

 

The Jesus Movement was based on Sayings (Q) which were quite similar to the wisdom teachings of the Greek School of Cynicism.  Not necessarily to be confused with a modern cynic.

 

I am going copy and paste this post in the book section and see if anyone wants to discuss it further.

 

I haven't read "Who wrote the New Testament", but I did read "The Lost Gospel of Q" by B Mack. I have gained more respect for Burton Mack as I have gotten older. I try to read something from the Q Gospel every week( I don't always suceed).

 

In regards to the Cynics, the best known of them is Diogenes of Sinope. One funny anecdote about him is this one. One day Diogenes was in the house of a rich man, and was told not to spit on the floor. So Diogenes spit in the man's face instead. I don't know if that is true or myth, but it gives some insight into some of the Cynic attitude .

 

Jesus never did anything that brusque . However some of his dealings with Pharisees, Saducees ,and lawyers come close. His " sons of vipers" tirade in the book of Matthew (Matthew chapter 23) is another example.

 

MOW

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest wayfarer2k
I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

                                  A work in progress,

 

                                  Jerry

 

Most definately, Jerry!

 

One of the things that fundamentalism ingrained into my psyche was the notion that if ANY of it falls, then ALL of it falls. In other words, if I rejected fundamentalism, it was *exactly* the same as rejecting God, the Bible, faith, Jesus Christ, heaven, etc.

 

Fundamentalism says that we have no right to look at our belief system critically and to accept (or reject) only the parts that makes sense to us. It insists that the baby must be thrown out with the bathwater.

 

It is so successful at this lie, that most of the stuff you find on the internet (or in literature) that has to do with leaving fundamentalism entails that you leave Christianity altogether. And many have. Maybe that is a good thing.

 

In my own experience, I walked away from Christianity when I left fundamentalism. I threw out all of my Bibles and Christian music. I felt I could no longer be a Christian if I wasn't a fundamentalist.

 

It took a while but I am not searching through my soul and my life for what can be salvaged. I am not so sure that I am looking for the "truth" (as it seems to be very subjective) but I am looking for what is meaningful, what is transforming.

 

And I'm learning that it is beneficial (and probably necessary) to be critical of what I hear and read that claims to speak for God. This turn in my path requires discernment like nothing else I've ever known. It also requires letting go of the anger and bitterness, but that is itself a process. But it is also leading me into a freedom that I never thought possible. I don't have to be right. And I don't have to convince others that they are wrong. And I certainly am not going to give the welfare or salvaging of my soul to *anyone* else except myself and God.

 

wayfarer

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I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

                                   A work in progress,

 

                                   Jerry

 

Most definately, Jerry!

 

One of the things that fundamentalism ingrained into my psyche was the notion that if ANY of it falls, then ALL of it falls. In other words, if I rejected fundamentalism, it was *exactly* the same as rejecting God, the Bible, faith, Jesus Christ, heaven, etc.

 

Fundamentalism says that we have no right to look at our belief system critically and to accept (or reject) only the parts that makes sense to us. It insists that the baby must be thrown out with the bathwater.

 

It is so successful at this lie, that most of the stuff you find on the internet (or in literature) that has to do with leaving fundamentalism entails that you leave Christianity altogether. And many have. Maybe that is a good thing.

 

In my own experience, I walked away from Christianity when I left fundamentalism. I threw out all of my Bibles and Christian music. I felt I could no longer be a Christian if I wasn't a fundamentalist.

 

It took a while but I am not searching through my soul and my life for what can be salvaged. I am not so sure that I am looking for the "truth" (as it seems to be very subjective) but I am looking for what is meaningful, what is transforming.

 

And I'm learning that it is beneficial (and probably necessary) to be critical of what I hear and read that claims to speak for God. This turn in my path requires discernment like nothing else I've ever known. It also requires letting go of the anger and bitterness, but that is itself a process. But it is also leading me into a freedom that I never thought possible. I don't have to be right. And I don't have to convince others that they are wrong. And I certainly am not going to give the welfare or salvaging of my soul to *anyone* else except myself and God.

 

wayfarer

 

 

Good post Wayfarer,

 

I really relate to what you said..("It's leading me into a freedom that I never thought possible") I too have found such a freedom. Just tonight as my wife and I were having dinner, I suddenly felt compelled to say," It's so wondeful to not be afraid of God anymore". Having been in a fundamental church for over twenty years....I now cherish this wonderful freedom of grace. Thanks for reminding me.

 

Blessings to you,

 

Jerry

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I am at the point of asking myself this question: "What can I salvage from my fundamental religious background that is even worth keeping"?

I find myself avoiding some christians I meet now, because it reminds me of the old pain I felt so often in those early years of my faith.

Yancey asks,:Have you ever lived in the midst of fifteen million southern Baptist?"

I answer....Been there....done that!

Anybody else here having trouble with the salvage process?

 

                                   A work in progress,

 

                                   Jerry

 

Most definately, Jerry!

 

One of the things that fundamentalism ingrained into my psyche was the notion that if ANY of it falls, then ALL of it falls. In other words, if I rejected fundamentalism, it was *exactly* the same as rejecting God, the Bible, faith, Jesus Christ, heaven, etc.

 

Fundamentalism says that we have no right to look at our belief system critically and to accept (or reject) only the parts that makes sense to us. It insists that the baby must be thrown out with the bathwater.

 

It is so successful at this lie, that most of the stuff you find on the internet (or in literature) that has to do with leaving fundamentalism entails that you leave Christianity altogether. And many have. Maybe that is a good thing.

 

In my own experience, I walked away from Christianity when I left fundamentalism. I threw out all of my Bibles and Christian music. I felt I could no longer be a Christian if I wasn't a fundamentalist.

 

It took a while but I am not searching through my soul and my life for what can be salvaged. I am not so sure that I am looking for the "truth" (as it seems to be very subjective) but I am looking for what is meaningful, what is transforming.

 

And I'm learning that it is beneficial (and probably necessary) to be critical of what I hear and read that claims to speak for God. This turn in my path requires discernment like nothing else I've ever known. It also requires letting go of the anger and bitterness, but that is itself a process. But it is also leading me into a freedom that I never thought possible. I don't have to be right. And I don't have to convince others that they are wrong. And I certainly am not going to give the welfare or salvaging of my soul to *anyone* else except myself and God.

 

wayfarer

 

Thanks, Wayfarer for a wonderful, provocative, clarifying, thoughtful post. My parents weren't fundamentalist so I was nurtured by loving, progressive congregations as a child and adolescent and young adult. But the fundamentalists were always within screeching distance! I have struggled all of my life with doubts and insecurities and the fundamentalists still can mess withy me emotionally and even intellectually and spiritually. Getting liberated from their spell is still a goal I have yet to achieve even though I was not brought up in that milieu and never participated in it in my 6 decade long life.

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Hi, I'm new here. Was browsing, noticed an undercurrent of unity among posters here re a relief to be rid of a former fundamentalism.

 

As the world's only esoteric fundamentalist, I've seen these sentiments expressed on other theology boards, and wonder if any former fundies here would be willing to clarify their feelings about what it is about your former religious views you abandoned, what you found that is of greater value.

 

So you don't think I'm trying to 'bait' anyone into a mud-slinging contest, since a deep spiritual experience I underwent over a three year period, from '91-'94, I've found that my own fundamentalist beliefs were first shattered, then rearranged. Lots of old stuff was thrown out, and I find a lot of agreement with sentiments expressed here regarding some of the negative aspects of fundamentalism, but find now, some 12 years later, that my adherence to the fundamentals of the faith have been strengthened. I'm interested in honest, challenging debate, not rock-throwing.

 

Any willing correspondents?

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As the world's only esoteric fundamentalist, I've seen these sentiments expressed on other theology boards, and wonder if any former fundies here would be willing to clarify their feelings about what it is about your former religious views you abandoned, what you found that is of greater value.

 

Any willing correspondents?

 

Hi Bernie. Welcome to TCPC.

 

Sure, I'll bite. Not literally, of course. Feel free to ask for clarifications if it would help.

 

Some of the fundamentalist views I've discarded:

 

1. The most important thing about life is where we will spend the afterlife.

2. Jesus sole mission was to die in order to save us from the default fate of going to hell.

3. God is three persons.

4. Jesus is God.

5. The Bible is the inerrant and infallible very words of God.

6. Jesus' death on the cross appeased God's anger towards humanity.

7. We are all born with a sin nature that cannot be removed until death.

8. We must continually confess our sins in order to stay forgiven.

9. God doesn't care how good you are. Goodness invalidates his grace.

10. We must keep the 10 commandments.

11. God's wrath endures forever.

 

That's enough for now. Now for things that I have kept.

 

1. God is love.

2. Jesus is a good role-model of God's character.

3. God's spirit is all encompassing.

4. The Bible is very meaningful.

5. Jesus' death on the cross demonstrates God's love.

6. God is good and forgiving.

7. God can be experienced through the person of Jesus Christ.

8. The greatest commandment is to love God and to love others.

9. The church should be "Jesus with skin on" to our world.

10. We live by faith.

11. God's love endures forever.

 

wayfarer

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Howdy wayfarer2k,

 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Sure, I'll bite. Not literally, of course.

Yikes, I don't know....that avatar of yours sure looks like it'd bite. But I'll take the chance.....

 

Some of the fundamentalist views I've discarded:

 

1. The most important thing about life is where we will spend the afterlife.

2. Jesus sole mission was to die in order to save us from the default fate of going to hell.

3. God is three persons.

4. Jesus is God.

5. The Bible is the inerrant and infallible very words of God.

6. Jesus' death on the cross appeased God's anger towards humanity.

7. We are all born with a sin nature that cannot be removed until death.

8. We must continually confess our sins in order to stay forgiven.

9. God doesn't care how good you are. Goodness invalidates his grace.

10. We must keep the 10 commandments.

11. God's wrath endures forever.

Interesting, a pretty typical and consistent list compared to other former fundies I've dialoged wtih. I'd agree with you on 6 and 11 especially, and 1,2,5,8,9 & 10 conditionally.

 

 

1. God is love.

2. Jesus is a good role-model of God's character.

3. God's spirit is all encompassing.

4. The Bible is very meaningful.

5. Jesus' death on the cross demonstrates God's love.

6. God is good and forgiving.

7. God can be experienced through the person of Jesus Christ.

8. The greatest commandment is to love God and to love others.

9. The church should be "Jesus with skin on" to our world.

10. We live by faith.

11. God's love endures forever.

Here, we have strong common ground in 1,5,6,7,8,10 and 11. Not sure what you mean by #9. Agree conditionally with the rest. See, fundies and ex-fundies can have some common ground.

 

I've found a great deal of freedom in adherence to several of the points you make, especially in those areas that confirm that God's love is toward all mankind.

But as mentioned in my opening post, I've found more reason than ever to remain committed to the fundamentals of the faith [as outlined by evengelicals in the early part of the 20th century in response to the rising tide of progressive thought within the church]. I'm curious to explore how differences in religious opinion are formed.

 

It's generally considered true that all those things that denote in a human being an improved or closer relationship with God have a corresponding effect for good in that individual. I.e., as one progresses in one's religious walk, it will, if authentic, produce conspicuous fruit (Mat 7). In light of this, aside from the freedom I think I can safely say you and I share--that God in His great mercy and love isn't going to roast in an eternal hell any human being--what other fruit or benefits do you see in having abandoned, for example, the notion that Jesus was God, that man is inherently sinful or that Scripture as an inspired set of texts has a form of power in being God's actual word and communication to mankind?

 

Thanks for your willingness to correspond.

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Guest wayfarer2k

Jerry,

 

:) My avatar isn't what I really look like. I look worse. But it does express the notion that we are often repelled by things that don't fit into our little boxes, doesn't it? :)

 

>See, fundies and ex-fundies can have some common ground.

 

I believe so, too. But without doing alot of finger-pointing, I am not usually the one that refuses to communicate when with my fundamentalist brothers and sisters. It is usually them writing me off, not the other way around.

 

>But as mentioned in my opening post, I've found more reason than ever to remain committed to the fundamentals of the faith [as outlined by evengelicals in the early part of the 20th century in response to the rising tide of progressive thought within the church].

 

For that, I can honestly say that I'm glad for you. Those fundamentals probably are something you need at this point in your walk. I'm saying this with no condescension at all. We are all at different places in our sacred journey. What I resent is that most fundamentalists insist that I be where they are. It is then that things become very uncomfortable.

 

>It's generally considered true that all those things that denote in a human being an improved or closer relationship with God have a corresponding effect for good in that individual. I.e., as one progresses in one's religious walk, it will, if authentic, produce conspicuous fruit (Mat 7).

 

I would agree. For me, the "fundamentals" made me worse -- more judgmental, less patient, more self-righteous, etc.

 

>what other fruit or benefits do you see in having abandoned, for example, the notion that Jesus was God, that man is inherently sinful or that Scripture as an inspired set of texts has a form of power in being God's actual word and communication to mankind?

 

Well, those areas are big subjects and probably deserve threads in and of themselves. But let me offer just a couple of insights into how rejecting the notion that "Jesus is God" helped me:

 

If Jesus isn't God:

 

1. I don't have to explain how God, who is immortal, died on a cross.

2. The notion that I should become like Jesus is more welcoming and accessible.

3. I don't have to rely on some man-made doctrine like the trinity to try to explain something that trinitarians say is unexplainable.

4. I don't have to explain how God, on the cross, was made sin.

5. I don't have to explain how God, who is not a man, is a man.

6. Then his temptations were as real as mine. God cannot be tempted.

7. I don't have to wrestle with how God as God is greater than God as Jesus.

8. Then Jesus becomes, to me, an example of what a life filled WITH God looks like. The Bible does seem to say that God was IN Christ, not that Yahweh was Jesus of Nazareth (or vice versa).

 

These are just a few examples. While they seem more like solving rational problems than anything else, I think they have very practical application.

 

wayfarer

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>what other fruit or benefits do you see in having abandoned, for example, that man is inherently sinful or that Scripture as an inspired set of texts has a form of power in being God's actual word and communication to mankind?

 

I think the doctrine of "original sin" tries to address the issue of why we don't love God and others as we should. In that respect, I admit that we can be quite selfish creatures and treat each other very badly.

 

But when this doctrine is taken to an extreme, as it sometimes is, it becomes a way of saying that God is forever separate from us and cannot abide us. Of course, Romans is quoting stating that there is none good. But according to the Old Testament, many people were found to be righteous -- Abraham, Noah, etc. without ever having God's spirit indwell them.

 

Taking this doctrine to an extreme, I was told that two of our miscarried children were in hell because they both had "original sin" that prevented God from taking them to heaven.

 

This doctrine also suggests that it is perfectly fine for one group of people to be punished for the sins of another group of people. Personally, I see no justice in that concept at all.

 

As far as the scriptures go, I don't see the Bible as a magical incantation book that many Christians do. They view it as an encyclopedia galatica or as a religious cookbook full of words that can be quoted in order to have their wills accomplished. The Bible then becomes, not a record of other people's understandings of God, but a spell book of sorts in which God has put his magic.

 

The other side of not taking the Bible as the very words of God is that such a view allows us to be critical of the text and to discern which accounts in the Bible best portray the kind of God that Jesus taught about. If this is not done, then God tells one group of people to kill their enemies while telling another group to love theirs. Or God says an eye for an eye in one place while saying to turn the other cheek in another. I think the doctrine of dispensationalism grew out of a desire to try to reconcile or harmonize the schizophrenia that plauges God if ever word of the Bible is his exact quote. An interesting concept considering that most Christians believe that God is immutable. :)

 

I guess the bottom line for me is that fundies say that we must get our doctrines right before we can love others. I think that loving others will help us get our doctrines right. But that is me. What do you think?

 

wayfarer

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