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God Already Lights My Way May 1, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness.
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Although raised in the Christian faith, I no longer believe that Christianity is the only path to God . . . or that it is A Golden Ticket To Heaven.

Recently, I visited the website for The Crossings ~ A Community Church to see what a modern Christian  Church has to say about Christian beliefs, tenets, and dogma:

About THE BIBLE ~ We believe the entire Bible is the infallible, inspired and divine revelation of God. 

About SALVATION ~ We believe that humanity is incapable on its own of establishing a relationship with God

The demands of a holy God requires death for sin, and it is Jesus alone who satisfies that demand through His death on the cross. 

God offers salvation to all who will place their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus as the complete and total payment for sin.    

Wow!

I not only disagree with these beliefs . . . I find them to be offensive, arrogant, misguided, fear-based, manipulative, and borderline delusional.

Believing the entire Bible to be the infallible, inspired and divine revelation of God ignores reality.

The Bible is not infallible.  It’s a tool translated and used by the Church to bring people (and $’s) into the fold.

* If it were infallible, it would be internally consistent.  It isn’t.
* If it were infallible, it wouldn’t be subject to human interpretation.  It is.

Christians (especially those prone to Bible Thumping) point to whatever random Biblical passage supports their otherwise unsupported and unsupportable position (i.e., homosexuality is a sin), then put their hands over their ears ~ like that monkey  (“Hear no Evil”) ~ and refuse to discuss the issue further.

Relying on archaic theology, arrogant fear-based beliefs, and isolated passages (taken out of context from a series of 2000-year-old documents  patched together by a self-serving Church), they refuse to use REASON to consider any other view of the world.

They are RIGHT because they have FAITH in the infallible Bible.

Except that the Bible is NOT infallible because it is subject to interpretation, it’s internally inconsistent, and it doesn’t mesh well with what scientists have discovered about the world in the two millenia since the late J.C. died on the cross to pave the way for Christians to Knock on Heaven’s Door.

When the early Church Leaders compiled the first Biblical Anthology, the copy editors assigned to the task couldn’t figure out how to reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New.

Hmm . . . maybe God is a Schizophrenic?  Or maybe God took Anger Management Classes to overcome his proclivity for smiting people down?

Or . . . here’s a thought . . . maybe  God didn’t change ~ maybe WE did.

Maybe the people who wrote the historical texts compiled into the first Biblical Anthology ~ New Testament had a more ENLIGHTENED view of God than the authors of the texts compiled into the Biblical Anthology ~ Old Testament.

That would explain the glaring and obvious discrepancies  between the Old (Infallible) Anthology and the New (Infallible) Anthology.

Wait?  What?

How can the entire Bible be the infallible, inspired and divine revelation of God when it’s so obviously flawed?

Answer:  It can’t.  It is not infallible.   And neither is the Christian Church.

Our view of God grew more enlightened between the writing of the Old and the New Testament.  Maybe it can grow more enlightened still . . . once we  accept that the Christian Church and its Biblical Anthology is NOT infallible.

Not persuaded?  Not a problem.

I don’t want you to take my word for it . . . I’m not infallible either.

Before buying into the notion that the Bible is the Gospel Truth or Divine Revelation based on something you  heard in Church or read on The Crossings ~ A Community Church website, consider what else you know about the world:

* Why were the gospels written at different times?  Why not all at once?  Did God get tired?  Did he run out of mojo?  Did he develop writer’s block as he dictated to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

* Where are the dinosaurs? 

* Why did the Fab Four wait to record these earth-shattering events?   Did they have something on their To Do Lists that took precedence over Record God’s Divine Revelations?

* Which Ape did Adam descend from?  

* Why would the gospels offer differing accounts of factual events?  Couldn’t an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God get it right the first time?

How old is the Earth?

FAITH is a wonderful thing when it is consistent with established facts about the world we inhabit.   FAITH is a very dangerous thing when people act like ostriches . . . sticking their heads in the sand and insisting that the world is FLAT despite all evidence to the contrary.

In case you’re wondering, I won’t be asking The Crossings ~ A Community Church to act as an intermediary between me and God . . . God Already Lights My Way:

Why should I listen to what you preach?
I don’t need to learn what you seek to teach
You stand on your pulpit, spreading lies
Creating fear and guilt in onlooking eyes

I don’t need your Bible.  I don’t need to be saved.
I don’t need to find Jesus.  God already lights my way.

I don’t need to listen to what you have to say
God guides my steps and shows me the way
I can close my eyes and see the truth in my heart
Starting from within is the best place to start

I don’t need your Bible.  I don’t need to be saved.
I don’t need to find Jesus.  God already lights my way.

God’s the perfect parent, she does not hate
Or condemn us as sinners for our mistakes
God loves us, as and where we are
She is not passing judgment from afar

I don’t need your Bible.  I don’t need to be saved.
I don’t need to find Jesus.  God already lights my way.

Unity and love are the heart of creation
But your faith and creed foster separation
Your commandments would all mention love
If they’d been authored from above

So, I don’t need your Bible.  And I don’t need to be saved.
And I don’t need to find Jesus.  God already lights my way.

Quote:  God is the breath inside the breath.  ~ Kabir

Related posts:   The Third JesusWhy I Speak of Spirit, Not God * God Is Not A Christian, Jew, or Moslem * God Dwells Within Me . . . As Me * What’s The Use?  (Reflections from a Cloudy Mirror) *  Reflections: To Live Without Belief (Mirth & Motivation) * Joke 38 (The Laughing Housewife) * Roundabout (Gospel Writer)

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Comments»

1. Joanne - May 1, 2011

AMEN, HALLEUJAH, PRAISE GOD ~ SHHEEE knows we never needed to FIND Jesus, because HE was never LOST in the first place ~ lol… Great thoughts posed here..!

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Thanks, Joanne. That’s exactly how I feel.

Would a loving God condemn her children to eternal damnation for refusing to accept the self-serving tenets and arrogant claims of the Christian Church?

Nope. 😉

2. Cindy - May 1, 2011

Great post, Nancy. I expect there will be much debate and look forward to reading the comments 😉

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Debate? You don’t think everyone will accept my eloquent rhetoric verbatim? 😉

3. souldipper - May 1, 2011

Ainslie MacLeod who wrote The Instruction would likely say these people are new souls. People who are deeply religious (as opposed to spiritual – that old chestnut)- usually use fear to direct their belief systems.

Mother Theresa, it turns out, was not an old soul. While she did not spout fear, religion was her sword, shield and steed.

I like that saying, “Religious people are scared of hell; spiritual people have been there.”

I just listened to Caroline Myss on the radio. She was raised Catholic and went to school in a convent. She has plenty of respect for lots about that faith. However, on this discussion, I noted her words, “Religions are costume parties”

That statement can be taken many ways. In all translations I conjured, I agree.

Personally, I become confused that the very freedom that Jesus wanted us to have can be so readily replaced by the fetters placed by the very people who claim to work for him.

I’m relieved to be an old soul. 😀

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Wonderful observations, Amy.

I expect that the Christian Church is more concerned about its continued existence than our salvation. It’s a costume party alright.

Here’s to being an old soul . . . with a youthful countenance and an open mind!

4. kateshrewsday - May 1, 2011

I love your phlosophy of checking within oneself whether something resonates: it is, I feel, the only way to be true to oneself. So I have a very bespoke attitude towards the wealth of story which has been squirrelled away over the millennia. Your post resonates: literal interpretations made by secondary sources don’t hold much water for me. I prefer using primary sources and drawing my own conclusions.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Beautifully put, Kate. Your life observations resonate and “ring true” with me.

We are ALL connected to the loving source (“God”). We need not wait for someone else to hand us the “key.” We do need to become attuned to its vibration by paying attention so that we will know when something resonates and when it does not.

This morning, upon awakening, to “check my calibration,” I asked “What time is it?” I hadn’t seen a clock since the middle of the night. There is none on my bedside table.

As soon as I voiced the question, “9:11” popped into my head. I walked across the room to the digital thermometer to check ~ sure enough, “9:11”

I didn’t use reason. logic, intellect, or rhyme . . .
The divine source, through intuition, told me the time. 😀

Kate Shrewsday - May 2, 2011

This is nothing to do with anything, Nancy, but that’s quite a coincidence in view of today’s big news….

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Ding Dong Osama’s DEAD.

It’s days like this when I (almost) wish the Christian Church was right . . . so I could imagine him burning in HELL for eternity.

Instead, he’s joined a Loving Source and is realizing the error of his ways. 😉

5. eof737 - May 1, 2011

“Although raised in the Christian faith, I no longer believe that Christianity is the only path to God…” with this I concur! 🙂
Eliz

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

We must follow OUR path as it unfolds before us.

6. Naomi - May 1, 2011

A fiery topic, without doubt, Nancy. My sense is that the truth speaks silently within us all and we’re each offered the choice to follow it, wherever that leads.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

My sense as well, Naomi.

If we LISTEN to what is being offered, noting any discordant notes, anything in life can be our guide.

If we, to use Kate’s words, accept “literal interpretations made by secondary sources,” we are not honoring our direct connection with the loving source.

7. carldagostino - May 1, 2011

I have come to agree with your opening sentence. It is validated by the fact that God seems to have revealed Himself to different Christians with different ideas and it is therefore reasonable to conclude He has revealed Himself to different non Christians as well with different ideas. I especially respect the religion of the American Indians with their reverence for the earth and all its particulars. I call them Spiritual Environmentalists.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Wonderful point, Carl.

It’s unlikely that God wanted us to have “cookie cutter” experiences here, given the diversity of flora and fauna that surrounds us.

Instead of encouraging us to merge into a single homogenous mass, I’m sure that the loving source desires that each of us follow OUR own pathway to the divine.

8. Judson - May 1, 2011

I definitely feel that it is all very confusing. I am a Christian in the broadest sense, but I have a lot of trouble with the inerrancy of the Bible. I also have a tough ime with “The Trinity” concept. I believe that Christ died for our sins, but I don’t see how He sent himself as His son. The God I believe in is not to be “feared” as is preached in some translations of tne Bible. Ultra-conservative Christian churches are doing the faith no good with their dogmatic approach.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I’m sure that many Christian Churches have a more enlightened and less offensive “take” on Christian dogma than the Crossings.

Any time that a church focuses on “reward and punishment” by talking about the fiery pits of hell and eternal damnation, I know they are not honoring God’s word.

Love. Love is all we need.

9. 1959duke - May 1, 2011

I once asked a Pastor friend of mine this question. How do people get through tough times without faith? He said he doesn’t know the answer to that question. When reading your post and some of the comments it make me feel sad that people feel like this. People have the right to believe what they wish and I will defend that right. Its really easy to take pot shots at the Christian Church. ( its been going on for centuries) When people try and use their very limited brain power to understand the Trinity and the like they will always fall short. Its also easy to take pot shots at what goes on inside of churches. People stay away with a variety of excuses then point fingers at the church. I think people need to read John McDowell’s “More than a Carpenter” when I felt the same way that some have posted on here. His whole intent was to prove the Bible wrong. After years of research he came to the understanding that you can’t. Its funny when people talk about the inconsistencies Bible. It brings me a chuckle. Some may read this and ask themselves why am I not in church on this Sunday morning?It is raining here and with only 16 days left before my neck collar comes off by doctor does not want me out in the rain.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I think that the Christian Church needs to take a good hard look at the world and revise its teaching to reflect this day and age.

Faith is good.
Blind Faith is . . . short-sighted.

And Hell is nothing more than a ruse to scare children . . . of all ages.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

BTW: I find it both fascinating and somewhat disturbing that you equate a lack of faith in Christian dogma and teachings as synonymous with a lack of faith in God:

I once asked a Pastor friend of mine this question. How do people get through tough times without faith? He said he doesn’t know the answer to that question. When reading your post and some of the comments it make me feel sad that people feel like this.

None of these comments reveal an absence of faith. Instead they demonstrate a reliance on our Direct Personal Connection with God rather than blind reliance on outdated Christian teachings, archaic tenets, fear-based dogma, and arrogant self-serving manipulation.

10. SuziCate - May 1, 2011

Amen! My dear, Nancy…you are so timely!Per the conversation we had, yes, I believe in God. No, I do not believe the bible is all there is to life and death and all in between. I’ve had religion thrown down my throat for years, all fear induced. I believe much, but disagree with much. When I started listening to what is inside me is when I found peace. Listening to myself is what provided the changes within me not from what I read. The other thing is that often when one reads the bible, we are also instructed how we “must” interpret it rather than look to the spirit to discern it though that is what the bible says…so much controversy. I found my comfort in the church when I needed it, but now I’ve learned to trust God who lives within me. As mentioned above, maybe that is the difference between young and old souls. Not sure, but even amongst the flack received for not depending on the word of scripture, I am more at peace than ever. Love allows us to be different, inside and out, and accept without condemnation. I have friends who believe the bible to be the only way and those who do not, I love them all. Right now, I am feeling my way, and as the saying goes when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Thank you!

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Several things coalesced yesterday to cause me to write this post ~ your concerns, Paula’s comments, and my niece’s scheduled Baptism in {gulp/gag} The Crossings ~ A Community Church.

The Spirit Within guides without faltering IF we listen to what is being offered.

Some Christians have told me that they cannot “look within” and remain obedient to God (and the Church).

That makes me smile.
Who do they think is in there, if not God?

God dwells within me . . . as me.

11. oldancestor - May 1, 2011

I have a couple of questions for those who think the bible is the inerrant word of god:

If you were born in India, you wouldn’t be a Hindu?

If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you wouldn’t be a Muslim?

If you were born in Israel, you wouldn’t be a Jew?

You’re going to believe whatever religion you were indoctrinated into. I had no choice about being raised a Christian. I’m sure if my parents were Wiccans, I’d believe that to be the way. I decided to part ways with the whole shebang about 7 years ago and haven’t looked back.

I usually agree with you on most things, Hatch, such as blind faith being a bad thing. But I’d go farther and say all faith is a bad thing. Faith requires a refusal to accept evidence to the contrary. Faith encourages inertia on fixing problems and learning how things really work. I’d say it’s better to replace faith with trust. Trust your friends and family to do the right thing, even if you know they are going to let you down once in a while.

While I’m on a roll, I don’t get this whole, “I trust Jesus to get me through the hard times” bit. What exactly is Jesus doing for you at this moment? Certainly not taking proactive steps to use his supernatural powers and fix your problem. It’s like you have a flat tire but no tire iron. Your friend is standing there holding a tire iron but won’t lend it too you. “I’m just here for moral support,” he says. Well thanks, pal.

If you have problems, be a grown up and deal with them yourself. Imaginary friends are for children.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Wonderful comments, OA. Especially the idea of replacing Faith (which requires a refusal to accept all evidence to the contrary) with Trust.

Trust is closer to where I am.

I trust that there is more to life than meets the eye because I’ve experienced that energy, that essence, that connection directly ~ through winks, whispers, and nudges . . . and by hearing the still silent voice within.

But God/The Universe/The Loving Source/Allah/The Higher Power/Spirit/The Holy Ghost/Etc. did not get my attention until I came to a crossroads and needed “input.”

I expect that, when we are managing on our own, the still silent voice remains silent . . . speaking up only if and when we need its guidance.

12. Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 1, 2011

Since you gave a “pingback” to an earlier post of mine, I won’t take the space to reiterate what I said then. I feel it is a huge mistake and actually a rather close-minded (seemingly) attitude to make a broad based assumption to the effect that the church is a manipulator, only out for your money, and a purveyor of lies and half-truths, all meant to somehow exact power on all those stupid retarded people, the masses, who obviously cannot think for themselves. There are to my utter astonishment, however, a boatload of people who choose, for whatever reason, to have someone else think for them. (BTW, I always thought that Marx’s reference to “the masses” was an extraordinarily arrogant and narrow way of viewing the people of the world.)

Like it or not – and many times I don’t – there is NO ONE CHURCH, there is NO “THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH,” because the definition of church is: people.” Just as there is no one way to think, and every individual is different, so is each congregation of people different, and individuals within each. Many congregations are groups of people who agree to disagree, and to try to learn and be informed from and by one another.

I also do not, contrary, in this instance, to OA, think that “faith” and “blind faith” are the same thing. Faith is born out of experience, and does not just pop out of thin air. Faith is trust. It is trusting that we are in control of only one thing on this earth and that is our own choices. (Sort of like the guy without the tire iron chose not to have one in his trunk.) I can choose to have trust in my future because I have chosen to have faith in a God of Love, knowing (through countless experiences) that God loves me enough not to treat me like some puppet on a string, but also knowing that when I make choices I automatically create consequences. Can’t avoid it. In the same way, I am a firm believer in the “hermeneutical perspective.” We cannot avoid interpreting what we see, read, feel – anything (including scripture – and believe you me, the devil him/herself can quote scripture to his or her own advantage). Everything comes to us through our own personal filters.

Nancy, you have absolutely every right to feel the way you do about your experience with church and with some of the people who call themselves Christian. You have quite evidently had very negative experiences; I feel sad about that, because I know that those experiences have led you to believe that us “Christians” are all the same. We are not. I have been a part of two denominations in my life – “The Disciples of Christ;” and “The United Methodist Church.” Both have their great points, and their negative points. If I were to turn away from my belief and faith in Christ because of the behavior of some of the members of the churches I have been a part of, then I would also cut myself off from everybody who ever thought or believed or behaved differently from myself. I have no intention of doing so.

Your reference to it being “telling” that our sons are not part of an organized body of a church is right, but it could be telling of more than one thing. It is telling that they have chosen Jesus Christ. They looked around elsewhere for something to guide them, but they came back to Christianity because for them it is the way they can best relate. Whether they in future decide to become a part of a congregation will be their choice – certainly not ours. Besides, we made it clear to them that they had to be the ones to choose. If they did something to “please Mom and Dad” they were looking in the wrong direction. Lying – regardless of the reason – has never been high on our list of things that please us. However, whether we are pleased or not has no bearing on whether we love them. Our love is immutable, as is God’s – only more so. God doesn’t want our lies either, and I believe that God asks of us what s/he wants for us – wholeness in body, mind, and spirit. It’s our own choices that get in the way, and God will not take away our ability to choose.

John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, taught about the “quadrilateral of faith.” Whenever any decision is made or action taken, they felt that it should be made in light of the consideration of four equal points: Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. Each is equal, none takes precedence over another. SCRIPTURE because it is one of the ways through which God can speak to us. While it is a human document, I believe that God had a certain hand in it – but God would only do so much, allowing for humanity to grow over time (way more than 2,000 years, BTW)in its realtionship with and understanding of God; TRADITION because it is a good thing to look to the past to make decisions today. Many of our traditions were based on the sound reasoning of their day, and we are also to make our decisions recognizing the success and/or failures of the past. Besides, just doing something because “that’s the way it has always been done” is folly at best. REASON – well, for the obvious reason! God gave us brains, and God expects us to use them. Sometimes using our brains means relying on the wisdom of others, seeing our own reason within it, and sometimes it means striking off in our own direction, where our own reason will take us. Regardless, our own reasoning is always formed out of what we have observed, and it is formed through what we learn and how we choose over time. EXPERIENCE, because in order to make a decision we have to look to what our own experience has taught us as well. Making the same error over and over because we choose not to learn from past mistakes probably means we haven’t been using our reason enough.

The four are interdependent and cannot be separated from one another when making the choice to live a Christian life. This, however, is offered with the proviso that there are probably many Christians who see their faith in a totally different way. That does not make any of them invalid by my judgement. It means that is or is not the way one or another has chosen to live their lives.

Some of the worst atrocities of humankind have been done – so-called – in the name of Christ. It is my belief that what was done could not be further from the Name of Christ; however those actions have consequences and they judge themselves. For one thing they created a large body of people who would run in droves away from the very Person they felt they were fighting for. I myself am ashamed of many things people who call themselves Christian say and do, and in response I make every effort to live in the way I believe best reflects the teachings of Christ. For one thing, I love them. In order to do that, I take every opportunity to “speak the truth in love,” and to live that truth.

There are times that I am lousy at it. I make all sorts of mistakes. I am – of all things! 😀 – human. Imperfect and fallible. But I have chosen to follow the example of One who was also human, yet without error. I know it can be done, and so I strive to do so, also knowing that I am loved regardless, and my efforts are rewarded by my own sense of joy and well-being. I believe that God is all and in all, which means, as you believe, that God is within me (not only, but also), but only because I have invited God and/or acknowledged the Presence (both the same in my book) to live within me and guide me.

So, we have varying points of view. That’s what makes horse races! It also makes for long posts, and sometimes even longer replies. So what? I honor the choices you make and have made, and I would never try and force anything down your throat – what good would forcing do anyway? It certainly wouldn’t mean anything to anybody – except maybe some “notch” on a forcer’s “belt.” Big deal! That notch-maker certainly won’t be taking that belt with him or her into the next life – whatever or wherever that may be.

Suffice it now to say that I would be sincerely appreciative that when you speak of “the Christian church” you might perhaps remember that they are NOT all alike, they are as varied as humanity – in much the same way that so-called “New Agers” (I dislike that term) are certainly not all the same (neither are they “new!”) and cannot be painted with one big brush. But, I also know that this is your blog, and you have every right to word it exactly as you see fit, and more power to you!

I will now join with the mighty chorus and say, for now anyway, ENOUGH!

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I did NOT write this post lightly. It is the product of my direct observations and experiences with different denominations of Christian Churches in different states at different times: Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Reformed, Catholic, Presbyterian, and most recently The Crossings ~ A Community Church.

And ALL of the Christian Churches I’ve visited had at least ONE thing in common ~ they boastfully and arrogantly claimed that Christianity is the one and only path to God.

And each of them claimed that we must embrace Christ in order to be saved and avoid eternal damnation.

I find those claims (which are the cornerstone of the Christian Church) to be offensive, arrogant, fear-based, manipulative and delusional.

The Christian Church has lied to its flock for 2000 years by encouraging people to buy into the notion of a hell that does NOT exist.

There is a loving source. All we need is love.

We do not need the Christian Church and its divisive, manipulative, controlling, brainwashing techniques.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 1, 2011

I accept (always have) that you feel that way. I don’t. While I concede that there are problems within churches, I know that there are problems everywhere, and since the church is people, one has to expect problems, inconsistencies, even self-righteousness from them because that’s what many people are – problematic, inconsistant, and self-righteous.

I have experienced nothing within the churches I have been a part of that even begins to extract from me the vitriol that comes from you. Nevertheless I am sure you have reasons for your feelings, but painting me with that brush, while I am not necessarily offended (taking offense would definitely be MY problem), I am completely nonplussed. So far I have been unable to identify with your anger.

One thing I do know in my experience is, however, that if I go into a situation looking for it to be negative, ugly and worthy of my contempt, I am definitely going to find everything I look for. The reverse is true as well, and makes for a much happier life, that if I go into a situation expecting to find some measure of good, positive, and edifying atmosphere, I most certainly will, and I always have.

When I married my husband, I knew that part of being in a UM pastor’s life was going to include frequent moves. I made up my mind from the very beginning that I was going to love every place I lived. I did. Yes, there were aspects in each I did not particularly or at all like, and people within each and every congregation with whom I shared little, and there were elements of each house that were not the greatest; but I was sad to leave each place and each congregation and joyfully looking to the next. Because some of the members behaved in a very UNChristlike manner, I was not moved to dismiss the church, but rather to try to be the person God wanted me to be, and remain among them, offering to live and speak the truth in Love. I have not been disappointed. Good people are everywhere. They are not all Christian, but many are, and many are part of wonderful Christian churches, and not a single one of those people would say they had been force fed or manipulated or browbeaten and brainwashed into being a part of their church family.

Evidently it is not for everyone, but for those for whom it is a wonderful community of Grace, love, support, and friendship, it is a gift of God. I simply cannot accept your blanket dismissal of any/all Christian Churches, anymore than I can accept the same treatment/dismissal of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, B’hai – any faith that calls us to love one another. Because everyone is not successful is no reason to reject the faith. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Only God is the same – yesterday, today, forever. People certainly are different almost moment by moment. A world of such diversity will probably not have – anytime soon, anyway – a unified way of expressing its faith. There are denominations of people in the same way that there are denominations of churches – it does not make the people or the denominations invalid.

BTW, I in no way intended to imply that I thought you are taking the subject lightly. On the contrary, I would say you have given a great deal of thought and reflection to this part of your life, and you are quite serious. So am I.

You and I are probably not going to agree – at least on this issue. That’s OK. We both have profoundly different backgrounds, but the good part is we both believe most firmly in the transforming power of Love.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I don’t follow you when you say:

I have experienced nothing within the churches I have been a part of that even begins to extract from me the vitriol that comes from you. Nevertheless I am sure you have reasons for your feelings, but painting me with that brush, while I am not necessarily offended (taking offense would definitely be MY problem), I am completely nonplussed. So far I have been unable to identify with your anger.

Where did I paint you in any way shape or form?

I didn’t even use the word “you” in my last comment. If you’re offended or nonplussed, it’s because of statements that I’ve made about the Church or the Bible, not about you.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I absolutely DISAGREE with you when you say:

I simply cannot accept your blanket dismissal of any/all Christian Churches, anymore than I can accept the same treatment/dismissal of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, B’hai – any faith that calls us to love one another. Because everyone is not successful is no reason to reject the faith. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

You’ve missed MY point entirely.

I’m not objecting to what individual Christians believe ~ or how they act. Some are decent human beings and some are assholes . . . just like every religion.

I object to the cornerstone of the Christian Faith.
That’s why I can dismiss ALL Christian Churches.

I AM throwing the baby out with the bath water . . . because I find the claims of the Christian Church to be offensive, arrogant, fear-based, manipulative and borderline delusional.

As soon as the Christian Church acknowledges that it is NOT the one and only path to God, I’ll reconsider my posture.

I’m not holding my breath. 😉

Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 1, 2011

I see myself painted with that brush because I identify myself with Christianity. I am a part of a Christian Church, and since you see them as all the same, you are therefore including me in your dismissal.

The cornerstone of the Christian church is Jesus Christ. If you object to Christ, so be it, then I can understand why you reject THE Christian Church.

In any event, I guess we have arrived at the point in our conversation when we just sigh and say, “Let’s agree to disagree.” At least until the next time! 😀

Ashley is guest posting for me tomorrow, but his post is not meant to be directed at your posts specifically (although I do give you a pingback), but it will be directed at a discussion that he and I had as a result of your recent posts. See what I mean when I say, “You are always good discussion fodder!”

I wish you the very best, and of course, enough. . .

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I do NOT object to Christ.

I object to the way the Christian Church has USED Christ’s teachings.

There is a difference.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 1, 2011

By the way, I don’t think I’m having a tantrum . . .when I checked my face in the mirror it wasn’t turning blue, and my heels and fists weren’t sore from pounding on the floor! If it sounded that way, I’m sorry. I get passionate about my beliefs too! I try not to sound too strident!

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

“Countering tantrums” was an old e-mail thread between you and me.

I just forgot to change the “Re” line. 😀

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

You want “outsiders” to differentiate one Christian Church from another. Why should we?

Every Easter, Christians of all denominations celebrate J.C. dying on the cross for your sins ~ focused on the REWARDS of Heaven (vs. Hell) instead of celebrating the message of LOVE he came to share with ALL.

The problem started with the Church’s misinterpretation of Christ’s teaching for its own self-serving ends. Hate-filled and Hypocritical Christians are just following the Church’s lead.

And it’s been going on for 2000 years.

Instead of spreading Christ’s message of LOVE, the Christian Church says:

1. Everyone is a sinner.
2. Sinners go to HELL.
3. There is ONLY ONE WAY to get to Heaven.
4. We hold the monopoly on eternal salvation.
5. Either embrace Christ OR go to Hell.
6. Those are your ONLY two choices.

That message fosters divisiveness between Christians and EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET and is designed to increase the power and control of the Christian Church by using FEAR tactics to draw people to IT and away from other more PEACEFUL and LOVING religions.

If the Christian Church wanted to share Christ’s message of love, it would be saying:

1. God loves us.
2. God sent Christ here to share that LOVE.
3. Let’s show our gratitude by loving others.
4. Don’t do it to gain eternal life.
5. Everyone, every Spirit, lives for eternity.
6. Love everyone . . . right here, right now . . . because it is what the Spirit in us, all of us, is designed to do.

Love. Love. Love.

13. viviankirkfield - May 1, 2011

Thank you Nancy…you and Eliz (and probably many others who blog) encourage us to look within…and that, after all, is where we will find our answers…not from a book or someone who feels he or she is a representative of God or “knows” how to interpret the word of God (whichever “God” they are representing):)
I consider myself a Christian…but I know that it is how I live my life and how I interact with others that determines who I am.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

I have found better answers by looking within and listening to the “still silent voice” than from listening to preachers preaching about the hell awaiting everyone who does not enter their fold.

More important, perhaps, I have found a bottomless well of inner peace, hope, love and joy that surfaces of its own accord every time I embrace the present moment and tap into my spiritual essence.

14. nancycurteman - May 1, 2011

Very provocative post. The points you make are pretty much agreed upon by modern, educated people, excluding of course those with narrow perspectives such as the religious right groups. Religions are divisive even though most religions share basic fundamental beliefs: don’t kill people or steal from them, treat others with respect etc. It’s the minutia of religious beliefs that drives fanatics to kill in the name of God.

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Thanks, Nancy.

From my perspective, religion (in particular the Christian Church and all its splintered factions) is and has been THE most divisive element in society for the past 2000 years.

I believe Buddha’s way is the better way ~ instead of relying on faith, or swallowing the Church’s interpretation of God, go within, and experience God directly.

15. Debra - May 1, 2011

Very good post Nancy. I can add nothing more….it is great as is:)

nrhatch - May 1, 2011

Thanks, Debra.

I’m ready for some quiet Buddhist meditation . . .

Namaste.

16. A Guest Post « Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror - May 2, 2011

[…] reference to a couple of Nancy’s recent discussions on her blog, Spirit Lights the Way.  See here, and […]

17. William D'Andrea - May 2, 2011

Jesus said that the thieves and harlots would be among the first to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because they were among the first to repent at His teachings. On the other hand, the intellectual snobs not only refused to repent, they were the ones who had Him crucified.
Does this apply to you?

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

How much different the world would be if the early Christian Church had said:

Don’t worry about eternal salvation.
Our spirits never die.
Focus on living from the heart here and now.

Don’t love your neighbors to avoid going to hell.
Hell does not exist.
Love your neighbors because that is what spirits are designed to do.
Love your neighbors because it will make you feel good here and now.

If you need ideas, come to Church on Sunday and we’ll share our message of LOVE with you.

Instead, the Christian Church used fear-based tactics to get people to sign up ~ “join the Christian Church or you’ll end up in Hell.”

Ack!

18. William D'Andrea - May 2, 2011

Have you ever read the gospels with an open mind? Forget whatever you’ve heard people say, or whatever ideas you’ve come up with on your own. Read the gospels with an open mind and decide for yourself.

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

I did. From my perspective, it’s Bible Thumping Christians who have CLOSED THEIR EYES AND MINDS to God’s Truth.

I love God and God loves me . . . as and where I am.

SHE is not casting judgment or waiting to throw me into the fiery furnaces of a Christian Hell.

God dwells within me . . . as me.
God is the breath within the breath.

19. carldagostino - May 2, 2011

Unfortunately, WE DON’T HAVE THE ORIGINAL GOSPELS. They were edited in the first, second and third centuries to fit the agenda of a particular group of Christians that became dominate.who came to found the Catholic Church. See Eusibius, History of the Church(4th century), Missing Gospels, Bock 2006, Lost Christianities, Ehrman 2003, The Gnostic Gospels, Pagels 1979.The latter shows how women led many early congregations and presented the sacraments. Those facts are not in the New Testament because editors that devised the Gospels deleted that material for their political agenda against the equality of women.

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Thank you, Carl!

I’ve read some wonderful books over the years in an effort to see where the truth lay. One of them discussed this point. It may have been WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN. 😉

The early Christian Leaders acted in THEIR best interests not ours. They compiled a document that would support their role as intermediaries between a “father figure” and his “children.”

I understand why early Christians bought into it . . . I don’t understand why Christians today do not DEMAND that the Church correct the lies and half truths.

One God. Many paths. 😀

20. William D'Andrea - May 2, 2011

If you don’t want Christianity for yourself, it’s one thing, but why do you treat those of us who do accept it with such scorn?
You’ve read and left feedback on many of the entries I’ve posted here on this blog, and on WTF in the webook website. Do my writings seem to you like they were written by some ignoramous, who deserves no respect?
“Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1)

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Interesting that you feel that way, William. I have a few questions for you:

* Why do so many Christians act like they have a monopoly on God?

* Why do so many Christians act scornful and condescending of those who refuse to accept Christian tenets and dogma?

* Why do so many Christians quote Scripture instead of engaging in legitimate and reasoned discourse?

I do feel that people who look only in one direction for the truth are ignorant. Look around, William. OPEN YOUR EYES. There is more to God than the Christian Church has led you to believe.

If the Christian Church didn’t erroneously claim to be the “one and only” path to God, then non-Christians wouldn’t need to refute that claim. If you’re offended . . . blame the Church for boasting. Don’t blame me for pointing it out. 😎

carldagostino - May 2, 2011

#21 William: I don’t think nrhatch is being scornful. I think she is trying to point out that organized religion has been scornful to the essence of Jesus with all their rules and regulations and demands for compliance. Each denomination has contradictory doctrines. Doesn’t that seem peculiar ? I think she is saying is, we the believers have been scorned by having the essence of Jesus clouded and obfuscated by men and their rules and arbitrary interpretations. I think she suggests that Jesus is to be experienced by each of us in a unique fashion and faith, therefore, is not based on a rule book invented by men.

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Thanks, Carl.

I think that is what I’m trying to say. 😉

When a religion claims to be the one true path to God . . . it opens itself up to criticism by those who see that as an unwarranted and unsubstantiated claim.

Of course, any one who bought into the notion that they were joining the “one true religion” is going to get caught in the cross-fire.

That is compounded by the way certain religions make their case ~ they point to a document and say, THAT IS THE TRUTH.

Followers rely on that claim and seek the truth within its covers . . . instead of seeking the truth within themselves.

Thanks for the clarification, Carl.

William D'Andrea - May 3, 2011

What you’re describing is not the way the people in my Church treat their unbelieving friends, neighbors or co-workers. As Christians we are supposed to be respectful to all.

Here in the New York Metropolitan Area, the dominant culture is dominated by leftist, secular humanists; who show a totally disrespectful, scornful and condescending attitude toward committed Christians who refuse to go along with whatever ideas they come up with.

I’m a member of a Presbyterian Church. There I attend adult Bible studies, where we discuss how to apply the Bible’s teachings to our own lives. We know that we are sinners, who shouldn’t point to a speck in another person’s eye, before we remove the obstructions from our own.

The obstructions are sins, which put a barrier between ourselves and God, so that He is unable to grant us all the blessings that He wants us to have in this life and the next. Jesus died to take away our sins, so that the barriers will be removed, and the blessings given.

I have accepted Christ as Savior, and given my life over to the Lord’s keeping. He in return has granted me many wonderful blessings in this life. As for what I may receive in the next life, I have no idea what those blessings are, but I’m sure they will be greater than anyone can imagine; but as for me, I can wait to find out. I’m in no hurry.

nrhatch - May 3, 2011

I never said that all Christians were the same, William.

What I said is that ALL of the Christian Churches I’ve visited had at least ONE thing in common ~ they claimed that Christianity is the one and only path to God.

I vehemently disagree with that claim. No religion owns God. All that religion can do is point the way to God.

Are you saying that your Church is different? That it doesn’t make that claim? That it tells people in the congregation that other religions are JUST AS VALID?

I doubt it.

Each of the Christian Churches I visited also claimed that we are sinners and MUST embrace Christ as our SAVIOR in order to be saved and avoid eternal damnation.

Sounds like your Church makes exactly that claim. It tells people that God has put a CONDITION on our salvation. And that condition is a belief in Christ.

I find that claim to be archaic nonsense! We are NOT fallen people and we do NOT need to be SAVED.

Sadly, the actual lessons Jesus came to share with us (love, compassion, and kindness) have gotten buried beneath the label of “Savior” applied to his forehead by the Christian Church.

There is too much focus on “salvation” . . . and not enough on how to live right here, right now.

The Christian Church could do a world of good if it would stop celebrating Christ’s DEATH and instead place the spotlight on Christ’s LIFE.

But that’s not what it does.

Every Easter the Church celebrates Christ dying on the cross for our sins . . . sending the message out loud and clear to all non-Christians that they better accept Christ as their savior OR ELSE.

That is offensive, arrogant, fear-based, and manipulative.

And if you don’t see that . . . OPEN YOUR EYES a little wider.

21. carldagostino - May 2, 2011

I am glad you agree. I was afraid it was presumptuous. This of course of me to represent your views but we connected on this. The problem with people that use scripture to validate more scripture is that it is self validation and an encapsulated loop.

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Well put. I didn’t find your comments the least bit presumptuous. I found them astute.

I view the Bible as fallible ~ it is A source of information about Jesus and God . . . not THE only source of information about TRUTH.

I’ve enjoyed this discussion and these threads immensely but am saddened when people see my lack of faith in the claims of the Christian Church as a lack of faith in God.

Just the opposite.

It is because of my connection to God that I can no longer buy into the dogma of the Christian Church.

When the Christian Church acknowledges that it is NOT the “one and only” pathway to God, then I will consider whether it has anything else to offer to me.

When the Christian Church switches its focus from the fear-based promise of salvation (offered ONLY to those who accept J.C. as their personal lord and savior) and aims the spotlight on the actual lessons that Christ came to share, I will be more open to its message.

As long as the Church focuses on the DEATH and RESURRECTION of Christ every EASTER, burying his true message under the label of “savior,” I will remain convinced that the Christian Church is more interested in its salvation than ours.

22. Tokeloshe - May 2, 2011

Hear, hear!

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

Thanks, Tok.

I’m hoping my niece will read through this post and all the different perspectives reflected in the comments to decide whether she really wants to be Baptised into The Crossings ~ A Community Church.

I hope she decides that she is NOT as narrow minded as its Church Leaders.

23. Julie - May 2, 2011

Wow what an amazing post! I too was raised as a Christian (sort of but that’s a long story). I believe Jesus and Christianity provide a path to God but not the one and only path. Even the Dalai Lama says religion is fine, but you don’t need it. All you need is kindness and compassion.

I didn’t have time to read all the comments right now, but I’ll come back to them – bet they’re juicy!

nrhatch - May 2, 2011

I think the Dalai Lama is the perfect example of how to live a Christ like life . . . without buying in to all the claims of the Christian Church.

Love, Kindness, Compassion –> BLISS!

Thanks, Julie!

24. crazygoangirl - May 3, 2011

You know Nancy, I’ve never understood why people equate Faith with religion. I have staunch Faith in God (no particular form or name), and no use at all for Religion! I find almost all religions based on fear – fear of not achieving salvation. As for me, I’m too busy in this life to think about the next. I was raised Hindu and in stark contrast to Christianity, we believe in a pantheon of Gods! And yet the majority of Hindus (my parents included), believe that God is inaccessible to us lesser mortals unless we have a go-between, priests, temples, rituals that rarely make any sense at all. I on the other hand like to think of Hinduism as a way of life, a fluid path that helps us along our mortal way. I believe Religion should be personal, just as Faith is.
I have long ago giving up trying to debate or even discuss Religion, coz of the speed with which such discussions deteriorate into fights. To each his own I guess, coz ultimately we each have to live with the consequences of our actions and our Faith, right? I have no qualms about living with mine, and I don’t need any Religion to validate my actions. I don’t mean this to sound arrogant at all. Just that for me, conversations with God is what it’s all about and for that as you mention Nancy – I have my own Direct Personal Connection 🙂
Great post!

nrhatch - May 3, 2011

Wonderful comment! Like you, I don’t generally debate the topic of religion.

But I am annoyed that the close-minded fanatics at The Crossings ~ A Community Church are starting to indoctrinate and brainwash my niece. And have convinced her to be baptised into the Church. Ack!

So I’m writing these posts for HER. Hoping that she will read not just “my take” on the Christian Religion and its boastful claims . . . but the perspective of others as well.

How can she make up HER OWN MIND if all she hears is the Archaic Nonsense from the folks at The Crossings ~ A Community Church?

She can’t.

So . . . like Paul Harvey . . . I’m giving her The Rest of the Story. 😀

crazygoangirl - May 3, 2011

Here’s hoping you are HEARD!!! 🙂

nrhatch - May 3, 2011

Thanks! She’s a bright girl. She agreed to read the posts and comments. I have faith that she’ll make whatever decision is right for her with EYES WIDE OPEN.

25. William D'Andrea - May 3, 2011

I ask you the same question you’re asking.

What makes you so sure that you’re right, and Christians are wrong?

nrhatch - May 3, 2011

God told me . . . and reminds me every day. 😎

I can close my eyes and see the truth in my heart
Starting from within is the best place to start

I don’t need your Bible.
I don’t need to be saved.
I don’t need to find Jesus.
God already lights my way.

nrhatch - May 3, 2011

BTW: Your question says it all . . . the only reason that this becomes a RIGHT and WRONG issue is because of the arrogant claims of Christianity over the past 2000 years.

I agree that the Christian Church may be A WAY . . . but it is NOT the ONLY WAY.

If the Christian Church claimed to be A PATHWAY to God . . . I would have no problem with ANYTHING it wanted to teach to anyone who wanted to listen. Maybe some people belong on that path because they can’t think for themselves. They need an intermediary to teach them.

But others are ready, willing, and able to have a Direct Personal Relationship with God ~ similar to the one I have.

And that’s what I object to . . . that the Christian Church Leaders turned this into a RIGHT and WRONG issue by claiming to be the ONLY PATH to God.

God is NOT a Christian. No religion owns God.

You want ME to tone it down? I will. As soon as the Christian Church tones it down . . . by acknowledging that there are MANY PATHWAYS to God that are JUST AS VALID as Christianity.

Namaste.

26. ElizaM - May 9, 2011

If your niece is such a smart girl, what’s the harm in her getting baptized? I get that it’s not your beliefs, but if you want her to respect yours I think you should respect her beliefs as well. You say you accept Jesus, so what’s the harm in her getting baptized? Baptism is about a relationship with God from what I’ve heard, not about the church that hosts the event. Besides, have you been to that chuch? Maybe it’s not as bad as you think, don’t judge them too harshly. I know you say that they go around saying everyone should be saved or else, but maybe it’s because they truly believe that and care about people. I’ve read your articles and how you state “all you need is love”, but I’m pretty sure they believe that too. You think they’d just go around saying things about hell to scare people? I don’t think that’s what the church is about. I’m not trying to be rude, but maybe you’re the one who needs to be a little more open-minded about things. What’s wrong with your neice believing in something? It could be what keeps her going day after day, after all teen suicides and depression have increased dramatically in this day and age. Maybe take on a new perspective and think about what really matters, that you care about her. If this is something she wants, you should know teenagers never let us adults get in the way 😉 Besides, kids need the support and acceptance of their family. I’m sure she knows where you stand on this and that you’ve made your point clear to her, but if you keep on being stubborn and raining on her parade you’re just going to push her away farther. Just a thought, and I hope everything works out!

nrhatch - May 9, 2011

I take it you attend The Crossings . . . since you say “I’m pretty sure they believe that too.” Are you Zerrin’s mom? If so, why not say so?

To answer your questions:

* There is NOTHING wrong with my niece “believing in something” that makes sense . . . but I wouldn’t want her to be brainwashed by a cult like these poor fools: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_suicide

* I do believe that The Crossings and many other churches would encourage people to buy into the antiquated notion of Hell in order to gain and keep followers.

* I believe that the Christian Church is far more concerned with its salvation than with ours.

I am supporting my niece the best way I know how ~ by sharing my views with her so that she can make up her own mind about what she wants to do without blindly following 2000 year old dogma and tenets.

I want her to THINK before drinking the Kool Aid.

27. ElizaM - May 11, 2011

No I don’t know about The Crossings, I’m just going off of my church. And who’s Zerrin? I was just saying that I don’t think the church doesn’t talk about God’s love and just about Hell, because there’s got to be a lot of messages right? I take it you haven’t gone to the church? I was simply suggesting that maybe you should go and check it out, it might not be what you suspected. I used to believe as you do, but then I started going to church with my husband and found it’s not that bad. They didn’t tell me I was going to hell, they reached out and just asked how I was doing. I’ve made many friends and don’t know where I’d be without my church. I understand where you’re coming from, but let’s agree to disagree. There’s tons of “kool aids” out there, including what you’re saying, but I believe people should get to make their own choices(as long as they’re not going to get hurt) without being harassed for them. That’s the beauty of free will, and children learn from their experiences. That is all!

nrhatch - May 11, 2011

No, I don’t think I “should” check it out since I’ve listened to enough sermons from enough pulpits to know that attending church on Sunday mornings is not a good use of my limited time on the planet.

If it works for my niece, fine. But it doesn’t work for me ~ I cannot suspend disbelief long enough to pray to a personified God without busting a gut laughing.

I thought you might be Zerrin’s mom given your e-mail address.

Encouraging people to think for themselves instead of buying into 2,000 year old dogma hardly seems like “Kool Aid” to me. I’m not asking anyone to accept my view of the world on “faith” ~ just the opposite, I’m encouraging them to open their eyes and ears and evaluate reality for themselves.

My niece does NOT think that I’m harassing her. Just the opposite. She thanked me for sharing my views with her. I knew she would . . . she’s a smart girl. 😉

28. Bridgesburning Chris King - September 28, 2011

Hi, popped over after invitation from Eliz to play two week blog hop! Love your thoughts and will read more!

nrhatch - September 28, 2011

Thanks, Chris! I’m glad that Eliz has started up another blog hop ~ great way to meet and greet other bloggers.


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